Pokemon Legends: Arceus and Future Generations Should Abolish Trade-Exclusive Evolutions – Game Rant

A classic trend for Pokemon games has been that of including trade-exclusive evolutions, but Pokemon Legends: Arceus and Gen 9 shouldn’t do that.
One of the most alluring aspects of Pokemon games has always been the fact that players can choose which critters to use based on which ones they like or which ones perform better in battle. Whatever the reason, the simple fact that players can plan their teams beforehand or even take things as they come is great, especially if a given Pokemon game has plenty of options thanks to an extended Pokedex, like in Pokemon Sword and Shield. With Pokemon Legends: Arceus, players still can't pre-plan their team due to the lack of information regarding all the possible Pokemon in-game, especially considering there will be new forms and evolutions as well.
However, there are limitations to this logic stemming from two issues: Most of the time, a good chunk of the Pokemon are locked into post-game content. There second are also some evolutions only available upon trading with other players. This is very noticeable in Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, for example, where players can only obtain seventeen Pokemon exclusively from trading them to other players, including very popular creatures. It's unclear if Pokemon Legends: Arceus will feature trades between players, but if it does, there shouldn't be any trade-exclusive evolutions in it, and the same holds true for Pokemon Generation 9 games.
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Trading Pokemon in the first few Generations was way different than it is now. A link cable was required for the process, meaning that players had to have friends to physically connect their devices together. It was part of the experience, and given how popular Pokemon games were since Pokemon Red and Blue, it wasn't too unlikely that Pokemon fans could find someone to play and trade with. Back then, it was even used as a way to promote the sales for link cables and get all versions of the games, considering the tagline for Pokemon games has always been "Gotta catch 'em all," something that many players actually wanted to do.
Thus, Generation 1 had four Pokemon that only evolved through trades, with them being Haunter/Gengar, Machoke/Machamp, Kadabra/Alakazam, and Graveler/Golem. The trend changed with Generation 2, where Pokemon also needed to hold a special item to evolve into their new forms, so more popular Pokemon like Steelix and Scizor were made trade-exclusive evolutions. This never stopped being the case, and every new mainline Pokemon game ended up including trade-exclusive evolutions, be it new Pokemon or ones from old Generations, never breaking the cycle.
Not including trade-exclusive evolutions is a critical choice moving forward, and the reason for it is twofold. For starters, the way society has evolved in the world makes it so playing games online is the ultimate experience, compared to playing live like over 20 years ago, meaning that gamers are more likely to play alone or with people they know than they are with strangers. Furthermore, trading Pokemon can often require trust between two players, considering that for reasons that range from fondness for one's Pokemon to the fact that critters might be bred and raised to be competitive, players may want them back after a trade.
Another reason is Shiny Pokemon, and having to trade away a Shiny to make it evolve might lead to players who catch one without evolving the Pokemon at all. Furthermore, Generation 4 — and thus Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl — is a good example of the fact that trade-based evolutions can be an option, rather than the rule.
Feebas, a Pokemon that evolves into Milotic in one of two ways: The first is by trade when equipped with the Prism Scale, but the second is by leveling up after players raise its Beauty attribute to the maximum via Poffins. This means that trade evolutions could still be a thing moving forward, but they shouldn't be the only way any Pokemon evolves, providing players with options to open up team variety and enable anyone to have the critters they want on their team.
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The reason why Pokemon Legends: Arceus could be the one game to not feature Pokemon that evolve through trades is that it is set in the Hisui region, at the very beginning of the relationship between humans and Pokemon. There weren't many Trainers at the time, as per the game's lore, meaning that it would only make sense for Pokemon Legends: Arceus not to feature the option to trade with others at all.
This is especially considering there is only a single release coming, and no version exclusives will be present. However, this could be the exception to the rule, rather than the game that truly breaks the mold for good, which means that future remakes (possibly those for Pokemon Black and White) and Generation 9 Pokemon games should follow.
Pokemon Sword and Shield were a great step in the right direction in this sense, considering that no new Generation 8 Pokemon needed to be traded in order to evolve. Still, thanks to the Wild Area scaling very high in level, many players could eventually get fan-favorite Pokemon like Gengar even while playing solo, as they would spawn in specific locations within the area and at specific times of the day. A similar approach could be very beneficial moving forward with Pokemon games, also including different options for each of the trade evolutions so that solo players can get them at any time.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus will release for Nintendo Switch on January 28, 2022.
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Andrea became a gamer for life at 7, thanks to a Pokemon Red cartridge and her Game Boy. She knew she wanted to be a writer early on, back when she got a floppy disk and she wrote “My Book” on it. Her Italian lineage means she thrives on pizza and cosmic horror because that’s a typical Italian Sunday. She loves games featuring deep lore, sci-fi elements, and strategic thinking. She is often found playing Destiny 2, for which she also makes guides.

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