If there is one thing that I can confidently say that nearly all fans of the Pokemon franchise want, it is to be able to walk in a 3D environment and to meet the other players. If there have been multiplayer modes in the Pokémon games for a whole now, they are still quite far from what could be called an “MMO”.
Thankfully, fans took the matter into their hands with a number of Pokemon MMO projects, with Pokemon MMO 3D being the best one I’ve found so far (at least in a 3D environment). While it does have its flaws (which I must admit, are still numerous), it remains an amazing concept with great potential.
The graphics, for starters, seem to be subject to a hit or miss depending on where you are. In the wild (forest, mountains, beach), the game is simply gorgeous. The game is bright and colorful, as you’d expect of the franchise, and while some parts can seem repetitive the world is mostly beautiful. The Pokemon themselves look great and true to their original selves. Thus, in regards to these, the immersion is there. This changes, however, as soon as you enter a town. While this might change in the future (and it should) the buildings look plain and seriously out of place in this world.
Players start in Pallet Town, without any instruction, and have to find important NPCs themselves. The first one you should look for is Meowth, found right outside the Pokemon lab, who allows players to change their appearance (with around 15 premade options). Next, it will be time to get your first Pokemon. Players can currently acquire 3 of them for free. The first one is found in the lab, where players are offered the traditional choice between Bulbasaur, Charmender and Squirtle. Once that is done, still in the same lab, they can find a Pikachu in a room full of various PokeBalls (it might be a tad bit hard to find the right one). Finally, players can move to the town next to the lab to find Eevee in one of the houses.
With that done, the players can finally start their adventure, exploring the world, leveling/evolving their Pokemon, and also catching new ones. The latter will, however, be much harder than you might expect. Early on, PokeDollars are extremely hard to obtain. Thus, while you do get 5 free PokeBalls from the Pallet Town lab, it will take some time until you manage to buy additional once. The currency can only be earned by defeating Pokemon in the wild, and it will take 20-30 kills (at least during your first moments in the game) to obtain the 200 PokeDollars required to buy a single PokeBall. In this regard, Pokemon MMO 3D will be much harder than the traditional games.
The gameplay, on the other hand, is quite intuitive and easy to master, for fans of the franchise, as well as fans of MMOs. While players control a character as they move other the map, as soon as they chose a Pokemon to fight, the character goes idle and they start controlling the Pokemon itself. While controlling a Pokemon, players can run around, use skills, or even fly (flying and ghost types).
The battles themselves take place in real time. One interesting concept (and something that I believe a lot of MMORPGs could learn from) is that they Pokemon do not have to stay still during fights. Just like in the anime, Pokemon can dodge, kite or put some distance between themselves and the opponents to avoid AoEs. While this might sound simple, actually experiencing it feels somewhat amazing, especially considering that the game was made with limited means/manpower.
Finally, the combat itself is mostly limited to fighting wild Pokemon at the moment. Players can battle each other in some arenas, but there is no real incentive to do so at the moment. NPC trainers are also nonexistent. The one saving grace in this aspect of the game is the fact that Legendary Pokemon take the role or raid bosses. You will only be able to defeat those with high level Pokemon, and with the help of other players.
Pokemon MMO 3D still needs a lot of work to provide a complete experience, but so far it seems to be moving in the right direction. However, keep in mind that while the game does have a lot of potential, it remains a fan-made game. This means that, at any moment, Nintendo and Gamefreaks may decide to shut it down. You can learn more about the game at: http://pokemon-mmo-3d.com/