Pokémon Sword & Shield won't be including Pokémon from previous generations of the series, but it is now possible that some may be added post-launch. The initial news caused a bit of a stir during E3 and created a #Bringbacknationaldex trend on Twitter after the news broke.
Initially, Game Freak stated that it would be too much work to have include previous Pokémon, as there are now over 800 in the series. However, it was later stated that limiting the number would also be good to balance the competitive environment. Since then, Game Freak has stated that there is a possibility that some of those Pokémon might be added to the game after launch but didn't commit to any hard numbers.
Since the announcement of the limited Pokédex was made, Game Freak has spent some time explaining how much effort would be involved in adding all 800 of the Pokémon. However, fans of the series were still frustrated because the franchise has built itself upon this ever-expanding roster of available Pokémon. A new Pokémon Home system will also soon be launching.
In a Pokémon Direct that was shown not long before E3, Nintendo revealed the upcoming Pokémon Home as a wonderful, innovative service for players. It is a cloud-based storage system for players' Pokémon that can be accessed on smartphones and the Nintendo Switch. The new service will allow players to take Pokémon from the physical copies of Ruby and Sapphire, the digital versions of Red and Blue, as well as the more recent Ultra Sun and Moon.
Logically, players assumed that Pokémon Home would allow them to transfer their Pokémon to the upcoming Sword & Shield. However, Game Freak revealed that this would be restricted to regional captures and sharing only. So, if your favorite Pokémon are not included in the upcoming Galar region, you won't be able to capture and train them.
Can players enjoy the experience of a new game without their favorite Pokémon? Going forward, the decision to exclude so many Pokémon may be a design choice for future games, and if so, fans likely won't be happy.
This move will save Game Freak considerable amounts of resources, but it feels like a real punch to the gut for lifelong fans of the series, and now, the new vague and non-committal statement that there might be additions made in the future has many fans hoping for more.
Pokémon Sword & Shield will launch on November 15, 2019.