IGN and several other media outlets had a chance to play 90 minutes of Pokemon Sword and Shield and got to see some of Gen 8’s new features in action including the Wild Area and Max Raid Battles. Their impressions were mostly shared on Youtube, previewing and commenting on the features they’ve tested. As we expect that Sword and Shield will feature some kind of integration with Pokemon GO, we felt compelled to collate the information in a GO Hub article.
Nintendo Life coverage
Austin John Plays summary
Overall impressions are as follows:
- Your initial battle with Hop (your rival) features a double Pokemon battle. Hop chooses the starter that’s weak to your starter and has a Wooloo on his team. Champion Leon gets the super effective starter.
- Wooloo is heavily featured in the introduction area, both visually and even story wise.
- Tutorials have been toned down and seasoned players can opt in to skip them. The game doesn’t hold your hand, but rather lets you explore the mechanics on your own.
- The battle interface is super clean and modern looking, we are really impressed with the look and feel of the in-game menus.
- According to Nintendo Life, the Wild Area feels “distinctively un-Pokemon” and shakes up the formula significantly. You can see Pokemon roaming in the wild and the gives you the opportunity to do open world style exploration for the first time in a Pokemon game.
- Wild Area was praised by multiple reviewers, but not all Pokemon are visible on the overworld. Some Pokemon still appear as exclamation marks in tall grass. Visible models looks beautiful tho, especially the Gyarados swimming in a lake.
- You can access the Wild Area early on and the game doesn’t shy away from this feature packed zone. The world feels alive and packed with interesting activities.
- IGN thinks that Max Raids feel a bit too hard, but they tried the feature with a Level 7 Pokemon and 3 NPC characters.
- The game looks beautiful, but no one praised it’s technical side. Nintendo Life in particular described the art style as “basic” and not utilizing Switch hardware efficiently. We tend to agree, as the game features a lot of blurry textures and plain looking green areas. If we got it correctly, the game runs at 720p 30 FPS.
- Pokemon models look good, despite all the #NationalDex controversy. Of course, it doesn’t look good as Crysis, but it’s not terrible by any means. Character design is lovely as well.
- Almost everyone who played the game shared that the game feels excellent, despite its technical shortcomings. The improvements on the underlying Pokemon formula are substantial and more than welcome, with the setting and Wild Area being the real stars of Sword and Shield.