Leading up to the launch of Pokémon Sword and Shield, things were pretty chaotic for Game Freak. First, the company was called out for lying about certain elements of the games. #GameFreakLied was even trending on Twitter at one point. Then the company was thanked for all the memories when #ThankYouGameFreak began to trend. Shortly after that, when the games actually launched, it went right back to #GameFreakLied. Despite all the drama surrounding the #GameFreakLied movement, that’s not what I want to focus on today. I want to talk about the aftermath; what’s going to happen next? Will the next Pokémon games actually be a larger leap forward? Pokémon needs that right now. It needs to be reinvigorated.
A whole new world
There were a handful of great things to come out of Pokémon Sword and Shield. But I think the most notable new addition is the Wild Area. Despite the graphics looking mediocre and the Pokémon jarringly popping in and out of the world, this new area still gave me a sense of excitement and wonder. It made me feel how Pokémon used to make me feel. The Wild Area gives me so much hope for what the Pokémon series could be.
Did Game Freak take the criticisms seriously?
I don’t think Game Freak would have introduced the Wild Area in Pokémon Sword and Shield if it isn’t planning to expand on the idea. Could you imagine the excitement if the next mainline entries were fully open like the Wild Area? Game Freak has to know this is what nearly every Pokémon fan is yearning for.
I want to walk into a cave and a bunch of Zubats fly at my face. I want to see Mankeys swinging from the trees. I want the ground to shake when a stampede of Tauros come charging by. That’s the type of Pokémon experience people are expecting now, and Game Freak has heard the criticisms loud and clear. This gives me a glimmer of hope that the next games will actually be a huge leap forward, in terms of scope, graphics, writing, and presentation.
We needed Pokémon Sword and Shield
Because of the backlash to Pokémon Sword and Shield, Game Freak saw what people have been clamoring for for years. It seemed like the company was blind to criticisms in the past. There’s no way it didn’t see the internet screaming for the past few weeks. I will be shocked if Game Freak launches another Pokémon game next year that looks and plays just like Sword & Shield.
To be clear, I like Sword and Shield for what they are. It’s just more Pokémon. Nothing more (aside from the Wild Area) and nothing less (aside from no National Pokédex). And that’s a problem. As hardware keeps getting more impressive, so should Pokémon. Needless to say, Game Freak has been playing it entirely too safe for far too long.
Out with the old
Game Freak adds new elements to each Pokémon title. Sadly, that usually comes with removing previous features. Game Freak introduced features like Pokémon following you, Mega Evolutions, and Z-Moves. Then they removed them in favor of something new. It’s a constant give and take. Oddly enough, fans didn’t seem to lash out until Pokémon Sword and Shield. Game Freak really doesn’t need to introduce a new gimmick in every single release. The company should hone in on everything its built in the past and put it all in one game.
I hope the next Pokémon game brings back a few removed features, offers more Pokémon, and doesn’t introduce a new gimmick. Most importantly, I hope it offers a sprawling open world to explore. I think that would be the next logical step for the series.
What do you think? Have you played Pokémon Sword and Shield yet? Be sure to leave all of your thoughts in the comments section below, or join the discussion over on our Facebook page.
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