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What’s new in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon?

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Everything you need to know before you return to the Alola region.

So you finally managed to catch ’em all in Pokémon Sun and Moon. If you’re desperate for more adventures in the Alola region, Nintendo has your back. Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon arrive later this month, supposedly the final Pokémon installments on the 3DS family of systems. The iconic monster-collecting RPG series is making the jump to the Switch for its next generation, but fans of the traditional handheld experience should have plenty to uncover when these sequels arrive Nov. 17.

In traditional Pokémon fashion, these new versions add more creatures and characters to a familiar story. Games like Platinum and Black and White 2 were able to improve upon their predecessors, with new features and more to explore. While Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon initially seemed like a retelling of Sun and Moon’s story, newly revealed trailers show the depth of surprises waiting for longtime players. Below, you’ll find a list of the biggest differences to expect between this journey and the original.

Pokemon Nintendo

1) New Ultra Beasts

There is no possibility more exciting in a new Pokémon game than additional monsters to capture. While Ultra Sun and Moon are adding back classic creatures to the Alolan wilds, they also bring some brand new legendaries to the fold. Ultra Beasts were shrouded in secrecy before their first appearance in Sun and Moon, but we know a lot more about them this time around. These inter-dimensional Pokémon first appear with codenames, and their true identity is only revealed when added to the Pokédex. Assembly (in Ultra Moon), Burst (Ultra Sun), and Adhesive have been shown off so far.

Like the other Ultra Beasts, these Pokémon will likely have impressive stats, and bring unique type combinations. Adhesive is also technically the first Poison-type legendary in the entire franchise. Burst is a Fire-Ghost type trickster that plays with opponent’s minds before dealing high Special-Attack damage. Assembly is more of a tank, taking a defensive Rock-Steel typing. It is unknown what role these new beasts will play in the story, and if they will be the only additions.

2) The mystery of Necrozoma

But one of the first games’ most enigmatic creatures is given the spotlight this time around. Though it is related to the Ultra Beasts, Necrozoma is a mythical Pokémon from deep under the Alola region. It only appeared at an incredibly high power level at the end of Sun and Moon, but its true nature remained a mystery. We expect to learn a lot more about this frightening legend in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.

Necrozoma shares the cover of each game with their respective mascots, Solgaleo and Lunala. In footage, we can see this dark force possess each legendary ally, turning them into their Dusk and Dawn Forms. The biggest changes in the story will tie into Necrozoma, the Ultra Beasts and the mysterious new Ultra Recon Squad. Trailers have seemed to hint that players can visit the home of these mysterious creatures by traveling through an Ultra Wormhole.

3) Team Rocket returns

Something that fans have been desperate to see in a mainline Pokémon game for years was the return of Kanto’s Team Rocket. Giovanni and his band of evildoers are back in Ultra Sun and Moon,  with some consequence on the game’s story. Now branded as Team Rainbow Rocket, they have taken over some of the game’s main hubs, like Aether Paradise and Festival Plaza.

Giovanni isn’t alone however, as he’s brought together the leaders of every evil team from past Pokémon games. Players can expect to square off against old foes from Ruby and Sapphire, X and Y, and more. This team also brings Mewtwo back to their side, but hopefully we’ll be able to turn the most iconic legendary into our ally once again.

Pokemon Nintendo

4) Alola Has Changed

Sun and Moon introduced us to the sunniest locale in the Pokémon franchise yet, with the islands of Alola. Ultra Sun and Moon return to the region, but with some new places to visit and changes to familiar vistas. Lily, Hau, Hala and other Trial Captains are returning to test trainers’ strength as they travel. But there are some new Trials to be found this time around, and new Totem Pokémon like Marowak.

Additionally, players can get out into the waters of Alola like never before by surfing on Mantine. The Pokeride feature lets you ride around on certain mounts to explore new areas or clear obstacles. Mantine surfing looks like one of the most freely controlled rides, along with a challenge that has you pulling off slick tricks on the biggest waves you can find.

Pokemon Nintendo

5) Post-game challenges

While the story of Ultra Sun and Moon looks to add exciting new twists, many of the best additions come in the competitive realm. Nearly every legendary Pokémon from the past makes some kind of an appearance, meaning your team can get ridiculously overpowered for online battles. Mega Stones are also returning, but you’ll have to hunt them down all over again.

The Battle Agency was recently unveiled, to the delight of Battle Frontier fans. This facility lets you rent powerful Pokémon for a time to take on a gauntlet of enemies. If you succeed in the challenges presented, you can access rare items to power up your team in regular battles.

Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon will be available for Nintendo 3DS on Nov. 17.

AJ Moser

AJ Moser

AJ Moser is a Brooklyn-based reporter who focuses on video games, movies, and internet culture. His work has appeared in Paste Magazine, Game Informer, and Big Spaceship.