Hey guys! I know I’ve done individual reviews for the Pokemon Sword/Shield games, as well as the Isle of Armor and Crown Tundra DLC separately. However, it’s been a year since the base game was released, and because this is probably the full version, I wanted to do a full definitive review, because I think the DLC affects the game a lot.
Of course, I’m going to start off with the base game itself. I remember playing through for the first time, having already watched a live stream of the game and knowing what kind of Pokemon I wanted on my team. I knew I at least wanted a Cinderace, Barraskewda and Dragapult on my team, and I was slowly warming up to Toxtricity too.
Of course, I didn’t want to let the issues surrounding the Nat Dex controversy dampen my interest, and it still really hasn’t – the only exception being that Breloom isn’t in the game, so I’m unable to hunt for a shiny Shroomish in that one, and have a full working team of my top 5 Pokemon.
Looking back, I felt that the routes could have been expanded more, and perhaps have more hidden areas and secrets, like with the Unova routes. I think that if this was a PC game, the routes, cities and Wild Areas could have blended together without a loading screen really nicely, but alas this is a Switch game, so gotta take what you can get.
The Wild Area itself was heavily expansive, but became really routine once I started grinding for Watts while shiny hunting. The new format was improved with both Isle of Armor and Crown Tundra, two stunning locations that feel very distinct and unique, with the latter still full of secrets that I only just recently discovered. And we finally got good caves that didn’t require 70,000 surprise Zubat encounters!
I think the one thing I loved about this game was the overworld Pokemon, much like in the Let’s Go games – however I would have liked to see overworld shinies. However, I’m not mad, considering that could come around Gen 9.
I do wish that the buildings in the cities were fully explorable, like the majority of Hammerlocke could have been fun to explore and get lost in, but sadly we were only able to explore what was immediately in front of us. And I thought Wyndon would have a lot more to explore, considering it basically condensed London vastly. Same with Spikemuth, I wanted more exploration rather than a railroad-type situation with the Gym Challenge. However, I loved even just the tiny Freezington because it was just so charming.
Also, Zacian and Zamazenta were practically next-door neighbours this entire time.
The quality of life features this game got in general were really good – for instance it’s now easier than ever to get into battling. With the Ability Capsule and Patch added, as well as the Nature Mints, I found it easier to be able to make a battle team, and of course I made an entire Poison-type shiny team. It’s now been cemented that I am the go-to Poison trainer.
I think the main things that keep me playing is the shiny hunting. I’ve been falling down the rabbit hole of shiny hunting over the past two years, but the shiny hunting methods leave a lot to be desired. The first is the knock-out method, which doesn’t guarantee the best odds all of the time. At least we have the Masuda method, which is a staple. The last, and more recent, is hunting via Dynamax Adventures, which has been one of the only things I’ve been doing since the release of Crown Tundra.
As for the story, while there are aspects that are a bit on the frail side, such as Team Yell, I think that the fact that you’re focusing on the Gym Challenge while not having the expectancy of actually taking down the evil team ‘because you’re such a strong trainer, blah blah’ is refreshing, even if a lot of people heavily dislike it.
The Gym Challenge itself is a beauty. As someone from the UK who has previously frequented football matches, it definitely feels like a more immersive experience, rather than having a behind-closed-doors Gym battle like in previous generations. It felt open and more popularised, like the important thing you were doing was the Gym Challenge.
On top of that is the Galarian Star Tournament, which is fun, but I haven’t frequented that too much at the moment. I’ve just been too busy with the Dynamax Adventures!
Overall, I think Sword/Shield were great games, but definitely needed the extra boost that the Isle of Armor and Crown Tundra gave them. Otherwise I think I would have been a tad bored of shiny hunting. Now though, I’ve racked up just over 1,000 hours, so that has to count for something, right?