Pokémon Sword and Shield: First Impressions

Pokémon Sword and Shield have been out for several days now and many have completed the game. While I’m getting close (one gym left), I do like to take it slow and I’d like to share my first impressions of the game. And the first thing I’d like to say is that while there are some things I wish were in the game that aren’t, the fanbase’s complaints leading up to the game’s release were way overblown an unjustified. This post is mildly spoiler-y (no story spoilers, some screenshots).

I picked up Pokémon Shield, purely for Galarian ponyta, and I chose sobble as my starter. While initially disappointed in sobble’s final evolution, it rapidly grew on me and now I’m completely enamored with it. I do admit to stopping sobble from evolving for 4 extra levels (it’s too cute).

The scenery is beautiful and I have no complaints about the graphics. I’ve spent much of the game taking screenshots every time I think an area looks pretty. The world of pokémon is vibrant as ever, with routes and cities having distinct personalities to them. However…

Some of the towns are too small. When I first saw Ballonlea, I fell in love. My jaw dropped when I arrived and watched its cutscene. With its forest, fairy tail-like environment, Ballonlea reminded me a bit of Laverre City in Kalos. It’s gorgeous! But it’s so tiny! And there’s not much to do there. Spikemuth is shuttered up when you arrive, and I was disappointed that it didn’t become more lively after it opened up again. I feel like there was so much potential there.

The wild area is huge and definitely worth revisiting several times a day. I love all the overworld pokémon here and in the rest of the game (although I wish Galarian ponyta had been an overworld pokémon). It makes me wonder what a fully open world pokémon game would look like – I doubt we’ll ever get that in a core series game though. The overworld pokémon are a step up from pokémon let’s go. Here some of them run from you, some chase you down to battle, and some just want to play around in front of you.

There are a few new interesting evolution methods in this game. One of them (milcery’s), I think is really cute and creative, and another (yamask’s) makes me want to throw my switch across the room. It almost makes it seem like there’s a focus on weird/unique evolution methods, which makes it even stranger that there’s no new eeveelution (sad face).

I miss the GTS. The Global Trading System made it easy to get version exclusives and getting a foreign language pokémon to use for the Masuda Method of breeding shiny pokémon. While I have been able to nab a couple version exclusives and a grookey through the surprise trade feature, nothing’s guaranteed.

Shiny hunting – I haven’t tried any shiny hunting myself yet, but this game has an interesting new method. While I’m not 100% clear on the details, I do know that the number of battles you’ve ever had with a specific pokémon contributes to your chances. Battling increases your chances, up to 500 battles. This stacks with pokémon chaining, in which you defeat the specific pokémon you’re looking for without defeating or catching any others. I’ll probably try it out myself after I beat the game – if I do, I’ll post about it. UPDATE: It’s been discovered that chaining is unnecessary and all you need to do to max your shiny odds is battle 500 of the specific pokémon.

I’m really enjoying this game, but there are a few areas where I see potential that doesn’t deliver. Will this be accounted for in a third version/sequels for the game? There’s probably enough I have in mind that I could already do a post on what I would want in any third version/sequel.

Camping in Glimwood Tangle

Now to get back to playing! If anyone needs sobble, grookey, or any version exclusives, let me know, I’d be happy to trade!

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