Pokémon Sword Hands-On Impressions (Pre-Release Preview)

One of the most anticipated games of the year, the Pokémon Sword and Shield duo, is finally arriving on the Nintendo Switch family of systems. These games have created quite a buzz when they were first announced and continued to stir up the video game world as more detail was revealed little by little. Almost everyone is excited for the new feature called Dynamax which boasts gigantic sized Pokémon. On the other hand, some fans were not too pleased when Game Freak announced that not all previous generation Pokémon will make the cut for the Sword and Shield. But enough of that, the most important thing is that our team got their hands on an early copy of Pokémon Sword so let’s get into my first impressions for this hype-induced game.

Spoiler Alert: This Preview contains the names of brand new Pokémon, characters, and detailed gameplay explanations which some purists may prefer to experience for themselves.

The first thing that caught my eye is how vast Galar Region is and how beautiful it looked; from landscape to architecture to the newly introduced Pokémon.

You will start off with picking among eight character presets (four males, four females) which only mostly differ in skin color. After picking your character and naming it, you will then start your adventure. One of the features of this game is character customization in terms of clothing and accessories. So, if you don’t like what your character is wearing, you can always visit a boutique to buy new outfits.

Like all other Pokémon games, your character will have a friend/rival who will begin their journey with you and constantly challenge you to battle and see who is stronger. His name is Hop and he is the younger brother of Galar Region’s Champion, Leon. Unlike other Pokémon games where you will receive your starter Pokémon from whoever the professor is, Pokémon Sword and Shield let’s Leon introduce these Pokémon to you and your rival.

As usual, you will pick among three Pokémon: Grookey (a grass-type Pokémon which looks like a monkey),

Sobble (a frog-looking water-type Pokémon),

and Scorbunny (a fire-type rabbit). I personally like all these starter Pokémon but I always prefer the grass-type over any other.

Some other small touches go a long way in the game’s overall presentation as well. If you shake berry trees too much, a wild Pokémon will fall off of it and battle you and then some of the berries that you shook off of the tree will get stolen by other wild Pokémon. Camping, Fishing, and a rotatable camera (when in wild areas) are also notable features among the content set to fill hours and hours of gameplay while keeping a variety to the moment to moment action players are experiencing. Despite earlier notions of Game Freak’s intentions, the game does not look too similar to Let’s Go! and instead focuses on a vast and more detailed landscape art style which is sure to get you exploring every nook and cranny!

As far as the new camping goes, this is the first time Pokémon has featured it. Most of the gameplay involved with camping centers around interaction with your Pokémon such as playing with them, cooking with them using optional motion controls, and eating with them. This is almost similar to the way players interacted with their Pokémon in some past games without the cooking part (unless you played Pokemon Quest).

Fishing functions mainly the same as before, where you fish and battle water type Pokémon for a chance to catch them. This is a more realistic, 3D layout than the rest of the Pokémon franchise and as such contains a vast, more detailed map with plenty to do in it.

Although the title remains traditional in the sense of no voice acting (seen thus far in my playing), there are also demonstrations of a Pokémon’s strengths and weaknesses which take place in cutscenes. Dialogue and narration is strictly through subtitles.

To go further in-depth with this game’s main feature, Dynamax is a way in which trainers equipped with a special Dynamax band, which is made from a Wishing Star, can make their Pokémon grow larger for a period of time. This is possible with any Pokémon and compatible with certain areas / events such as Gym Battles and Max Raid Battles. Pokémon will transform when Dynamax is used and certain Pokémon can even grow to be incredibly huge when a rare form of Dynamax called Gigantamax is used. Gigantamax not only provides a larger size transformation than normal Dynamax, but also provides a more dramatic alteration of appearance and attributes similar to Mega-Evolutions for just one Pokémon at a time during a battle for a few turns.

As you start your own amazing journey into Galar Region, remember DO NOT BUMP INTO ANYTHING! The sound will really get to you as you keep playing. Other that that, good luck on being the next CHAMPION!

Below are some additional screenshots taken in-game on the Switch itself while playing our early copy – as well as every trailer / dev diary plus our unboxing of the Special Edition Pokémon Sword and Shield Nintendo Switch Lite handheld console.

Be sure to check back for more soon!

Related Media:

Pokémon Switch Lite Unboxing (Zacian and Zamazenta Limited Edition)

Jenevieve Ireson of RealGamerNewZ unboxes the newest Nintendo Switch, with the two newest Legendary Pokémon from the upcoming Pokémon Sword and Shield etched into the back / silver, red, blue color scheme.

Additional RGN Screenshots:

Release Date: November 15, 2019

Additional Features: Built-In Pokédex, Pokéball Plus Support