Editorials

There is a lot we don’t know about Pokémon Sword and Shield, and there’s a good reason why

As the release date for Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield creeps ever closer, some fans are feeling a little left out, and they’re becoming more and more vocal about it. We’re less than a month away from release, and we’ve only seen around twenty new Pokémon and four regional forms, and we have yet to see a single starter evolution. While this lack of information has frustrated some trainers, it actually promises a better first experience with Sword and Shield, and says a lot about what The Pokémon Company learned about oversharing from Pokémon Sun and Moon.

That’s not to say that there aren’t a few questions we’d legitimately like to have answered sooner rather than later, (How many Pokémon from earlier generations will make an appearance in the Galar region? How long can we expect Sword and Shield to be? Will Pokémon Home come equipped with a substantial suite of features, or will it simply be Pokémon Bank 2.0?) but a little mystery can do a game good. It’s tempting to hold the release of the most recent games, Pokémon Sun and Moon, as the standard, but it’s also important to remember they were anything but.

Joe Merrick, webmaster of Serebii.net, one of the most trusted and influential Pokémon sites on the Internet, pointed out that the Sun and Moon generation was filled with oddities when it came to what it revealed–and that was before the game itself leaked. Sun and Moon released on November 18th, 2016, and by October 27th, we had already seen 60 new Pokémon. Sun and Moon were meant to be an entirely fresh take on Pokémon: no gym systems, exploring islands rather than wandering through giant land masses, regional forms, Z-moves, and the all-new Rotom Dex. It’s easy to understand why they would want to build excitement by showing as much as they could about the new region, new mechanics, and new Pokémon.

Ironically, fans found themselves disappointed by the game in no small part due to this oversharing. When there are very few surprises left, Pokémon loses its sense of discovery and can become a bit of a grind. That’s not to say that Sun and Moon didn’t have their share of faults, but they went from a story of exploring, wandering, and discovering to a race to find and catch that teased new Pokémon that you fell in love with, and then a trek straight to the end. Combine all the revelations with the fact that the games were leaked and datamined before launch and it became impossible even for us to avoid spoilers, and we received review copies of the games before they released.

We’re in for a very different experience in the Galar region. Recent press previews have confirmed that upon stepping out of their house, trainers will quickly encounter somewhere between five and ten new, never-before-seen Pokémon. This first step is an important moment which can have an impact on the player’s perception of the entire game, and clearly, The Pokémon Company hopes this will inspire a sense of wonder, imagination, and excitement. But of course, there’s more to experience than just new types and evolutions of Pokémon: for the first time in a Pokémon game, we’ll get to explore an open world, team up with other trainers to take down Pokémon GO style raid bosses, and we don’t even know if there’s going to be an Elite Four this time around.

I don’t think anyone can fault the fans who are eager for just a little more information, who are unsure and are hoping for just that one additional thing that will spark a primal, childish kind of glee. There’s also a different kind of excitement, the kind born out of the unknown, sparking imagination, theories, and hope. That seems to be the kind of hype that The Pokémon Company is building this time around, and it’s probably a wise choice after showing so many of their cards last time around. Are you excited to explore the Galar region with fresh eyes when Pokémon Sword and Shield releases on November 15th, or do you plan to start your adventure a bit later, waiting to learn more about the region and its Pokémon from reviews and other trainers?

Best known online as damphyr, Kay Purcell is a purple haired popular culture expert and San Diego Comic-Con panelist who spent fifteen years as as a Senior Community Manager and Brand Writer for DeviantArt. An avid shiny Pokemon hunter, she has a habit of nerding out over video games, cats, VR, and geek culture.

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