Pokemon Sword and Shield Review: The Future of the Pokemon Franchise

pokemon sword and shield
(Photo: Nintendo)

Sword and Shield is each a return to the acquainted for the Pokemon franchise in addition to a tease of the place the franchise can go on the Nintendo Switch. The new Pokemon video games are each a milestone for the Pokemon franchise and a lightning rod of controversy. The video games are the first “main series” Pokemon video games to be launched for a family console (final 12 months’s Pokemon: Let’s Go video games are seen as a separate line of video games) and are additionally the first video games in over 15 years wherein all of the franchise’s Pokemon aren’t obtainable. While gamers may no less than switch their favourite Pokemon species right into a Pokemon sport, Game Freak controversially introduced that solely Pokemon that might be caught in the sport might be utilized in these new installments, that means {that a} quantity of in style Pokemon species are left the upgraded graphics and larger Pokemon world from the exterior. The controversy over the lack of the National Pokedex (known as “Dexit” by some Pokemon followers) at instances appeared to crowd out any pleasure expressed about Pokemon Sword and Shield, which is a disgrace as the video games are in all probability the most satisfying Pokemon video games launched since no less than Pokemon Black and White or Pokemon Coronary heartGold and Soulsilver.

While it is a disgrace that sure Pokemon cannot be present in Pokemon Sword and Shield, gamers doubtless will not discover as they discover the beautiful Galar area, which is full of dozens of new Pokemon species and loads of returning favorites. makes it very simple to get misplaced in the exploration and discovery at the coronary heart of the Pokemon franchise, particularly as the Galar area feels far more fleshed out than previous Pokemon worlds. The Galar area wears its British influences on its sleeves, each in phrases of its splendidly designed Pokemon and its rolling hills, giant stone monoliths, and its combine of castles and quaint structure. While Kalos felt like a generic Pokemon area with just a few French prospers, and the Alola area had a novel tradition that was slowed down by a subpar Pokemon sport, whereas Galar appears like the first area that is completely distinctive from the relaxation of the Pokemon world.

It helps that Galar is far larger than previous Pokemon areas, thanks partly to the Wild Area, an enormous space full of tons of completely different Pokemon and serves as an enclosed “open world” house that gamers have been begging for since no less than the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, if not longer. While Pokemon Sword and Shield nonetheless employs the similar linear storyline, with sure areas blocked off till gyms are crushed or sure persons are talked to, that open-world feeling represents a tantalizing style of what the Pokemon franchise may do in the future, if its administrators are daring sufficient to take dangers. While Pokemon Sword and Shield performs issues slightly too protected at instances, you may see the place the franchise can go and see foundations that future video games can construct upon. Moving to the Nintendo Switch was a protracted overdue and obligatory change, and the Pokemon world has by no means regarded this good earlier than.

The new Pokemon themselves are some of the finest designed Pokemon we have seen in ages, and Pokemon Sword and Shield gamers will come away with loads of new favorites. There are additionally a pair of stunning selections in phrases of what Pokemon have been chosen to get new Galarian variations, and what the sort mixtures of new Pokemon are. They’re all an indication that Game Freak actually did attempt to take some dangers right here, though some gamers will probably be annoyed that many features of the sport stick with the well-worn (but in addition very profitable) system of previous Pokemon video games. If you are in search of a posh storyline or one thing radically completely different from the Pokemon video games, Pokemon Sword and Shield will certainly disappoint you.

Pokemon Sword and Shield does study some classes from previous Pokemon video games. For occasion, the Dynamax mechanic is restricted to sure places, in order that the sport expertise would not solely revolve round it. This is a giant enchancment over Pokemon X and Y (with its Mega Evolution) and Pokemon Sun and Moon (with its Z-Moves), as a result of Dynamaxing your Pokemon is a function, however not the complete sport. There’s additionally some much-appreciated streamlining of play and high quality of life enhancements, resembling gamers accessing their Pokemon containers at any time (so you may swap out fainted Pokemon, or herald new Pokemon at any time) and skipping over sure tutorials. Training Pokemon for aggressive play can also be a lot simpler, and may lead me to truly attempting out the aggressive scene for the first time ever. These are small steps, however constructive ones for the long-term well being of the franchise.

Most of my disappointments in Pokemon Sword and Shield are that the sport nonetheless runs into many of the pratfalls of previous video games. The post-storyline content material is disappointing, the storyline is woefully simplistic (though it is consistent with previous Pokemon video games), and there’s not a ton of difficult battles. At instances, I felt like Pokemon Sword and Shield was akin to bowling professionally with the guard rails up. While attempting to maintain the Pokemon video games accessible for youngsters is understandably vital, the video games have gotten nearly too simple over time. Pokemon Sword and Shield would not have a second the place you are feeling pleasure after lastly defeating Whitney’s Miltank after 50 losses or after lastly capturing that Mewtwo along with your final Ultra Ball after tossing your total 200 ball provide at it. The pleasure of discovery remains to be in these Pokemon video games, however the problem (particularly throughout the storyline portion of the sport) is sadly gone.

Once the mud settles from the controversies stirred up over the summer time, Pokemon Sword and Shield will probably be regarded upon by followers fondly. This is a superb Pokemon sport, one which, at instances, pushes up towards its self-imposed limitations and teases a brand new path for the Pokemon franchise. The actual query popping out of Pokemon Sword and Shield is whether or not the Pokemon Company will construct upon the latest improvements seen in the sport and attempt to maintain the Pokemon franchise thrilling and related, or if they’re going to simply retreat to familiarity and disappoint a fanbase in search of causes to maintain taking part in for many years to come back. Pokemon Sword and Shield is a half-step ahead for the Pokemon franchise — we’ll see in the event that they put the different step ahead with their subsequent set of video games, which might be important to protecting some of its extra jaded followers.


Rating: four out of 5

Pokemon Sword and Shield hits cabinets on November 15th.

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