For the layman, this is considered a milestone for the Pokémon franchise as it is the first time a flagship game will be getting a full DLC expansion, instead of having a sequel game released the following year.
For context, the likes of and Pokémon Red and Blue all the way until Sun and Moon have gotten sequel games in Yellow and Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon respectively, so this could mark a shift in the way The Pokémon Company handles their post-launch content.
The Expansion Pass
Anyhow, the Pokémon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass introduces a bevvy of new content for both newcomers to the game, and those who already finished the base one. There will be two DLCs as part of it: The Isle of Armor (releases Summer 2020), and The Crown Tundra (releases Fall 2020).
As a brief summary, here are the various new features that will be introduced in the Expansion Pass:
These new areas can be visited at any point in time during the main story, so it offers a nice distraction should you need a breath of fresh air.
New And Returning Pokémon
Most strikingly, the Expansion Pass will usher in over 200 Pokémon (not exactly the National Dex, but we’ll take what we can get for now), both from past games and brand-new ones. There will be roughly 100 Pokémon that will be released in The Isle of Armor, and another 100 to be released in The Crown Tundra.
Of course, in keeping with the exclusivity aspect of the games, you can only catch certain types of Pokémon in Sword and Shield respectively, so it’d be best to get a friend to help you out in completing your expanded PokéDex.
The new legendary Pokémon include the Fighting-type Kubfu (The Isle of Armor), which evolves into Urshifu, which has two alternate forms depending on the fighting style you choose for it (the Fighting/Dark Single Strike Style and the Fighting/Water Rapid Strike Style). Urshifu’s two forms then have their own exclusive Gigantamax forms, which then spawn exclusive new moves.
In The Crown Tundra, there is Calyrex, the enigmatic Psychic/Grass-type legendary Pokémon that is said to have “ruled all of Galar in ancient times.”
New Galarian version of original Pokémon will also appear, such as Slowpoke, one of which you can actually catch in the base game (after the free update that just came to the base game). You can’t evolve it yet to Galarian Slowbro or Galarian Slowking, though – you’ll need to access the new areas in the Expansion Pass to be able to do so.
Gigantamax Pokémon and Max Raid Battles have been all the rage in Sword and Shield, and there will no doubt be more in the Expansion Pass. Good news for those who feel that the original Wild Area has been getting stale lately – the Expansion Pass introduces a new Wild Area in each DLC. Most significantly, the starter Pokémon that you’ve trained with in the base game will now all get their own Gigantamax forms!
The new Pokémon will be introduced as part of a free update accompanying each DLC. This is where it gets cool – you need not buy the Expansion Pass to be able to acquire the Pokémon as they are all tradeable with those who have just the base game. So if you’re only all about completing your PokéDex and have a friend that you can lean on, this is certainly a huge draw with the new update.
As for NPCs, there will definitely be new ones, and some version-exclusive too. In The Isle of Armor, you’ll be training under a mentor Mustard, who trained the previous champion Leon.
You’ll also be training alongside a new rival based on which version of the game you play: the Poison trainer Klara (Sword), or the Psychic trainer Avery (Shield).
Cosmetics and Other Features
Other new features include Restricted Sparring (The Isle of Armor), which allows you to do battles that introduce handicaps to the type of Pokémon you can use, and so on, as well as a new co-op play feature (The Crown Tundra), where you can link up with friends online to explore Pokémon Dens, which give you the chance to encounter and catch legendary Pokémon from the previous games in Max Raid-style battles.
And of course, there will be a slew of new cosmetic items that you can fluff your Trainer avatar up with, including NPC costumes.
The Expansion Pass for Pokémon Sword and Shield is available for pre-purchase now on the Nintendo eShop, and will retail for US$29.99. Pre-purchasing it will net you a Mystery Gift code containing a Pikachu Uniform and an Eevee Uniform, which can be worn right out of the bat.
Marion has a serious RPG addiction. Sometimes it bleeds into real life; he forgets to sleep because he thinks he has a Witcher’s body clock. Forgive him in advance if he suddenly blurts out terms such as “Mind Flayer” and “Magic Missile”, because never once does he stop thinking about his next Dungeons & Dragons game.