With Pokémon Sword and Shield approaching its impending launch in one month’s time, yet another new wave of information about the game has surfaced. Alongside recent reveals of a new Galarian form, fresh battle rivals, multiplayer raid battles, and new Dynamax game mechanic, the newest installment is set to welcome a handful of other features as well, including autosave, the removal of Hidden Machines (HMs), and automatic shared experience.
Max Raid Battles and easy don’t mix
It’s a good thing that players have the new Dynamax and Gigantamax mechanics to fall back on in a pinch, because the game’s Max Raid Battles are out for some blood. Originally billed as “cooperative battles”, the feature saw a shift in focus after Pokémon Go introduced co-op raids, and will now instead have trainers teaming up to bring down powerful, giant Pokémon with their very own colossal-sized battling companion – a result of the above mechanics that exponentially grows Pokémon for several turns, and allows them to use a special move.
Much like the raids in Pokémon Go, Max Raid Battles sport a ranking system, in which five stars represent the highest difficulty. “I think some of them are going to be pretty difficult,” planning director Kazumasa Iwao cautions. “I think it’s going to have a kind of difficulty we haven’t seen in a lot of main series Pokémon games up until now, but there is a wide spread of difficulties even in the Max Raid Battles.” Oof.
As long as players don’t go head-on immediately against the highest-ranked beasts, this co-op experience should prove to be rather fun and enjoyable.
Autosave is finally a thing
The rumours are true – Pokémon Sword and Shield will introduce autosave for the first time, so there’s no longer a need to pull up the menu and save manually. What’s good about this new feature is its flexibility: Pokémon veterans have the option to turn it off in favour of the traditional approach, such that they can still save and reload previous files before major battles or while hunting for a Legendary Pokémon.
Missing Pokémon will eventually make a comeback
It’s unfortunate (and a little disappointing) that some Pokémon won’t be included in Sword and Shield, but that doesn’t mean they will never be coming back to the game universe. With the overwhelming number of critters holding developers back from working on new gameplay ideas, the decision was made to cut those who couldn’t the Galar region fitting from the list.
Producer Junichi Masuda has confirmed that these Pokémon will return for future installments in various regions, however, so it’s hardly the end of the world.
Say goodbye to HM slaves
Surf. Fly. Cut. The special moves that can be taught to multiple Pokémon and used both in and out of battles won’t be brought into the game this time. As Sword and Shield explores the higher element of freedom, HMs have been deemed to be more rigid in their functionality, and thus disrupt the fluidity of gameplay. Yay to no more HM slaves!
Exp. for everyone…without Exp. Share
As the saying goes, sharing is caring. Where the Exp. Share was an item that equally divided up gained experience amongst party members, Sword and Shield is opting for an automatic option instead. This means that items are no longer needed for Pokémon to get equal experience points, as they will automatically be entitled to it. Nice.
Training to be the very best with your favourites
In previous titles, grooming the perfect battle Pokémon required some form of IV (Individual Values) and EV (Effort Values) boost, or even breeding. It’s not exactly an easy process, requiring lots of patience and dedication, especially if your favourites are just not as battle-hardy as others. But they are adorable, and you have a sentimental or affectionate connection to them, so they have to be in your party.
A new feature in Sword and Shield is set to ease the process, and make it more friendly for trainers to fight with the Pokémon they have grown to love, although the team is very vague about it. Looks like something to look forward to, though.
While a lot of the above features are a shift away from the traditional Pokémon model, they do make for a refreshing set of elements for the game universe. Pokémon Sword and Shield is set to debut on November 15, 2019, so the last of information should be making its rounds soon – especially that of the final starter evolutions, which continues to be a mystery.
Please, just please, don’t let Scorbunny be yet another Fire/Fighting-type again.