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Pokemon Diamond & Pearl Remake's Exp. Share Could Ruin The Games

The return of the permanent Exp. Share in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl has become a major concern for many fans. Generation 6 made the Exp. Share item provide experience points to every party member, as opposed to only the one holding it, offering a much easier time for Pokémon series newcomers. The change to a universal Exp. Share has become a point of contention in the community, and it could negatively affect the Pokémon Diamond and Pearl remakes' game balance and difficulty.

In just over a month, fans will finally get to play these long-awaited Gen 4 remakes. Many were initially disappointed that the Brilliant and Shining versions may be too similar to the original Diamond and Pearl, unlike Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, which more fully reimagined their original games. But as new trailers and previews have been revealed, the remakes have looked increasingly more impressive. However, in spite of growing optimism, the biggest takeaway from recent early press previews has been the potential detrimental effect of the new Exp. Share system.

The confirmation of a universal Exp. Share in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl isn't surprising or even unwelcome; party-wide experience gain, in itself, has been a mostly well-received mechanic. The problem is that, once again, Exp. Share cannot be disabled in BDSP. When the Exp. Share was first changed from a held item to a key item in Pokémon X and Y, players had the option to turn it off, allowing them to benefit from the new mechanic while also controlling the amount of experience points gained. This option was removed in Pokémon Sword and Shield and remains absent, which takes away players' ability to adjust the games' difficulty as they prefer.

The universal Exp. Share, much like Pokémon's overhaul of HMs, is one of the better quality-of-life features introduced in recent games. Grinding typically becomes a necessity in many RPGs because players eventually reach a point where they've run out of content and are still in need of experience to finish the game. Party-wide Exp. Share eliminates the need to rely too heavily on boring grinding, since all of the player's Pokémon are consistently gaining experience throughout the game, usually preventing them from being too underleveled. As convenient and beneficial as the mechanic is, it's also a double-edged sword.

One of series fans' biggest complaints is that recent Pokémon games are getting too easy. Part of this is the natural side effect of a two-decades-old series that functions on a rock-paper-scissors battle system, since most experienced players have already mastered the games' core mechanics. That said, newer Pokémon games haven't added much to offer resistance for players seeking a challenge. Gym Leaders are little more than just another Trainer battle, and rival battles no longer serve as difficult bottlenecks, so many players resort to self-imposed rules to make Pokémon games harder. Universal Exp. Share makes the games even easier - and makes some of those self-imposed rules nearly impossible.

Since the Exp. Share was reworked in Pokémon X and Y, the games' level curves haven't adequately changed to compensate for the increased rate of experience gain. This is especially noticeable around the midpoint of each game, as players begin to acquire fully evolved Pokémon earlier than they would otherwise, and their party becomes rapidly overleveled. Overleveling eliminates most of the challenge and makes getting through the rest of the games fairly simple, and the inability to turn off Exp. Share means it can be quite difficult to actively prevent Pokémon from overleveling. Given Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl's apparent lack of changes to the originals, this could become a big problem.

Pokémon Diamond and Pearl are beloved for many things, but partially for their difficulty. Most of the games' battles are fairly straightforward, but a few are quite tough, most notably Champion Cynthia. Cynthia is often regarded as the most challenging Champion in Pokémon, due to her diverse team of powerful Sinnoh Pokémon like Togekiss, Lucario and Garchomp. Many players have found themselves overwhelmed and outmatched by Cynthia the first time they challenge her. The battle could be a true test of strength and strategy and was rewarding to overcome, but the permanent Exp. Share in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl may mean that's no longer the case.

Of course, it's impossible to know for sure until the games are actually out. Developer ILCA could have properly balanced the game, increasing boss levels to account for the new Exp. Share system, but for now, it will likely remain many fans' biggest concern. Fans have waited a long time for the Pokémon Diamond and Pearl remakes, and a poorly balanced level curve could absolutely ruin the experience for players with nostalgia for the original, Pokémon franchise-altering games. A simple option to toggle the universal Exp. Share on and off would go a long way.