Pokemon Sword and Shield: The Crown Tundra DLC Review
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
The Crown Tundra is the second of two expansions for Pokemon Sword and Shield. It takes players to a new part of the Galar region where all kinds of legendary Pokemon reside, and you’ll set out on an adventure to capture these powerful monsters in the snowy reaches and ancient ruins of the Tundra.
Earlier this year I played the first DLC, The Isle of Armor, and I wasn’t very impressed. The storyline was very uninteresting and although the new map was an improvement over the main game’s Wild Area, there wasn’t enough fun content to give me a reason to return to it. Thankfully, The Crown Tundra has a bit more meat on its bones, and it’s definitely worth trying if you enjoyed the base game. However, it still feels like you’re paying for an endgame that should have been there already.
The Crown Tundra is comprised of a new open area full of legendary Pokemon and a bunch of other returning Pokemon too. What I appreciate about it is that it actually feels like an adventure. Travelling across an icy mountain and stumbling upon new landmarks is a lot more fun in this DLC than previous areas. The story is a little more unique (even though it’s still a Pokemon storyline, so don’t expect anything incredible) and the world is more well-crafted. The graphics are still unimpressive though, and the polish still isn’t there. Wild Pokemon will still magically pop-up in front of you as you’re riding along, destroying any immersion there could have been. Technically, this DLC does nothing to improve Sword and Shield’s main problems, which is unfortunate but expected. I enjoyed exploring though - running into an Avalugg camouflaged as an iceberg in the sea was a highlight for me.
If you don’t enjoy capturing legendary Pokemon, this DLC won’t have much to offer you. If you do enjoy it, you’re in luck. The bulk of the gameplay is going around the map to find them or heading into the new Max Raid lairs to embark on a “Dynamax Adventure”. These adventures involve a team of 4 descending into a cave to fight their way through various raid battles using randomly assigned Pokemon. At the end, a random legendary Pokemon will make an appearance and you’ll have to defeat it as a team before you can catch it. The random element makes these raids a great experience, though it does get a little repetitive. Thankfully, there’s a huge variety of Pokemon you can use and you don’t often fight the same ones either. This makes it a fun experience every time, and there’s more than enough legendary Pokemon to keep you coming back to see what shows up next.
Outside of these raid battles, there are a few other challenges including figuring out puzzles to enter the ruins where the “Giants” reside and chasing down new legendary birds. The puzzles are very basic though, and take no time at all to complete. I would’ve preferred to see more fleshed-out puzzles with some actual dungeons to explore but that’s not the case here. Catching the birds is pretty similar – you don’t have to do much before they show up, although you do have to visit all 3 of the game’s areas to catch them all.
There are various secrets and hidden items to discover too, though most of the fun in this DLC will come from catching legendary Pokemon and fighting raid battles. If you’re into that kind of thing, this might be worth picking up. If not, this probably won’t impress you. It’s still the same old Pokemon Sword and Shield gameplay we’ve come to expect, and it doesn’t push the game forwards in any meaningful ways. It does offer fun extra content, but like I said before it feels like this would have been the endgame for the main experience in a previous generation. Unfortunately, there’s not much to do with your new legendary Pokemon once you’ve caught them either.
Unlike the first DLC though, I actually feel inclined to return to this to play it for fun rather than because I feel like I have to complete it. I think Game Freak did a much better job with this one and it’s definitely worth trying out if you like Pokemon Sword and Shield.
I hope Game Freak and Nintendo have learned something from Sword and Shield. Their ideas for this game had a lot of potential but, thanks to technical problems and some lazy game design here and there, they weren’t executed very well. The next big Pokemon game could take the concepts introduced in Sword and Shield, as well as this DLC, and expand upon it greatly. Or, it could be more of the same. If they focus on the things they did right and improve the things they didn’t, the next game might be one of the best yet. The Crown Tundra fills me with a bit more hope that this is possible, because it’s a vast improvement over The Isle of Armor. Until then, I have a Pokedex to complete.