New features. New Pokemon. New hype
A new generation of 'pocket monsters' are waiting to greet you in Nintendo and GAME FREAK's upcoming adventure RPGs Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield - carrying the nostalgia of the 20-odd year franchise while adding unique features for newcomers.
For those who have yet to pick up a Pokemon game in their life, the latest games follow suit from the majority of Pokemon titles, in which you take on the role of a promising young trainer who sets off on an adventure to catch Pokemon. You'll need to train them and, if you wish, evolve them into stronger forms.
As with previous Pokemon games that launch at the same time, Sword and Shield will include exclusive Pokemon for each game. For example, Sirfetch'd (the evolution of Farfetch'd) is exclusive to Pokemon Sword, while the Galarian form of Ponyta is exclusive to Pokemon Shield - and let's not forget the legendary Pokemon Zacian (Sword) and Zamazenta (Shield).
We'll have more of an understanding on the exclusive Pokemon that you can discover in each version post-launch, and make sure that you trade with friends and players online to help each other collect the Pokemon that aren't exclusive to you. Also, there's the Surprise Trade option, in which you won’t know what Pokemon you’ll get in exchange until you actually receive it - but it could be a rare one if you’re lucky!
Another welcome addition with the new games is autosave, taking away the need to desperately save every five minutes for fear of missing out on a Pokemon or your battery dying. Of course, manual save is still available, just in case you want to save prior to picking your starter Pokemon and change your mind.
These two highly-anticipated titles are a number of games now available on the Fanatical Store after Nintendo joined us as a partner, offering some fantastic Switch and 3DS titles currently to the EU region.
Ahead of release, we take a look at the key things you need to know about Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield.
The starter Pokemon
It's one of the most difficult decisions in life, choosing your starter Pokemon!
Pokemon Sword & Shield bring even more new monsters to the roster, replacing some classic ones, and introduces three new starter Pokemon. Each Pokemon has a different elemental type, which means that it can be stronger or weaker in battle depending on the opposition.
- Grookey: A Grass-type Chimp Pokemon who is described as mischievous and full of boundless curiosity.
- Scorbunny: A Fire-type Rabbit Pokemon who’s bursting with energy and can always be found running around.
- Sobble: A Water-type Water Lizard Pokemon who takes a stealthy approach, shooting out attacks as it hides itself in water.
As with most starter Pokemon, it's entirely up to you which one you choose. Each is has an advantage and disadvantage to the other (Grass beats Water, Water beats Fire, Fire beats Grass).
Stick with your favorite elemental type or mix things up by choosing another starter Pokemon that looks cute, cool, etc... it's up to you!
The new world map
Welcome to the Galar region, the new map in which you and potentially millions of other Pokemon trainers will be venturing across as you work towards becoming a Pokemon Master.
Galar features diverse environments, from a peaceful countryside and contemporary cities to a thick forest and snow-covered mountains, and the people and Pokemon who live here work together closely to develop the industries within it.
While this UK-inspired world is mainly full of Pokemon to catch, there's plenty of other things to discover. You'll also be able to visit Boutiques and Hair Salons to change up your wardrobe and style reading for your big outing.
Galar also sees the return of Pokemon Gyms that were absent from its predecessor, introducing new Gym Leaders including Milo, Nessa, Bea and Allister. Weather effects will also occur in the Wild Area of the map, and depending on what kind of weather will results in different Pokemon appearing.
New Pokemon forms and powers in battle
As well as new Galarian forms of well-known Pokemon from past games (Weezing, Zigzagoon, Ponyta) there are also 'BIG' changes happening in battles. The new Dynamax is a phenomenon unique to specific locations in the Galar region, where Pokemon can take on gigantic appearances during battle, which is an integral part of Pokemon battles in the region.
Pokemon from the Galar region are able to Dynamax, and when they do, they become tremendously strong and receive a boost to their power. This is only a temporary form, lasting for three turns, so don't worry about your Pokemon storming off in some kind of Godzilla-like rampage and refusing to get back inside its PokeBall.
There's also the 'Gigantamaxing' form which only a certain few Pokemon species can perform. Gigantamax Pokemon become bigger, and just like normal Dynamaxing, Gigantamaxing boosts the power of the Pokemon.
It also allows each Gigantamax Pokemon to use a unique move known as a G-Max Move. Confirmed Gigantamax Pokemon so far includes Drednaw, Corviknight, Alcremie, Pikachu, Charizard, Meowth, Eevee and Butterfree.
Max Raid battles with friends
The Max Raid Battles are a new battle format that takes place in the Wild Area, in which the player will team up with up to three other trainers online, or via local wireless, to take on a wild Dynamax Pokemon. Trainers will then get a chance to catch the wild Dynamax Pokemon if they manage to defeat it – but be warned as these wild Pokemon won't go down without a tough fight.
Dynamax Pokemon in Max Raid battles will stay in this giant form throughout the battle, while players' Pokemon in this state will only stay in this form, as mentioned above, for three turns. Pokemon caught in Max Raid Battles might also have Hidden Abilities, which are different to their usual Abilities.
There's a chance that you’ll encounter a special Pokemon capable of Gigantamaxing in Max Raid Battles too. It's extremely rare, but by attempting many different battles there’s a chance you could even encounter a Pokemon that can Gigantamax that also has a Hidden Ability!
Setting up camp with your Pokemon
The bond between you and your Pokemon is important, especially if you want to become a Pokemon Master. Pokemon Sword & Shield lets you set up camp pretty much anywhere in the Galar Region - where you can let your party of pals roam freely while you prepare delicious curries and other mouth-watering cuisine for them to devour.
Cooking is it's own little mini game while camping, so be sure to stock up on berries in preparation. You'll be able to play with individual Pokemon and boost their morale.
In addition, you can also visit another player's camp and let your Pokemon play with their's, or even cook up a big pot of food for everyone to enjoy.
Supplements, candies and egg-cellent new features
So, from early gameplay footage we've seen that a range of new items will help you enhance your Pokemon and build a better party.
Starting with Mints, which boost your Pokemon's characterization. For example, some footage that we saw shows Modest Mint being given to a Pikachu, which helps boost its Sp. Atk growth but, in turn, slows down its Attack growth.
There are also supplements that max out a Pokemon's base points, Exp. Candies that help boost Exp and raise your Pokemon's overall level, and you can now pass Egg Moves between the same species of Pokemon.
Exp Shares have been removed from the game, the item that allows you yo share Exp with all Pokemon in your party even if they don't battle. But don't worry, the game now features its own automatic Exp share when players finish a battle.