Pokemon Sword vs Shield: Which one should you buy?

Game Freak/The Pokemon Company
Game Freak/The Pokemon Company
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Gautam Nath

Pokemon Sword and Shield are finally out after a long wait. The 8th Generation of games is the first new generation of Pokemon games to hit the Nintendo Switch. Although they have their flaws, the games are very well designed and bring in new elements to the Pokemon genre never seen before. Check out our full review for the game if you are still sceptical.

But a common dilemma rises: Which one should I buy? If you are buying both, you can look away now since you'll be getting the best of both worlds. But if you're still decided which one to buy, here are the version differences between Sword and Shield.

Version exclusives

As always, there are Pokemon that can only be found in one version of the game and you will need to trade in order to get them.

Pokemon Sword Exclusives:

  • Deino (Dark/Dragon)
  • Zweilous (Dark/Dragon)
  • Hydreigon (Dark/Dragon)
  • Jangmo-o (Dragon)
  • Kommo-o (Dragon/Fighting)
  • Hakamo-o (Dragon/Fighting)
  • Farfetch'd (Normal/Flying)
  • Sirfetch'd (Fighting)
  • Gothita (Psychic)
  • Gothorita (Psychic)
  • Gothitelle (Psychic)
  • Turtonator (Fire/Dragon)
  • Seedot (Grass)
  • Nuzleaf (Grass/Dark)
  • Shiftry (Grass/Dark)
  • Mawile (Steel/Fairy)
  • Solrock (Rock/Psychic)
  • Darumaka (Ice)
  • Darmanitan (Ice)
  • Scraggy (Dark/Fighting)
  • Scrafty (Dark/Fighting)
  • Rufflet (Normal/Flying)
  • Braviary (Normal/Flying)
  • Swirlix (Fairy)
  • Slurpuff (Fairy)
  • Passimian (Fighting)
  • Stonjourner (Rock)
  • Indeedee, Male (Psychic/Normal)

Pokemon Shield Exclusives:

  • Goomy (Dragon)
  • Sliggo (Dragon)
  • Goodra (Dragon)
  • Larvitar (Rock/Ground)
  • Pupitar (Rock/Ground)
  • Tyranitar (Rock/Ground)
  • Galarian Ponyta (Psychic)
  • Solosis (Psychic)
  • Duosion (Psychic)
  • Reuniclus (Psychic)
  • Drampa (Normal/Dragon)
  • Vullaby (Dark/Flying)
  • Mandibuzz (Dark/Flying)
  • Cursola (Ghost)
  • Lotad (Water/Grass)
  • Lombre (Water/Grass)
  • Ludicolo (Water/Grass)
  • Sableye (Dark/Ghost)
  • Lunatone (Rock/Psychic)
  • Croagunk (Poison/Fight)
  • Toxicroak (Poison/Fight)
  • Spritzee (Fairy)
  • Aromatisse (Fairy)
  • Oranguru (Normal/Psychic)
  • Eiscue (Ice)
  • Indeedee, Female (Psychic/Normal)


Sword and Shield are the first Pokemon games where there are Gym Leaders exclusive to each version. There are two Gyms in each game which are exclusive to the game.

Pokemon Sword:

Bea, the Fighting-type leader
Bea, the Fighting-type leader
Gordie, the Rock-type leader
Gordie, the Rock-type leader

Pokemon Shield:

Allister, the Ghost-type leader
Allister, the Ghost-type leader
Melony, the Ice-type leader
Melony, the Ice-type leader

Exclusive Gigantamax Raids

Gigantamatrax raids
A scene from the game.

Dynamax Raids can be found all over in Wild Areas throughout Sword and Shield. However, there are some Pokemon that have a stronger form called "Gigantamax" and they will occasionally pop up instead of a Dynamax Pokemon.

There is an occurrence bonus for Gigantamax Pokemon till January 2020. Although some Gigantamax Pokemon are version exclusive, you can invite other players from different versions to join you in the Raid.

Pokemon Sword:

  • Coalossal (Rock/Fire), Gigantamax Raid, can be shared
  • Flapple (Grass/Dragon), Gigantamax Raid, can be shared
  • Drednaw (Water/Rock), Gigantamax Raid, not exclusive but more common, can be shared

Pokemon Shield:

  • Gengar (Ghost/Poison), Gigantamax Raid, can be shared
  • Lapras (Water/Ice), Gigantamax Raid, can be shared
  • Appletun (Grass/Dragon), Gigantamax Raid, can be shared
  • Corviknight (Flying/Steel), Gigantamax Raid, not exclusive but more common, can be shared

Legendary Pokemon

Left: Zacian - the mascot of Sword, Right:Zamazenta - the mascot of Shield
Left: Zacian - the mascot of Sword, Right:Zamazenta - the mascot of Shield

Other than the mascot Pokemon on the cover, there are no other real exclusive legendary Pokemon in Sword and Shield. Without spoiling too much, in both games you will have an encounter with both legendaries as they are an integral part of the story and the history of Galar.

Zacian is a Fairy-Type and with the Sword, it is a Fairy/Steel Type. Zamazenta is a Fighting-Type and with the Shield, it is a Fighting/Steel Type Pokemon. The Legendary choice is probably the least of your concerns when it comes to picking a version!

So what do you choose?

In short, it depends on what you want from the game. Both Pokemon Sword and Shield will provide you with the same experience as the same features have been added in the game. Your choice on what to choose will weigh on the version-exclusive Pokemon and the Gigantamax Raids you wish to play. The Gym and Legendary exclusives are a minor factor comparatively but it could play a part in your decision as well.

There is no GTS in Pokemon Sword and Shield. Game Freak is pushing the new Pokemon Home feature but you can also interact with players online should you want to trade. You can also camp together, play Raid Battles together, Battle against each other and more.

You will need to pay for the Nintendo Online subscription for this feature but Pokemon Sword and Shield uses the online feature much better than previous Pokemon games. Now if only we could bring some of our old Pokemon to the game...

Edited by S Chowdhury
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