Crown Tundra Has Accidentally Broken Pokemon Sword And Shield

The Crown Tundra DLC recently launched for Pokemon Sword and Shield and has been received with near unanimous acclaim. On top of introducing a frankly massive amount of new and returning Pokemon, the entire region is gorgeous and a genuine joy to explore, while the Max Lair serves as a fresh post-game section that shakes up the traditional Pokemon formula in exciting new ways.

But the Crown Tundra has inadvertently broken Pokemon Sword & Shield, and if you’re anything like me, you probably didn’t even notice.

I tend to grow attached to my Pokemon, and so it’s quite seldom I start a new game. For older titles — like Pokemon Emerald, for example, which I recently replayed — I don’t mind starting over. I know all of the Pokemon in that generation so well and have used them so often that even in a new game my Swampert will feel like the same one I had before, and I’m either going to name my Rayquaza something really pretentious like Gwaihir, or something really stupid like Ray Romano. The older Pokemon games are already set to the same continuous loop for me, and probably always will be.

But Pokemon Sword & Shield aren’t even out a full year, and so I’m still technically on my first playthrough. Don’t get me wrong, I trounced Leon last November. But I continued playing on the same file, with all the same teams. Other, more ambitious people have played the game several times over — and as someone recently pointed out on Reddit, the Crown Tundra completely breaks it for those people.

Essentially, this Redditor created a second Switch account back when Sword & Shield’s first DLC, Isle of Armor, launched. They were building their living Dex, which means having one of every single Pokemon in physical form — if you have a Blastoise, the Pokedex will register the Squirtle and Wartortle you had prior to it evolving, but a living Dex requires you to have at least one of all three Pokemon in your PC or party.

Anyway, after getting Urshifu this person booted up their second account to get another Kubfu, Isle of Armor scales to your level, so even though their team was only in their 20s, getting Kubfu was a breeze. Fast forward a few months and Crown Tundra drops — naturally, this person decided to boot up their alternate account in order to get the second new Regi (you have to choose between either Regidrago or Regieleki), as well as the other Calyrex form.

As it turns out, Crown Tundra doesn’t scale to your level the same way Isle of Armor does. And so, this person was unceremoniously thrashed by Peony’s level 70 Copperajah — the thing is, you don’t need to beat Peony to progress the narrative. Even if you lose, you can press on through the Crown Tundra, where you can catch level 65-70 Pokemon that actually obey you. Remember that the Max Lair doesn’t allow you to use your own Pokemon — regardless of your team’s level or the amount of Gym badges you have, you use a level 65 rental Pokemon and are given the opportunity to catch a Legendary at the end. You can literally get a level 70 Suicune before you beat a single Gym leader. And a Latios, a Moltres, a Groudon, you name it — the Max Lair is home to the majority of Legendary Pokemon introduced in Crown Tundra, and you can get all of them regardless of whether or not you’ve even challenged the first Gym.

A lot of people will play Crown Tundra on their main account and probably won’t even notice this. If you’re already the Champion and have gone through the Isle of Armor, you’ll probably have plenty of Pokemon that are much stronger than level 70. But the thing is, if you start again… This is literally a potential speedrunning strategy. Instead of tediously grinding levels through the whole game, you can do six Max Lair runs and have a team that’s six Legendaries strong. Every single Gym becomes almost hilariously easy, and even Leon, the supposed Champion of Galar, is ludicrously weak in comparison. You also don’t need to spend time searching the Wild Area for utility Pokemon for speedrunning — you can just use loads of essentially invincible Legendaries and rock up to the first Gym with a team of level 70 tanks.

The Crown Tundra is undeniably good and fans have been massively satisfied with what it has to offer — however, if you look at it a bit closer and analyze how it affects the game, as opposed to just the post-game, you can see that it’s actually broken the way progression works. It’s a fantastic post-game area — for early game or even mid-game players, though, not so much.

Read next: Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire’s Route 113 Is Environmental Storytelling At Its Finest

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Cian Maher is an Associate Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. His favourite game of all time is and always will be The Witcher 3, but he also loves The Last Guardian, NieR: Automata, Dishonored, and pretty much every Pokemon game ever released. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.

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