Pokémon Legends: Arceus is going for a new approach using its gameplay style, but does that mean it's abandoned the link battles and multiplayer from earlier Pokémon games? The idea of trading Pokémon and battling friends' teams is what helped make the Pokémon franchise this type of huge hit, because it inspired a level of competition and cooperation not often observed in video games at the time.
The reason why the mainline Pokémon games were split across two entries ended up being to encourage player interaction, as the player couldn't complete the Pokédex without the capability to trade. The opportunity to battle an enemy player's team also inspired players to work out the best strategies for the competitive Pokémon scene, as another player can certainly create a team that is far stronger than something that could be faced hanging around.
The online multiplayer modes in the Pokémon series are now locked behind a paywall, because the player needs a Nintendo Switch Online membership to access these modes. The official Pokémon Legends: Arceus page on Nintendo's website confirms that a Nintendo Switch Online subscription is needed for the online functionality in the game, but exactly what does that actually mean in more concrete terms?
Pokémon Legends: Arceus Multiplayer Features Trading, Although not Battling
Pokémon Legends: Arceus has a few of the online multiplayer options that come with the older Pokémon games, but it is missing a vital feature. Pokémon Legends: Arceus has trading, with players able to trade Pokémon locally, or online with strangers. Pokémon Legends: Arceus players can access the Mystery Gift feature, which allows them to download limited-time items and Pokémon, like the Baneful Fox Mask. Legends: Arceus lacks the co-op gameplay of the Let's Go games, nor is there a Wild Area along with other trainers, like Pokémon Sword and Shield.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus doesn't have local or online battles, which means that players cannot pit their teams against each other. It's possible this is because of the new battle system, which allows the gamer character to move around the battlefield and become injured by enemy Pokémon, as well as the fluid action economy developed by Agile and powerful style moves. There's a chance that Game Freak plans to add online battling in a future update, as it's this type of major part of the series that it's difficult to imagine it being cut entirely. It is possible that the colosseum-style mode might be implemented, where the player character cannot communicate with the battle arena, and also the Pokémon Legends: Arceus Agile and Strong combat styles become optional, in order to bring the battles closer to those of the older Pokémon games.