Thanks to the Pokemons, we have travelled a multitude of regions and met numerous of new creatures, we have fought against lots of trainers, and we have become true masters.
Now it is time to continue our journey through this magical world with Pokémon Sword and Shield, latest title that follows on foot together the incombustible formula that has guaranteed the success of the series for two decades and that brings with it the eighth generation of these charismatic pocket monsters, one of the ones we liked the most to date. However, despite its numerous and apparent successes, something has remained far from being that final game that many expected, which does not mean that it remains a title as recommended and addictive as ever.
A new adventure to find the best Pokemon trainer
So, we meet again before a Japanese role-playing game with turn-based fighting in which we must capture Pokémon, raise them and train them to defeat anyone who dares to face us. The rules remain the same as always and have barely changed, keeping things as immovable as the limitation of four movements per creature, the traditional capture method (the less life a wild monster has, the more likely we will be with it by throwing the Poké Ball), the weaknesses and resistance of our pets according to their type, and so on.
The structure and development of the story have not undergone significant changes, leading us to tour the new region of Galar to defeat its eight gym leaders and thus have an opportunity to fight against the grand champion of the Pokémon League. Although the final stretch now has an exciting twist to give it a format similar to that of a knockout tournament (they heal us between battles, and the rivals we will have to defeat will be different each time if we repeat it after completing the game), the truth is that It cannot be denied that the feeling that the whole adventure conveys is that of being before the same thing as always.
This is not necessarily a bad thing since one of the great attractions of the series usually lies in exploring new lands while discovering unpublished creatures and marvelling at their different locations, although this time an enormous step back in the design has been taken from its map, eliminating dungeons, puzzles and backtracking at a stroke. It may sound hard, but Galar is nothing more than a large corridor from which we can barely leave, which is a real shame since all that adventurous component that did so well to the series is lost.
The gym show
This does not mean that you do not do many things well, such as, for example, the memorable staging and relevance of battles against gym leaders. This time they no longer feel like a mere process with which we have to deal with our progress, but as a milestone on the road, we must travel, immersing ourselves fully in a high competition between the best coaches in the region with televised battles in gigantic stadiums and with a multitude of fans supporting us, rivals who exchange phrases with us in full struggle and creatures unleashing all their power to give the highest possible show. In addition, the tests we must overcome before facing them are entertaining, enjoyable and varied enough not to bore or become heavy.
The arrival of the eighth generation
Another of the great successes of Sword and Shield we have in the new Pokémon that they have brought with them. The vast majority of them have a merely fantastic design, with very coherent, well thought out and easily identifiable evolutionary lines that will inevitably remind us of numerous elements of British culture. The best of all, we have in the creativity that they give off, confirming that Game Freak has not finished the magic when it comes to designing charismatic, surprising creatures that go out of the ordinary. In fact, it is noted that they have had much more freedom than ever to experience and create authentic follies, as the Galar forms of some known beings are well shown.
And be careful, this is something that also translates to the playable plane with new mechanics, skills, ways to evolve, combinations of types and movements that promise to play a lot in the competitive multiplayer. In addition, if we add the new monsters and subspecies, we have a very juicy figure that, unfortunately, we are not allowed to realize, but that is far from being scarce.
The controversy of the Pokédex
Unfortunately, the developer has made the controversial decision to cut the amount of Pokémon available from previous generations to the beast., so do not expect to get many of your favourite creatures now or in the future, as there are no plans to expand the Pokédex with updates. To give you an idea, the game does not include even half of existing monsters, something that is very disappointing, especially if we take into account that we are talking about a saga whose main motto is “get all.” The positive part of this is the fact that the study has been able to focus on balancing the fighting to accommodate a greater variety of viable teams and strategies in the competitive field, in addition to increasing the prominence and importance of new beings, so there is no harm that for good does not come.
The Dynamax phenomenon
Continuing with the news, one of the most important we have in the introduction of the Dynamax phenomenon, a new function with which we can make our Pokémon grow and become giants, thus increasing their statistics (especially their health points) and acquiring new and devastating attacks with unique properties. However, unlike the mega-evolutions and the Z movements of previous editions (both mechanics have been discarded in this delivery), their use is minimal, and we can only enlarge them in the stadiums, in the raids and in the multiplayer battles, relegating this mechanic at particular moments of the adventure.
In addition, the restrictions do not end here, since we can only grow a single Pokémon per combat for three turns, a limitation that we liked very much, and that gives it immense strategic value. Perhaps during the history and in the raids, you do not notice it too much, but we can assure you that in multiplayer battles this is a decisive element and there will be precisely few confrontations that will be decided according to the monster we enlarge and the specific moment we choose to do it. As you can intuit, this is a breath of fresh air for the competitive terrain, making the struggles between players something much more tense and spectacular that will guarantee us epic comebacks and battles more unpredictable than ever.
