Thoughts on the June 5th Pokémon Sword & Shield Direct

sword shield direct post cover

I have been pretty vocal about my dismay with the current direction of Pokémon. Ever since X & Y, I have gradually (but ultimately) lost the armor of passion that the franchise once gave me. The company seemed dead-set on flair and bravado with no substance. Mega evolutions and legendaries and saving the world from unspeakable evil… oh my, was it tiring and boring.

Upon the announcement of a 15-minute Direct showcasing new info on Sword & Shield, I had low expectations. I expected the chain to continue and for the series to be more about “TEH EPICZZ!¡!!” than going around and simply indulging in the simple pleasures of catching and battling. It was inevitable.

So what the hell happened? I’m actually excited for the new games.

Not without faults, mind you. A notable part of the new info for Sword & Shield included said “TEH EPICZZ!¡!!” that I loathe about newer Pokémon games. There’s a new feature available called “Dynamax,” which is essentially a dumbed-down version of mega evolutions. Pokémon become giant and extremely powerful, and from the video, their moveset consists of random moves boiling down to offensive and defensive strategies. There are two instances of the dynamax in use—one I like and one I don’t.

Dynamax is shown to be in use during gym battles, which all but requires players to do the same. Boy, do I love being pushed and pulled into using some dumb feature I don’t want to use. It’ll make the battling feel more like the Charabom battles in Bomberman: Generations. For those unaware, those fights were kind of a crapshoot. If I get the game, I may just try and battle without even using it. We’ll see how necessary it really is.

Dynamax is also shown out in the wild, with places marked by some symbol where players can group up with others to take them on in a sort of “raid party” scenario. This I like, as it is a) optional, and b) a fun opportunity to play with friends. I will likely test this out a couple times to see how fun it could be.

pokemon sword-shield direct 1

What wasn’t shown or elaborated on during this Direct was much semblance of a story to Sword & Shield. This will very likely be the deciding factor as to whether or not I bother with the game. I want to know what Game Freak plans to do with its main story. Will it be the same “Save the world!” nonsense that they’ve been hammering fans with for over a decade now? Will they try something a little more down-to-Earth? Will it be something completely absurd, which would make me buy the game in a heartbeat? What about the obligatory “evil team”? There’s a lot of unknown that I would like to be aware of before diving in. After all, I could die. From boredom. I could die from boredom.

All of this thus far has been a negative or potential negative. I wanted to get those out there prior to anything positive, because being positive about Pokémon is something of a rarity for me recently. That said, everything else about what was revealed in the Direct actually got me… excited!

Each new pokémon revealed looked cool. The towns looked better than they did the last time the game was shown. The characters looked super over-the-top interesting and displayed really dumb names (Hop?!?). A higher emphasis on exploration was implied in the form of “wild areas,” where players can run around in large pockets of wilderness for pokémon. And, more than anything, the legendary pokémon looked unique in the sense of their uniformity. Most of the time, legendary pokémon are polar opposites. The two legendary pokémon in this generation look like they could be from the same kin.

pokemon sword-shield direct 2

As referenced before, gym leaders have returned and the prospect of becoming the champion has returned. There’s a much higher emphasis on cinematics in storytelling and setting a tone for the basic necessities for Pokémon‘s core qualities. Really, the biggest thing for me coming out of the Direct is the possibility of going around—Breath of the Wild style—and catching pokémon, which differ depending on time and region. That’s awesome! The types of pokémon shown ranged from all generations (awesome) and all types (awesome).

There’s actually things to look forward to. Despite the Dynamax garbage, there was very little that didn’t make me want to play the game for myself. It looked like the natural next step for the Pokémon franchise and I’m very curious to see where they take it. For now, I’m cautiously optimistic, which is an improvement over generally pessimistic. Sword & Shield might break my current trend of skipping over mainline Pokémon games, which started with Sun & Moon (I haven’t played a mainline Pokémon game in almost five years).

pokemon sword-shield direct 3

To end this post, some general bulletpoint thoughts:

  • Drednaw is best new pokémon.
  • November 15th release date is nice as it would give me time to play myself before I inevitably buy it for my sister for her birthday.
  • One new pokémon was mentioned as being able to take the trainer back to places previously visited in every town. So… HM’s are gone?
  • haha wow those dynamax battles are so ……… D Y N A M I C (end me)
  • Will catching pokémon require more input a la Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu / Eevee? Or is it back to “Select pokéball and hope for the best”?
  • My mind is getting more wholesome. I looked at Sonia and didn’t immediately think that everyone would lewd her.
  • Why the fuck is your (friendly?) rival’s name Hop? Why the fuck is his brother, the champion, named Leon (the most obvious name for a strong character in history)?

Thank you for your time. Have a great day.

6 thoughts on “Thoughts on the June 5th Pokémon Sword & Shield Direct

  1. Honestly, I’m right there with you when it comes to the direction of Pokemon in recent years. The series has become obsessed with cramming new, unnecessary features into the games, like Mega Evolution and all this other shit and more or less forcing players to use them even if they don’t interest us. Combine this with the same rehashed “save the world from the baddies” plot, and the series gets old.

    On top of that, I feel like the original “point” of Pokemon has been lost too. Yeah, I want a cool story and fun battles, but Pokemon was always about going on an adventure and catching ’em all. With the recent games, it’s felt like less of a fun adventure about catching monsters and more an RPG with silly, unneeded mechanics and a save the world plot I don’t care about. Not that we can’t have both but, the recent games never felt like a genuine adventure to me, if that makes sense?

    I too am very turned off by this whole Dynamix thing as well, but maybe it won’t be as bad in action? Who knows? Despite that, the new region looks pretty cool, the new Pokemon look nice (except those legendaries, I’m not a fan personally) and I really, REALLY like the look of these big open areas they’ve shown off. It almost feels like it’ll be a real adventure again! That’s the vibe I’m getting anyway.

    Honestly, the final product could go either way for me though. But I’m interested, and that’s more than I can say for any of the last few games we’ve had.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this in such a quick timeframe. Hopefully you enjoy the game when it comes out! Maybe we can even do a raid sometime!

  2. I’m just completely blown away byu the new visuals. So excited!! Dynamax doesn’t impress me. I wish they would worry less about new

  3. Whoops. –about new gimmicks, and more about things that interest the adult fans. We’re the ones with the money after all. 😛

    Unrelated: You’ve got some good posts here across the board! Have you visited the Geek Blogs United facebook group yet?

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