Pokémon Sword & Shield is here! Many fans have been anticipating the first mainline entry to a home console. There are tons of new features and changes, such as the controversial removal of the National Dex. This situation has divided the fanbase, but all hope is not lost.
There are plenty of reasons to still enjoy Sword/Shield. With a brand-new generation comes exciting new features to try out, whether you are an old or new fan! Here are some things about Pokémon Sword & Shield to take your mind off the National Dex controversy!
10 A New Version Difference
In Generations, getting a different Version usually means getting access to other Pokémon, the other legendary Pokémon, and a few items. In Gen 3 and 4, sometimes the cities will have very small changes. However, Sword/Shield are different.
Not only are certain Pokémon exclusive to each Version, but there are two Gym Leaders that are exclusive to their respective Version: Fighting-type specialist Bea and Ghost-type specialist Allister. Bea is in Sword, and Allister is in Shield. While this is a minor change, it’s still an interesting concept that GameFreak should do more often.
This is another source of contention for the split fanbase. GameFreak’s Junichi Masuda said that they sacrificed half of the National Dex to focus on graphical fidelity and creating new Pokémon models from scratch.
Honestly, the game looks phenomenal. The colors pop, and the towns/cities look sleek, well-textured and beautiful. The Pokémon models have jumped into the next console generation, compared to the slightly pixelated and black-lined models from the 3DS era. While there are some issues on the technical side, as YouTuber Digital Foundry outlined in a video, the overall presentation is fantastic!
Pokémon has been moving towards a more traditional RPG experience with the mainline games. While they are still planted firmly in their roots, one of the biggest changes is the introduction of cutscenes. They experimented with this in X/Y and committed fully to it in Sun/Moon.
Here is their third attempt in Sword/Shield, and wow! The transitions between cutscenes and battles are almost seamless. The movements of the characters and Pokémon are a little more fluid, slightly more natural. There are times when the sprites look stiff and have a weird orientation, but things are overall smooth. Now, we just need some voice acting!
7 Customization Options
This is a breath of fresh air. Customization was introduced in Gen 6 with X/Y, which provided an assortment of styles and types of clothing to dress the protagonist. Unfortunately, the variety took a downgrade in Sun/Moon.
In Sword/Shield, there are way more options and variety in hairstyles, colors, and clothes. There are better textures on clothing, such as denim jeans, sweaters, and graphic T-shirts. Players can also wear gloves now! This is just scratching the surface. Character customization fans, eat your hearts out.
6 Dynamax/Gigantamax Forms
Dynamax and Gigantamax Forms are the new gameplay gimmick of Gen 8. Players can supersize a Pokémon of their choice for new appearances, moves, and abilities. It’s similar to Mega Evolution.
What some longtime fans will be pleased with are the altered features of some returning and new Pokémon. Lapras’ shell is a cruise ship while the Pokémon itself is more daunting. Gengar’s mouth is a portal to another dimension. Grimmsnarl becomes something out of a Final Fantasy boss battle. And do we need to mention Meowth, Pikachu and Eevee’s Gigantamax forms?
If there is one consistent high for Pokémon, it’s their music. On YouTube, there are multiple channels dedicated to uploading soundtracks from the games, remixes, arranges and all types of variations. Pokémon fans create playlists of Pokémon soundtracks and themes.
Some of the standout hits are the Gym Leader Battle Music, Marnie’s Theme and the Battle Tower Battle Theme! What’s special about the Battle Tower theme is that Toby Fox, the creator of Undertale, composed this song for Game Freak!
4 Galarian Variants
Some Alolan variants of classic Pokémon were hit and miss. While the fanbase adored Alolan Vulpix, Marowak and Raichu, some weren’t as taken to Alolan Ratatta or Muk. Now that the new Galarian forms have rolled out, they really put more thought into appearances and gameplay mechanics!
For example, Galarian Zigzagoon has the third evolution now: Obstagoon! People lost their minds over Galarian Ponyta, which is now a Psychic-type. Galarian Darumaka, which is an Ice-type, can evolve into Darmanitan (Ice/Fire) via a new evolutionary stone: The Ice Stone.
Characters are another area GameFreak rarely falters on. From the designs to their personalities, Gym Leaders, Professors, Rivals and other NPCs always manage to find a fanbase in the Pokémon community.
And, honestly, the character designs in Sword/Shield are some of the best GameFreak has produced in the last five years. There’s more color pop, personality and distinction. Special mention goes to Marnie, Bede, Nessa, Allister, Bea, Sonia and Melony.
2 New Way To Competitively Train
Balance is a touchy subject with Pokémon and has become increasingly difficult with over 900 Pokémon to consider. That all changes with Sword/Shield. Many mechanics have been changed to be more streamlined or easier to manipulate a Pokémon’s stats. All changes were outlined in a video from the official Pokémon YouTube account, but here’s a summary:
Pokémon of the same species can now pass on Egg moves. Mints can alter IV preferences despite the Pokémon’s Nature not changing; this is especially important for Shiny hunters. Rare Candies have been removed and replaced with Exp. Candies of various sizes. Supplements like Calcium and HP Up can now max out a Pokémon’s base stats.
1 Pokémon Encounters/Management
This was probably one of the most drastic changes to the game’s formula. Wild encounters are a cornerstone in the game structure besides actual battles. Pokémon are viewable in the over world, and players can decide which ones they want to interact with.
Players do not need Repels anymore to avoid wild Pokémon. They can sneak around them or run when a Pokémon begins to chase them. It makes for a more immersive experience and is a little more realistic. Players can also access their PC anytime to switch out Pokémon on the go.