The brief hands-on time I got with Pokémon Sword and Shield was fun and felt just as I thought it would – like the most modern Pokémon installment yet. But it left me wanting more. A lot more.
In the demo, I traveled through the Water-type gym with a predetermined party of six Pokémon and took on the Gym Leader, Nessa. The gym’s puzzles were incredibly easy. They required hitting switches to navigate through waterfall-blocked pathways. As for the battles, not much is at stake when attempting to claim a new badge. You’re given the option to heal your entire party before taking on the Gym Leader. To some, this may be a saving grace. But for longtime Pokémon fans, this feature eliminates any sort of difficulty previously associated with the Pokémon Sword and Shield gyms.
Nessa herself wasn’t all that tough, either, with only three Pokémon to take out. One factor that did add some depth, however, is the addition of non-Water Pokémon to the gym. You’ll face Grass-types, among others, and battle a plethora of Water Pokémon with other types, too. However, even with the type differences, the gym’s battles were nearly all one-hit KOs. Perhaps the difficulty level in the demo isn’t a direct reflection of the final game, though. Either way, Pokémon Sword and Shield felt too easy, even by franchise standards.
Grand Pokémon battles
Dynamax battles add a new level of intensity and scale to the battle system, one not yet seen in the franchise. The three-turn abilities truly look gorgeous when displayed on a large, HD TV, and they illuminate what a modern Pokémon Stadium could look like. I think that’s a simple observation, but it’s an important point nonetheless. The games genuinely look wonderful and serve as a visual step up from the last outing. And in Sword and Shield, the scope is truly as wide as it’s ever been, or at least it feels that way. Ultimately, Pokémon players have been asking for a new installment with modern, gorgeous graphics. Pokémon Sword and Shield is Game Freak’s realization of that, whether fans want to accept it or not.
While its difficulty appeared far too easy, overall, certain new features leave me excited about these new Pokémon titles. The games certainly look great. I only hope the final installment is an additional reflection of the positive steps forward Game Freak and The Pokemon Company have made.
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