(Please keep in mind this post does contain spoilers! You can also find my entire playthrough on Youtube)
Like with the Isle of Armor, I wanted to really finish with the main bulk of The Crown Tundra before writing about my thoughts. Offhand, it’s hard to say which DLC I liked better– I think they were on equal-footing overall, but some stuff I was looking forward to in the Crown Tundra kind of fell flat unfortunately. Heck, I don’t even feel it took me much longer than Isle of Armor did– they genuinely took the about the same time if you take out some of my very slowly going through Dynamax Raids for Necrozoma.
I feel like Crown Tundra’s strongest moment is with the very first Expedition where the story elements are at the forefront. It went a bit slow at times (I generally figured out what I had to do pretty quickly between the random Carrot seeds, the books at the Mayor’s house, and the various lore tablets and basket at the top of the mountain) and I was even thrown off on what I may be doing wrong which generally just ended up due to me realizing a step further in the storyline before I got to that point.
He pretty much consistently stays in the background throughout almost all of the story after the initial introduction. Nia as well is pretty much an enigma outside of a small selection of scenes. You can always have a chance to see them during a Dynamax Adventure though.
Unfortunately, I don’t plan to do that mode much. While I really liked the idea of doing things with friends, I really thought it’d be the expedition stuff and not… a side mini dungeon crawler. I also didn’t notice a way to actually invite friends online– only locally (and less you can invite and more just only those people would be able to join) (Edit: Turns out if you hit +, you can add a link code to play with friends… Just a matter of actually catching friends to play with then at some point). Maybe it’d be more fun with friends if I could’ve actually played it with friends, but there was just.. nothing for me in the mode. Battling has always been my least favorite part of Pokemon, I have never found the raids or Dynamaxing gimmick fun, I don’t like Shiny hunting, and I already have all the legendaries you can get this way because I have a living dex… The only reason for me to do it was to grind up 200 Ore for the Ability Patch for my Polteageist. And I had to grind it a lot more than I wanted in the first place to not just find Necrozoma, but to catch it which took three or four tries.
I then ended up being given an ability patch for solving Clue ? which meant I was done with the mode unless I changed my mind (or maybe went for Poipole, who knows), but I don’t see myself doing so anytime soon, if ever. I just got so burnt out and found it so tiring and being rushed into decisions even when playing by yourself made it even more frustrating because I had a lot of trouble concentrating on it due to just not finding it particularly engaging.
Regardless, we are getting a bit ahead of ourselves towards the end of the “main” part of the Crown Tundra for me so let’s go back to Clue 1. As soon as they showed the stone crown on Peony’s table, I was pretty sure it belonged to the statue, so it was nice feeling right.
As mentioned, there was a lot of optional lore around and while not necessarily a bad thing (flavor text is always good), I was surprised that wasn’t actually worked into the Clue as well. It literally explained why Calyrex helped them, about his different Dynamax glow color, about how the horse was tamed and why, and why the people were so thankful for him along with Calyrex’s own gratitude for saving him. They’re not really laid out in order and part of me still worries I missed some (my navigation skills are still garbage), but I found it really interesting.
And I think that’s kind of what gets me the most with Clue 1– you help give Calyrex something to believe in again, but the Villagers still just consider it a fairytale and don’t really care. We never change their minds or show them the truth. Even the horse showing up did little to sway their feelings or bring those traditions back.
I guess Calyrex being reunited with whichever horse you chose was enough regardless, but… It just felt like something was missing. Will the snow slow down? Will their crops recover? Will they get more carrot seeds? I don’t know and the more I think about it, the more questions I have.
One other thing that bothered me with Clue 1 research is like… both horses are mentioned. Both Horses can be summoned. Both Horses clearly exist BECAUSE THE POKEDEX REQUIRES IT. It’s not like a form change. How?? Why???? Why are there two horses? And why can we only get one? Did Calyrex tame both and forgot? Did people just only ever see one and always a different one? I just don’t get it. Even if you wanted to bring up the White/Gold-Black/Blue thing, they have entirely different manes. And eat two very different carrots! Making it so you can only get one sucks when both clearly exist and were tied up in this whole thing.
The other Clues ended up being a lot less Story-interactive overall. Clue 2 was essentially just the Regis with a usual mechanic: A Riddle (or flat out instructions really) on the door. Do what it wants and it opens and then you just… light up the pattern for the right Regi and then you can battle/catch it. Regirock required having an Everstone equipped to the first Pokemon in your party, Regice required having a Cyrogonal as the first Pokemon in your party, Registeel required whistling at the door, and finally the brand new Regis required having the previous three.
