The Crown Tundra is the second part of Pokémon Sword and Shield’s Expansion Pass. In my earlier review, I covered the first section of this downloadable content for Pokémon Sword, with The Isle of Armor, an area of Galar that features a new wild area and a short story featuring a new Pokémon called Kubfu. This latest update expands the region further into a snow-swept environment, where you can explore Pokémon dens and encounter powerful Pokémon! This new region was confirmed to be based on Scotland, United Kingdom!

Click ‘Read More’ to check out our review.

Pokémon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass (The Crown Tundra)
Nintendo Switch
Developed by Game Freak
Published by Nintendo
Released: 22nd October 2020
(The Crown Tundra)
Digital copy provided by Nintendo UK

As this expansion pass comes in two parts, we would recommend reading our review for The Isle of Armor too as our score reflects both that and The Crown Tundra. You can do so by clicking here.

Providing you already own the Pokémon Sword or Pokémon Shield Expansion Pass, your new adventure will begin with a message confirming you have received a Crown Pass. This can be used at Wedgehurst Station to access the Crown Tundra, an icy landscape in the south of Galar. Once you arrive, you will encounter father and daughter duo Peony and Peonia, who are spending some quality father-daughter time together. Unfortunately for Peony, his daughter, doesn’t feel the same way. Regretfully, you’re dragged into the family domestic, and Peony challenges you to a Pokémon battle, giving young Peonia a chance to slip away on her own to take part in a Dynamax Adventure in an area called the Max Lair.

After the battle, and an exchange of pleasantries, Peony heads off in search of his cherished daughter while you take in the sights of the Crown Tundra. Eventually, you’ll catch up with him yourself at the Max Lair as he searches for Peonia. Realising she could be in trouble, he storms on ahead despite the warnings from the researchers on the danger the lair poses. After a briefing on Dynamax Adventures, it’s your turn to descend into the lair yourself, and discover what lurks within…

Dynamax Adventures lets you team up with as many as three other trainers to explore the caves. Initially you will play this on your own with three computer controlled characters, but you can return here at any point to take part in a Dynamax Adventure locally or online with friends or random people.

To begin, you will borrow a single Pokémon to accompany you on your adventure. As you explore the den, you will come across branched paths, and the team will have to decide which route they wish to take. Once you have decided the route, a max raid battle will begin where you will face a wild dynamaxed Pokémon of that type. Together, you and your team must defeat the Pokémon, and choose whether you wish to capture it or not. Catching the Pokémon will give you the option to swap it out for the one you currently have, before pressing onwards. Eventually, you will reach the final area where a legendary Pokémon will be waiting for you to battle!

For the purpose of this review, I teamed up with fellow staff member KomodoZero to explore the Max Lair online. Together, we strategised the best path to take, giving us a Pokémon with an effective type advantage for when we made it to the final Pokémon of the area. By looking carefully at the fog shrouding each area, we could see a silhouette of the Pokémon we would be facing, giving us some extra information before throwing ourselves into battle. It’s also important to consider the trainers and items that can be collected through the path you choose, which could give you an edge. I also used Komodo’s experience in competitive play to the fullest, choosing Pokémon with effective abilities in battle, benefitting the whole team greatly.

I discovered that when it comes to swapping out a Pokémon after clearing each area, only one player may claim it. If more than one person decides to choose a Pokémon, only one will receive it. I believe this is at random, but couldn’t confirm it for this review. It was also reassuring to know that if we failed to defeat a legendary Pokémon, we could choose to target it specifically later, meaning that you won’t miss out.

I feel that Dynamax Adventures were the strongest part of this expansion overall, building on Max Raid battles from the base game, and adding an extra layer of strategy. It was also nice to see that shields on Dynamaxed Pokémon were removed within the Max Lair, which I felt dragged battles out for too long within the base game. While this mode is fun with CPU’s, it would be much more fun with four friends playing together so you can strategise more effectively. Due to the Nintendo Switch Online app still not supporting Pokémon Sword and Shield to any degree, we had to use a third-party service to communicate, something that I feel should have been included. For the times when I can’t play with three other friends, I would have liked the ability to invite my friends into the lobby first, and then search for random players to fill the gaps. Unfortunately this isn’t currently possible, and I doubt this will change.

Once Peony accepts that his daughter Peonia has little desire to hang out with her father, he requests that you accompany him instead, asking you to seek out these mysterious legends and uncover the secrets of the Tundra yourself.

The Crown Tundra’s story revolves around a fairy tale based on a legendary Pokémon known as the King of Bountiful Harvests. Once you reach the village of Freezington, you will discover more about this legend from Peony and the villagers, solving clues surrounding this forgotten Pokémon. Eventually you will come face-to-face with this mysterious Pokémon for yourself, which will count on your help to restore its energy, and unlock even more secrets from its past, which introduces more brand new never-before-seen Pokémon making their debut in the Crown Tundra!

But the King of Bountiful Harvests isn’t the only legend that you will be exploring. You will also be on an exhibition to reveal clues of other legends. The Legend of Giants pertain to the whereabouts of the Regi trio Regirock, Regice and Registeel, as well as two brand new forms called Regieleki and Regidrago. The Legend of Bird Pokémon introduces Galarian forms of the three legendary birds Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres, each one a different type, with a different look and moveset compared to their Kanto counterparts.

