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After defeating the 8 gyms, players will tackle the Champion Cup, Sword and Shield’s near-equivalent of the Elite Four. Galar is well-realized, complete with its own British-inspired colloquialisms, culture, and history that set it distinctly apart from other Pokemon settings. Among these cultural distinctions is a heavier emphasis on the spectacle of Pokemon battling.
Attendees discuss your odds of winning on your way to the match, crowds cheer and chant during your battles, and fans congratulate you on your victory as you exit. It’s a refreshingly grandiose portrayal of Pokemon battling, more in-line with how it’s depicted in the cartoons and manga, and one that put a smile on my face at each big victory. I never tired of basking in my fans’ praise, and NPCs’ increasing recognition of me felt like an appropriate reward for my triumphs. Unlike previous games in the series, it is 100% impossible to directly interact with someone online. If you have someone on your Switch’s friend list, you can’t outright tell, from in-game, which of them are playing Pokemon at the same time that you are.
The only way that you can realize that they are playing without contacting them outside of the game, is if a “stamp” showing the latest thing that they’ve done in-game pops up on the side of your screen during normal gameplay. If you notice a stamp and want to play with them – Trade, Battle, maybe queue up for a Max Raid – then you need to start the activity that you want to do with them and hope that they both see your stamp and also click on it. I’ll just get it out of the way – despite the Wild Area, Pokemon Sword and Shield feel like they’re more than a little anemic on content.
- The game forces the player to travel through the area twice during the story, and it’s entirely possible to encounter a pokémon twenty levels above your own, ensuring your demise is swift.
- There are a lot of rare pokémon there too — usually from previous games, which is terrific, because the new pokémon designs range from lackluster to downright disastrous.
- For example, you don’t even need a Fly Pokémon anymore, as you can just take an air taxi from any location.
- We haven’t played all of the Pokémon games, but the series has nonetheless shaped our love for the medium in a big way, and it seems clear that some changes have been made to make the game more accessible and user-friendly.
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Instead, they’ve introduced “Dynamaxing”, wherein a Pokemon turns into a Godzilla-esque freak and gains access to seriously buffed moves and stats for a set number of turns. In practice – it’s sort of like a mixture of both Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves at the same time, with the benefit that every Pokemon can Dynamax, while only specific Pokemon had access to Mega Evolutions. That being said, I hesitate to say that players “explore” the Galar region, outside of the Wild Area that makes up a good portion of the games’ new features. For me, a core tenet of the Pokemon series has always been the optional areas that you could explore – the dungeons you could find, with rare Pokemon or interesting encounters waiting for you.
I grew up playing Generation 2 and 3, with areas like Mt. Silver housing Larvitars and that one room in Meteor Falls holding Bagon – areas off the beaten path that I could well and truly discover. Besides the Wild Area, there is exactly zero optional areas for players to visit in Pokemon Sword and Shield, and essentially zero dungeons.
As players travel across Galar to battle the 8 gym leaders, events unfold in the background, rivals are battled, and each gym presents its own unique challenge, which adds a nice level of variety to each gym. One gym, for example, would ask a series of questions during the battle in order to test the player’s Discover More Here. You may need to uninstall the old version of Google Earth and install the old beta release mettle, where another tasks players with solving minor puzzles related to the gym’s element.
Unless you spend a bunch of time in the Wild Area in-between story beats, you’re liable to finish the game in under 20 hours – and once you do, there really isn’t much left for you to tackle. The only two legendary Pokemon you can catch in the game is one relegated to the story, and another – the box legendary – that is instead relegated to a short, post-game, epilogue. While there IS a Battle Tower, it’s probably one of the simplest incarnations of it since its inception in Pokemon Crystal on the Gameboy Color. This is probably a good opportunity to talk about the games’ new battle mechanic – Dynamaxing. Pokemon Sword and Shield have completely axed both Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves, the main battle gimmicks from Generation 6 and 7 respectively.