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Generation VIII of the Pokémon series is here at last. Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield are coming to Nintendo Switch before the year is out.
Set in the new Galar region, there will be plenty of new Pokémon for you to collect in the latest RPGs, as well as opportunities to battle rival trainers at one of the area’s super-sized Gyms.
“We’re challenging ourselves to try new things while still treasuring what makes Pokémon special,” said director Shigeru Ohmori during the announcement in late February 2019.
And Junichi Masuda, producer on both titles, has also teased “never-before-seen Pokémon” in the new games. Here’s everything we know so far.
Pokémon Sword and Shield release date: It’s on its way!
Back in February, we learned that Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield would be out before the end of the year, and they will be released simultaneously.
Now, it’s been confirmed that both will have the same global release date of Friday, November 15, 2019 – and a special double pack is now available to pre-order.
Pokémon Sword and Shield trailers: Generation VIII is here
February’s Pokémon Direct announcement wasn’t an official trailer as such, but contained a good first look at the new games.
You’ll see some familiar faces in the trailer, too – Pikachu, Hoothoot, Flygon and Munchlax, to name just a few…
Here’s the second Pokémon Direct announcement from June, which includes more of an in-depth look at Galar, as well as some pretty cool shots of the new Dynamax (aka ‘bloomin’ massive and very very powerful’) Pokémon.
And if you want some Gigantamax action (more on that below), then we can oblige with this quick intro.
Pokémon Sword and Shield starters: Three is the magic number
As per the usual tradition, you can expect a trio of starter Pokémon, and here’s what we’ve been told about each of them so far…
Meet Grookey, a Grass-type Pokémon who looks a little bit like a tiny chimp. Grookey is a quite adorable green and orange creature, who Ohmori says is “full of boundless curiosity”.
A Fire-type Pokémon, this is Scorbunny, who, as you’ve probably gathered from the name, looks a little bit like a rabbit. Scorbunny loves to run, and, as seen in the Pokémon Direct, has the potentially useful/potentially dangerous talent of being able to start small fires.
Described as “a bit timid” by Ohmori. Some have compared Sobble’s appearance to a chameleon, but the Water-type Pokémon was described as a “water lizard” in the Pokemon Direct.
This little blue and yellow creature was the most popular of the three starters in a poll held on Pokémon’s Twitter account (although as you can see, it was a closely-run contest with Scorbunny).
We’ve no idea yet what evolutions are in store for these three – a number of leaks have been debunked already. Regardless, doesn’t everyone like a bit of mystery? More on how the trio will evolve when we have something concrete.
Pokémon Sword and Shield region: Welcome to Galar
Check out this map of Galar. Plenty to keep you entertained here, including a clock tower that looks at lot like the one next to St Pancras station in London (or “establishing shot of Kings Cross station from the Harry Potter movies”).
“Galar is an expansive region with many environments, containing idyllic countryside and contemporary cities, vast plains and craggy, snow-covered mountains,” Ohmori said during the first Pokémon Direct announcement.
“The people and Pokémon live here, and they’ve worked together to develop the industries in the region.
“Here in this region, you’ll visit Gyms with the newly-discovered Pokémon you choose to be your first partner, aiming for the enviable and admirable title of Champion.”
A little more about Galar, as learned from the June Pokémon Direct – it’s teeming with “vast and lush grasslands”, and towns where humans and Pokémon work together (a bit like Ryme City in Detective Pikachu, don’t you think?)
Galar also has a huge Wild Area, and the Pokémon you discover in it will be tailored to your geographical area and the weather(!), using your local WiFi data via the Switch. The team at GameFreak has promised that there will be “new discoveries for you each day”.
You’ll also have control over the camera in-game, to enable easy searching.
As for Battles? People in Galar are well into them, packing out massive, stadium-sized Gyms – and the contests even air on TV. Big business likes to get in on the battles too, sponsoring Gyms and champions.
This here is Chairman Rose, who leads the committee which manages the battles in Galar.
