Well, I finished my first game of 2020, Pokemon Sword! This game certainly caused a commotion amongst fans of the Pokemon series but what did think of the game, after the credits rolled?
If you want the short answer- I really enjoyed it. Was it the best entry in the Pokemon series? No. In my opinion, that still remains Pokemon Silver/Gold. However, I did enjoy my time within the Galar region but I can see that some of the fans’ complaints are fair.
One of Pokemon Sword’s biggest issues, is its lack of innovation. If you are expecting a game that differs from the ‘young trainer embarks on a journey to become the Pokemon Champion’, then you will be sorely disappointed. Considering this is a series that has been around for over twenty years, I would have liked to see Game Freak try a different story. In fact, the story as a whole is pretty weak- much of the story happens in the last five hours of the game. This does give Pokemon Sword a rushed feeling, which is a shame as the developers could have paced the game a little better as it take about 25 hours to reach the credits. On the plus side, I loved the Galar region and glimpses of its history that I got throughout the game.
The other thing that I noticed was how little the battle system has changed. Its still a turn based system, with each Pokemon having only four moves, with some of those moves being the same since the first generation of Pokemon games. Again, I wish that the developers had taken the opportunity to experiment with the battle system. In past games, we have had aerial battles, horde encounters and rotation battles; yet in Pokemon Sword, there are only the standard battles and Max Raid battles.
Speaking of Max Raids, these are definitely one of the new gameplay mechanics that I enjoyed. Being able to team up with other players to take on giant, over-powered Pokemon was a welcome diversion to the slow paced first half of the game. There is an element of strategy, as only one player can Dynamax their Pokemon and you only have a certain number of turns to defeat the wild Pokemon. The only drawback is that you can’t communicate with the other players, so the higher level Pokemon can be a challenge.
Another new feature that I loved, which is linked to the Max Raids, is the Wild Area. This is area takes up a large portion of the region map and allows you catch Pokemon wandering around the area. I felt like the Wild Area is how the Pokemon world should feel- some Pokemon will try to avoid you, while others will seek you out for battle. There are also some Pokemon that are high levelled, which you can’t catch unless you have the right badges.
Like with Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu!/Eevee!, I feel like Pokemon Sword is a great entry point for newcomers to the series. Everything is explained early in the game, which veterans to the series do have the option of skipping. Pokemon level up incredibly easily which takes away some of the grinding. At no point did I need to pause my journey to level up my Pokemon to face the next gym leader, in fact for most of the game my team was way over levelled. Again, for newcomers this is a good thing but for returning fans this does make this one of the easier Pokemon games, just not as easy as the Let’s Go games.
In the end, I have very mixed feelings over Pokemon Sword. On one hand, I love the Galar region, the Wild Area and some of the new Pokemon designs; on the other hand, as a long time Pokemon fan, I found the game way too easy, the story’s pacing was all over the place and overall the game lacked any real innovation. I think Pokemon Sword is worth picking up, as long as you enjoy the Pokemon gameplay. However, I do think that Game Freak do need to look at the Pokemon series and start to make changes to it, to keep it fresh for this gaming generation.
What did you guys think of Pokemon Sword and Shield? I will most likely be picking up the DLC at some point, will any other Sword and Shield players be doing the same? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll talk to you soon!