They gave the dog a sword (and shield)
Continuing to ignore the fact the E3 is days away, Gamefreak delivered another bevy of information about the upcoming Pokémon Sword and Shield. We were introduced to the main cast of characters, a few new Pokémon, and this generation’s signature mechanic: Dynamax. Additionally, the games will release worldwide on November 15, 2019. Let’s jump into the details.
While we are already familiar with the three starter Pokémon of the Galar region, today’s Direct offered a first look at five new Pokémon in the series’ eighth generation. Wooloo, an extremely fluffy sheep, is prized in a certain town for the wool it grows, which is used to produce a variety of products. It looks hand-designed for plushes and offers some steep competition to Mareep for cuddliest Pokémon.
Gossifleur, and its evolution Eldegoss, are designed around healing flowers and herbs. Both evolutionary stages produce or promote health and growth in all living things. The stages of a flower are a common motif across generations, and Galar is no different.
Drednaw is a gnarly, snapping turtle looking dude who apparently sports a bad attitude, making it difficult to train for all but the most experienced trainers. I’ll never turn down another turtle Pokémon, especially one with a nice color palette and chip on its shoulder.
Corviknight is a big jackdaw with armor. If that’s not enough to sell you on this gallant bird, it also ferries you to any town you have previously visited, acting as a fast travel system for easy egress from anywhere in Galar’s massive outdoors. It just looks so proud of itself.
Finally, we have our first look at this series’ pair of legendary Pokémon: Zacien and Zamazenta. Both of these noble wolves are equipped with, you guessed it, a sword and a shield respectively. In the video shown at the end of the Direct, it seems a larger threat will force these two warrior pups to combine their prowess.
As always, your adventure through the game will put you in contact with a host of new characters, ranging from your ever-present rival to the Champion of the league. In Galar’s case, they’re directly related. Leon, the undefeated and super-popular champion, is a suave trainer with the confidence to wear a flowing cape with shorts and the natural charisma to actually pull it off. He will be your ultimate opponent along the path to becoming the Champion yourself. His younger brother Hop starts his journey on the same day as you and looks to fill the well-worn shoes of rivals past. Expect lots of talk about motivation and determination as you alternatively clash and cooperate throughout the story.
On the helpful side of things, Professor Magnolia fills another of the series’ roles as the wise instigator of your quest. While she leans on a cane, I wouldn’t be surprised if her seemingly frail frame belies an acerbic wit. Her granddaughter, Sophia, will likely act as her proxy abroad. Both of them study the Dynamax phenomenon, Sword and Shield’s new battle mechanic. Speaking of…
Have you ever looked at your Pokémon and thought, “What if big?” Well, Sword and Shield apparently heard you and delivers an answer in the form of Dynamax, a new phenomenon akin to Z-moves and mega evolution. When used in battle, Dynamaxed Pokémon balloon to staggering heights for three moves, boosting their power and modifying your moveset. Expect it to be a key component to gym battles throughout the Galar region.
The most interesting use of this new feature is Max Raid battles, seen as thin columns of red light in the games’ overworld. Approach these, and you can team up with three other players to battle an extremely powerful Dynamaxed Pokémon. These cooperative battles will apparently be some of the toughest in the game and will require solid teamwork if you stand a chance at victory. While the concept seems at first blush like a feature adapted from Pokémon Go, we will have to wait for more detailed information.
The aforementioned overworld is another big departure from previous entries in the series. The Wild Area in between cities and populated areas will allow trainers to encounter a constantly shifting variety of Pokémon. They will roam the overworld much like they did in last year’s Pokémon Let’s Go games. Which ones you can encounter will depend on the weather and time of day, so expect some diligent exploration if you endeavor to collect them all. To help with exploration in this massive area, Sword and Shield is adopting an open world camera system that puts control in the player’s hands, another first for the main series.
While today’s Direct offered a lot to consider, there’s still plenty of time between now and the game’s November 15 release date for more information. Be sure to continue checking Autosave as our coverage of Pokémon Sword and Shield continues.