In case it was not enough, there are also a few Pokémon that can acquire a different form when enlarged, something that is known as Gigamax. Its operation is practically the same as that of the normal Dynamax, although in this case, attacks of a specific type will become new exclusive movements. An interesting detail is that not all specimens of the same species can reach their Gigamax form, and we are already warning you that getting them is something much more complicated than it might seem, since they are scarce to find.
The Wild Area, a first step in the right direction
The other great novelty of this delivery is the inclusion of the Wild Area, an area located in the center of Galar that is designed as a kind of small open world, being able to move through it with total freedom while we cross with other players through Internet or local connection and we participate in various tasks. In addition, it is the only place in the entire title where the camera is not fixed, and we can move it at pleasure, transmitting a sense of scale more significant than usual.
Although we will arrive at it shortly after starting our trip, it is actually one of the essential postgame contents of this edition, since the Pokémon that roam around these parts have a lot of levels and do not get caught up like this. In general, here we will mainly do two things: capture a multitude of creatures and participate in raids.
Regarding the former, say that the Wild Area is divided into several zones and that each of them serves as habitat for some species or others. In addition, to make things more interesting, many of them only appear when there are specific atmospheric conditions, something that changes at midnight every day, encouraging us to play daily, if only for a while, to see what new Pokémon we can catch. It is a straightforward idea, but it works really well and gets hooked in the medium and long term.
The raids: All for one and one for all
On the other hand, strikes are cooperative battles in which four players must collaborate to defeat a giant creature and thus receive rewards and have an opportunity to capture it. Each coach can only use a single Pokémon, and if it is weakened, it will take a turn to be able to return to combat, although if the entire team gets four casualties, we will automatically lose and fail. Obviously, our enemy will attack more than once per turn and tends to have movements to hit the entire group, not to mention the ability to invoke barriers to protect themselves from any type of damage they usually show, forcing us to destroy them. The Base of blows.
Here we are forced to point out that these combats can be played alongside other AI-controlled characters, although they are not entirely efficient and will cost us something more to overcome than with the help of other users. Unfortunately, the five-star raids, the most difficult, are easily overcome with well-trained Pokémon that are effective against the opponent of the day, so it would not hurt to include much more complicated and challenging raids in the future that force us to play with the head and bring some emotion to these battles.
Despite this, making incursions has seemed to us a very entertaining and addictive activity, since they usually reward us with great rewards and allow us to capture mighty creatures, continually encouraging us to help other players and to look for portals in our game that we Lead to new challenges. This, as you can guess, ends up creating a very satisfying sense of community that promises to extend our game hours more than considerable.
Other improvements and news
In another order of things, we also have to highlight a series of exciting enhancements that have been made in other areas of the game, such as the fact that the fighting is no longer random and we can see the wild Pokémon wandering around the map, a feature inherited directly from Let’s Go and that makes our walks much more enjoyable by being able to decide when we want to fight. In the same way, all the members of our team will receive experience after each fight, whether they have participated in the battle or not, something that we cannot deactivate in any way.
The breeding has also been greatly improved, making getting a perfect Pokémon with the IV, EV and nature we want more accessible than ever since we will have numerous objects to manipulate all this without limits. That is, we can increase all the EVs of a creature based on vitamins, and if its nature is not the desired one, we will have items to change it to the one we like the most, making the process of having a viable monster in the competitive one considerably less Heavy, slow and tedious. Obviously, they also return the silver and gold plates to perfect the IV and remember movements that we have forgotten is something completely free that can be done from any Pokémon Center.
Similarly, you will be interested to know that we can now access the PC and our boxes anywhere, as long as we are not inside a gym or in the middle of an official competition, so it is possible to change the members of our team whenever we want.
Nor can we forget the fact that there is nothing equivalent to MO or Pokémonturas, so you do not expect to receive skills or tools with which to interact with the map and with which to open new paths. The closest thing in this regard we have in the possibility of making quick trips by merely opening the map and selecting the place we want to go (this is something we will get in the first two hours of the adventure) and the bicycle, a method of transport that, at a very advanced point of the game, will allow us to run through the water to reach new places, this being the only thing that provides some backtracking to look for secret items on the routes already travelled. In short, Flight and Surf of a lifetime, but more simplified.
If you are one of those who enjoy personalizing your avatar, you will also be happy to know that this facet of the game has been dramatically enhanced, since we will have a vast amount of clothes, accessories, hairstyles and options to give a unique touch to our hero or heroine. Following this line, we will now also have a fully configurable coach card that we can exchange with those players with whom we interact.
