Early Wednesday morning, gamers around the globe tuned in to finally get some clarity on the highly anticipated Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield titles, and let me tell ya, the company definitely delivered an information bomb. 15 minutes of cold, hard insight and a game trailer 3 ½ minutes long. Let’s dig in, shall we?
The official release date is November 15th of this year, and the games will take place in the Galar region. In the trailer, the region appeared to be based on the United Kingdom, with a metropolis feel and Pokémon inspired by the country. The trailer also included footage of open grasslands, mountains, forests, and lakes, with Pokémon doing whatever they do out in the wild, so hopefully, this game will have a nice balance between cities and wilderness. This year’s Direct also introduced us to a handful of new characters and Pokémon, including the game’s starters and the two legendaries.
Grookey, Scorbunny and Sobble will join our main characters on their journey as they discover new Pokémon. A few that were introduced during the event were Wooloo, Gossifer, Drednaw, and Corvikight. Your neighbor and rival, Hop, is also Champion Leon’s younger brother so… we can only assume he will be as annoying and friendly as all our previous rivals. Champion Leon will be the game’s biggest challenger, and overall players will encounter more traditional gyms rather than trials similar to those we saw in Sun and Moon. I am personally grateful for this, as gyms were always way more fun and I just wasn’t a fan of the trial system. There are two new characters, who have been receiving the most attention and *cough* fan art, who will help you along the way. They are Professor Magnolia and her assistant/granddaughter, Sonia. These characters will be assisting the main character on their journey, providing valuable information regarding Pokémon, battles and the Pokédex, which will take the form of a smartphone. No surprise there.
The games two legendary Pokémon, Zacian and Zamazenta are true to the games’ titles, with one holding a sword and the other being an actual shield. The fact that they both look like huge dogs is even better.
These games will also offer co-op play, and with Max Raid Battles you and four friends will be able to fight against powerful Pokémon for a chance at catching a rare Pokémon. Based on the trailer, it seems that this round of Pokémon games will take on a more open-world direction, with opportunities to explore and actually spend time befriending Pokémon and battling foes apart from the main quest. This is something I really appreciated about older games, so I’m relieved that Pokémon Sword and Shield are placing the series’s focus back on enjoying some adventure, and less so on solving a mystery and/or beating the champion.
The trailer also gave us a chance to see the art style, which is colorful and light, and the overall scale of the region. The trailer actually reminded me a bit of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, with grand environments to explore and a feel of wide-open adventuring. Maybe this is the direction Nintendo plans to push with future RPG’s?
Aside from nature, the trailer also hinted at an underground mine (secret bases?!), wilderness tents, vibrant towns, cities, and huge – I’m talking super bowl size – stadiums for battles! Yes, in the Galar region, Pokémon battle is life. It seems that most Pokémon battles, whether in an arena or out in the wild, will take place with some sort of dramatic battle-scape, the most important battles requiring the audience of an entire city. New and improved stadium additions are the perfect foundation for the biggest new mechanic: Dynamaxing.
Basically, this new perk allows you to transform your cute little companions into giant, battling Poké-zillas. Dynamaxing can only be used once per battle and only lasts for 3 turns, BUT your massive Pokémon’s abilities will be nothing short of nuclear war status, with plenty of explosions and light and all that good stuff. I personally can’t wait to use this on a Magikarp.
It makes sense why larger arenas are a big deal in this game, and it makes me wonder what else Pokémon Sword and Shield will have to offer. If you’re stuck on which one to buy, no need to fear because double packs are now available for pre-order! I’m a little torn myself, but I’m sure either one will be fantastic.