And Rose is supported by the vice-president of his company, Oleana, who has responsibility for day-to-day operations and boasts a “calm and collected personality”.
Galar has a Pokémon League, where players do battle with their rivals and challenge the region’s Gym Leaders for a spot in the tournament. The Gym Challenge requires endorsement from a Gym Leader to join, and try and collect all eight Gym Badges.
And the annual Champion Cup (broadcast on regional TV, of course), decides who will be able to challenge the reigning Pokémon champion. It’s open to exemplary trainers across Galar (for example, those who manage to complete the Gym Challenge).
Pokémon Sword and Shield gyms: Meet the trainers
Gyms are more like stadiums here, as mentioned above. Gym leaders have extremely powerful Dynamax Pokémon on their side.
June’s Pokémon Direct also introduced gym leader Milo, a grass-type expert. Ohmori adds that “you will have to overcome his tenacious fighting style” in order to succeed.
And here’s the champion, Leon – the greatest trainer in all of Galar, with an undefeated record in official competition, and, according to Ohmori, a “shining personality, winning him the adoration of trainers in the region”.
But there’s a young pretender in the form of Leon’s little brother Hop – who will also be your rival in the two games.
His journey through Galar coincidentally starts on the same day as yours, and he wants to become a great champion and Pokémon trainer, just like his big brother.
At E3, it was announced that you’ll also be able to challenge Nessa, a Water-type Gym leader who “has a calm and collected attitude that hides a competitive spirit and indomitable will”.
Other new additions include Bea (in Pokémon Sword) and Allister (in Pokémon Shield).
Bea is a stoic karate prodigy with a precise battle style, whatever the circumstances. She’s also an expert on Fighting-type Pokémon.
Allister is a shy but talented Ghost-type Pokémon expert, who hides his face behind a mask on the rare occasions that he makes public appearances.
Pokemon Sword and Shield Pokedex: New additions – and a confirmed evolution
The three starters aren’t the only new Pokémon you will encounter. July 2019 saw four newly-discovered Pokémon in Galar…
A Fairy-type Pokémon which produces whipped cream, which it can throw at opponents to distract them or temporarily blind them.
A puppy-like, Electric-type Pokémon which loves to chase after people, Pokémon, or even vehicles. Yamper generates electricity, but can’t store it, so is often seen running around surrounded by sparks. And its Ball Fetch ability comes into play if you throw a Poké Ball at a wild Pokémon but fail to catch it, a useful skill that immediately elevates Yamper into the category of Very Good Galar Region Doggos.
A Coal-type Pokémon which can light up dark areas with its red eye, and can travel smoothly across rough terrain. Almost every household across Galar had a Rolycoly providing its coal until around a hundred years ago. If Rolycoly is hit with a Fire or Water-type move during battle, Steam Engine will give it a speed stat boost.
A mountain-dwelling, Steel/Dragon-type Pokémon which is light, but made of surprisingly durable metal (although it is susceptible to rust and corrosion). They’re often seen fighting with Tyranitar, their neighbours.
And James Turner, art director at GameFreak, told us a little bit more about some new additions to the Pokedex in June’s Direct presentation…
James told us that Wooloo’s fluffy fur is “treasured by weavers in a town in the Galar region”.
Caution! Dreadnaur is “difficult to tame”, according to James – unless you’re a very experienced trainer. He adds that those teeth can “bite off chunks of rock and iron”.
This raven Pokémon’s party trick is, to quote James, “working as a flying taxi”. You’ll be able to hitch a lift with Corviknight to any town you have previously visited in a game. Pretty handy, hey?
Gossifleur (evolution to Eldegoss)
Here’s Gossifleur, the Flowering Pokémon, who we’re told “favours places with clean air and water”. James adds that its pollen is said to have “healing properties”.
Gossifleur evolves to Eldegoss, with seeds “said to promote growth in plants and [that] can revitalise both people and Pokemon”.
But can those seeds work their magic on your HP after a pretty taxing battle? That’s what we want to know.
Pokémon Sword and Shield: Tell us about the Legendary Pokémon, please
There are two legendary Pokémon in this game, and they were teased at the end of the Nintendo Direct.
