Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu and Pokémon Let's Go Eevee are coming this year, but thanks to their announcement alongside a couple of other Pokémon games at a fairly unusual press conference in Tokyo, there's still some lingering confusion as to just what type of Pokémon games they'll be, and what changes they'll bring.
Here in this guide we'll walk through everything you need to know about the Pokémon Let's Go games, from the Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee release date to the official Pokémon Let's Go map, plus any new Pokémon Let's Go gameplay changes and everything else confirmed so far.
We also take a quick look at what we know about the 2019 Pokémon RPG towards the end, so you have all the upcoming Pokémon Switch info right here in one place.
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Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee release date
Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee have a release date of November 16th 2018, exclusively on the Nintendo Switch.
Both of the games will release on the same date, as has always been the case with multi-version mainline Pokémon games, and based on previous experience there's an odds-on chance of us seeing a Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee demo at some point close to release day, just like we did with Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, and Pokémon Sun and Moon after that.
You can pre-order the two versions - and the Poké Ball Plus accessory - here, if you like:
Pokémon Let's Go map, setting, and are the Let's Go games mainline Pokémon games?
The Pokémon Company has published a rather lovely (and nostalgia-heavy) map of Kanto for Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee - that's the setting, if you hadn't already guessed! - which you can gaze at longingly just here:
Are the Let's Go games mainline Pokémon games?
There's been a fair bit of confusion about what exactly the Let's Go games are. Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee are targeted at a slightly younger audience than usual, with the goal of developer Game Freak being a bridging of the mobile sensation Pokémon Go and the mainline series, and as they borrow a fair amount from Pokémon Go (more on that below), they differ from other main series games more than ever before.
To get straight to the point, these are mainline Pokémon RPGs, but they're not quite the same as "core" Pokémon RPGs as most people understand them, and they're not a new "generation", either. So what does that mean?
The two terms "mainline" and "core" have been pretty interchangable over the years, with both generally referring to the main, handheld Pokémon games that release every couple of years on Nintendo handheld consoles that build on the structure found in the original Pokémon Red and Blue.
Now, those terms have sort of split. You could argue that "mainline" still refers to the same thing, whilst "core" means something slightly different. The Pokémon RPG coming out in late 2019, for instance, is described as a "core Pokémon RPG", whilst the Let's Go games are described as just a "mainline" game. Basically, both are mainline games but you could argue that only the games that follow the structure of games like Red and Blue particularly closely - think complex stats, EVs and IVs, traditional catching methods and so on - can be called "core" Pokémon games now.
Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee also don't signal a new generation after Gen 7's Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, as they don't bring in a new wave of new Pokémon. There's set to be one new, "special" Pokémon coming to Let's Go, but that's it, and a new generation needs more than that - Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon got a couple of new Ultra Beasts and a new mythical Pokémon Zeraora, for instance, but they still count as Gen 7.
Finally, are Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee remakes? In a way, yes. They're sort of half remakes, half reboots of classic Pokémon Yellow, the Kanto-based enhanced version of Pokémon Red and Blue. Lots of characters overlap, lots of events seem to overlap, and the setting is the same, it's just this is a retelling of the story in a more accessible way, to a much wider audience.
Think of Let's Go as the equivalent to the Pokémon: I Choose You! movie that came out recently: it's another stab at the same thing, just for a new audience - but how the lore all fits together and what you count as "canon" is sort of up to you (and sort of a moot point, really). In Eurogamer's roundtable interview, Game Director Junichi Masuda even suggested that there's a possibility of the Lets Go games having a future as a separate series to the core mainline Pokémon Games like the 2019 RPG, if they sell well.
Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee gameplay changes explained
With all that hopefully cleared up, here's a whopping great list of all the new features, changes, and general clarifications of how things work in Let's Go, so you know exactly what's what.
All the new features and gameplay changes coming in Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee:
- You catch Pokémon like you do in Pokémon Go - Motion controls are required for catching Pokémon, either in the form of the gyroscope in handheld mode, the Joy-Con when docked, or via the Poké Ball Plus. You see Pokémon physically appear in the wild, tap on them to interact, and then enter a throwing screen much the same as the one in Go, with mechanics appearing largely the same too. Pokéball throwing seems more timing based than accuracy based, although it is possible to miss.
- No random encounters - Though you'll still be searching through long grass for Pokémon, they won't instantly spring upon you, instead appearing physically on the map screen (it's been confirmed that shiny Pokémon appear as shiny in the overworld, too!). From there, you can either interact and catch, or leave them be. They wander around outside long grass too, and there are now two 'auras' around Pokémon - red or blue - indicating their size (it's not clear how size impacts gameplay though).
- Pikachu and Eevee are set starters - You don't get to choose from three Pokémon this time: in Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee, those two Pokémon are your respective starters, although they can at least be put into your box if you end up not being a fan, although there are some big changes to how boxes work (more on that below). Pikachu rides outside of its ball on your shoulder, and Eevee on your head.
