Long-running critter catcher Pokemon is one of the most successful IPs of all time. Though the basic formula remains unchanged, the series continues to add features and improve on it. Now in its eighth generation, the series boasts over eight hundred different creatures to discover and, more importantly, capture. Previews unlocked today for the newest mainline game entries in the series: Pokemon Sword and Shield. Taking place in the charmingly-British Galar region, it seems set to be the most impressive title yet.
Many preview players noticed several improvements regarding the game’s quality of life. At last, seasoned players can skip tutorial sections and save more time for snagging Pidgeys. Players can nickname Pokemon while in Pokemon Centers, as well as delete moves. According to a French preview, the classic Exp. Share item cannot be disabled once acquired. PCs act as normal for routes and cities, but the new Wild Area allows players to access the PC from anywhere.
The Wild Area is a new addition to the series. In Pokemon Sword and Shield, Pokemon will appear on the overworld and allow players to pick and choose their encounters. Though the sheer number of Pokemon in the vicinity makes it hazardous, there are several rewards for the intrepid explorer. Pokemon with maxed IVs and egg moves have a yellow-tinted aura about them. Watts, a special currency unique to the Wild Area, lets players purchase camping gear, items, and ingredients from a vendor. Some of these items can only be purchased with these Watts. Players can also go on raids together, make curry, camp, and engage in simple PvP and trading. Of course, it is fully possible to encounter danger in the Wild Area, as Chris Tapsell of Eurogamer put it:
The significant difference with the Wild Area is, if you wander into the wrong part of it, you’ll discover that the wild Pokémon can now be drastically overlevelled. It’s a series first, and it honestly feels like the bravest thing Game Freak has done for a little while. You could always dip your toe into the odd higher-level route on the other side of a city, say, but never get caught in battle with a level 50, third-stage evolution ‘mon with your starter and a level 6 Pidgey. In Sword and Shield it has a striking effect. It reminds me of some of the oldest games in the series where there was a real element of intimidation from some areas. Back then this was because of a fear of the unknown, and a spot of imagination filling in the blanks, but now it’s because seeing a whopping great Pokémon five times your level is enough to intrigue and inspire.
Players start in the sleepy hamlet of Wedgehurst. They navigate through the Slumbering Weald early on and come across Motostoke, the first major city. Motostoke has the game’s first gym, but its leader and the Pokemon they use have not been revealed.
Of course, discussing Pokemon Sword and Shield without bringing up the monsters themselves is a disservice. Metro UK confirmed in a preview that they encountered several Pokemon not previously shown in trailers, though they could not disclose the critters in question. Previews also confirmed that players can catch Lotad before the second rival battle. Additional Pokemon discovered included Xatu, Onix, and even a Gyarados swimming around in the Wild Area. Game Informer remarked that only one of the seven Pokemon they discovered could be named: Yamper, an electric corgi.
As for the rival, Hop’s first rival battle features two Pokemon, and the second battle features three. This is a stark departure from the first one-on-one rival fight in other generations. Hop notably uses Wooloo, the sheep-like Pokemon that quickly found itself beloved by the fanbase.
Pokemon Sword and Shield releases on the Nintendo Switch November 15.