Pokémon Sword & Shield is bringing many changes to the game’s formula, from the Pokémon League system to the controversial removal of hallmark features like the National Dex and some classic moves and abilities.
While GameFreak already demonstrated new changes like Dynamax and the open world, there is much for them to reveal before players get their hands on this anticipated title. Here are some ways that GameFreak and Nintendo can switch things up in Sword/Shield before the newest mainline entry releases.
10 No Difference: Items As A Mechanic
Items probably won’t function any different in this game. The Focus Sash from Gen 4 is going to be the same Focus Sash in Sword/Shield, and so on. To be fair, they don’t need to change. Their purpose is to offer minor buffs or gameplay benefits when held by Pokémon.
It would be interesting to see GameFreak try something new in mechanics. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have two Pokémon hold items that react from each other in double battle settings? They did it with the Pledge moves in Gen 5, why not now?
The only major change when it comes to items for right now seems to be the removal of the Exp. Share, Mega Stones and Z-Crystals. The latter two were removed because GameFreak confirmed that Mega Evolution and Z-Moves will not be returning in Sword/Shield.
9 Switch It Up: Raising Pokémon For Competitive
While many changes are coming to Sword/Shield, the more hardcore community dedicated to PvP battles are getting some attention in the form of Mints. Mints are new items that can change the stat-growth patterns of a Pokémon.
They are named after Natures for their effects, but they do not change the Natures of Pokémon. Here is the description of an Adamant Candy: “When a Pokémon smells this mint, its Attack will grow more easily, but its Sp. Atk will grow more slowly.”
According to pokémonND, a Pokémon YouTuber, he noted that Mints can help players who hunt for Shiny Pokémon. Since hunting for Shiny Pokémon is such a tedious activity, players may get frustrated if the Pokémon doesn’t have a great Nature or IVs. PokémonND also noted that this makes early and mid-game Pokémon more viable in the endgame. Awesome changes!
8 No Difference: Traversing The Over-World
Pokémon Sun/Moon changed how Hidden Machines (HMs) are used in the game. By change, we mean they straight up removed them. No more having to beat Gym Leaders to use the HM and progress further in the game. Unlockable Pokemon do the work for you.
This will also be the case in Sword/Shield, just with different flavors. There will be a bike that allows the player to cross water, and Corviknight seems to be the replacement for Fly, like Charizard in Sun/Moon.
It would be more interesting for GameFreak to challenge the player to get around certain puzzles and obstacles in unique ways rather than give them an item or Pokémon to do it for them. Ya know, like an actual RPG.
7 Switch It Up: Pokémon Interactions
GameFreak has been experimenting with Pokémon interactions since Generation 4, where the player can walk around with a certain Pokémon in Amity Square in Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. In Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver, the first Pokémon in a player’s party can walk around with them in the over-world. X/Y gave us Pokémon Amie, where players can pet, feed and clean their Pokémon to build Friendship and give them battle bonuses.
In the official trailer, it shows the player character eating curry and reacting with a Jolteon. This doesn’t give much information regarding Pokémon interactions this time around, but it’s an interesting sneak peek for what’s to come.
6 No Difference: Character Customization
Character customization has been a series mainstay since X/Y was released. Not only could players change their outfit, but they could also skin tone for the first time, alter their hairstyle, don make-up and so-on.
The Sword/Shield trailer showcased more customization options and variation in the trailer. The designs look dynamic and bright in color. Unless there will be ways to earn clothes and accessories as opposed to buying them, but it seems like there isn’t going to be anything different. New region, new style. That’s all there is to it.
5 Switch It Up: Stat-Altering Items and Held Items
Remember those battle effect items like Dire Hit, X Speed and X Attack? Those things nobody ever used? It’s not confirmed whether they will return in Sword/Shield, but we wouldn’t be surprised if GameFreak debuted with something to replace them.
There are new held items that can be used in battle. If a Pokémon is holding the Eject Pack, they will immediately be switched out if they are affected by stat-reducing moves. Room Service lowers the Pokémon’s Speed in Trick Room. There are also various sizes of new items called Exp. Candy, which boosts a Pokémon’s EXP. So, Rare Candy is dead? We’ll have to see…
4 No Difference: Technical Machines (TMs)
Technical Machines (TMs) are methods to teach a Pokémon move outside of their move pool. The only thing that would change about TMs is the selection of moves. Of course, some mainstays like Fire Blast, Light Screen, Rain Dance, and Hyper Beam will return. And some of the new moves introduced in Gen 8 will become TMs for Sword/Shield. They do it every Generation and in every game.
To be fair, is there anything new that can be done for Technical Moves? Mechanically, there has been nothing wrong with them since they became reusable in Gen 5. If they were going to expand on it, they could make a more refined Tutor system in place of DVDs to tap a Pokémon with.
3 Switch It Up: Co-Op Battles
It’s obvious that Pokémon going in a mobile and co-op direction since Pokémon GO expanded the franchise in 2016. They already introduced Raid battles, where up to four players can come together to catch a Dynamax Pokémon, similar to Raids in Pokémon GO.
How about changing up Double Battles? Keep the format but differing from the singleplayer approach. Four online players come together, except its 2v2. Two trainers pair up to fight against another pair. It’s already something that other competitive games have done, but Pokémon is not like other competitive RPG games. It’s a fun thought but requires communication between the two trainers. It may even slow the pace of the battle.
2 No Difference: Pokémon Moves
Naturally, they’re going to be adding new moves since it is a new region. GameFreak likes to experiment with new mechanics every new entry. However, this will not change the core gameplay at all. Very rarely will brand new moves ever become meta or stick around in the endgame. They’re just new gimmicks.
According to a leak from Twitter user Kaphotics, GameFreak will also be cutting standard Pokémon moves alongside Z-Moves. Through datamining, the Twitter user found that over 144 moves will be cut, including Dragon Rage, Feint Attack, Sky Uppercut, Flash, Mirror Move, Return, Flame Burst, and Hidden Power.
A lot of these moves are early and mid-game attacks, but it’s surprising that solid attacks like Flame Burst, Return, and Feint Attack were removed. Players will have to wait and see how they will be replaced.
1 Switch It Up: Eating
Eating is a mechanic that has not been around long in the Pokémon games. Sure, one could argue that eating has been around since Berries were a thing, but Berries operated more like Items before Pokémon Contests (Gen 3) made them more useful.
For the player character, “eating” in restaurants was another means of battling in X/Y and Sun/Moon. As teased in the Sword/Shield trailer, it looks like there will be changes to eating, but players will have to wait and see.