A few weeks ago on this channel, I published a video about shiny Hunting in the Pokémon series, and how the practice can have positive or negative impacts for gamers with conditions like ADHD and autism, depending on how it’s implemented.
To summarise, I talked about the fact that shiny hunting methods across the Pokémon series, where players are encouraged to take part in very specific tasks to raise their odds of seeing a Pokémon with a very rare variant colour, vary from game to game.
While some games in the series offer ways to instantly raise your odds of seeing a shiny Pokémon of a certain species, others such as Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee only ever allow the player to raise their shiny odds temporarily, with no ability to save mid attempt. This can lead to compulsive behaviour, taking a calming set completion task and turning it into a stressful job a player feels unable to put down.
So, with the recent release of Pokémon Legends Arceus, I wanted to revisit this topic, because I believe the game’s new approach to shiny hunting mechanics is perhaps the most player friendly, and least prone to encouraging compulsive behaviour, seen in the series.
So today, on Access-Ability, we’re going to talk about Shiny Hunting in Pokémon Legends Arceus. We’re going to talk about how the new shiny hunting mechanics work, what makes them satisfying, and how they avoid the pitfalls of obsessive play some prior games in the series have brushed up against.
Let’s start off with a very quick summary of Shiny Hunting as a way of playing Pokémon, and how the practice has worked on the previous Pokémon games on Nintendo Switch for reference.
In the Pokémon series, every creature you encounter has a very rare chance of being a “shiny” Pokémon. It will usually be a different colour to usual, with a sparkling animation and special sound effect when encountered, or used in battle. While the base odds of finding a Shiny have varied over the years, for most modern Pokémon games, including every Pokémon game on the Switch, the base odds are 1:4096. However, each Pokémon game has a different method of making those odds better than usual if you wish to actively seek out a Shiny Pokémon.
In Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, the main method of improving Shiny odds was Chain Combos. Pokémon in Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee walk around visible on the overworld, and will be visibly shiny when they spawn in, without needing to be encountered to check if they are shiny. By encountering the same Pokémon species over and over, and defeating or catching each one you encountered, without encountering a different species in between, you would create a chain that multiplied your Shiny Pokémon odds. By encountering 32 or more of the same species in a row, you could get your odds of a Shiny of that species temporarily down to around 1:300.
While overworld visible shiny Pokémon were exciting, this shiny hunting method was incredibly prone to compulsive play, and was very fragile. If you saved and closed the game, your chain would no longer be active when the game was reopened, meaning that players were encouraged to, if they reached a chain of 32 encounters, not play anything else on their Switch until they managed to find a shiny Pokémon, or accidentally broke their chain. 1:300 odds are still pretty low, meaning that to actually find a Shiny once at a 32 chain could be a very slow process. This shiny hunting method was accessible, but was set up in a way that for many shiny hunters on the autism spectrum in particular caused anxiety about walking away from the game.
In Pokémon Sword and Shield, players could catch or knock out 500 creatures of a specific species to permanently raise their odds of that species being shiny. While this method raised your shiny odds permanently, it was a very big time commitment per species, which in some cases would leave to obsessive amounts of play.
The game’s Crown Tundra DLC introduced co-op raid quests, in which players would see much higher shiny odds of around 1:100, but the Pokémon encountered in those dens were not shown as shiny during their encounters, only at the end of a string of four fights, with a large pool of randomised spawns, and group consensus needed to pick which Pokémon to encounter. This meant that if you were after a specific Shiny species you needed to hope it was offered on your hunt, then hope those you were playing with agreed to encounter it, and then hope it was shiny. Each run was short in length, breeding a potentially compulsive “one more try” loop.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shiny Pearl mostly focus on Radar Chaining for improved shiny odds. Players need to, much like Pokémon Let’s Go, get a chain of encounters of the same species on repeat to raise their shiny odds. However, here the odds of the chain continuing to the needed max chain of 40 are entirely random, with a 7% chance of the chain failing after each of 40 consecutive needed encounters. Basically, you have to get really lucky.
The odds of a successful chain to reach max shiny odds are around 5%, to get 1:99 shiny odds. Much like Let’s Go you can’t save mid chain, close the game and walk away. Chains don’t save their elevated shiny odds if you close the game, leading to potential compulsion.
So, how does Pokémon Legends Arceus handle Shiny hunting? Well, in a few different ways, all of which are very resilient and persistent.
Pokémon Legends Arceus is, ultimately, a game focused on completing the player’s Pokédex rather than a traditional quest to defeat gym leaders and a rival trainer, and that Pokédex completion helps the player work toward permanently increased shiny odds.
