Pokémon is by far one of Nintendo’s biggest IPs, next to Mario and Zelda, and ever since the reveal of the predominantly handheld series coming to the Nintendo Switch people have been clamouring for juicy details regarding the next mainline experience players can get, and on a home console for the very first time. Tonight, just ahead of E3, Nintendo hosted a Nintendo Direct purely for the
animal slavery simulator cute, animal-assisted adventure, which revealed some details regarding Pokémon Sword and Shield. There are a number of details to pick up on, but let’s get right into it:
- The Galar region – it’s been common knowledge that Gen 8 of Pokémon would be in the Galar region, a region based off of Great Britain. They don’t really say a whole lot about the region, but we get a better look at what the Galar region has to offer. They show some footage of a small town full of farmland, with a windmill and a fair few buildings. We immediately see a distinct building which appears to be of a Tudor style (it sticks out). They also show some of the more metropolitan areas, where it seems GameFreak have focused on animating and creating a dynamic atmosphere as a way of engaging the player.
- The gyms – one of the more notable changes that we saw with Pokémon Sun & Moon was the shift in design for Gyms and gyms badges. Previously, where games had you take on a number of trainers and then a gym leader, Sun & Moon opted for Island Challenges. Without going into too much detail, these challenges weren’t too dissimilar to gyms but were different enough to change the way the game felt. It seems Sword and Shield kind of go back on that, with Gym Leaders being a more prominent thing and Stadiums being placed all around the region for challengers to face said Gym Leaders. The Gym Stadiums are placed in special locations which allow for the Gym Leaders (and challengers) to capitalise on Dynamaxing (this will be explained further below).
- The new Pokémon – we actually get to see a few of the Pokémon that we’ll meet in the Galar region:
- Wooloo – the Sheep Pokémon: It has fur which the people of a specific town in the Galar region value. It is used to craft popular specialty goods. It has the appearance of a very cute sheep.
- Gossifluer – the Flowering Pokémon: This Pokémon is described to prefer areas with clean air and water as well as potentially having healing properties. Its main body is very conical, with its hair blossoming outwards and creating a flower on the top of its head.
- Drednaw – the Bite Pokémon: To easily describe this Pokémon, we’ll call it an overgrown snapping turtle. It features sharp jagged edges of its jaw (not teeth) and these edges allow it bite off chunks of rock and iron (that’s pretty metal).
- Corviknight – the Raven Pokémon: This is probably my favourite of the lot. A large Raven-like Pokémon with a very angular design, Corviknight is best used as a “flying taxi” and will take that player back to any town they have previously visited.
- Eldegoss – the Cotton Bloom Pokémon: Eldegoss is the evolved form of Gossifluer, the body is less conical in nature, instead opting for more of a leafy body and it has a white afro. Within the afro are seeds, these seeds are said to promote growth in plants and can revitalise both people and pokémon.
- On top of the new Pokémon, the Galar region is also home to a number of familiar faces, including Growlithe, Inkay and Axew.
- The Wild Area – this “Wild Area” is the term used to describe the plains and routes which stretch between cities. It is where you will encounter the most Pokémon. What Pokémon you encounter will depend on a variety of factors like time of day, weather and location. It looks as if you will be able to see the Pokémon roaming around (a really nice touch).
- Camera control – It finally happened. The player can finally control the camera while roaming through the various areas of the Galar Region. This is a BIG change seeing as Pokémon has notably been a played from a top-down camera perspective since, well, ever.
- Dynamax – While this just seems like an over-the-top name for something, it is the central mechanic/gimmick for the Pokémon Sword and Shield. Dynamaxing is a phenomenon that can cause a Pokémon to become unfathomably large and increasingly more powerful. It seems that when you choose to Dynamax a Pokémon, all the moves they know turn into “max moves”, a powerful variant capable of dealing devastating damage to an opposing Pokémon. Like Mega Evolution, Dynamaxing can only be used once per battle, but where the difference lies is in the duration. Where Mega Evolutions were until the Pokémon fainted or the battle was over, Dynamaxing can only be used for three  turns, so use it wisely.
- Max raid battle – Did they actually put raid-like-battles in Pokémon? You bet your Ash they did. When you are wandering across the Wild Area, you will see red beacons. Moving over to these beacons with other players will trigger a “Max Raid Battle” in which a Dynamaxed Pokémon will emerge. Four  Pokémon Trainer can choose to join forces and challenge wild Dynamaxed Pokémon. Unlike the standard Dynamax rules, wild Dynamaxed Pokémon in a Max Raid Battle will remain in this powered up state for the duration of the battle. To add to this, they have special powers which make them a tough foe to challenge. Should you be able to beat this tough foe, you will be given the chance to catch the Pokémon in a very flashy catching sequence. Like normal encounters, the Pokémon which can be found in Max Raid Battles will vary depending on weather, location etc.
- The characters of Sword & Shield:
- Leon – Champion: He touts an undefeated record in official Pokémon battles, demonstrating that he really is worthy of the champion title which he has obtained. His “shining personality” has garnered the respect and adoration of people all across the Galar region. He also has a Charizard.
- Hop – Rival: Hop is Leon’s younger brother. Hop’s ambitions lead him towards obtaining the very title that his brother has, Champion. His journey through the Galar region begins on the same day as yours (what a coincidence).
- Professor Magnolia: This one is fairly self-explanatory. She’ll be the player’s catalyst for starting the Pokémon adventure for Gen 8. An elderly woman who specialises in researching the Dynamax phenomenon.
- Sonia – Assistant: Sonia is Professor Magnolia’s granddaughter as well as her assistant. Sprouting a cheery smile, red hair with hearts throughout it, she (and Prof Magnolia) will help the player with advice and wisdom throughout their adventure.
- The mascot Pokémon – Like most of the games before them, the mascot Pokémon for Sword and Shield and legendary Pokémon. They are named Zacian (Sword) and Zamazenta (Shield). Naturally, they are pegged to play a key role in the story of Sword and Shield.
Lastly, the games will be available on November 15, 2019. It was also shown that you can preorder a double pack which features both the games, however no more details were given.