Pokémon's big Nintendo Switch debut is here! We don't count Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee. Sword and Shield mark the true start of Pokémon generation eight. So how does the forever handheld series' long-awaited jump to console fare? That answer depends on what you want out of the games. Veteran fans hoping for a huge series evolution like Breath of the Wild was to Zelda will be disappointed by the obvious illusion of change and general technical lack. Those looking to casually enjoy an adventure with weird critters will find fun. But how long will that fun last?
While it would be nice to give a quick answer and call it an article, the truth is not so set in stone. Since there are different kinds of Pokémon fans buying these games expecting different things, there will be different approaches to playing them. Because of this, the time to beat Pokémon Sword and Shield varies. The accepted range at release is somewhere between 30-40 hours.
The lower number obviously belongs to those who sped through the story as soon as possible. Many Sword and Shield reviewers reported times in the mid to high 30s. They wanted to complete the bulk of the game by deadline, so they skipped out on a lot of non-essential NPC interactions and didn't dawdle too much in the games' open-world(ish) Wild Area.
Some leakers who got their hands on early copies stated clear times in the range of 12-16 hours. That sounds unbelievable, but perhaps they really powered through the bare minimum content in an effort to leak everything as soon as possible. Combining this with the reviewers' times, we'll assume that the most efficient Pokémon trainers will be able to finish Sword and Shield's main story after about 25-30 hours of gameplay.
That leaves those who prefer the slow and steady route. Pokémon games encourage exploration, even if the "dungeons" never reach Zelda levels of complexity. Sword and Shield also add the Wild Area, an open section of the map where wild Pokémon roam free and the weather constantly changes. The Wild Area seems built for repeat visits, although reviews are mixed on if it actually delivers. Still, players could easily add some hours to their playtime by constantly checking in on the Wild Area.
Those players who do return to the Wild Area often, seek out every NPC, and generally stop to take in the world will clock in around 40 hours of play time. Some reviewers who took it really slow even reported closer to 50. Those seem to be more extreme cases, however.
Overall, it seems that the average player can expect to spend around 30-40 hours becoming the champion of Galar. Whether that merits your $60 is up to you. It's certainly comparable to the other recent Pokémon games. Stay tuned for TheGamer's review to learn more about how Sword and Shield do, and don't, take the series into the future.