After quite a long wait the 8th generation Pokemon games are here in the form of Pokemon Sword & Shield on the Nintendo Switch. Fans have had huge expectations from these games due to them finally moving the mainline Pokemon games to the home console-portable hybrid. Does Pokemon Sword & Shield live up to these expectations? Read on to find out.
Before we get started I think we need to be clear on one main thing, Pokemon Sword & Shield aren’t the huge game-changers that many fans were expecting it to be. I’ve personally written multiple articles on fan concepts and wishlists, which had fans have super high expectations wanting a Breath of the Wild-like evolution for the series.
When you look at the position Pokemon holds in Nintendo’s portfolio, that was very unlikely to happen. Pokemon is one of Nintendo’s most stable and “safest” franchises that has sold, is selling and will continue to sell in the future. Nintendo and The Pokemon Company, therefore, are unlikely to transform the games much. Over the past few months, ever since Pokemon Sword & Shield were announced, fans have been harassing developers Game Freak over how innovative and “same” the games are but when you think about it, it’s not really their fault is it. Now with that out of the way and our expectations in check, let’s discuss how Pokemon Sword & Shield are actually like to play.
Pokemon Sword & Shield takes place in the Galar region, loosely based on the United Kingdom in terms of the art design and portrayed culture. The games add 81 brand new Pokemon species along with 13 regional variants of existing Pocket Monsters. Unlike the previous games in the series, you’re losing the ability to “catch every Pokemon” due to “Dexit”, a term might have heard before. Due to the move to the Switch and the massive amount of changes feature in Pokemon Sword and Shield, Game Freak was unable to bring back every single Pokemon. There’s still a huge selection of Pokemon that you can obtain in the game however depending on you, your favorite might have not made it.
Sword & Shield also forgoes Mega Evolution in favor of Dynamaxing, which increases the size of Pokemon and gives them extra power. There’s also Gigantamaxing, a rarer form of Dynamaxing which gives certain Pokemon an altered appearance. The games also mark the debut of Wild Areas, which are large open-world areas connecting cities with a free camera, raid battles and much more. Where Pokemon Sun and Moon removed gym battles, they make a better-than-ever return on Sword and Shield. Gym battles in the new games take place in arenas, full of fans cheering you on, the whole vibe is quite amazing, to be honest, and make each battle feel like something special.
The gameplay structure is mostly the same as expected and discussed earlier. The game plays similar to games before Let’s Go, with players having to battle Pokemon to catch them instead of just throwing a Pokeball. The main strategy for the story campaign is simple and predictable with the multiplayer being the main area where you actually need to think about your moves as usual. However the Wild Areas are quite fun to play with as you can run into Pokemon that are at a much higher level than your party, certainly was an interesting experience when I ran into a level 25 Onix in the first Wild Area with my level 12 average party level.
The games also feature a ton of quality-of-life changes that make the gameplay experience very streamlined like you now get Escape Rope as an unlimited use Key Item, you get fast travel before you hit the first gym and you can cross water using your transforming bike without delay among the many other changes. My personal favorite is that there’s now a Move Deleter/Reminder guy at every Pokemon Center. There’s also the usual Exp. Share which is now compulsory and can’t be turned off, which you may or may not like.
I’m not gonna talk much about the story as its pretty forgettable, with an annoying rival in the form of Hop. However it doesn’t matter much since not many people play these games for the hard-hitting story, or well I don’t at least.
I was trying to go into Pokemon Sword & Shield with low expectation due to the realization that I wasn’t going to get the huge reboot-like change that I’ve been waiting for so long, however, the game does feature enough new additions that I ended up actually putting in around 50 hours into it. Although the game should prove to be fairly enjoyable for series veterans who play the yearly Pokemon title, if you haven’t played a Pokemon game in a few years then you’ll have a blast with Pokemon Sword & Shield.
Pokemon Sword & Shield Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield are 2019 role-playing video games developed by Game Freak and published by The Pokémon Company and Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch.
Final Score - 8/10
I was trying to go into Pokemon Sword & Shield with low expectation due to the realization that I wasn't going to get the huge reboot-like change that I've been waiting for so long, however, the game does feature enough new additions that I ended up actually putting in around 50 hours into it.