Going in-depth on the Pokémon Sword and Shield reveal

pokémon sword and shield

June 5th’s Pokémon Direct stream revealed an entire Pokédex’s worth of information, so we’ve certainly got a lot of ground to cover. But first, let’s check out the amazing new trailer for Pokémon Sword and Shield!

I don’t know about you but I’m really getting into the Galar vibe. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it.

The Dynamax Phenomenon

The Dynamax Phenomenon is an all-new gameplay mechanic introduced in Pokémon Sword and Shield, mirroring Alola’s Z-Moves and Kalos’ Mega Evolution. Like the others, this is a once-per-battle gimmick that players can use to change the course of the battle. Essentially, the Pokémon that has been selected to be Dynamax-ed turns into a colossal, kaiju-sized version of itself for three turns, then reverts back.

The change isn’t only aesthetic, though. The supersized Pokémon also acquires a separate moveset based on its regular one, filled with various powered-up techniques called Max Moves. According to some sources, there is reportedly a total of 19 different Max Moves, although how the nature of the base moves (physical, special or status) affects the acquired ones has yet to be ironed out.

Unlike Mega Evolution, which is only limited to certain species of Pokémon, ALL Galar Pokémon are eligible for Dynamax-ing. That said, we don’t have confirmation on whether it’s limited to just Pokémon in the Galar Pokédex, or if it includes any previous partners that you import over to Pokémon Sword and Shield.

The Wild Area

Occasionally, the game will require you to travel through the Wild Area, vast expanses of nature inhabited by various species of Pokémon. According to the website, players will be able to turn the camera and walk into Pokémon to encounter them, similar to the concept introduced in the Let’s Go! games. It’s a nice touch to bring over, and although your partner Pokémon can’t walk behind you like in HeartGold or SoulSilver, it’s still pretty neat.

On the surface, the Wild Area just looks like a glorified Safari Zone, but beware: as untamed land, the Wild Area also holds great peril, and only the most steadfast of Trainers will be able to overcome what we call the Max Raids.

Max Raids

Pardon the exaggerated narrative. If you’ve played literally any multiplayer RPG before, then the concept of a Max Raid should be a familiar one.

Basically, these are are 4-player, co-op encounters against Dynamax-ed Wild Pokémon. They’ll remain in their kaiju-esque state for as long as the battle lasts, although Trainers’ Pokémon will still revert after three turns. Additionally, only one out of the four trainers will be able to Dynamax their Pokémon, making proper communication a key part of the encounter. On top of being obtainable, the wild Pokémon also packs a powerful set of Max Moves, so make sure to plan your attacks wisely. False Swipe, anyone?

Anyway, you’d best pack a Full Restore or two; the next few bits are really content-heavy.

The new Legendary Pokémon: Zacian and Zamazenta

Gameplay mechanics are cool and all, but a new Pokémon game would be nothing without more additions to the Pokédex. The two cover legendaries, Zacian and Zamazenta, were also revealed.

Based on their aesthetic and visual effects, Zacian probably sports an Ice-typing while Zamazenta most likely has Fire in the mix. Steel as a secondary typing doesn’t seem likely, seeing as a previous cover Pokémon, Solgaleo, already sports that. On that note, a Fairy-typing is wholly possible here, since they’ve got that whole “mysterious Pokémon” vibe going on.

Although they’re a hot topic on the various Pokémon forums, poor Zacian has been receiving flak for its design. Honestly, it’s not hard to see why: a dog-wolf with a weapon in its mouth is a commonly used template, especially in Japanese-made games. Here are some examples:

The left picture is of the Avenger, Hessian Lobo from the Fate: Grand Order mobile game. The second one is Seeker, Sacred Wingal, a unit from the Cardfight Vanguard TCG. But perhaps the most common comparison online was of the Great Grey Wolf Sif, from the Dark Souls games. Heck, it looks so similar even Bandai Namco couldn’t resist taking a jab at it too.

But if we’re taking it at face value, I think both the new legends actually look pretty cool in their own right. Not only are they a refreshing change from the sci-fi designs of Solgaleo and Lunala, but they also seem to embody Arthurian themes too.

I mean, considering that the Galar region is based on the United Kingdom, that’s entirely possible. And as the cherry on top, Zamazenta’s colour scheme is pretty close to that of the Union Jack. Curious, huh?

Meet the starters (again)

Anyway, other Pokémon featured include the three new starter Pokémon: the Grass-type Grookey, the Fire-type Scorbunny and the Water-type Sobble. We’ve seen them before, but Scorbunny definitely opened the biggest can of worms, both then and now: is it going to be another Fire-Fighting hybrid?

Honestly, Game Freak, we don’t need another one. Period.

Pokemon Sword Shield Starters

That’s Sobble, Scorbunny, and Grookey.

There’s been three consecutive generations of Fire/Fighting starters: Blaziken, Infernape and Emboar. Surely you can think of something else to toss in. Oh, and Incineroar’s Fire/Dark typing doesn’t really count. We all know what you really wanted to do.

Additionally, what makes Scorbunny’s case worse is the fact that the Fighting-type move Double Kick has already been seen as part of its repertoire.

Starters are nice, but what about the locals?

There’s also the Grass-types Gossifleur and Eldegoss, the Normal-type Wooloo, the Steel-Flying hybrid Corviknight and the aggressive Water-Rock hybrid Drednaw. Here are some of them.

From left to right: Gossifleur, Wooloo and Drednaw

To be honest, even from this pool of five Pokémon, there’s still a lot to discuss. But don’t worry, I won’t go full “competitive mode” here. The only thing that I’ll say is that Corviknight’s typing happens to be particularly rare, with only two other known Pokémon, Skarmory and Celesteela, sharing the same combination.

By residents, I mean people too

Every new region also brings with it new faces, which leads us to the next and final section: the people. Apart from the two protagonist characters, which are affectionately called Laddie and Lassie respectively for the time being, other important NPCs such as the Champion, Rival, Professor and her Assistant have already made an appearance.

The Galar region’s Champion is named Leon, and your cheerful rival Hop happens to be his younger brother. According to his entry, he’s never lost an official Pokémon battle but if you know how a Pokémon game generally goes, your character will probably be ending that streak. One of the new Gym Leaders has also been revealed, and his name is one that hits a little closer to home (heh heh): Milo.

Going by tradition, the Professor’s last name is based on a species of plant, and this time it’s a flower. Apart from being your main Pokédex contact, Professor Magnolia’s main aim is studying the Dynamax Phenomenon here in Galar.

Last but not least is Sonia. A knowledgeable Pokémon researcher and a childhood friend of Leon’s, she helps Professor Magnolia (who’s also her grandmother!) conduct field work on the Dynamax Phenomenon. You’ll be seeing her several times throughout your journey.

Time to head to a Pokémon Center

Phew. I don’t know about you, but I’m beat. Thinking about Pokémon sure is tough work.

In any case, Pokémon Sword and Shield are coming to the Nintendo Switch on Nov 15th this year but our first stop is E3. Nintendo has a Direct Stream on Tuesday morning, June 11th, followed by their usual Nintendo Treehouse show so we’ll probably get more news then. We’ll keep you posted!

Images: Game Freak

Kenneth Ang

Kenneth is your dedicated jack of all trades gamer and borderline anime nut. When not writing, he likes to wind down with Overwatch, Apex Legends and a bit of Fate: Grand Order on the side.