Mild Spoilers Ahead!
It’s finally time! Pokémon Sword and Shield have finally arrived on the Nintendo Switch, and I’ve had the pleasure of playing the first few hours of the game. Curious to see what’s up? Well, sit back as I share my experiences so far.
A New Take On An Old Routine
Starting in Pokémon Sword and Shield, you’d expect to be treated to the classic Pokémon formula: one where you meet the region’s Pokémon Professor and they give you a speech about how mankind and Pokémon work side by side. However, Sword and Shield mix things up a little. Rather than meet up with Professor Magnolia, you first get to choose the look and name of your character. After you’re done choosing your style, Trainers are treated to a cutscene, seeing the champion of the Galar region “Leon” and his Charizard square off against an ambitious challenger. We even get a sneak peek at Dynamax Charizard.
The start of the game is delightfully quaint. As you meet your rival and his family, you nab yourself a Pokémon of your own and head on to get your Pokédex from the next town over. Experienced players will be happy to know that the game tries its best not to hold your hand. In fact, most of the tutorials can be bypassed so long as you’ve already completed the actions they will have taught you (e.g. type advantages, how to catch a Pokémon, etc.).
Moreover, if you’re looking to expand your team early on in the game, you won’t be disappointed. As soon as you leave your house behind, there’s a wealth of new Pokémon to collect and, if you’re lucky, a few familiar Pocket Monsters to catch along the way.
The Wild Area Is… Pretty Wild
Once you’ve nabbed your Pokédex from Professor Magnolia, you’re a hop, skip, and a train ride away from the Wild Area – that vast expanse between you and your first Pokémon Gym, sprawling with wild Pokémon. But, if you’re hoping to catch everything, you’ll be let down. In truth, you’ll find tons of Pokémon of a much higher level littered around. Still, there’s plenty of Pokémon around your level to catch as well, so don’t worry. You won’t be stuck with a mediocre party out of the gate.
So far, the designs for the new Pokémon aren’t thrilling me too much. However, as I’ve yet to see any of their evolved forms, I’m reserving judgment for now. That being said, I will admit that there is a certain lack of depth to some of the 3D designs for both older and newer Pokémon.
By far the best way of obtaining Pokémon in the Wild Area is the “Dynamax Raids”. These encounters pit you and four other trainers (either online players or NPCs) against a Dynamaxed Pokémon. From what I’ve encountered so far, it looks like Dynamax Raids scale to your progress in the game. So, as you defeat more Gyms and unlock more of the Wild Area, you’ll come up against tougher and more rewarding Dynamax Raids.
But, Dynamax Raids don’t only reward you with the chance to capture a Pokémon. No, no, no. If you win the raid, you’ll also get a range of goodies: including EXP. Candies, Rare Candies, and TRs – a new form of learnable move that breaks after one use, like classic TMs.
That’s about it for my impressions on the game so far. But before I go, here are a few tips to make the start of your journey a little easier:
- Claim your free mystery gift. Anyone who buys Pokémon Sword and Shield before January 15, 2020 can claim a free Meowth. But that’s not all: your Meowth can Gigantamax into a giant noodle form. As a bonus, Meowth will arrive already at level 10, so it’s a great early addition to your team.
- Don’t be afraid to battle every Pokémon you see along the way. Not only do you get EXP for defeating Pokémon, but you also get it for catching them. Thus, the more you recruit, the stronger you’ll get. Don’t worry about accessing your Pokémon, either. You’ll be outfitted with a link to your Pokémon Boxes, so you can change your team on the fly. You may as well thank the Let’s Go! games now.
- Keep an eye out for shiny spots. You’ll be able to grab either useful items or tasty ingredients for making curry.
- When you’re in the wild area, look out for trees with berries attached. You can shake these trees down to get yourself some free berries. Those can be a big help early on, especially if you need to get rid of a pesky status condition.
This brings us to the end of my experiences playing Pokémon Sword and Shield so far.
Have you played any of Pokémon Sword and Shield? What are your thoughts on the changes they’ve made so far? What starter did you choose?