Developer Game Freak recently said that a huge open-world setting similar to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild would not fit Pokémon’s gameplay style.
Nintendo’s Zelda: Breath of the Wild offers a vast open-world where players are able explore and climb nearly everything they see. When Game Freak’s Junichi Masuda was asked by GameInformer if Pokémon could take a similar approach, he said the team would need to create a compelling reason for players to catch the creatures in a huge open-world. “I don’t think it’d work if we just brought over the recent gameplay and put it in that world,” Masuda said.
Nonetheless, Masuda said Game Freak has considered implementing an open-world freeform approach to the series: “If we could find a way to make that king of setting work with that gameplay, and giving players a fun reason to go out and capture Pokémon, then there’s always a possibility.”
Masuda said player-freedom and guided stories is a “difficult balance to strike” as the game’s world-threatening scenarios might deter players from catching creatures, hence, the team puts “a lot of care” on the game’s pacing. “So if a serious event happens then maybe the next one is a little more whimsical. Just to make people feel like it’s appropriate to catch Pokémon. The Pokémon are obviously the focus of the game.”
At present, Game Freak is working on a core Pokémon RPG for the Nintendo Switch, though no release date or gameplay details are known. Meanwhile, the latest set of updates, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, are scheduled to release November 17, 2017 for the 3DS.