A Wild Ride – An Honest Pokemon Sword/Shield Review

It’s been a while since the release of Sword and Shield now, and I’ve had to wait until payday because a roof over my head took priority. But now, after playing the game, I wanted to share my insights into what I thought makes (or breaks) the game.

This is a completely honest opinion of what I liked or disliked about the game.

The Story

The story is one where it seems to take on a different purpose. Instead of acting to defeat the evil team and solving the mysteries yourself, you’re helped along the way, and you are to focus on the Gym Challenge, which I might add is beautifully done. However, the main bad-guy plot is barely there, and I wanted a little more involvement with taking down said bad guy. But I think it harks back to having agents do the hard work while the athletes have to worry about the game or the tournament.

To be honest, I loved the way you ended up getting assistance from Team Yell later down the line. I like Team Yell, they were just misunderstood fanboys!

The Region

The Galar region definitely encompasses the British vibes, especially Wyndon, which I walked into and definitely felt like I had stepped into a shrine of London (although it was just a little bit dead for somewhere that was based on London). I just wanted to explore some of the cities more and have free reign to do that. I think if there was one thing missing, it would have been a huge free-standing shopping mall, like Meadowhall.

A lot of the area is gorgeous though, and it feels the most alive region I’ve played. That might have something to do with the free-roaming in the Wild Area or the overworld Pokemon. Everything feels more amped up than I’m used to, and it’s great! I kinda wish they kept the overworld shinies, but that’s neither here nor there, I think that’s something exclusively to Let’s Go.

The Graphics

I for one don’t care too much about graphics. I mean, I play a lot of indie games where the sole purpose is the gameplay and story. But I felt that the entire region was beautifully done, especially the Wild Area. There were a few graphical mishaps, but that happens with every game. And they become apparent when, let’s say, you’re harvesting berries and that awful pixelated stuff comes up when there’s something in the way. But it’s nothing like ‘oh Double Kick has ruined my immersion of the game’.

The Pokemon

The Pokemon introduced are just amazing. There are a few which aren’t hugely great, but there isn’t one that I heavily dislike. I saw something fun or interesting about each one (including when Eldegoss floated in the air elegantly, or that Rillaboom reminds me of Phil Collins and that Cadbury advert).

My final team consisted of Cinderace, Toxtricity, Sandaconda, Barraskewda, Rapidash and Dragapult. I also had a Corviknight and Morgrem in reserve, which I used for quite a while through the game. They did a solid job, and I think Toxtricity may edge out Luxray in my favourite Pokemon list!

The Gigantamax Pokemon – wow! We knew as soon as Gigantamax was announced that Charizard was going to have a form (as it’s Leon’s ace). But I didn’t expect it to look as awesome as it does. As for the others, I’m very interested in their designs (especially Melmetal, which seems to have lost a bit of weight). I’m looking forward to Toxtricity’s Gigantamax form, though. In other news, I ended up with a 6IV Gigantamax Snorlax on my fourth try.

As for the Legendaries, I love the way that they are incorporated into the game, as well as the Pokemon themselves. Eternamax Eternatus is hella broken, that’s for sure! Eternatus was an interesting third member of the trio, and the Eternamax form gave me an idea for a Pokemon that you could explore an entire area on. More ideas for Lumaria inbound!

I’m interested in the fact that no Mythicals were introduced as of the time I’m writing this. I wonder what they’re going to do with them in the future.

As for shiny hunting, the newest method seems to be knocking so many of a Pokemon out to lower the odds. I loved having a chain method, but I’ll take this. It’s kinda like tearing apart that haystack to get to the needle. I haven’t had a shiny from this method yet (only Masuda, specifically).

Features

The Y-Comm needs work, definitely, but I’m going to focus on how simple the Surprise Trades are. I definitely miss the GTS, but the Surprise Trade system rewarded me with some great stuff, including some foreign Pokemon ready for Masuda breeding, as well as an (almost) battle-ready Dreepy.

The story is heavily centred around Dynamaxing, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It also confirms that this is the only generation (remakes aside) that will have this feature. I didn’t think a whole lot about Dynamaxing, but I feel that it adds a bit of weight to some of the battles, and makes them more important and dynamic.

