Hey everyone! I suppose you could call this a review of some kind, but I’m formatting it this way because hey, a lot of sites are doing that now and I thought I’d give it a go!
So as the title says, I’ll be listing seven things that Sword/Shield did really well, and other things it needed to improve on.
With these titles being super-controversial still after two years, I expect some spicy disagreements to unfold! This is just my opinion, and feel free to disagree!
DID WELL: Access to competitive battling
This is one thing that I definitely benefitted from. I found it easier to build a team for a fun competitive set (and while I didn’t take it to a competitive level, it was a fun thing to do). I managed to create a whole Poison-type shiny team and did some test battles with my good friend Tim! I don’t do as much battling anymore, but I do still appreciate the ease of access in this game.
NEEDED TO IMPROVE: General story
I know a lot of people complained that the Pokemon games needed to focus less on saving the world and focus more on the Gym challenge. However, this kinda did what people asked, and the same people were up in arms, yes I don’t get it either.
I didn’t have a problem with that as such, it was more that there wasn’t much to sink my teeth into. I didn’t feel as invested as I did in the Hoenn or Sinnoh games, for that matter. Even the basic Kanto games made me feel more invested in the plot and lore of the region.
DID WELL: Legendary Pokemon lore
I know this ties in with the story, but I’m actually focusing more on the DLC Legendaries, Kubfu and Calyrex, as well as Spectrier and Glastrier. I became more attached to Kubfu and Calyrex because they had these personalities that made it easier to bond with them and make them feel more integral to the areas that they were available in.
What little value I felt that Zacian, Zamazenta and Eternatus had in terms of bonds in the main game, these Legendaries made up for that. However, I can’t discredit the original trio for their worth in the story, as they did cover a lot of lore within the main plot.
NEEDED TO IMPROVE: Pokemon choices
Ah yes, because of the famous Dexit, we got stuck with the Pokemon that the Pokemon Company felt were appropriate for the region. I’m still really miffed that the Snubbull and Ducklett lines weren’t available in these games, considering the British Bulldog vibes, as well as the literal Queen of England owning swans.
Yet they decided to include the Wooper, Mudkip, Barboach, Shellos and Tympole lines, which are all (at some point or other) Water/Ground, and why? For the variation? I don’t think.
DID WELL: DLC released instead of 3rd version
After Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon, I don’t think a 3rd version of the games would have been received very well, considering while they have improvements (looking at Platinum), it wouldn’t have added much to the quality of life or story. The decision to introduce paid DLC is actually a bold move, and it refreshed the game considerably. The Isle of Armor was a really nice setting and the Crown Tundra brought in one of the best features in the entire game, as well as a new tied-favourite Legendary in Galarian Zapdos.
NEEDED TO IMPROVE: Locations
Let’s just say it how it is – the Galar map in general is very linear. Like it’s from one point to the other, with little deviation from that.
The Wild Area itself, while quite large, definitely felt like there should have been more to explore, with different environments for us to explore. The Isle of Armor and Crown Tundra together created what the Wild Area should have been. I do wish there was a third version where you explored landmarks based on English Heritage sites, or even spread towards areas based on Wales or Northern Ireland. I did actually make a post a while back, discussing a third area that I called the Heritage Forests.
DID WELL: Dynamax Adventures
Dynamax Adventures changed the game completely. Not only is the 1/100 chance of a shiny with the Shiny Charm very appealing, but it’s also a really good way to interact with friends or an audience if you’re streaming! And because you don’t use your own Pokemon, it’s such an easy gateway no matter how much you’ve played initially.
I haven’t done them as much because I’ve lost hyperfocus on it, and the lack of shinies, in general, was bad, but it’s still a good option to shiny hunt Legendaries!
NEEDED TO IMPROVE: Graphics
Yeah, I’m gonna come out and say that sometimes, the graphics just ain’t it. And yes, I’m poking fun at the Zacian/Zamazenta turning on the spot. I mean it could have been done better, but oh damn it gave the game a bad rep from the Nat Dexers. At the end of the day, the Pokemon game looks like a Pokemon game. But it could have been polished just a little bit.
In fairness, it’s not as bad as BDSP, but it could have been improved on for sure.
DID WELL: Soundtrack
The soundtrack hits so well in this game. It’s not my favourite Pokemon soundtrack, but it’s up there. A tiny improvement would be to have variation within the routes, especially in the later game. For example, the later routes all have the same music and it’s a bit bland, but for the rest of the game, the soundtrack slaps!
Especially the Gym Leader battle theme.
However, I still think Toby Fox should have snuck in a little Megalovania for the memes.
NEEDED TO IMPROVE: Shiny hunting options
It’s 2022 and only last year did we discover the secret to shiny hunting via random encounters. I won’t go into too much detail, but the only viable options for shiny hunting are random encounters, Masuda method, Dynamax Adventures and soft-resets. I sorely miss the SOS chaining from Alola, and even the Friend Safari in Kalos. I kinda wish they brought in an element of the latter to encourage interactivity, but it is what it is.
The Box Link availability very much helped the Masuda hunting though, being able to swap eggs while out in the wild. I’m able to multitask my shiny hunting this way for efficiency. But I wanted at least one new method that stands out in this game.
DID WELL: Gym format
I love how the Gyms in this game are stadium-based as opposed to being played behind closed doors like in previous games. It makes the challenge feel that much more important, not to mention the atmosphere with the crowd cheering when different things happen. It reminds me a lot of football, where they got the inspiration from. As someone who at one point was a season ticket holder for my local team, it was like coming back to that atmosphere all over again.
It’d be a shame if the Gyms in future games reverted back to behind-closed-doors puzzles.
NEEDED TO IMPROVE: Postgame content (without DLC)
The postgame introduced the knock-off Jedward, and then further introduced the idea of Max Raid battles in the disguise of a story, and then actually catching one of the dogs, fighting Hop, and…that’s really it. The DLC added so much more postgame content, but on its own, it was really lacking.
If it wasn’t for me shiny hunting, I doubt I’d have as many hours in the games as I do.
DID WELL: Started my proper shiny hunting journey
Even though I did start shiny hunting in 2018 with USUM, this game was where I decided to keep track of my shinies and record a Shiny Living Dex. So far (as of writing on 1st January 2022), I’m at 587 shinies, and I plan to continue further! I’ve even started a “200 Shinies In 2022” challenge, so we’ll see how that goes!
NEEDED TO IMPROVE: Mandatory EXP Share
Personally, I keep EXP Share on because I don’t have the patience to grind levels (I haven’t even finished my Emerald Randomiser Nuzlocke because of the grind before the Elite 4). However, since LGPE where the EXP Share was made mandatory, people were up in arms. Of course, they are. This is Sword/Shield, they’re gonna hate everything to do with it because a pile of goo isn’t in the game.
Moving back onto topic, even though I keep mine on because of personal choice, I would prefer to have the option, just to diffuse arguments.
Is there anything here you disagree with? Or anything I pretty much nailed on the head? Please let me know in the comments (or my Twitter DMs, that’s a thing)!