Let’s Talk About Pokémon Direct

On Wednesday morning, Nintendo and GAME FREAK decided to grace us with about 15 minutes of information about the newest additions to the main Pokémon RPG franchise. First off, we were given a release date. Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield will be released on the Nintendo Switch on November 15th, 2019. 

The Pokémon Direct stream featured a roughly 3 and a half minute trailer, followed by a breakdown of the new features shown in the trailer by producers of the game at GAME FREAK. Below is a link to the trailer. Below that, we have the highlights of the information so you don’t need to go back and watch the hour long stream that only features 15 minutes of actually relevant information, and not just a picture!

Alright trainers, now that we’ve all seen the trailer, let’s turn our hats backwards and get to the details!

Wild Area

The first major new feature in Sword and Shield is the Wild Area. This is the name given to the, well, wild area in between cities in the Galar Region. The colorful, breathtaking region really gives off Breath of the Wild vibes and is where you will be able to discover and catch wild Pokemon. With the power of the Nintendo Switch, the area really comes to life with Pokémon roaming in the overworld as well as lurking in tall grass, in water, in caves, and in trees.  

Taking a page out of Pokémon Go’s book, the kind of Pokemon that you can encounter will depend on the time of day as well as the weather of the region you are in. Although a day/night cycle is not necessarily new to the franchise, a dynamic weather system that changes daily is a first in the long line of main Pokémon RPGs. 

Another first for the series is the introduction of a 360 degree camera. No more will you be forced to look at the linear view of the previous games in the series. You will now be able to freely look all around you, giving Sword and Shield a new, immersive RPG feel that we previously haven’t seen in Pokémon games. 

Dynamaxing

Have you ever wondered, “Man Gyrados is big. But what if it was even BIGGER?” Well, apparently GAME FREAK did, and that brings us to our second new feature, Dynamaxing. Similar to Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves of previous generations, Dynamaxing is the new battle mechanic introduced in Pokémon Sword and Shield. 

Dynamaxing allows you to make a Pokémon massive for three turns, as well as boosting its power. To go along with being gigantic, all of the Pokémon’s known moves become max moves. You will be able to Dynamax a Pokémon once per battle, and as aforementioned, the effects last only three turns.

But, you aren’t the only one that can Hulk-ify your Pokémon. Gym Leaders (yes, I said Gym Leaders, not the Kahunas and Island Challenges of Pokémon Sun and Moon) will all have a Dynamax Pokémon you will have to defeat. To accommodate these Titan size Pokémon, Gyms are now in large stadiums that look a lot like the large soccer stadiums of Europe. 

Max Raid Battles

Raid Battles, one of the best features of Pokémon Go, are now coming to the main series. Max Raid Battles allow you and three other players to team up and battle a Dynamax Pokémon who stays powered up throughout the battle. The raid bosses will change along with the weather system, allowing you to challenge a variety of bosses. Like Pokémon Go, if you are able to defeat the Dynamax Pokémon, you will then be given an opportunity to catch it. Unlike Pokémon Go, the battle is much more than rapidly tapping your screen and throwing bodies at the raid boss. 

Only one of you can Dynamax your Pokémon in this fight, so co-operative strategy is a necessity. Max Raid Battles will be able to be played locally with other players on the Switch or online. What remains to be seen is if you can connect to your friends online or if you are stuck with randoms. Regardless, this seems like a very interesting feature that adds a new co-operative element to the Pokémon series. 

Story Details

We didn’t learn a whole lot about the story from this Direct, but one can safely assume it will follow the tried and true formula of beating all of the Gym Leaders and ultimately challenging the champion. 

Speaking of the Champion, his name in Sword and Shield is Leon. He has an undefeated record in battles and is the Champion of the Galar region. I don’t know about you, but hearing “undefeated” makes me want to be the Brock Lesnar to his Undertaker and to #EatSleepConquerTheStreak. 

Leon’s little brother, Hop, will be your rival in these new entries. Professor Magnolia will be the name of the Pokémon professor that most likely starts you out on your journey, and she will be assisted by her granddaughter Sonia. 

Although it was only 15 minutes worth of information, GAME FREAK gave us just enough to hold us over until the next information drop. But it’s safe to say that Pokémon Sword and Shield are shaping up to be interesting entries in the long running franchise.