The Pokemon Sword and Shield Nintendo Direct aired on Wednesday, giving us a few more details on the series’ first Switch entry. At just under 15 minutes it was far from exhaustive but gave fans a longer look at some aspects than the initial reveal video. The game is looking gorgeous, with the glimpses we’re seeing filled with a lot of character. The game also had its launch date confirmed: November 15th. Expect more news and Pokemon reveals to build hype over the next 4 months. The game has also been confirmed to be playable to fans at E3 next week so I’d be very surprised if a few tidbits didn’t emerge then.
We sadly didn’t get to see any evolved forms for the starter Pokemon. We really only saw a handful of new creatures debuting in Pokemon Sword and Shield. The designs look good so far, though, so hopefully this gen has a lot of new favourites.
Wooloo is described as the sheep Pokemon, and yes, that definitely looks like an adorable sheep.
Gossifleur and its evolution Eldegoss seem about right for grass types. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s a third evolution in store.
Drednaw is perhaps my favourite of the current designs. Its apparently a rock/water type and with its name presumably being a pun on ‘Dreadnought’ I’d be very surprised if it didn’t evolve into something that looked like a battleship on legs.
Corviknight. An incredibly intimidating looking big, armoured crow that seems to also act as a black cab, ferrying trainers back to previously visited towns. Corviknight does a good job of looking very distinct compared to all the other flying Pokemon, but I’ll definitely need to get used to its terrifying visage.
The last two Pokemon revealed came at the end of the direct. The region’s two legendaries; Zacian and Zamazenta. Zacian is the one that looks like a wolf with a sword in its mouth. Reactions to these two seem to be lukewarm. They’re certainly a little underwhelming, with the ‘sword’ and ‘shield’ motifs very hard to miss. They look a little less odd on the box art, so hopefully they’re not as strange as they seem. Fingers crossed for a good backstory.
An Open World Area
The most exciting part of this Direct was the first indication that Pokemon Sword and Shield really is looking to step things up. There’s a new area called ‘The Wild Area’. From the Direct footage is looks pretty expansive. The Pokemon that can appear change depending on the weather and time of day, making it a much more dynamic place to catch Pokemon. You also have full control of the camera, giving it a much more open-wold look to everything. Try to moderate your expectations, though, its pretty unclear whether this is one ‘gimmick’ area or a significant part of the gameplay. The Wild Area itself also looks a little bland in some shots. Hopefully this is the first step to a more immersive 3D Pokemon open-world game!
A new feature for the series is the ‘Dynamax’ system. For three turns a Pokemon can turn massive. While transformed the Pokemon’s moves also become powered-up ‘max’ moves. It looks a bit surreal, with the Pokemon looking more like big balloons. Hopefully there’s a convincing piece of lore to explain why Raichu can now become the size of a building. Whether this is replacing of supplementing previous new battle ideas, like Mega Evolution and Z-Moves, remains to be seen. I can’t imagine any of them are stackable. I also don’t think there’s been footage of an un-evolved Pokemon gettin’ dynamaxed, so maybe this is a consolation prize for Pokemon without a Mega Evolution.
Max raid battles seems like the main reason for the introduction of dynamaxing. In the Wild Area up to 4 players can unite to try and take down and capture a ‘mon that stays dynamax’d throughout. A giant Pokemon with powered-up moves seems a more appropriate challenge for multiple trainers. The Direct also confirmed local an online co-op for this ‘raid’ mode.