When I bought my copy of Pokémon Sword I was very conflicted. The National dex cut as well as perceived laziness by Gamefreak put me off from the purchase, but friends of mine who are heavy competitive players convinced me to buy it. Yet, after playing through the game, I am still somewhat conflicted.
In Pokémon sword there are real flashes if brilliance, features like the wild area and the addition of mints make the same more enjoyable both to the casual player and the hardcore vgc player.
But putting that all aside, the game feels tacked together. It’s as if Gamefreak was trying to make the game half-hearted. In this article I want to go through many of those issues and try to understand exactly what was Gamefreak thinking.
Let’s first talk about those flashes of brilliance I talked about earlier. The most apparent being the wild area. Then let’s talk about the problems with the new games.
The Wild Area
The wild area (and Raids) are truly a fun and interesting place to explore and to experience really the best Gamefreak had to offer in this generation. The ability to somewhat choose the Pokémon you encounter and to have the ability to fight more powerful Pokémon.
The wild area is quite large and has a somewhat MMO feel with other players coming and going through the wild area while you are connected online. Players can participate in raids together and trade in this wild area.
These are all features that enable the player to quickly EV grind or level grind when training a new Pokémon and for a competitive player like myself, this is a huge time saver.
The raids also makes up most of the Post story content, and Gamefreak have made max level raids the primary point in the game. That’s really where things start to fall apart, but I’ll touch on that later.
Although a more controversial opinion, I do think they did a good job with the world design. Galar is beautiful and the towns and cities feel large and detailed. I do feel they could have done a better job when designing the paths between towns and gyms.
My personal favorite is Hammerlocke, when you first approach the front gate and see that huge dragon staircase, it gives a grandiose feeling and feels like an accomplishment unto itself to finally enter the city.
Eventually though the veneer of a brand new Pokemon game wears off and you start to see the real cracks in the surface.
Dexit was probably one of the most controversial things about the new game, and I admit that it does sour my opinion of the game quite a bit.
Its less that they cut the Pokemon you see in the game, but that it seems to be a push to more heavily incorporate the upcoming Pokemon home into players minds. This can be seen with the removal of the cross generational GTS service that is on 3DS games as well as the removal of many quality-of-life experiences that the 3DS games added to the Pokemon games.
Pokemon Home is currently not released and has very little information provided, but it’s suspected to be a subscription service. This itself isn’t a problem except that eventually if players want to carry any of their old Pokemon into the new game, they have to do it through home. That is not a problem until we actually take a look at the Dex cut and that a significant amount of Pokemon were cut, many of whom being longstanding favorites.
This does feel like Gamefreak will be holding the cut Pokemon hostage on Home and forcing players to pay if they want to keep the Pokemon that some have had for over 20 years. While Pokemon bank on the 3DS was a paid service as well, trading between games wasn’t ever an issue and was more or less fairly easy through GTS.
Of course a lot of this is speculation, and I would like what I wrote to be untrue and that Gamefreak doesn’t try to exploit players.
The Post Game
For every other fault Sword & Shield have, I feel this is the most important one as well as the most glaring. If I am to put it simply, there really isn’t one.
Previous Pokemon games have had some Post-game features, such as battle frontier and new areas to explore as well as post game stories. These were always fun and enjoyable for those who wanted to spend more time playing.
With Pokemon Sword & Shield we get a battle tower feature and that’s about it. Raids and the wild area make up what little is left, but for those who want some direction in the post game, it is largely absent.
This wouldn’t be so bad if there was more to the battle tower or even more diversity to formats or even unique formats, but it is simply single or double format and nothing else. After a couple hours of playing, you just kinda get bored of it and would rather be playing against real people online. Even in previous generations you had quest lines that would take you back through the map to catch legendary Pokemon, but it looks like they don’t have anything like that planned so far.
I’m being honest when I say that overall I do enjoy the experience that this generation provides, but I’m also incredibly disappointed that it wasn’t what it could have been. It feels like a 3ds game that was haphazardly ported to the switch with minor additions to the gameplay. Even if we look at it in those terms, it’s still disappointing.
They added so much but removed so much more. Does Gamefreak know what they are doing anymore? Or are they stuck making Pokemon games not out of desire, but just to pump them out fast for money?
I’m really not sure about either of those questions. I hope that the next generation takes the lessons learned from this generation and improves on what has the potential to be really great.