Pokémon’s strategic turn-based battle system has been an enduring feature of the video games. Since the very beginning, Pokémon have type-based strengths and weaknesses, as well as a limited number of moves they can learn for battle. Pokémon can only know four moves at a time, so choosing which to forget and which to keep has been among the most difficult decisions that trainers must make when developing their teams and strategies. Some may focus on attacks, while others may balance their Pokémon with both defensive and offensive moves.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus maintains the series’ four-move restriction, but it finally makes some key quality-of-life changes. Alongside its new martial-arts based style system reminiscent of the Pokémon Trading Card Game’s Battle Styles, Legends lets players freely customize their Pokémon’s move sets once they learn new moves.
Since the early days of the Pokémon games, players have had to visit special NPCs to teach their Pokémon moves they didn’t learn when leveling up or to forget moves. The Move Deleter would force a Pokémon to forget one of its moves to free up a move slot, something that was necessary back when Pokémon had to learn Hidden Moves for things like Surf or Fly, which could not otherwise be unlearned. The Move Reminder did the opposite by letting Pokémon learn or relearn moves. With the exception of Pokémon Sword and Shield, the Move Reminder required Heart Scales for services provided.
Recent entries into the series have adjusted how trainers approach move sets. Pokémon Sun and Moon removed the need for HMs that ate a move slot by introducing Ride Pokémon that automatically fulfilled those functions. Pokémon Legends: Arceus continues the Ride Pokémon format while at the same time refining what those Pokémon are used for. Players no longer need to summon a flying Pokémon for instant travel. Instead, Legends’ Hisuian Braviary is used to reach locations in Hisui’s expansive environments that players otherwise could not reach with the rock-climbing Sneasler.
Legends makes a big, if subtle, change to the battle system by capping the number of moves a Pokémon automatically learns at four. Instead of Pokémon learning new moves past the initial four as they level up, the player is notified that a Pokémon has had the idea for a new move. Players can then go to the Training Grounds in Jubilife Village to have their Pokémon tutored by Zisu of the Security Corps, for a price.
Zisu will teach Pokémon new moves that they keep as backups to the four they already know, if that Pokémon has already reached its move limit. Players can then customize a Pokémon’s move set in the field without needing to visit Zisu each time. By allowing players to swap learned moves freely, Pokémon can be customized to better fit the various situations players may find themselves in.
One might argue that the convenience of learning moves at will removes some of the system’s tough decision-making. Players no longer need to make a choice over which moves to keep or which to forget. However, this new system in Legends lets players have more agency in the upkeep of their Pokémon’s abilities and promotes a greater emphasis on battle customization, letting players experiment with different moves and strategies while still maintaining the four-move limit.