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Pokemon Sword and Shield: Full Review

Gautam Nath
ANALYST
Feature
16 Nov 2019, 00:14 IST

Pokemon Sword and Shield released earlier today
Pokemon Sword and Shield released earlier today


The 8th Generation of Pokemon Games is finally here! Pokemon Sword and Shield released on 15th November 2019 worldwide for the Nintendo Switch. It is Game Freak's most ambitious Pokemon project yet and when you play the game, you can tell just how much work went into this game.

Pokemon Sword and Shield did have some shortcomings but the level of detail and new additions to the game have more than made up for it. Here are some of the good, bad and mixed opinions of Pokemon Sword and Shield.

Overall Score Rating: 7/10

The Good

There are so many nice features that have been added to Pokemon Sword and Shield. It truly shows the power of the Nintendo Switch console and what kind of gameplay it is capable of supporting. Pokemon has received a huge overhaul thanks to the console.

Gorgeous Overworld

Route 1
Route 1


This might be an obvious positive but as a lifelong Pokemon fan, I have never seen a Pokemon overworld that is so immersive. While the 3DS gave us the multidirectional aspect of the Pokemon games, Sword and Shield took it a step further. It's also REALLY big.

Routes feel much bigger than they were in previous games. It also helps that you can choose which Pokemon to encounter as you see them floating around in the grass or other areas. You can also choose to avoid them if you wish to. There are also corners and turns that don't look very obvious.

A city in Pokemon Sword/Shield; the layout of a Wild Pokemon encounter
A city in Pokemon Sword/Shield; the layout of a Wild Pokemon encounter


Cities are also absolutely gorgeous. The level of detail in the tall buildings, hedges, houses and even the citizens is something that has never been seen before in a Pokemon game. Cities housing Gym Leaders have their charm as well. They're also much bigger than any other city in the previous Pokemon games.

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A new approach to Gym Battles

An endorsement you receive early in the game
An endorsement you receive early in the game


Gym Challenges are quite interesting in Pokemon Sword and Shield. You will first get an endorsement from the League Champion Leon early in the game. You'll have to present it at any Gym you find yourself in.

You also get a jersey as well as the option to customize your own number onto it. There are also various challenges you need to do while navigating the Gyms to eventually reach the Gym Leader.

New features such as Camping and Wild Areas

Panorama of the wild area near Motostoke
Panorama of the wild area near Motostoke


Wild Areas are big areas between cities and towns. As the name suggests, there are a lot of Wild Pokemon roaming in these areas. You can find them walking around, or hiding in the grass, water and desert, depending on the terrain. Some of these Pokemon can also be at much higher levels than yours.

You can only catch higher level Pokemon if you have Gym Badges.

A wild Onix at almost 20 levels higher.
A wild Onix at almost 20 levels higher.


Camping is a new feature in Pokemon Sword and Shield. A new version of the Pokemon Amie also allows you to bond with your Pokemon to get some bonuses. You can get better EVs, Affection, XP and more. There are also interactions with your Joycons where you can cook and stir food.

Camps are also available with the Nintendo Online feature. You can interact with other players' camps and cook together as well as fight Dynamax battles.

Your Pokemon party gathering for a meal in your camp
Your Pokemon party gathering for a meal in your camp


Commute - Trains and Flight Taxis

You can travel between certain areas using the train which is a very convenient way of getting around. Trains stop between Wild Areas and cities. The Galar region is quite big so you can't travel on foot.

Inside a train
Inside a train


When you reach the town of the first Gym you will also get access to Flying Taxis. A new Pokemon, Corviknight, will fly you around Galar regions you have explored. Just like in previous games, you will need to visit a new area in order to fly there.


The Bad

Too much hand-holding & No real challenges

Just like the 3DS games, there is a lot of hand-holding which makes the game far too simple. Obviously, it's a kid's game but the appearance of Charizard and older Pokemon also means that Game Freak is trying to appeal to the veteran players.

All your Pokemon get XP for catching or battling
All your Pokemon get XP for catching or battling


The older games had challenges such as permanent HM moves, mazes in Silph Co. or Rock Tunnel. It was also a lot harder to battle Gym Leaders, Bosses and other Trainers.

Boring "Villain" Team

Team Yell - the
Team Yell - the "Villain" team in Sword and Shield


From the mafia of Team Rocket to the intergalactic dreamers of Team Galactic, we've stumbled down to fans who are crazy for one woman. Team Yell are fans of a Pokemon Trainer challenging the Gyms called Marnie. Although their measures are extreme, they have no real "evil" intentions.

But there's also a dash of realism, as there are fans who go above and beyond and end up being toxic. Team Yell can be found in Gyms, blocking caves, trains, and other locations. Ever since Team Galactic in Sinnoh, Pokemon villains haven't been all that "evil" so the trend seems to have continued this time around.

Less Pokemon

Image result for pokemon sword and shield number of pokemon chart

The most controversial flaw of Sword and Shield is that there is no National Dex and there are only 400 available Pokemon in the game. This will come as a blow to veteran players who wanted to see their favorite Pokemon in the high-res Switch console.

As a fan of Pokemon like Dragonite, Gastrodon and many others it's a shame not to be able to use them in the Galar region. But when you play through the game, you can really feel the work that was put into developing it.


The Mixed - Dynamax and Dynamax Raid Battles

Dynamax Drilbur in the Wild Area
Dynamax Drilbur in the Wild Area


Dynamax and Gigantamax are new features in Pokemon Sword and Shield. Any Pokemon can Dynamax but only a few Pokemon can Gigantamax. You can find Gigantamax Pokemon in the Wild Area by going to a Shiny "Den".

Dynamax Pokemon have some special "Max" moves which deal a lot of damage. You can also Dynamax your own Pokemon but it will last only 3 turns and takes time to recharge.

Dynamax your Pokemon with a Dynamax Band
Dynamax your Pokemon with a Dynamax Band


With the new Dynamax feature, Pokemon has completely abandoned Mega Evolution from Generation 6 and Z-Moves from Generation 7. Although the explanation is that Galar has a mysterious "phenomenon" to enable Dynamax, those features will still be loved by fans and need to return.

Dynamax Battles are great fun though; you can play with 3 other NPCs or 3 other real players online to battle tough Dynamax Pokemon. You'll get the option to catch the Pokemon on defeat and you will also receive special rewards. Dynamax battles end in 10 turns or when all 4 Pokemon have fainted.

Bonus Items from defeating a Dynamax Pokemon
Bonus Items from defeating a Dynamax Pokemon


Pokemon Sword and Shield is a great and innovative game but Game Freak is also now carrying too much of its own weight by making the game too easy. Regardless, it is still amazing and worth 7/10.

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