Pokémon Sword & Shield were originally met with tremendous enthusiasm by the fans of Pokémon, due to the fact that they are the first mainline entries in the series that are appearing on a home console. The initial trailers showed the mystical Galar region that is based on Great Britain, with the new starter Pokémon all being met favorably by the fans.
The hype for Pokémon Sword & Shield grew even further with the last Pokémon-themed Nintendo Direct, with the game featuring large open areas that are teeming with wild Pokémon, a new selection of multiplayer raid battles against giant Pokémon, the ability to transform your Pokémon into giants with the new Dynamax power, and a few new Pokémon that quickly inspired adoration from the fans, most notably Wooloo the sheep Pokémon.
The hype for Pokémon Sword & Shield considerably diminished after E3 2019, however, as there were several disappointing announcements made during the Nintendo Treehouse Live events. These have spelled a much bleaker picture for the first console Pokémon games. It turns out that Pokémon Sword & Shield will have considerably less content than the previous games in the series, which has caused a backlash from the fans.
It's possible that there is more going on behind-the-scenes that has influenced these controversial changes, and Game Freak might be saving these cut features for a return to the old three-game format.
What Exactly Has Been Cut?
Pokémon Sword & Shield is missing three major things from the earlier games - Mega Evolutions, Z-Moves, and most of the Pokémon in the Pokédex.
It was revealed during the Nintendo Treehouse: Live events that Pokémon Sword & Shield will only feature Pokémon from the Galar region. This means that the players can only use the Pokémon that are caught in the game. It has been confirmed that people who purchase the Pokémon Home app for smartphones will still only be able to trade Pokémon that appear in Pokémon Sword & Shield. The number of Pokémon that will be available in Pokémon Sword & Shield is unknown, but it will be significantly less than what was available in Pokémon Sun & Moon.
Pokémon Sword & Shield will also be missing Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves. Mega Evolutions allowed certain Pokémon to undergo temporary evolutions that only lasted for a single battle and would give incredible benefits to those who used it. Z-Moves were ultra-powerful attacks that could be used once per battle. Pokémon Sword & Shield has the Dynamax feature, which allows Pokémon to increase their size, but many fans believe this is a lazy addition to the series that lacks the imagination of Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves.
Pokémon Sword & Shield might be missing hundreds of Pokémon, along with two features that changed the competitive battling scene.
The Animal Crossing Problem
The cuts made to Pokémon Sword & Shield have prompted a backlash from fans and there are likely many people who believe that the changes can be amended in time for the game's November release. A similar outcry caused the developers of Super Mario Maker 2 to change their mind regarding online play with friends, so why shouldn't the same thing work for Pokémon Sword & Shield?
The problem with putting all of those cut features back in is due to time, as Pokémon Sword & Shield will be the Nintendo Switch's biggest games during the crucial holiday season of 2019. The presence of Pokémon Sword & Shield is even more important than ever, as Nintendo revealed at E3 that Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been pushed back to 2020. A lot of pundits believed that the new Animal Crossing title was going to be the Nintendo Switch's other big holiday season game of 2019, but the delay means that Pokémon Sword & Shield will be carrying the system over Christmas.
The chances of Pokémon Sword & Shield being delayed due to fan backlash is slim, as their release over the holiday season is too important, especially with Animal Crossing: New Horizons being delayed.
The Return Of The Third Version
It's possible that the reason why so many features & Pokémon have been cut is due to the limited development time that Pokémon Sword & Shield has remaining, which is why Game Freak might use the situation to its advantage by bringing back the concept of the third version.
In the days before Pokémon Black & White, each new set of Pokémon games would receive a third game that included new content. Game Freak dropped the idea of third versions with Pokémon Black & White and has only used sequels & spin-offs since then.
A third version of the Pokémon Sword & Shield generation (Pokémon Armor?) could justify its existence by restoring the cut features from previous games. The return of a couple of hundred Pokémon, Mega Evolutions, and Z-Moves would essentially create a new game on its own, without needing to add anything else.
The tight deadline of Pokémon Sword & Shield seems to be a factor in the removal of so much content, but Game Freak could easily take a year to restore them following the release of Pokémon Sword & Shield and bring back the concept of the third version in a blaze of glory.
Pokémon Sword & Shield will be released for the Nintendo Switch on November 15, 2019.