Pokemon makes its mainline debut on consoles- here’s what you need to know about it.
Finally, Pokemon’s mainline RPG series will be making its debut on a console. Sure, we got Let’s Go on the Switch last year, but this is the first time a new generation of the series is being made for a console. And sure, the Switch is technically also a handheld, but let’s ignore that for now.
A lot’s been said about Pokemon Sword and Shield, some of it positive, some of it not so much, but soon, we’ll all have our hands on the games and get to experience it for ourselves and see just how it turns out. And in this feature, to gear up for Sword and Shield’s launch, we’ll be talking about 15 important details you should know about the RPG duo. With all that said, let’s get started.
With every new Pokemon generation comes a new region to explore, and in Sword and Shield, things are going to be decidedly British. This time, we’ll be exploring the Galar region, which takes inspiration from the UK the way Kalos took cues from France and Alola took cues from Hawaii. We’ve seen industrial cities, quaint towns, and some vast, rolling plains already, so here’s hoping we get to see a lot more environmental diversity in the game.
The biggest change that Galar is offering up is one that’s bound to excite Pokemon fans the most- the Wild Area. For years, we’ve been begging for a more open, exploration-heavy Pokemon title, and as the series has become more and more linear and handhold-y over the years, these demands have only become louder. With the open world Wild Area, Sword and Shield are giving in to these demands. Game Freak haven’t talked about how large this environment will be, and what it’s structure will be like, but if it’s executed properly, it could elevate Galar’s quality as a setting immensely.
WILD POKEMON BATTLES
The Wild Area will also feature dynamic weather – such as thunderstorms, sandstorms, rain, and snow – which, as you can imagine, will change up what kind of wild Pokemon you run into. Meanwhile, wild Pokemon battles are also seeing some other changes. Pokemon will still often appear in the overworld like they did in Let’s Go, though there are also random encounters in tall grass in the game, but what’s interesting is that the former won’t necessarily always appear in tall grass. They will also have varying behaviour, with some running away from the player, and others chasing after you. Finally, players will also be able to lure wild Pokemon by whistling, or approach shy Pokemon that would ordinarily run away by walking toward them slowly.
Of course, with a new Pokemon generation also comes a new antagonistic organization (barring Gold/Silver, of course). So who’re the bad guys this time? Team Yell will take on that role in Sword and Shield. What exactly is their deal? Well, they’re… hooligans? They’re rabid fanboys and fangirls of Marnie, a very popular competitive Pokemon Trainer in the Galar region. Their “deal” is quite unique, as Pokemon criminal organizations go, so it should be interesting to see what role they play in the story.
But enough about new teams and new regions- because the things that matters most with any new Pokemon game is the new Pokemon themselves. And the new starters are probably among the most important new Pokemon with every new generation. Sword and Shield will, unsurprisingly, go with the Fire-Water-Grass starter trio once again. There’s the Fire-Type energetic rabbit Scorbunny, the Grass-Type mischievous monkey Grookey, and the Water-Type timid lizard Sobble. As always, there are, of course, no right or wrong answers when it comes to which of these three is the best, but if you don’t think Sobble is the best, you’re obviously wrong.
The starters are just the beginning when it comes to new Pokemon being introduced with the Galar region. Game Freak haven’t mentioned how many of these they’ll be adding to an aleady ridiculously long list, bbut they have revealed quite a few of them. There’s the Flying/Steel-Type Corviknight, the Water/Rock-Type Drednaw, the Grass-Type Eldegoss, the Normal-Type Wooloo, the Flying/Water-Type Cramorant, the Ghost-Type Polteageist, the Electric/Dark-Type Morpeko, the Steel/Dragon-Type Duraludon, the Rock-Type Rolycoly, the Electric-Type Yamper, and the Dark/Fairy-Type Impidimp. And let’s not forget, the evolution of Farfetch’d, the Fighting-Type Sirfetch’d, who will be exclusive to Pokemon Sword (sorry, Shield owners).
With Pokemon Sun and Moon, Game Freak introduced a very interesting form of Pokemon evolutions (well, sorta evolutions)- Alolan forms. These were Alola-specific forms of older Pokemon, offering up new takes on classic beasts with new looks and new Types. That will continue in Sword and Shield with Galarian forms, and a couple of these have already been revealed. Weezing, for instance, is a Poison/Fair-Type in Galar, and has plumes of smoke for moustaches and wears elongated top hats that also act as chimneys. Then there’s Galarian Zigzagoon, a Dark/Normal-Type, who evolves into Linoone, who also has a Galarian form with that same Type matchup. Linoone, interestingly enough, also has a brand new evolution now- Obstagoon.
