Admittedly I skipped gen 6, so I don't know what improvements were made there, but in comparison to gens 2-5, a lot of great stuff got added here. For starters, the story is a lot better than most other main series Pokemon games. I actually cared about the characters and their stories and they had personalities. It doesn't make up for the ridiculous amount of long cutscenes, but it is a great story.
I love that the exp share affects the entire team, which was of course kept for later games and the exp share was nixed. Letting catches count for exp is a blessing, and I'd forgotten it wasn't always the case because I didn't do these in chronological order, and went back to be surprised that it wasn't a thing. I'm glad Zygarde was a lot easier here. From what I've read of Sun/Moon, it was a nightmare before. HMs are gone, which is great, and I love riding Pokemon around (except for Mantine swim but only because of the minigame). I wish they'd kept that for gen 8 (I mean technically we still ride Corviknight, but it's not the same). A lot of the new Pokemon designs are pretty great, too. I love Solgaleo and Lunala, Oricolo, Comfrey, Palosand, Mimikyu, Cosmog, Alolan Raichu, and so many others. (the ultra beasts, though, just look kind of dumb, although Stakataka and Celesteela are at least kind of funny) It's also great that I don't have to make room in my party to accept eggs.
I really like the opportunity to catch a TON of previous legendaries. Usually it's only a few. That being said, the ultra warp ride and its related RNG is complete garbage and one of the primary reasons I hate ultra USUM. Spawn rates are too low, the ride itself bugs out and is too finicky, and it's just a pain. The only good aspect (besides the chance to catch a dozen legendaries and UBs) is that legendaries aren't shiny locked. It's otherwise the worst of this game's many terrible minigames. The second is Mantine Swim, which is even more buggy and even more frustrating because of its unskippable story-involved tutorial. Then there's Festival Plaza, the first of the game's "we're giving you the option to skip, but not really" "RPG" elements. You can ignore it at first. But if you do, shortly later, the story drags you into it. After being inside for a bit, the game asks you if you want to keep playing, for some reason. It doesn't matter what you answer: you have to keep playing it. In the post-game, once you've caught your first UB (I wanted both), you're sent home. When you wake up, you have a long unavoidable time back in the FP. It's... truly ridiculous.
Multi-battle is bizarrely stupid, and the tutorial is also unavoidable. Island scan is a giant waste of time unless you want the gen 6 starters or Magearna. In fact, anything related to "AR" or the camera function is ridiculous. One of the "trials" (replacement gym battles) is to go into a building and try to take photos of four ghost Pokemon. The first three can hide in ridiculous places, and the camera is slow, so trying to get the 4th one made me dizzy because the camera would not move.
The reversed day/night cycle is bizarre and dumb. Most of the trials are stupid busywork, which is most of this game: tedium. Yes, it's a game. But it's not enjoyable. And of course, as always for the mainline series: there are game-locked Pokemon, so you have to get both or find someone to trade with. Not to mention there are two three-stage legendaries and one two-stage legendaries, none of which you can breed, so good luck with your living dex for a game that even on speedruns takes over 5.5 hours.
Overall, the quality of life improvements and good story don't make up for the awful minigames, the terrible RNG, the fact that this is the first in the series I've had that lags (at least in SW/SH I can turn online mode off), and how overly long it is.
Length of ownership: 1 week
No: I don’t recommend this product