A new trailer for Pokémon Sword & Shield and an update to the official website have revealed that the games will feature version-exclusive Gyms. The first few version-exclusive Pokémon for the next generation have also been revealed.
Players who purchase Pokémon Sword will be able to battle a Fighting-type Gym Leader named Bea. Meanwhile, Pokémon Shield adopters will go up against a Ghost-type Gym Leader named Allister. This is something that the series last did in Pokémon Black & White. The screenshots on the official Pokémon website have revealed that the Gyms exist in the same location in-game. Right now, it seems as though only the residents will be different.
It has also been revealed that Pokémon Sword will feature Deino and Jangmo-o, while Pokémon Shield will feature Larvitar and Goomy. Zacian and Zamazenta may also be restricted to the games that they appear on the covers of.
Originally, the idea of version-exclusive Pokémon titles was intended to encourage people to play with each other. This was in the days of the Game Boy and its Link Cable. However, the fact that players can easily connect online gives less reason for two different versions of each game. It's possible, then, that Game Freak will try and differentiate the two versions even further from this point on.
It's possible that there could be version-exclusive villainous teams. This would be similar to the way Team Aqua & Team Magma had different roles in Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire. It's also possible that there might be version-exclusive Elite Four members. The Champion of the Galar region has already been established as a trainer named Leon, though, so he will likely remain the same in each game.
The question now is whether there will be more version-exclusive differences between Pokémon Sword & Shield. It's a given that there will be more version-exclusive Pokémon in the future, but it's possible that there might be more different Gym Leaders. Perhaps there's finally a chance of a Dark-type Gym Leader, which would be a first for the series.
Pokémon Sword & Shield will be released for the Nintendo Switch on November 15, 2019.