While I didn’t have any issues following the clues Peony gave me, that might not be the case for other players, especially younger ones. Thankfully, Peony will provide additional adventure hints if you request it back at your base camp in Freezington, and the game’s overworld map will also flag where you need to go next, making it fairly straightforward to follow. Once you’ve completed all exhibitions the main story will be completed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the end of your adventure…

There are even more secrets hidden within the region, including yet another legendary clue left behind by Peony, suggesting that something has opened up above the Max Lair. It would be rude not to check it out, right?

Sonia makes a welcome return from the base game, and has travelled to the Crown Tundra to learn more about a group of Pokémon rumoured to be found there. She suspects that footprints located around the Crown Tundra are evidence that point to the existence of a trio of legendary Pokémon. By gathering data on fifty sets of footprints in three different areas, you can report back to Sonia in Freezington and locate their habitats.

If that wasn’t enough legendary locating for you, proving your worth may also convince someone in Freezington to entrust you with another special Pokémon. If you have the patience and determination to complete the main story, do you have what it takes to encounter every legendary Pokémon the region has to offer?

If you manage to complete everything the Crown Tundra has to offer, you can take part in some exciting post-game content, the Galarian Star Tournament! This special tournament is available after completing the base game, and both parts of the Expansion Pass with The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra. The Galarian Star Tournament is the ultimate Pokémon challenge, allowing you to compete with or against a selection of familiar faces from your Sword and Shield adventures, including gym leaders, notable individuals from your adventures, and the former champion of Galar, Leon, in round after round of high-level Pokémon battles. The more you play, the greater the selection of characters you can partner with. The Galarian Star Tournament rounds off the expansion nicely, and potentially the Sword and Shield games, as it’s currently unknown whether there will be additional content added at the time of writing.

For those of you who enjoy competitive Pokémon Play, this expansion offers an item that you will definitely want to own, the Ability Patch, which allows a Pokémon with a regular ability to switch with its hidden ability. It is obtained by a vendor found only within the Max Lair in the Crown Tundra, and can only be traded for Dynite Ore, given as a reward from Dynamax Adventures. While this may be a welcome addition to the game to help speed up the process of getting some special Pokémon, I am disappointed that it’s tied to downloadable content, and not made available to all Sword and Shield owners.

I personally enjoyed exploring the icy landscape of the Crown Tundra and discovering a new story. I welcome the return of having my Pokémon roam with me, meaning my buddy Rowlet was by my side for the majority of this new adventure. I felt the second part of the expansion pass was much more fulfilling than the previous installment The Isle of Armor and offered some great new characters and a good solid story. There were some fun moments throughout my playthrough that made me laugh, one moment in particular comes to mind when I shook the gigantic tree on Dyna Tree Hill, which resulted in a humorous moment, but offered an unexpected reward.

One thing I tend to focus on in a video game is its music, and for the Crown Tundra, its soundtrack was a bit hit-and-miss. I really enjoyed the theme of Freezington with its beautiful soft piano, and is now one of my favourite themes from the entire game (second to the Gym Battle theme). I also enjoyed the legendary battle theme from the Dynamax Adventure. Unfortunately, the new battle themes for the legendary birds didn’t really hit the same high note for me, and I found the remixed Regi battle theme underwhelming.

I encountered a few questionable issues with the game, such as roaming Pokémon behaving strangely, I found Salamence spinning around in circles which, while humorous, isn’t what I expect to see from the game almost a year after its initial release. I even encountered Pokémon clipping through the ground! I was also a bit disappointed by the Frigid Sea area of the game, where I could only swim out so far before I was met with an invisible wall. It looked like I could explore much further, spoiling the immersion. Last but not least, I want to express my disappointment once again with the lack of communication features the game offers. Considering that Dynamax Adventures requires a degree of strategising and communication to effectively plan your session, I feel like there should have been some official support for this via the Nintendo Online application.

On a positive note, I welcome the return of many classic Pokémon to Sword and Shield with this update, meaning that I was finally reunited with my Latios all the way from Pokémon Ruby that I received at an EON ticket event in February 2004 at my local Gamestation, along with a handful of other Pokémon. It is regretful that Gamefreak still hasn’t made available every single Pokémon at the time of writing, and I was super disappointed that Latios wasn’t one of the original Pokémon included in the base game, so i’m personally thankful that, sixteen years later, I can use him again.

I feel that Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield are enhanced further with the addition of the Expansion Pass, so if you do not yet own the base game but wish to play, the pass will definitely offer some enjoyable side stories. Unfortunately, I find it hard to personally recommend the Expansion Pass, as I do not believe the amount of content it offers is value for money. However, I do welcome Game Freak’s decision to include downloadable content over their usual third pillar game, and I hope this will continue with future titles.

Final Rating – 3.5 out of 5

Previously 2.5 from The Isle of Armor alone.

As this expansion pass comes in two parts, we would recommend reading our review for The Isle of Armor too as our score reflects both that and The Crown Tundra. You can do so by clicking here.

Darren is a huge Nintendo fan from the days of the Gameboy Color and his copy of Pokémon Blue. Over time, he developed a passion for many Nintendo franchises, including Metroid. His favourite system is the Wii.