Here’s a flashback for you: It’s been two years since the world found out there was going to be a Pokémon game for the Nintendo Switch!
That’s a bit crazy to think about—since after all, in that short time we’ve gotten two games and an expansion already. Clearly, Game Freak’s gotten out of its habit of leaving years between releases.
Until recently, though, I’d only actually played one of those releases, Let’s Go Eevee. I was incredibly excited for it, to the point that I talked about it more than once here on the blog—but I was a little let down by the multiplayer function, so I didn’t exactly go rushing out for a copy of Sword and/or Shield.
About a month ago, that finally changed. Better late than never, you know!
Shane and I were having a particularly stir-crazy night at home when we impulsively decided to get ourselves copies of Sword for him and Shield for me, and in that time, I’ve been digging around with the former expectations of Let’s Go fresh in my mind.
Here’s what I think so far!
The graphics are exactly what I was hoping to see.
The Switch presented an interesting challenge to game developers at first because suddenly, they needed to consider how to manage the shift in graphics from the small screen to the big one. It was a little rough in the earlier games, but I’ll be honest—this is one of the first ones I’ve seen that I feel actually did it right.
Even on the small screen, the game looks beautiful, and goes a long way toward making the game feel immersive. And that just scales up on the big screen! It was especially noticeable in the new gym challenges, and honestly gave me goosebumps the first time.
The Wild Areas are a really cool addition.
In all honesty, the multiplayer function still isn’t what I was hoping for, but this game definitely does a lot better than Let’s Go! I was so surprised and happy the first time we wandered into a Wild Area together and I saw Shane sitting there on his bike just because we were on a local connection.
And it just got better from there.
We spent probably six hours (not all at once) wandering around the Wild Area. I’ll admit it was incredibly fun to see how many Pokémon I could get to chase me out of the tall grass, but the feature I really liked about this area is the raids.
Raids are a completely new feature no doubt inspired by the gym raids in Pokémon Go, and pit four players (or NPCs for any players you don’t have around) against a Dynamaxed wild Pokémon. It was a really neat way to be able to play co-op without being pitted against each other!
I think in the long run, that’ll also give mostly useless moves like Helping Hand a new reason for existence, too.
It’s missing a lot of core Pokémon.
This isn’t something I knew going in, but much like Let’s Go, Sword and Shield have a Pokédex with more slashes than a mall on Boxing Day. There are a huge number of Pokémon missing from the game (you can see the full list here if you’re curious), and honestly, some of them hurt.
Along with most of the starters and a lot of the cool legendaries, the game’s missing many of the pseudo-legendaries too—including Dragonite.
This is probably the first Pokémon game I’ve ever played where I didn’t have any chance of getting a Dragonite, which has always been my absolute favourite Pokémon. Personally, though, I refuse to believe they’ll never add it in, so I’m holding out for it to show up in later releases!
I love that there are expansions.
One of the things that tends to drive people away from Pokémon games after the Elite Four is the fact that unless you know what you want to do, the content is pretty static and never really expands.
Now, normally I’d have a bit of a mixed opinion about this, because I tend to be the person who wants a finished game the first time I dish out for it. But with this, I’m more in favour of it because of just how many Pokémon games I’ve dropped in the past because I spent 400 hours riding my bike with a bag full of eggs and then gotten bored.
I love the idea that there’s going to be extra releases for the game that build on it because that’ll give me more to do after I’ve beaten the game, and because it’s my source of hope for someday getting a Dragonite!
We’re not too far into the game yet, and have only managed to collect three badges so far, so I’m excited to experience more of the game.