Does Pokémon Legends: Arceus have trainer encounters?

They've been a staple of the series since day one.

Image via The Pokémon Company

Trainer encounters, also known as trainer battles, have been one of the driving forces of Pokémon since Generation I.

Trainer battles generally take more skill than wild Pokémon battles and form the core progression mechanic in the franchise’s main-series games: If you can defeat trainers, you have enough skill to move up through the ranks and continue toward the next boss battle, otherwise known as a gym leader.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus has already changed or removed quite a few of the series’ staple mechanics. There are no held items, no Pokémon breeding mechanics, and no gyms, just to name a few. On the flip side, there are many new activities to enjoy, including crafting, more open-ended exploration, and new ways to catch Pokémon.

That leaves one big question: Are trainer battles sticking around in this new title?

Does Arceus have trainer encounters?

Pokémon Legends: Arceus does have trainer encounters, but they’re few and far between. Instead of focusing on trainer battles as a method of progression, as previous main series games have done, Arceus wants the player to explore Hisui and discover the ways that Pokémon live and thrive within nature. It’s not as much of a human-controlled region as it is a Pokémon-controlled region. The Pokémon Company said in one of the game’s pre-release trailers that in the early time of Hisui, people and Pokémon didn’t live as close together as they do in some of the other series iterations.

Screengrab via Nintendo/The Pokémon Company

Because of that, trainer encounters act mostly as set pieces, marking big moments in the story or acting as character development. The most important characters in the story are generally the ones you’ll be battling against, and the battles will often involve the foe’s Pokémon ganging up on yours. Some battles will see one of your Pokémon taking on three of another character’s, for example.

If you’re looking for a battle-heavy Pokémon game, Arceus might not be the title for you. If you’re interested in seeing how different ideas and mechanics can stretch the franchise, though, you’ve come to the right place. Arceus might not have much battling, but it has plenty of other fun activities to keep you busy.