The Max Raids are entertaining, and so much fun when it gets down to it. 20 hours into the game, I got a shiny Torkoal from a Max Raid! My only gripe is finding an alert for a Max Raid, only to be told there’s no communication or anything. And when I was looking for rare raids to help with my Pokedex, they were suddenly so sparse, and when I found a raid online, there were communication issues aplenty.

The Camp feature is excellent, and I’m having fun filling the Curry Dex! It’s a great option when you’re needing to heal and you can’t be bothered to go through your bag. It also has plenty of wholesome content, like when you chat with the Pokemon.

I didn’t think the mandatory EXP Share was going to be bad, but I was over-levelled by the time I got to the finals. However, I was under-levelled going into my battle with Leon, but I managed to beat his butt.

Characters

Hop made for a great breath of fresh air when reflecting on rivals past. Before, we had Hau and the Kalos rival group which was just bad, but Hop has his own character development about getting knocked down and trying to defeat Leon and then trying to seek his own path. I also like how the opposite box-art Legendary would be involved in the story, and Hop would capture it later on in the post-game.

While we had Hop, we also had Bede. I really disliked Bede, but that’s what I wanted from a rival – someone to make you feel good about beating your opponent – and he had a great arc as well.

Marnie, while not as developed, I still liked. Team Yell was definitely an interesting bunch. I quite liked how they were just a bunch of over-the-top fans, and not a devastating organisation hell-bent on ending the world.

I really enjoyed the Gym Leaders as a whole, they have great personalities. They’re just kinda overshadowed by the awesome theme.

I also like how Sonia gains depth as a character while going through the research with you. It’s kinda like you’re her assistant.

Sordward and Shielbert…Jedward, anyone?

Dexit?

Seriously, I don’t care about Dexit. I haven’t played the game and thought ‘I wish X Pokemon were in here’. I felt that the newly-introduced Pokemon of the region helped set the scene for the region, as well as the Pokemon that were chosen for the game. It didn’t matter that Luxray wasn’t in the games. I was happy with the Pokemon that I used, and I got to know and develop strong hype for the Pokemon that I had in my team.

What people have to remember is that GameFreak haven’t cut the Pokemon from the franchise, just these two games. Gen 9 will bring some of them back. Plus remember: there was no National Dex in Alola.

Concerns and Improvement Suggestions

Like I said before, I wish there was more room to explore the different cities and towns, because I kinda felt that it was too linear, and not as much to do. This was kinda excusable for a place like Ballonlea, but not for Wyndon.

I think the Y-Comm needs an overhaul, as while it’s good as a basic starting point, it’s hard to get the trade that you want if you don’t have easy access to friends. I’m still looking for a foreign Ditto because of the lack of GTS.

I’d like to chain for shinies again, though. It’d be a nice third option for us to have.

Overall

Overall, I really enjoyed the game. I applaud the localisation team for getting it spot-on with our British speech patterns (Hop’s a great example of this). I hope that even in the next generation there’ll be capacity to add different Pokemon into that game, instead of keeping to the same few – that’s my main concern with Dexit honestly.

Now I’m gonna put an Air Balloon on my Toxtricity.

2 thoughts on “A Wild Ride – An Honest Pokemon Sword/Shield Review

  1. Tim

    I’ve watched a few playthroughs of Sword/Shield from folks online and it hasn’t made a HUGE impact in whether or not I want the game more. I think I’ll still end up getting it, if only because my brother-in-law and niece want someone to trade with. That said, I really hate that we’re still going down the good guy rival path. Hau was insufferable and Hop seems to be more of the same. It does make a bit more sense in the story’s context, but I’m still not a fan.

    That said, I’m in love with Sandaconda and Eiscue.

    Like

    1. poketravellerlola

      I feel that Hop has a great character arc after being beaten so many times throughout the story, and he’s (in my opinion) a much better rival than Hau was. Bede, on the other hand, is that great antagonistic rival that we’ve needed (and there I have Bede’s battle theme in my head).

      I feel that you don’t really get into the game unless you play through it yourself. It’s not the same if you just watch it, from my perspective.

      Also Eiscue is Shield exclusive, but I have plenty to trade for Christmas surprise trades! Sandaconda was my first caught Gigantamax, it has a soft spot, and a solid place on my team, and Eiscue was my first shiny hunt in the game.

      Liked by 1 person

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