Unfortunately, you could only pick Regielecki OR Regidrago which… really sucks. Not just for Pokedex completion, but you literally have to have BOTH of them in addition to the prior three to trigger Regigigas.
While Regigigas is not required for finishing Clue 2, it still feels weird to lock it out in that way.
As for Clue 3, it’s by the giant tree and the cutscene is pretty great and reminds me a bit of the second Pokemon movie too. Alas, our Rotom Phone doesn’t have a silence mode and blows our cover, leaving us to find them roaming in the wild.
I honestly have never really enjoyed the Roaming Pokemon mechanic, but I was thankful we had a bit more “control” this time around, even if it was still a pain. Moltres was over on the Isle of Armor and required memorizing its pattern a bit to really get the jump on it. Zapdos was in the regular Wild Area and as long as you keep following it closely enough, you would eventually overtake it despite how it felt… Meanwhile, Articuno stayed in the Crown Tundra, and yet I had a HORRIBLE time finding it. When you get close to it, it’ll clone itself and you need to hit the right one. I messed up the first time, but did get it the second and just… it really wasn’t a fun time.
With that done, after letting Peony know you’ve finished all 3 Clues, Nia shows up ready to participate only for them to all be done, shenanigans ensue and she runs off again, and then you get a gold Expedition suit which honestly I’ll never wear just like the original one but oh well.
After Peony leaves after Nia, you find a Clue ?. Peony has no recognition of it and it’s what leads to finding Ultra Beasts in the Dynamax Adventures and requiring you to find a Necrozoma from Dynamax Adventure to complete. And no, bringing over one you may have from past games does not count. I tried.
I honestly really liked the idea of the expeditions and enjoyed them a lot– I just wish they were a bit longer and there were more of them. And no random luck ones like the Necrozoma one. I much prefer mystery angles. On a related note, the general premise of how your trainer gets roped into the whole thing is just kind of disheartening: Peony plans all this out to spend time with Nia who wants to do her own thing instead and then rather than help you out fully, Peony waits incase Nia decides she wants to join in. I’d have much preferred both of them being part of it or us getting into it all a different way over filling in for his daughter. I generally try not to think about it much as they played it off in a silly way, but every time I do think about it a lot, it just makes me feel kind of down. Peony’s story from his league cards is pretty sad in general.
I actually could’ve started this during Clue 1, but due to bad timing, had missed the initial cutscene highlighting the footprints and only noticed them later. While the footprints were generally more random and abundant, I found I struggled with Terrakion’s and Virizion’s. Both of theirs blended in quite a bit, but I could at least see Terrakion’s easier in the cave… Virizion’s, however, were also smaller in size and it just wasn’t particularly fun. I did like how Keldeo unlocked though.
But I think it would’ve been neat if he wandered into the campsite over just showing up after. Like Regigigas, despite being part of the set, Keldeo is also optional and Sonia will actually leave after you’ve found the other three.
I love the new character dialogue and dynamics we see in this mode SO MUCH, but I just… don’t enjoy battling. Part of me would be interested in trying to partner with each character, but I just have no interest in doing so many battles unfortunately. Maybe I’ll try it one day though.
With the new addition of being able to change nicknames once even if a Pokemon was traded, I really hoped I could finally change her name, but alas, it didn’t let me. I do like the name Ribbon, but I have another Pokemon I had also named Ribbon before they all got bundled together and saying “Ribbon’s Ribbons” sounds silly. I generally just consider her name Celestia in my head as Mega Audino looks like an Angelic Snow Bunny Princess, but that also explains my other big thing… Megas still aren’t here. Maybe it was due to all the legendaries and other throwbacks in the Crown Tundra. Or Pokemon GO’s timing with adding Mega Evolutions into the game. Maybe it was due to the mystery element and clues. Maybe it was because Peony manages to insert “mega” in as many words as he can.
(As a side note, the fact that Audino will run away scared if you get too close breaks my heart. So many people battled it for experience, they’re traumatized now :( )
Regardless, I got my hopes up. Badly. And the moment I realized that wasn’t the case, it hurt a lot more than I expected and even though I had Audino back, she wouldn’t be a Mega Audino this time. And that made the battles feel even more discouraging.
Regardless, I still did my best and finished everything I wanted to. There may be some other Easter eggs I look into later, but for now, I did all the Mysteries, helped Sonia’s research, re-befriended my lovely Audino…
But yeah, overall, I do think I enjoyed the Crown Tundra, but I think when it comes to story, it let down a bit going more for nostalgia than everything and I wish it went more in the story direction.