- Other Pokémon can follow you outside their balls, and you can ride some too - You can't ride every Pokémon, but big ones (we're not sure how big they'll be but Onix and Lapras are some examples) can be ridden, whilst others can all follow you, like the hilarious Electrode in the reveal trailer, or the adorable Venusaur frog-hopping below!
- Pokémon earn Exp. from you catching Pokémon - with multiplier bonuses for how good your throw is, your technique (you can throw the ball underarm, overarm, etc.) and so on. Like the Pokémon Go experience you'd earn as a trainer is being passed to your whole party. It looks like the Exp. Share is available from the off.
- Your partner Pokémon will wiggle its tail when you're near a hidden item - so no more Dowsing Machine, it seems.
- Boxes are now "in your bag" - it sounds like you can switch out Pokémon on the fly, whilst still having an active party of six. We were given the following quote from the Pokémon Company: "You can put your partner Pokémon in a box, but the way the box system works is different in these games in that you actually have a box in your bag. Your partner Pokémon does take up one of the six slots in your team."
- HMs are still gone - Riding Pokémon seems to be the main way you get past obstacles like water, as it was in Sun and Moon, although it's not clear how similar the systems will be, but you won't need HMs to ride Pokémon either.
- Trainer battles are still the same - Battles themselves are still turn-based, with Pokémon having four moves, and so on.
- Pokémon are powered up with Candy - There are several types of Candy, and they largly correspond to traditional "vitamins" like Protein or Calcium in older mainline games. It's not clear if these affect EVs or IVs or just level your Pokémon up, somehow.
- There appeared to be a rating for a Pokémon's CP - Combat Power, for non-Pokémon Go players - on the stats screen, although we need to look into that more.
- Pokémon are more integrated into the world - Chanseys now work in Pokémon Centres, for instance, which is cute.
- You have a friendly Rival, with new names - Your rival is called Trace, and the player character seems to be called Chace by default.
- You can import Gen 1 creatures from Pokémon Go to Let's Go - Any Pokémon of the first 151 that you've caught in Pokémon Go can be transferred to Pokémon Let's Go, via Bluetooth, and from anyone's Pokémon Go account. Pokémon sent from Go will leave your storage in Go, and you'll get some Candy in return for transferring them - and Shinies will carry over, too!
- There's local co-op - A friend can jump in at any point, by wiggling a second controller, to help you, be that in a battle where they act as a 'support' trainer, or when catching a Pokémon. You can battle locally against people too.
- You can have multiple saves, but only one per Switch account - So, with one copy of the game both you and a sibling, say, could both play it on that console with your own saves.
- To connect with other players for trading online, you use a code made up of three Pokémon - say, Pidgey, Pikachu, Meowth, like in Raids for Pokémon Go. When they enter the same code, you're matched together.
- There are version exclusive Pokémon - This is now the main reason to think about getting both versions of the game, or making sure you and a friend have both versions covered.
- There's no breeding in the game - Big implications for competitive players here, although it's unclear if there will be any similar system available or not. It seems unlikely.
- You can't get to Johto - Being set in Kanto (which famously was accessible from Johto in the Gold, Silver and Crystal games), some players were wondering if this was possible. Masuda said "I can confirm that you won't be going to Johto". So it seems that it's not.
- Impact on canon - Another question is its position in the timeline and effect on the 'canon' of the mainline games is still unknown. Eurogamer was present at the announcement conference and, when asked about this, developer Game Freak's Junichi Masuda was... evasive, to say the least, refusing to talk about whether characters or references from the other core RPGs would appear in the Let's Go pair at all.
- IVs and EVs might work differently - Masuda described this as something "everyone definitely cares and wonders about. I cannot speak to details but we always focus on making the games accessible and easy to play for anyone but also have this depth which is there for the players - this will be the same for these games."
- The Poké Ball Plus lets you store Pokémon on it and makes that Pokémon's "cry" sound when you shake it - The LED also has loads of colours, and will light up in the corresponding colour to the Pokémon stored there.
- There's a bundle coming that includes the Poké Ball Plus - And importantly, if you buy the Go Plus at launch or pre-order, you'll get the mythical Pokémon, Mew, stored there already as a bonus!
The Pokémon 2019 RPG, development timeline, and other things to know about Pokémon on Switch
We've mentioned it a couple of times already, but just for extra clarity: there is another core, main series Pokémon RPG coming to the Nintendo Switch, in development at Game Freak already.
So far, it's just being referred to as a "core RPG Pokémon game", and has been described as being "in the style of Pokémon X and Y or Sun and Moon" by the Pokémon Company. We know it's coming some time in "late 2019" - which is the standard for mainline Pokémon games these days - and with that in mind it's likely to be a proper new generation, too.
We tried to eek out as much information on this as possible in our chat with Masuda out in Tokyo, so you can read his full quotes on it over in our Junichi Masuda roundtable interview.