Much less appealing have we found the Poké Camp, a place where we can interact and play with our creatures and cook curry with them to cure them and gain different advantages. Although we can visit the camps of other players, it is something that we have found extremely anecdotal and which we have hardly taken advantage of. In this same bag, we can put the Poké Orders, with which we can send our Pokémon to fulfill missions of different duration in real-time so that they receive an extraordinary experience, a very ineffective method if we compare it with other ways to level up That the game offers us.
Finally, the multiplayer has also received juicy improvements, such as the possibility of creating tournaments with custom rules and spectator mode through code. In addition, now connecting with other users is very simple and intuitive, there is a kind of “Twitter” that tells us the exploits of other players and the activities that are available, and exchanges are very simple and fast.
The eternal dilemma of difficulty and duration
On the other hand, one of the aspects that most criticize the players of the series usually lies in the limited complexity of the main story, something that has not changed here. While distributing necessary experience has managed to balance the enemies in another way so that we already take ten levels and go more or less on par with them, it is still a game in which it is challenging to die shortly. Let’s be well loaded with potions and healing items.
About its duration, it has taken us about 18 hours to reach the credit titles, and after them, everything is summed up in fighting in the challenging Battle Tower (now organized by ranks and categories in which we must ascend in order to qualify for better rewards), overcome a small additional history and invest hours and hours in the Wild Area and in the incursions. Probably, the most disappointing thing has been the very few amounts of legendary that there is this time, being the delivery of the series with the least number of them.
A graphic section with ups and downs
With regard to its graphic section, we cannot hide our disappointment with what we have found. In fact, it is an extremely irregular title, capable of the best and the worst, with hardly forgivable failures today, especially after seeing what the console is capable of with other games in its catalogue.
Starting with the positive, we have liked the modelling of the Pokémon and the trainers. It shows that it is something that has been pampered, and the cel-shading that has been given them feels great, not to mention the fantastic artistic design that permeates the entire work, leaving us with some breathtaking scenarios. In addition, the staging that the fighting has when the Dynamax comes into play is a spectacle.
However, we find incomprehensible the gigantic laziness and laziness that the animations transmit during battles and specific sequences, where we see hardly any improvements compared to what is seen in Nintendo 3DS, limiting itself, once again, to include only one animation for physical attacks and another for specials, so the movements have not adapted to the way of moving from the creatures. We no longer talk only that the Pokémon do not come into contact with each other when they hit or that most animations are unfortunate, as some show as Double Kick, but also that we continue to suffer things like performing a Head Strike and that our monster hit a kick Interestingly, the only animations that have been really cured have been those of the exclusive movements of individual beings, which are pretty good.
Nor does he get rid of some bizarre mistakes such as the fact that trainers’ modelling sometimes disappears when Pokémon perform an attack or that there is a shameful amount of popping, with characters, creatures and stage elements loading very suddenly and little hidden in front of our noses as we get closer to them.
But, without a doubt, the worst part is the Wild Area, where there is practically nothing to rescue: blurred textures and several generations ago, minimally worked weather effects, slow loading of elements, a feeling of constant emptiness despite There are lots of monsters, etc. It is tough to understand that such a successful and essential saga has evolved so little with the leap of generation, but if there is something that has become clear to us, it is that it lacks the expected production values of work as relevant as this. At least, you’ll be glad to know that it looks and performs well on a laptop.
What we have loved has been its soundtrack, probably the craziest, most daring and experimental of the series, and also one of the brightest. It perfectly captures everything we see on the screen, does not hesitate to fiddle with different styles and even allows the luxury of dynamically modifying when the essential rivals have only one creature left, increasing the epic and intensity of these clashes. A real past that we never tire of hearing. The effects maintain the usual tone.
Pokémon Sword and Shield are far from being the next step in the evolution of one of the most important sagas in the industry. After having spent many hours, the feeling that has left us is to be a transitional delivery intended to set the guidelines and the direction you want to take in the future. We do not know if Game Freak needed more time or if other problems have intervened in its development, but the truth is that we expected much more from this adventure.
In spite of everything, and as a good Pokémon it is, it is still an enjoyable, entertaining and addictive game with which we had a great time. So much so that it has left us with the bug of continuing to play to complete our Pokédex and train our ideal team. In addition, it brings exciting and grateful news, such as the Wild Area, the Dynamax phenomenon, the raids or the breeding improvements, not to mention how much we liked the eighth generation of these charismatic pocket monsters. If you like the saga, you will hardly enjoy everything Galar has to offer you, but if you expected a really qualitative leap to take it to the next level, this delivery might end up disappointing you.
We have prepared this review with a digital code for the game provided by Nintendo.