- System: Nintendo Switch
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Game Freak / Nintendo
- Release Date: November 15, 2019
- Rating: E
- Genre: RPG
- Players: 1-4 (Local/Online)
- Official Website: https://swordshield.pokemon.com/en-us/
Who it Caters to
What to Expect
It’s fun to make assumptions about a feature prior to release but it’s very clear that the Dynamax and Max Raids are a truly exciting addition to the series, creating an enormous amount of added depth when it comes to battle strategies. This is the first ever Pokémon experience where players can finally traverse around a vast and beautiful open world, where you truly feel like the Pokémon are alive and you’re a part of their thriving ecosystem. With your Rotom Bike it’s easy to travel anywhere in the wild, whether it be on land or on water, and the more energy you collect along the way, the faster you can travel with the turbo boost.
These are just a few things to expect within Pokémon Sword and Shield but they make up a big chunk of the gameplay, especially after completing the story and moving into post game content.
Every location that you visit throughout the game is vastly different than the one you visited prior, with each location representing a specific element pertaining to the gym and its leader. One moment you’re traveling through a rough and unforgiving terrain known as Stow-on-Side then suddenly find yourself in this dream-like fairy area known as Ballonlea, both of which are very distinct in design. Even going so far as to adding dragon scales to replicate a sidewalk in Hammerlocke is something a lot of people will overlook, but to us it only shows the amount of consideration and care the team at Game Freak invested towards visual impact. It’s all in the small little details that really help this game shine in a lot of ways, in spite of its shortcomings that we’ll dive into later. Being able to visit your local hair salon to change your hairstyle or simply walking into a designer store to grab the latest threads is something truly amazing, since it encourages players to personalize their character and create a unique experience while playing. This becomes even more apparent once you start running around the Wild Areas only to encounter other players, all of whom stand out from each other, which gives the game more life.
Pokemon Sword and Shield add an element of realism to the experience that makes it feel that you’re not just a part of this illustrious Pokémon world, you coexist with it.
Sound / Music
This even trickles down into the actual gym battles themselves, as each respective gym leaders’ theme music reflects that of their style and appeal. Hop, Sonia, Bede, and Marnie, all have their own respective theme song as you encounter them and that in itself creates a very refreshing audio experience. We could have this entire game soundtrack just playing in the background as we work and love every minute of it, because that’s just how polished it is. Also, shoutouts to Piers for being such a badass looking character. We only wish there was some voicing behind the game because a lot of the cutscenes would’ve truly captured more of our attention had there been some vocal leverage behind it. Be that as it may, the overall audio for Pokemon Sword and Shield are brilliant and really speak volumes when it comes to Game Freak and their design choices.
After you’ve completed the story, which shouldn’t take you longer than 10-15 or so hours, the post game content is all there for you to take advantage of. Whether you simply want to grind it out and find your favorite shiny Pokémon (you can of course do this anytime but post game is rewarding!), take part in Max Raid Battles with people around the world, or simply test out potential competitive team building through Link Battles, Pokemon Sword and Shield provide so much abundance that you’ll be playing for hours on end. Just wandering around the Wild Area on its own sapped so much time from us, because there was just so much to unravel and absorb. One could easily do a second run through of the game and still enjoy every minute of the experience because there’s just so much to soak in. Talking to the local NPCs comes with their perks as well, since many of them provide you with sometimes rare items like TMs, or other useful tools like items for your Pokemon to carry during battle. Simply just rushing through the game in order to brag about how you’ve cleared the story just doesn’t suffice because outside of that, you’re gifted with a world that is just overflowing with mystery and intrigue. Riding around to collect energy via the Energy Well is a nice relaxing endeavor, hanging out with your Pokemon via Camping, or even just wandering around to see if you can find hidden items in untapped areas is a treat in of itself.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
- Hands down the most audio-visually impactful Pokemon title to date.
- Pokemon Sword and Shield is immersive, creating an expansive world that you can soak hundreds of hours into without much thought.
- The Wild Area deserves its own pro. Just that area on its own is a totally jaw-dropping exprience.
- Max Raiding is so much fun because of how many rewards you can receive through participating.
- The game truly looks stunning but suffers severely in the Wild Area due to so much happening on screen all at once.
- Many would agree that leveling up your Pokemon is very easy due to the game giving you more than what you'd expect in terms of battle rewards. It's a mixed bag since it stands on the cusp of being either too much or too little. For us, we allowed ourseves the challenge and refrained from Max Raids until post game, but it still did feel a bit easy during gym battles.
- The Y-COMM system could use a bit more refining, especially when searching for new Max Raids, Link Battles, or just about whatever it is you're on the hunt for.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Until next time!