Pokemon Sword and Shield Return to Main Series Sensibilities

We got our first look at the all-new Galar region and the new generation’s adorable starters.

We now know the name of the two new Pokemon main series titles coming to the Switch later this year, thanks to this morning’s Nintendo Direct. Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield are scheduled for release in “late 2019”, and, while looking graphically similar to Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, promises to be a full-fledged new adventure.

President and Pokemon Company CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara introduced the stream talking about all of our past adventures, but didn’t linger long; he knew what we were all here for. Luckily for everyone, the trailer that followed introduced us not only to the region and protagonists, but also the three new starters!

The Galar region is described in the video as a region full of “idyllic countryside, contemporary cities, thick forests, and craggy, snow-covered mountains.” You can see wheat fields and post-industrial architecture that is reminiscent of England – in fact, fans have already pointed out obvious nods to real-world landmarks such as Big Ben and the Cerne Abbas Giant.

Next, we got our first peek at the three new starters and they all look good as heck. Scorbunny is the fire-type Rabbit Pokemon that is described as “always running about, bursting with energy.” The more timid Water Lizard Pokemon Sobble showcased some camouflage, along with a heap of anxiety. Finally, Grookey is the grass-type Chimp pokemon with a mischievous streak and boundless curiosity. I am always biased towards water Pokemon, and reptile/amphibian designs especially (Politoed is best fite me), but all three of the starters look like real winners.

Junichi Masuda, longtime producer of Pokemon Games, let the director of these new titles, Shigeru Ohmori, provide many of the details. Ohmori has been involved with series titles as far back as the original Ruby and Sapphire, most recently as producer of both Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon as well as Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee.

Whatever the eventual plot of Sword and Shield are, it looks like we are returning to a gym-centric progression system with the ultimate goal of becoming the region’s Champion. This was eschewed in Sun/Moon in favor of Island Trials, which was a nice change of pace for longtime players. Ohmori also said the team is “challenging themselves to try new things while still treasuring what makes Pokemon special.” How that will translate into gameplay innovations or formula shake-ups is not yet known.

The footage shown in today’s trailer is a definite step up from Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee. The cut and dry, linear routes look much more like Sun/Moon’s varied topographical routes. The exterior of buildings show off an impressive level of texture and decoration for a Pokemon title, and the horizon landscapes are the best yet in the series (check out that weird hillside design!). It looks already like the team is taking full advantage of the more powerful capabilities of the Switch, compared to other Nintendo portable consoles.

Pokemon Sword and Shield will release worldwide in late 2019.

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About Chase Carter

Chase is a journalist and media scholar interested in fan communities and how they communicate. He loves reading, cooking and his two cat sons very much.
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