Each creature in the Pokédex has a series of unique tasks to be completed to fill in its Pokédex entry, ranging from watching them use a specific move a set number of times, to catching a certain number without being seen.
If a player raises a creature’s Pokédex research grade to level 10, which can be done fairly quickly in the regular course of play, that creature gets a boosted chance of being shiny. Then, if the player completes the creature’s full dex entry, they get another, more sizable boost to their shiny odds. Both of these are tasks needed to be completed to work through the game regardless, and quickly allow for permanent shiny odds boosts to specific species.
The game ultimately pushes the player toward the long term goal of completing every Pokémon’s Pokédex entry, at least to level 10, in order to work towards the final boss of the game. In doing so, the game encourages the player to, over time, increase the shiny odds of every creature they encounter, rewarding the player at the end of the game with an item called the Shiny Charm, an item which will again raise the shiny odds for every species in the game.
While not forced, the core structure of Pokémon Legends: Arceus encourages players to gradually build their shiny odds for their favourite species over time, in a way that doesn’t require obsessively looking for Shiny Pokémon, but offers gradual gameplay tasks that will naturally bring them toward more Shiny Pokémon.
Additionally, Shiny Pokémon in Legends Arceus appear shiny on the overworld, with a loud sound effect and visibly hard to miss sparkle animation, even without being encountered for a fight. This means that, once a player has progressed far enough into the game to unlock various mounts, they can quickly run once around a large open area, listening for the shiny animation, and discover if any Shiny Pokémon are nearby.
Beyond that, Shiny Pokémon which spawn are a lot more resilient in Legends Arceus than past games. If you saw an overworld visible Shiny Pokémon back in Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, and saved next to it, if you closed or reset the game the shiny would not be there when you got back. In Legends Arceus if you see a Shiny Pokémon spawn you can save your game and it will still be there after a reset. If you set your game to manual saves only when you see a Shiny, and manually save, you don’t have to worry that accidentally knocking out that shiny will get rid of it forever.
You can also run away to any location on the current map to grab resources to craft more Pokéballs, teleport to another part of the map, go heal up your team and come back, you can basically do anything and that shiny will stay in the game world. The only thing that will cause it to despawn is going back to Jubilife Village, your primary hub world.
That said, there is one other Shiny hunting method in Legends Arceus worth discussing, Mass Encounters.
By the time you complete the first area of Pokémon Legends: Arceus, you’ll find that sometimes when on the map screen deciding which area to travel to, some areas will feature a circle and an image of a Pokémon. These signify that a large number of that species will spawn somewhere on that map if you go there, and those encounters will have a drastically increased chance of being shiny.
Now, what’s important to know about these encounters is that these are by far the most likely place you will find Shiny Pokémon, and you don’t have to do ANYTHING at all to get those elevated shiny odds. If you do absolutely no work on your Pokédex and go to one of these mass spawning events, your odds of a shiny Pokémon are around 1:150. To put that into perspective, 100%ing a Pokédex entry makes that species Shiny odds, outside of a mass outbreak, 1:1024. Sure, that work makes you four times more likely than usual to find a wild Shiny of that species, but rocking up to a mass outbreak of your favourite species already gives you incredibly good shiny odds.
There’s some luck involved in hoping a species you want gets a mass outbreak, but at its core you can just see a species you like get a mass outbreak, show up, and have a better chance of finding a shiny than Let’s Go gave players for a 32 encounter chain they couldn’t close the game without losing.
Pokémon Legends Arceus makes the tasks required to permanently raise a specific species’ shiny odds quick, accessible, and actually incorporates them into the natural flow of gameplay. Players will naturally raise the shiny odds for their favourite species through normal play, and maximising those odds can be done with no randomised elements and relatively little time invested.
Shiny Pokémon seen will stick around if you have to close the game before you have a chance to capture them.
The difference in shiny odds offered to a 100% dex completion player with a shiny charm and every task meticulously crossed off their list, and someone casually checking out mass outbreaks, is functionally minimal. Ultimately, anyone could pick up Legends Arceus, with no time investment, and start getting decent odds of a shiny Species. If they want a specific shiny, and they don’t want to have to luck out and get offered a mass outbreak, they can 100% the needed dex tasks in a few hours per species.
I know many Pokémon players will scoff at this increased accessibility of shiny hunting, but I am personally delighted. As someone with a special interest in shiny hunting, I am excited that my autism special interest is more accessible to more players, and that I don’t have to spend as much time obsessively unable to swap out which game I am playing, for fear of missing out. More people get to experience the excitement I love, and I get less stress and anxiety about missing out on those sparkly creatures I obsessively collect.