18 GYMS, SPLIT INTO MAJOR AND MINOR LEAGUES
The story will have a whopping 18 gyms! They’ll be split into major and minor leagues, and likewise differ accordingly depending on the game version you have. The fighting gym is in the major league for Sword, and ghost-type for Shield. As director Shigeru Ohmori explains, the Galar region is playing every year, changing the gyms in the major and minor leagues.
CHALLENGING MAX RAIDS
You know about Dynamax and Gigantamax, and the Max Raid battles. For the raids, you’ll have to team up with others to take down these gigantic Pokemon! Director Shigeru Ohmori says there has been some influence from Pokemon Go, which has raid battles as well. You can simply invite a friend to join you in PGO, and the same concept is brought to Sword and Shield.
While you don’t need to be a hardcore battler, there will still be difficulty levels. The more stars a Max Raid battle has, the more difficult, so choose according to your Pokemon’s strength! Even seasoned players are expected to encounter difficulty at a five-star Max Raid battle!
You used to need to save when trading with others, but in the Wild Area, this will now be done seamlessly via auto-saving! It will switch to a synchronous connection, as well as save in the background. It’ll be implemented in the full game as well, not just in the Wild Area. Auto-saving can also be turned off if you need to, like before a Legendary encounter. The process might feel different on the Switch, director Shigeru Ohmori says, mentioning how there’s no dedicated restart button on the Switch when compared to the NES.
HMs have often been in Pokemon games, but they were phased out in Sun and Moon, replaced by the Ride Pokemon. They won’t be returning in Sword and Shield either, with planning director Kazumasa Iwao saying it didn’t fit the game’s concept. With the higher degree of freedom in the Wild Area, the restriction of HMs didn’t feel right.
EXP SHARE IS UNIVERSAL, WITHOUT ITEM
The EXP Share item has been a constant companion for most players, but it will not be returning in Sword and Shield. However, you don’t need to train up individual Pokemon. They will now get equal experience automatically as you progress through the game.
COMPETITIVE MECHANICS, CHANGES
Battle mechanics are still under wraps for now, but there are hints regarding what they are. Planning director Kazumasa Iwao talks about how players can get attached to their Pokemon, then find out they’re not that great in battle. These players would then need to find another Pokemon that can fill that need, more so if they want to battle competitively.
Now, there’ll be a mechanic where you can bring your favourite to competitive battles! A lot of it is in the backend, without explanations forthcoming for now. Breeding for the perfect stats and personality will still be in, but players will be able to use a system to avoid that work if they want to. It’s a move towards accessibility in battling.
POKEMON NOT IN THE SWORD AND SHIELD NATIONAL POKEDEX WILL RETURN IN THE FUTURE
Players were disappointed when the news broke about Pokemon not all going to be in Sword and Shield. The sheer number introduced over the years have become unwieldy, producer Junichi Masuda explains. They want to prioritize gameplay ideas instead of the Pokemon count, and continuously challenge themselves to create new ways to enjoy the game.
The criteria of picking which Pokemon would be left in or cut out could be boiled down to if it made sense for it to be in the Galar region. No names or numbers for Pokemon were specified, but just that they would definitely return in other regions in future games. It ties in to Pokemon Home, details on which are still scarce. It’ll be a place where all your Pokemon gather, which is about all we can get for now.
Pokemon Sword and Shield will be out 15 November.