Is Hisuian Braviary a Good Pokemon?

One of the Noble Pokemon featured in Pokemon Legends Arceus, Hisuian Braviary differs in type from its traditional form for a special regional variant. This Braviary, besides apparently being available to Fly you to places in Hisui, is a Psychic/Flying Type. We have several examples of Pokemon with this type: Sigilyph, Swoobat, and Xatu. In particular, Xatu has proven a useful Pokemon over the years both in game and competitively in lower tiers. So, we have an idea of how the dual typing of Psychic and Flying can function, though none have ever been huge competitive standbys.

Braviary is typically Normal and Flying like many other bird type Pokemon. Is the type shift a blessing or a curse? Notably it gains Ghost and Dark type weaknesses, although it can still hit Dark types for super effective damage before with its array of Fighting-type moves it likely will still learn by level up. It may yet still retain some Fighting-type moves in its repertoire though, such as Superpower, as it was never Fighting type to begin with and never had the Same-Type Attack Bonus anyway.

What is odd about this new typing is that Braviary is known as a vicious physical attacker with a poor Special Attack stat. There are some notable physical Psychic moves, such as Zen Headbutt and Psychic Fangs, but not many, so it will need to have a strong STAB move to pair with Flying-type Brave Bird. Indeed, Braviary could learn Zen Headbutt by Technical Record in Sword and Shield and the Move Tutor in other generations, so it may now learn this by level up in Hisui. It’s also possible that we see the physical and special attack stats somehow altered for this regional variant. Braviary’s current Special Attack is a measly 57 base points. We may also see a signature move revealed for this regional variant Pokemon.

Will Hisuian Braviary be a good Pokemon? A lot of its utility will depend on what its move-pool gains or loses. It will have at the very least access to Zen Headbutt and Brave Bird, as well as likely Superpower as it did when it evolved previously. Based on its current 123 Attack, that’s already still a fine move set. It has decent HP with 100 and modest defenses with 75 base points in both Defense and Special Defense. However, Braviary doesn’t have the greatest speed with just 80. Unlike other Psychic/Flying types, it’s a bit on the slow side. Sigilyph has 97 base speed and Xatu has 95. Swoobat is lightning fast with 117 base speed, but it’s frail and doesn’t hit hard at all.

So, we know Hisuian Braviary will be significantly better than Swoobat, who was a fine Pokemon in Black and White for a good chunk of the adventure, but little beyond that. Braviary also doesn’t quite fit the role that Special Attackers like Xatu and Sigilyph do, Pokemon that are better known for their supporting roles on competitive teams. Xatu is known for its ability Magic Bounce, which reflects status moves, and its mix of utility, defensive, and offensive moves has made it a mid-tier competitive threat. Likewise, Sigilyph has Magic guard, meaning it can’t be damaged by anything but direct attacks, and it can hold Life Orb with no loss of life, making it hit fairly hard with things like Psychic and Air Slash off of a very good 103 Special Attack.

Braviary has hung around a similar competitive tier as Xatu and Sigilyph, relying on Bulk Up and its Defiant ability to boost its Attack, as well as its physical Defense with Bulk Up. It typically runs Brave Bird and Close Combat, with Roost as its final move for recovery. Seeing Bulk Up, Brave Bird, Zen Headbutt, and Roost is possible, but defensively, it loses more than it gains with its new typing. Having Fighting moves now only be 25 percent effective against it is neat, but that’s about it on the gains. The new aforementioned Dark and Ghost weaknesses are significant, and Bug-type moves now hit for 100 percent effectiveness rather than 50 percent.

If Hisuian Braviary were given a speed buff, it’s possible that it could be better, but as it is, it’s probably still a pretty darn good Pokemon. I can’t say that having Zen Headbutt is better than Close Combat or Superpower, though. But, in the Smogon Never Used (NU) tier it’s hung around in for Sword and Shield, it’s worth noting that it can hit quite a few things with Zen Headbutt for super effective damage. Dragalge, Garbador, Passimian, Salazzle, and Sirfetch’d are all hit hard, plus Toxicroak and Vileplume for 4x effective damage. It does get walled by Dark types such as Drapion, Guzzlord, and Zoroark. Fortunately, if it keeps a strong Fighting move in its arsenal, it will still hit the Normal and Steel types it dealt with well before.

Overall, Hisuian Braviary will probably be just fine, although the new defensive weaknesses are hard to overlook. There are enough good Dark and Ghost types that will now give it trouble without its Normal typing, which meant it was immune to Ghost types before. Will its new offensive firepower, which is really limited to Zen Headbutt it seems, overcome its new defensive drawbacks? It seems that Hisuian Braviary gets weaker competitively, but in the game itself, Hisuian Braviary gains a bit more type coverage offensively to the point where it probably mostly evens out. Just don’t bring it out against Dark or Ghost types and you’re probably OK.

Yes, Hisuian Braviary is a good Pokemon, much as traditional Braviary has been decent, if perhaps a bit middling. It’s certainly one of the better Generation 5 Pokemon from a design standpoint and it packs enough punch, especially when it boosts its already stock Attack prowess, to do a fair amount of damage. It’s going to still hit pretty much everything it did before and then some, but to do so may have to sacrifice survivability with Roost or pumping with Bulk Up in order to pack its three best offensive moves. It seems like it can be better than its regular form with the right tools, but it all depends on what reshuffling of its move set and learnable TM’s ends up giving us to work with. It’s a nice design, for sure, and it opens up a new dimension for a fairly useful Pokemon to explore. It gets significantly worse defensively in the competitive tiers where it sees the most usage, but in regular game-play this is going to be a solid Pokemon, for sure.

Photo credit: The Pokemon Company

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