Pokemon Shield, my time in Galar
Interesting game to review this one. I am a lifelong pokemon fan (very casual) and once the announcement came out that the switch was getting its first full blown pokemon game I was very excited. I won’t go into the finer details, as I am pretty sure nearly everyone knows how the pokemon games work. Despite the switch having far greater computing and processing capabilities then the 3ds there hasn’t been to many fundamental changes to the core game.
This time round we are in the region of Galar, and it is heavily inspired by Britain and the attention to detail is incredible. Game freak have not gone heavy on the graphics, but they have created a world that feels like a traditional pokemon world that looks great on the Switch. All the towns look amazing.
It’s the typically stock standard intro that pokemon players have come to expect. Meet your rival, say goodbye to mum and collect your starting pokemon. This time I went with the water starter Sobble. After whipping the rival, it was time to catch em all. Fundamentally nothing is different. Run in the grass and catch some monsters. However, like the Let’s Go games pokemon are also wondering around and not always just randomly hiding in the long grass. This does have the effect of making the route areas feel a bit more immersive.
The first major change comes not long into the game when you stumble into the Wild Area. This is a new addition and it is awesome. The wild area makes up a significant chunk of the world map and is full of different areas and pokemon of various levels. This is cool, in-fact you can run straight into an over leveled Onix which is greeting you to the new environment and will most probably give you a very stern test. It’s a large sprawling open area with a whole raft of new features. You can camp which leads to cooking for your pokemon (provides exp and heals) and you can take part in the new Raid Battles.
A raid battle is a battle with up to 3 other players against a dynamaxed or gigantamaxed pokemon. Working together you can take down the oversized and overpowered pokemon and get a chance to catch it as well as earn some rewards. Some pokemon in galar even have different forms when they are gigantamaxed. My personal favourite being a giant cake, wait till you see it!
Aswell as these new features, the Gym experience has been changed a bit to. Gyms are far more engaging and feature a trial followed by the battle with the gym leader in a large arena. Each gym leader will also have a pokemon that can dynamax which adds a unique spin to each battle.
The rest of the game is standard pokemon and game freak don’t deviate to much from their ultimately very successful formula. After “completing” the game there is still a few things to do and there is a nice battle tower challenge to partake in. Then its up to you to go and flesh out that pokedex and farm for your shiny’s and high IV pokemon if that is what you are into! Sword and Shield offer a few tools to help with your farming and breeding which is very helpful for the obsessed.
Personally, I feel this iteration is far more absorbing then a lot of the previous editions and it’s a step back in the right direction for a series of games that may have been becoming a little stale. I’m enjoying the game and it’s the first one for a while where I will commit to trying to fill out the pokedex and breed a competitive team of pokemon. Game freak probably should have tried to be a bit more ambitious and it does feel a little bit like they run out of time.
- Absorbing world, plus the edition of the wild area make the game far more immersive.
- A much more enjoyable gym experience.
- No HM’s!
- Raid battling is quite fun and a good challenge in some of higher tier levels.
- End game feels a bit more fleshed out then the last few games.
- No full national pokedex.
- A bit too much hand holding, and the game is easy. (even more so then normal)
- EXP share is always on and you can’t turn it off.
- The online system is a bit clunky and has been plagued with problems since launch.
- Towns while graphically look nice, feel a bit flat as they haven’t been fleshed out with many things to do or interesting characters.
- Hop is annoying as hell.