Pokemon Sword & Shield Initial Reactions

Excited yet indifferent.

Alright guys, so now that we've received our first look at the next generation of Pokemon games, Pokemon Sword & Pokemon Shield, I decided to throw together some of my initial thoughs based on what we saw.

Let’s get started:

  • The game looks exactly what I expected it to look like - an HD version of where the 3DS games left off with the same overall aesthetic of the Let’s Go games. It’s not what we want, but it’s what we expect from Game Freak. In order to launch a new generation every couple of years we can’t expect them to give us the “Breath of the Wild”-esque game that we crave. I’m not even sure they’re capable of it based on the size of the company alone. Overall, it looks fine and on brand with the product they have created and certain scenes actually looked really beautiful for the art style we art working with.

  • I really just want a game that truly is in the third person perspective. It doesn’t look like we have control of the camera at all which is a giant disappointment. Being the first game released of a new generation of Pokemon on home consoles I had hoped they would step it up and put us behind our character rather than having to continue to deal with a fixed camera and a lack of control.

  • The England setting is pretty - I like the way all of the landmarks look and different portions of the map representing different areas of the UK - it feels quite varied in that sense and will help keep the game interesting as you progress.

  • However, the world just feels incredibly empty just like other Pokemon Games before it. You’re moving from objective to objective without feeling any sort of need to explore the world other than to search for Pokemon. It’s not an open world like a game about searching for hundreds of something should be - you’re essentially just traveling around in a linear path once again. Random Pokemon in the wild would have at least made it feel more full rather than having to walk through random patches of grass as if that’s the only place these creatures reside.

  • The battle screen appears to be exactly the same - the cleared out generic looking area that closely resembles the place on the map that you’re currently walking through - it just looks lazy at this point. Show them in the exact location where the encounter happened - more animations, better transitions and more ways to interact with the environment.

  • I really appreciate the different weather elements - walking through the snowy area looks beautiful and having a jacket and a beanie to wear while you’re there is a nice combination.

  • Some scenes had really nice visuals such as the one where the character is looking up at the hill with some Pokemon-looking crop circles - however, I’m pretty sure we won’t even get a chance to explore that area. It’s just off in the distance to admire because apparently the Pokemon world only ever exists in a flat, mostly linear space.

  • Random encounters are back and this is the number one thing that frustrates me. Nothing in any game I’ve ever played has been more tedious and annoying than having to “run away” from countless numbers of Caterpie’s and Ratata’s just to get to where I’m trying to go or search for Pokemon I have yet to capture. Pokemon Let’s Go fixed this by having the Pokemon exist in the overworld allowing the player the ability to dodge whatever they didn’t feel like dealing with at the time. It’s what has kept me from finishing the last few titles because I eventually get to a point where it stops being fun and starts feeling daunting.

  • The starters are fine - I don’t care too much about what they look like in their first form - show me what they’re final evolutions look like and then we’ll talk. But each of them, as per usual, have that “cute” factor that will translate well into toys, stuffed animals, the anime, etc. So bravo!

  • The names of the games are okay - wouldn’t be my first choice. I feel like Sword is going to sell double what Shield sells if not more. You’d think that they would choose two titles with equal intensity. It’s like in football - what’s more exciting: a game of all defense or all offense?

  • Release date is as expected - most likely November. At a certain point yesterday I remember thinking to myself “what if they surprised everyone and launched this Spring or this Summer - then quickly told myself to erase that thought from my head because Game Freak and Nintendo both are both strategic and don’t stray too far from the path.

Overall I’m left feeling slightly disappointed but also content, I guess? Mostly because of the lack of being able to move the camera with the other stick and that random encounters are back - those were the two features I really thought they would fix this time around. If they had, I wouldn’t have had a single complaint about the art style or anything else. It’s a domino effect, I suppose. I understand that Game Freak is a small company - I believe they only have about 150 employees and that number is divided between two separate projects so they clearly don’t have the capacity to make the sprawling open world RPG that we seek but I guess I’m just holding out hope that one day they work side by side with another develop that is capable of it.

"Maybe the clips that we saw weren’t a complete representation of the game and that I’m incorrect in some of my assumptions."

I’m still going to purchase the game - without a doubt. And I’ll try to not get too burnt out on the grind when I finally get a chance to play it. Maybe the clips that we saw weren’t a complete representation of the game and that I’m incorrect in some of my assumptions - and maybe there will be a better balancing of encountering the same Pokemon multiple times so that it’s a much more enjoyable experience. So I’m holding out hope for when more information comes in the next few months leading into E3 and then into the games release. I’m also curious how multiplayer works and if there are any major updates there or if it’s just going to be the same system that we are used to.

Many questions to be answered but these are my initial thoughts thus far - what do you guys think? Let me know in the comments below!