Pokémon Sword and Shield were solid games when they launched in 2019, but it could be better, such as the Wild Area, the variety of environment and the number of Pokémon to catch were a downside for gamers. After the announcement of an expansion pass featuring The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra, the question among everyone was how Game Freak would handle it. Suffice it to say that the first expansion, The Isle of Armor, was a step in the right direction in making the game feel more open. The expansion may be short, but it was just the beginning of an evolution, and with The Crown Tundra, Sword and Shield have now reached their final form and are stronger than ever.
This brings us to the second expansion, The Crown Tundra, which has tried to fix the flaws of the original games. It offers a lot more content, adds new and returning Pokémon for the Pokédex, and finally brings some challenge in a game that was sorely lacking. The disappointment The Isle of Armor had to contend with was justified given that the story felt like a filler, not a proper continuation of what happened from the end of Pokémon Sword and Shield. This is not the case for The Crown Tundra.
This second expansion not only adds new Legendary Pokémon and a new playable area, but also brings a different setting by taking the players to the icy tundra. This setting is in stark contrast to the tropical island of The Isle of Armor, but the story uses this to its advantage by sending the players to the town of Freezington. This is a small, tight-knit community where mostly old people live to earn a happy life, but it also exhibits natural mysteries, including a Pokémon Den.
The story has taken on a lot of importance this time, so once the expansion has started, your adventure begins immediately. Once the player arrives in this town, he will meet an explorer named Peony. As you team up with him and explore this newly discovered environment, you’ll complete three major missions associated with the Legendary Pokémon unique to this region. These quests are a mix of brain and muscle power and are quite a challenge to solve. These are all set up by the story, which is a nice reward once you complete them.
The Crown Tundra may be limited to these three missions, but they are spread throughout the game. There is no set order for trying these missions, so it adds a certain amount of freedom to how the player decides to approach them. The first quest is to catch Calyrex, the new Legendary Pokémon for this expansion. This quest is aimed at providing a compelling story. The player is told about the legend of Calyrex and how it helped people grow crops, but as its power waned, so did people’s interest in the Legendary Pokémon. To solve this problem, the player must help the Legendary Pokémon regain its power and make people believe in it again.
The other two quests are more streamlined. One of them is solving puzzles to catch the Regis family of Pokémon. There are several easy-to-figure puzzles that are littered during this quest that lead to the capture of these Pokémon, ultimately rewarding the player with a new type of Regis Pokémon. It’s satisfying to solve puzzles and get these Pokémon instead of finding them on a silver platter with an easy challenge. This refreshing change of pace worked better than the base game for me.
The third and final quest will provide a dose of nostalgia for longtime Pokémon fans. It features the legendary Kanto bird trio that took on new Galar shapes for this expansion. This quest spans the entirety of Pokémon Sword and Shield and will send the player across the Galar region to find them. While it’s not entirely difficult to figure out their location, capturing them all leads to a satisfying conclusion to this quest.
This is not the end of new content for The Crown Tundra expansion. There are some side quests available to try in addition to a new multiplayer mode, Dynamax Adventures. This offers a unique twist on the Dynamax Battles with Max Raid. The player can team up with others online to go through a gauntlet while choosing a predefined set of Pokémon to use in battle. They must avoid getting KO to the end, where they usually fight a Legendary Pokémon. This mode is based on a well-placed strategy of choosing a Pokémon team before entering battle and can be challenging if you don’t plan your quest.
The Crown Tundra feels like a good replacement for endgame content that Pokémon Sword and Shield didn’t have at launch. It may be part of the expansion pass, but this doesn’t detract from the quality. While it doesn’t fix some of the core issues with the game, it helps improve the overall experience by expanding the positive side of Pokémon Sword and Shield.
Pokémon Sword and Shield: The Crown Tundra is a nice conclusion that culminates the Expansion Pass on a very positive note with a slew of new features and improvements.