Pokémon Sword and Shield
North American boxart, featuring the legendary Pokémon Zacian and Zamazenta
|Release||November 15, 2019|
Pokémon Sword and Shield[a] are upcoming role-playing video games developed by Game Freak and published by The Pokémon Company and Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch. They will be the first main series games in the eighth generation of the Pokémon franchise, and the second in the series to be released on a home console. The games are scheduled for a worldwide release on November 15, 2019.
Several features which are new to the series have been announced for the game. These include co-operative raid encounters similar to those in Pokémon Go, open world area(s), and "dynamaxing", which enables Pokémon to temporarily grow to a giant size. In addition, Pokémon native to the game's region will be able to be transferred to the game from the 3DS Pokémon Bank, Go, and Let's Go, Pikachu/Eevee via the Pokémon Home service. Pokémon Gyms make a return to the games after being absent in Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon. Some features added in previous entries, like Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves, will be absent from the games.
Sword and Shield take place in the Galar region, a large, narrow expanse of land, and one of many regions in the Pokémon world. The region itself and its many landmarks are inspired by Great Britain, such as a clocktower and palace which resemble Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, and a hillside monument resembling the Cerne Abbas Giant. The game's soundtrack is inspired by British rock music.
Development of Sword and Shield began immediately following the development of Pokémon Sun and Moon in 2016. This started with an initial concept phase that lasted for approximately a year before the games moved into full production.
The idea of strength and striving to be the greatest and strongest was one of the core themes that Game Freak used in designing the game. This is expressed through the Switch's status as the most powerful console to run a Pokémon game, features such as dynamaxing, and references to British folklore. The Switch's ability to render larger Pokémon models and better show size differences between species is the root of the Dynamax feature. The idea of "growing and evolving" is a core concept of the game—for both the trainer and their Pokémon—stemming from Producer Junichi Masuda and Director Shigeru Ohmori's experience with the franchise.
Unlike other core Pokémon titles, not all existing Pokémon species will appear and be usable in Sword and Shield. Producer Junichi Masuda addressed this as a potential issue in a 2018 interview with GameSpot, at which point he said that "it does get complicated when you talk about the details and we're still figuring it out, but we do have plans to find ways to let players use their Pokémon in the next game." However, by 2019, after announcing the decision to limit the number of Pokémon in the games, he explained that they wanted to leverage the Switch's hardware and make the Pokémon more "expressive", but that the sheer number of species, combined with the need to produce assets relating to new features such as the dynamaxing system, preserve balance, and maintain a degree of quality, made it infeasible to include all existing Pokémon without extensively lengthening development time. As such, only Pokémon that appear within the Galar region will be transferable from previous titles via Pokémon Home.
The games were originally teased through a special message by The Pokémon Company president Tsunekazu Ishihara during Nintendo's E3 2017 presentation, where Ishihara mentioned that Game Freak was working on a new Pokémon core RPG for Nintendo Switch but it wouldn't release for more than a year. During a press conference held by The Pokémon Company in Japan on May 30, 2018, Junichi Masuda confirmed that the next brand new Pokémon core series game would release on Nintendo Switch in the second half of 2019. Ishihara also assured that the upcoming title would not have influences from Pokémon Go like Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! had, and that it would introduce many new Pokémon and "polished" graphics.
Sword and Shield were fully unveiled on a special Nintendo Direct presentation on February 27, 2019, introducing the game's region and starter Pokémon. The starters are: Grookey, the grass-type starter, which is a simian Pokémon; Scorbunny, the fire-type starter, which is a rabbit; and Sobble, the water-type starter, which is a chameleon. The presentation coincided with Pokémon Day, a fan celebration of Pokémon on the anniversary of the Japanese release of Pokémon Red and Green. A second Nintendo Direct about the game was held on June 5, 2019, which revealed some of its new features, characters and Pokémon, including the Legendary Pokémon Zacian and Zamazenta, who appear on the box art. The release date of November 15, 2019 was also announced as a part of this Direct.
The decision not to include all pre-existing Pokémon in the game drew criticism from many fans, some of whom called for the games to be delayed until all of the Pokémon could be added. The ability to have all Pokémon in a single game has been a staple of the franchise since Ruby and Sapphire in 2002. The perceived discarding the franchise's tagline "gotta catch ‘em all" brought about further ire from fans. Some fans also expressed skepticism about Game Freak's ability to deliver the higher quality animations that they had cited as a reason for not including all Pokémon; dataminers argued that the 3D models from 2013's Pokémon X and Y have been reused in many games since (and were suspected to also have been used in Sword and Shield), while Polygon noted that while attacks typically use "stock" animations that are not specific to each Pokémon, there were notable examples of bespoke animations in-game, such as a hopping Scorbunny as an idle animation in battle, and interactions for features such as Pokémon-Amie and its successors. A Nintendo Treehouse video for Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield received over seventy-one thousand dislikes in just 8 days, more than any other game at E3 2019, and the hashtag "#BringBackNationalDex" was used to discuss the matter on social media. A Japanese Twitter user was also mocked for suggesting that it would only take five minutes to model a single Pokémon, leading to 3D modelers creating deliberately-poor models of Pokémon, supposedly created in five minutes.
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