Meet the mysterious Zacian and Zazamenta, who, rather appropriately, have a resemblance to a sword and shield.
Pokémon Sword and Shield Dynamax and Gigantamax: What’s this all about, then?
GIANT POKEMON. That’s the short version. The longer version? Well…
Dynamax will boost a Pokémon’s size and its powers, and all the moves they know become Max Moves, as the games’ planning director Kazumasa Iwao revealed in the June Nintendo Direct.
The Dynamax function can only be used once per battle, and the Pokémon will revert to normal after three turns, so it’s a boost that you’ll need to use tactically in battle.
If you connect to other players in the Wild Area, you can find a Max Raid Battle feature in co-operative multiplayer (a first for the main Pokémon series).
Four of you will be able to team up and challenge wild Dynamax Pokemon which keep the giant form for the whole battle and “make it an extremely formidable opponent”, according to Iwao.
So be careful, because these giant creatures can use multiple moves in one go, neutralise all your Pokémon’s power moves, or even create barriers that shield them from any damage.
To find other players, you can use a feature called Y-Comm which is new to Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. You can also trade Pokémon and have Link Battles via the Y-Comm feature.
You can use Dynamax on one of the Pokémon in the party – but the other three can’t take advantage of this boost, so again, you’ll need to think strategically depending on your opponent.
Again, location and weather will affect what turns up in the Max Raid battle. If you win a Max Raid Battle, all the participating trainers will have the opportunity to catch the defeated Dynamax Pokémon – and you’ll be able to claim various bonus rewards, too.
As for Gigantamax, this phenomenon not only boosts a Pokémon’s power, but changes its appearance, too.
Unlike their Dynamax counterparts, each Gigantamax Pokémon can access a unique move known as a G-Max Move that’s specific to its species. They’re super-rare and so far, it’s been revealed that Drednaw, Alcremie and Corviknight can go Gigantamax, as it were.
The MASSIVE VERSION OF DREADNAW sounds quite terrifying, rapidly shooting its neck out to attack, biting through metal and so on. It has the potential to crush opposing Pokémon and the power to punch a hole through a rocky mountain with one blow.
Its special move, G-Max Stonesurge, replaces Water-type moves, scattering sharp rocks around an opponent and causing damage to any Pokémon entering the battlefield.
Supermassive Corviknight is not like an Uber XL, if we’re carrying on with that “flying taxi” analogy. It has reinforced armour, protecting it from attacks by other Pokémon, and can use its big wings to hover effectively in the air. The armour covering its wings can separate and fly independently.
Any Flying-type moves from Gigantamax Corviknight get an upgrade to G-Max Wind Rage, which cancels out the effects of any opponents Reflect, Light Screen, Spikes or Electric Terrain moves.
Gigantamax Alcremie can use the cream pouring out of its body to sustain impacts – the stronger it is hit, the tougher the cream becomes. Its berry decorations become as hard and tough as diamonds. It takes out its enemies with what is essentially a massive sugar high, flinging giant cream missiles around.
Any Fairy-type movies from Gigantamax Alcremie become G-Max Finale moves. These have the effect of healing any Pokémon on Alcremie’s side – and damaging opponents.
By the way, this is Professor Magnolia, who specialises in researching Dynamax.
And this is her granddaughter Sonia, who helps her with her research.
Pokémon Sword and Shield connectivity: Can you play with your older Pokémon?
According to producer Junichi Masuda from Pokémon developers Game Freak, that’s an aim for future titles.
“We’re definitely always thinking of that kind of forward-moving functionality, especially since we’ve introduced Pokémon Bank,” he told GameSpot shortly before the release of Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee.
“Now, up to Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, you’re able to store your Pokémon, and we know they’re very important to everyone.
“I mean, obviously, people would be very sad if they couldn’t use their Pokémon in a future game. So, it does get complicated when you talk about the details and we’re still figuring it out, but we do have plans to find ways to let players use their Pokémon in the next game.”