Pokemon Legends: Z-A could show us yet another side of the RPG's history, building on what made Arceus so special

Pokemon Legends Z-A
(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

As a longtime Pokemon fan who grew up playing almost every entry, Pokemon Legends Arceus was one of the biggest surprises of 2022. Not only did it give me the chance to see a world and region in a completely new context, but it did so in a novel way that felt like such a breath of fresh air for the long-running RPG series. Taking us back to ancient times in the Hisui region – that would later become the Sinnoh region in Diamond and Pearl – I relished the chance to explore a point in Pokemon's timeline that was completely unknown. Tasked with surveying the lands to build up the first-ever Pokedex, the adventure explored the history of how Pokemon and humans learned to live alongside each other, and frankly, I loved every minute of it. 

It's why, with the reveal of Pokemon Legends Z-A during the Pokemon Day Pokemon Present showcase, I'm so excited for what's to come. While the trailer gave us very little to go on, what it does tease already looks intriguing. If Arceus tried to show us how Pokemon and humans learned to live with each other, Pokemon Legends: Z-A promises to let us once again see a new side to an established region. From what we've seen, it appears that we're about to get to explore how a city came to be designed to foster Pokemon and people living together in harmony, and I can't stop thinking about just what that means.  

Building blocks  

Pokemon Legends Z-A

(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

Thinking back, 2022 was a year of highs and lows for Pokemon. For me, Pokemon Legends Arceus completely outshined the games that would follow it that same year with the release of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet – which were mired by performance issues and a rather lackluster story that didn't capture me in the same way Sword and Shield did. While it was novel to jump into the first open-world setting in the series and even play it with pals – which was a childhood dream of mine – Arceus felt like a far bigger step forward. It may not have been as polished as games past, but it let us explore open-zones and immerse ourselves in the world of Pokemon in a new way that broke away from the standard catch 'em all formula we'd come to know so well. 

Now, Pokemon Legends Z-A is going to let us step back into Lumiose City, which served as the central setting for Pokemon X and Y. I did dip my toes into Pokemon X not long after it released back in 2013 – I was studying at university at the time, and I ended up abandoning the Pokemon entry to get my essays done (very sensible of me, I know). As such, it's one generation I'm not overly familiar with, but if anything, that just makes me even more excited to potentially rewind the clock and see how the city came to be. 

In the trailer, we see the urban redevelopment plans for the city, with a blueprint-style run-through of the location as it's being built up. Said to be set entirely within Lumiose, it seems very likely that the game will follow the story of how the area in the region was urbanized to the parisian-style city we come to know in X and Y, one that develops on the seeds that were first planted in Arceus to create an environment where people and Pokemon can live together in harmony. 

Pokemon Legends Z-A

(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

But what part will we have to play? Well, if Arceus saw us surveying the lands to better understand Pokemon and improve our relationship with the critters, then we could instead be setting out to establish the various boulevards of the city as some kind of city planner who strives to foster the same harmonious lifestyle that began to take shape in the Hisui region. Just as Arcues saw us travel back in time at the beginning of the game, the very title of the next Pokemon Legends entry also suggests we'll be rewinding back to the beginning of the region – from Z to A – to see how that part of the Kalos region became the burgeoning city we know. 

With the tease of it releasing in 2025 on Nintendo Switch "systems" simultaneously, this could very well be a launch title for the much-rumored Switch 2. It's always best to temper expectations, of course – especially after the ropey world Scarlet and Violet strived to bring us – but if it's contained entirely within Lumiose city, I'm hopeful it will deliver a more polished open-zoned environment that builds on what we saw in Arceus. 

With no gameplay shown, we'll have to wait to see what direction Pokemon Legends Z-A goes in, but the potential it has to deliver us another refreshing experience that does something new is beyond exciting. Scarlet and Violet may have left me feeling disappointed, but Arceus is undoubtedly a personal favorite, and just the mention of another game that follows suit is enough to make me feel reinvigorated about a series that holds such a special place in my heart. 

Here are all the entries in the Pokemon Legends: Z-A Pokedex we've spotted so far.

Heather Wald
Senior staff writer

I started out writing for the games section of a student-run website as an undergrad, and continued to write about games in my free time during retail and temp jobs for a number of years. Eventually, I earned an MA in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, and soon after got my first official role in the industry as a content editor for Stuff magazine. After writing about all things tech and games-related, I then did a brief stint as a freelancer before I landed my role as a staff writer here at GamesRadar+. Now I get to write features, previews, and reviews, and when I'm not doing that, you can usually find me lost in any one of the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, tucking into another delightful indie, or drinking far too much tea for my own good.