When it comes to new Pokemon in new generations, nearly as important as the starters as the Legendaries, and while we don’t know the full list of Legendaries that will be appearing in Sword and Shield, we do know what that primary duo is. Both of them are dogs- Zacian is straight out of Dark Souls, and holds a sword in its mouth. Zamazenta has a massive mane that’s shaped like a shield. They’re also named after colours (cyan and magenta respectively).
NO ELITE 4
With Pokemon Sun and Moon, Game Freak removed Pokemon Gyms, a time-honoured tradition in the series. Sword and Shield are bringing Gyms back, but they, in turn, are removing the Elite 4. So what the hell is the conclusion to our journey even going to be? Well, trainers in the Galar region take on the Gym challenge, and only once that challenge as been completed do they get to participate in the Champion Cup. The Champion Cup is a full-on, nationally televised sporting event, with battles taking place in huge stadiums brimming with audiences. Once you win the Champion Cup, you then get the chance to challenge Galar’s Pokemon League Champion, Leon, and defeating him is your ultimate goal.
Pokemon X and Y introduced Mega Evolutions, Pokemon Sun and Moon introduced Z-Moves. Now, with Pokemon Sword and Shield, it’s time for a new gimmick- Dynamaxing. Using your Dynamax Bandm you can make your Pokemon grow absolutely massive. When a Pokemon is Dynamaxed, it also gets access to Dynamaxed moves. Called Max Moves, these are, as you can imagine, much more powerful than regular moves. Dynamaxing can only be done once per battle, and a Pokemon only remains Dynamaxed for a total of three turns.
Dynamaxins is something that any regular old Pokemon can do. Hell, even a Cascoon can do it (if it’s in the game, that is). But there’s something even more ridiculously over-the-top than Dynamaxing in Sword and Shield- it’s called Gigantamaxing, and only a select few Pokemon species can do this. Gigantamax not only increases a Pokemon’s size, it also changes their appearance- it functions a lot like Mega Evolutions in that regard. So far, Drednaw, Corviknight, and Alcremie have been confirmed to have Gigantamax forms. Gigantamaxed Pokemon also have access to even more powerful moves, called G-Max Moves.
MAX RAID BATTLES
Taking cues from Pokemon Go, Pokemon Sword and Shield will also have co-op-focused raid battles against special Pokemon, called Max Raid Battles. Scattered throughout the Wild Area will be portals, which will take players to Max Raid Battles, which are battles against Dynamaxed Pokemon, who remain Dynamaxed for the whole battle. The nature and difficulty of these battles will also be affected by the current weather in the Wild Area, while before you get into one of these fights, the game will also tell you how difficult the fight is, or what – if any – the loss condition for the battle is (such as letting the battle last for 10 turns). Players also have a time limit before the battle begins to select the Pokemon they want to use. Though Max Raid battles are co-op fights for upto four players (locally or over the internet), you can also tackle these solo.
Similar to Partner Play in Let’s Go, Pokemon Refresh in Sun and Moon, and Pokemon-Aime in OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire, Pokemon Sword and Shield will also allow you to interact more directly with your Pokepals outside of battle with a new feature called Pokemon Camp. At any time, you’ll be able to set up camp, where you will be able to just sit back and watch your Pokemon player or interact with each other, or even be able to play and interact with them. In Pokemon Camp, players will also be able to make curries (of which there are over 100 different kinds) using ingredients and berries that you’ve found – similar to Diamond and Pearl’s cooking minigame. Finally, players will also be able to connect with other players’ Pokemon Camps through local or wireless play.
Another new feature in Pokemon Sword and Shield is Poke Jobs. These are activities that players will be able to take on at the request of corporations and universities, who’re looking for help with various jobs and assignments, such as assisting in construction or cooking. Jobs will often have different requirements for Pokemon types, and completing these jobs will net players with experience points for the Pokemon taking part, and might also yield rare items.
Pokemon Sword and Shield will have an autosave function, which is a first for the series. Yes, in the year 2019. A lot of Pokemon fans actually prefer not having auto save in Pokemon games, to help with stuff like catching legendary Pokemon- and since resetting a Switch is harder the resetting a 3DS, many such fans will obviously be disappointed that auto save is a thing in Sword and Shield. Don’t fret though, because it’s totally optional, and you can turn it off whenever you want.