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Online Co-Op, New Legendaries and Dynamax Pokémon: Here’s What You Missed From The Pokémon Sword and Shield Direct


The Pokémon franchise is no stranger to reinventing itself, taking out and adding parts to its formula over its 7 iterations over the decades. With the coming of the 8th generation titles Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield on the Nintendo Switch, we’re getting a closer look at what the first game on the new console brings.

A More Living World

One feature from the Let’s Go series many fans enjoyed was the addition of visible Pokémon in the overworld. Removing the frustration of surprise attacks in caves, it also made the game’s world feel populated.

In Pokémon Sword and Shield, areas between towns called Wild Areas will feature free-roaming Pokémon that can be caught. The species you get will change with conditions like weather and time, and it looks like this mode also has some hard-to-get Pokémon, as a Steelix was shown wandering the area.

“This Wild Area stretches between cities, and is filled with abundant nature”, says Shigeru Ohmori, director of Pokémon Sword and Shield.

4 Player Co-Op

In the trailer, red beams of light can be seen in the Wild Area. What these do is allow up to four players to connect for cooperative play.

This can be done via local wireless and online, and its main function is one from Pokémon Go: Raid battles. Players fight a giant “dynamax” variant of a Pokémon (more on this later), in a 4-on-1 battle. Some Pokémon will only spawn in the wild after the raids have been cleared, so you have plenty of motivation to grab some friends and go hunting.

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Dynamax Pokémon

With generation 6 and 7, the Pokémon games have started to introduce gimmicks for battles. While X and Y had Mega Evolution and Sun and Moon had Z moves, Sword and Shield has Dynamax.

Dynamax enlarges your Pokémon to giant-size, giving it a huge boost in stats. Its moves also get a boost, and it can only be done once per battle, just like the gimmicks from Sun and Moon and X and Y.

This size has a limit though, as it only lasts for 3 turns. Gym leaders are already confirmed to be using Dynamax Pokémon, and only one person in your co-op group can use it for raid battles, as well.

Speculations Corner: Possibly No More HMs?

In many older games, Hidden Machines (HMs) gave Pokémon moves that had overworld effects to act as progression. The result however, was often a Pokémon that took up a party slot but whose sole purpose was being used for its HM moves (a HM slave, as it’s known).

In the Direct, Art Director James Turner talks about how the Pokémon Corviknight is used as a taxi to take players to locations they’ve already visited, similarly to how the HM fly worked in previous generations. Given that the removal of HMs was toyed with in Sun and Moon, it stands to reason they might have kept that change for this game.

“[Corviknight] puts its skills to use when it works as a flying taxi”, he says.

Story: Rivals, Mentors and A New Champion

The game has also shown off plenty of new NPCs- from the now standard two rivals, to the Pokémon Professor, Professor Magnolia, to even the Champion, Leon. While not much of note was mentioned about them, it’s always great to see the characters you’re going to be interacting with.

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New Legendaries

The game also showed off its flagship Legendary Pokémon- Zacian and Zamazenta.

Zacian is a lithe wolf with a sword in its mouth, while Zamazenta is a bulkier wolf with thick armor. Not much else is known about them, but certain game developers have chimed in on the designs, particularly Zacian’s familiar-looking sword stance.

It looks like Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield aren’t quite content to rest on their laurels, still pushing for new approaches to a staple in gaming. While there was no mention of any more news at E3, it can be expected that more information would drop before the game’s release on November 15th.