Now that the generation VIII Pokémon Games have been revealed, we have gotten a taste of what the games are about. And speculation is booming among fans. Here is a list of realistic features that would make Pokémon Sword and Shield an experience like never before. These ideas are based on the information from the February 27, 2019 reveal trailer. Game Freak, as a developer, has become fairly notorious for introducing new features in games only to remove them in the following games. So many of these features are based on concepts that Game Freak has already touched on or implemented in previous games that were liked by fans.
1. A Battle Frontier
It’s no secret that the Pokémon games have been suffering from a lack of solid single-player post-game content. In the third generations Game Freak introduced the Battle Frontier, a post-game area where the player would face off in facilities dedicated a myriad of unique battle challenges with A.I. trainers of a much higher skill level than the trainers in the main story. This served as a way to introduce players to the deeper competitive elements of Pokémon and essentially provided a second gym quest with a challenge to players after breezing through the story with little difficulty. For the past few generations the Battle Frontiers have been absent from the games, replaced by single facilities more akin to the old Battle Tower. If Sword and Shield introduced a full Battle Frontier as post-game content alongside a story quest like Gold and Silver’s Kanto or Ultra Sun and Moon’s Team Rainbow Rocket, that would be a wealth of post-game content that has never been seen before in the series and, I think, would be a real read for players.
2. No Less Than 100 New Pokémon (not including Mega Evolutions/Regional Variants)
As the total number of Pokémon approaches 1000 Game Freak seems have become more timid in the number of new Pokémon they introduce. Pokémon X and Y stand at a mere 72 new Pokémon, a series low, and Sun and Moon is not much better at 81 new Pokémon. Game Freak instead seems to be falling back on revisiting and re-conceptualizing already existing Pokémon as a method of adding “new” Pokémon without actually creating a brand-new Pokémon. They did this through Mega Evolutions in X and Y, and Alolan variants in Sun and Moon. While I am not wholly against these ideas on face value, I fell they should not be used as replacements for proper brand-new Pokémon. Part of the lasting appeal of Pokémon compared to most other monster catching series was that every monster was an individual, there were no simple reskins. I feel like this has contributed to why X and Y and Sun and Moon felt lacking compared to other games. If Sword and Shield adds a minimum of 100 brand new original concept Pokémon, regardless of any new megas or regional variants, the games will have a lot more of the excitement that comes from discovering and learning all about new Pokémon, which is one of the core elements of Pokémon games in my mind.
3. Stop Being so Hesitant to Challenge the Player In-game
It’s no question that Pokémon games have gotten progressively more hand-holding as time has gone on. From extended tutorial segments, enemy trainers with no more than 4 Pokémon throughout the entire game, A.I. that is dumbed down, a world map that is blocked off, and story beats that railroad the player from point to point. They have tried to address the difficulty a little with the Totem battles in Sun and Moon, the Ultra Necrozma Battle in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, and with the Coach Trainers in Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, however these moments of increased challenge are all too brief and infrequent to truly test the player’s mettle.
Sword and Shield should do away with much of the handholding and challenge the player with more trainers that aren’t pushovers. The games should bring back NPCs that have full teams of 6 Pokémon, include more in-game double battles, and perhaps even bring back triples and rotation battles. Let the rival sometimes corner the player fresh out of a grueling dungeon and challenge them to a battle without healing them beforehand.
If the player can get through the whole game without blacking out a single time, the game is probably far too easy for the average player. Also, bringing back the hard mode from Black 2 would be most welcome addition.
4. Expand Pokémon Interaction with the
Player, and the Environment
People love interacting with Pokémon. A feature that seems to be universally agreed on from Sun and Moon and Let’s Go was the increased focus on interacting with Pokémon.
From playing with Pokémon, to riding Pokémon, to exploring the world with them. The more ways methods of interacting, the better. Sword and Shield should take this concept and expand on it as much as possible.
The Pokéathlon, and Pokémon Contests should return alongside a new Pokémon minigame that fits the British theme. The idea of Pokémon soccer has been floating around due to the soccer-inspired uniform the player is seen wearing in the trailer. Something else that could be interesting would be a medieval-themed Pokémon mini game.
The Ride Pokémon system from Sun and Moon should be changed so that incorporates whatever Pokémon the player has in their party, so that the player travels and overcomes obstacles together with their chosen team, no HM Slaves of old, or rental Pokémon where the player has no connection.
Expanding the concept even further, the player could have to train whichever Pokémon they want to use whatever world exploration ability. For example, if the player has a Flygon and they want to use it to Fly, there would be a training process to teach it how to carry people and fly. And, rather than just the RNG-based survivals and cures the player receives in-game for interacting with their Pokémon, the rewards for interacting with your Pokémon in-game could lead to positive or negative stat chances that can be applied in competitive battles. This would add a bit more incentive to interacting with Pokémon.
5. At Least One Event-exclusive Pokémon as Free DLC
Piracy and cracking happen, it’s an inescapable fact that whenever a game is released the game data will be broken into and scoured for any and all secrets which will be published to the public.
In this world all hidden event Pokémon are found right away in the game data, which makes their reveal down the road a surprise to no one at all. The excitement of a secret character can only come from post-launch DLC a la Super Smash Bros.
Taking into consideration that currently many events are distributed in-person at GameStop or visiting events like the World Championships, it is understandable that the data has to be on the games prior to the transfer in those cases. However, it would be amazing to see at least one event Pokémon that is free post-launch DLC that is just added to the game one day without any prior announcement.
The name of the Pokémon could be left in some mysterious lore within the main game story so that the fans can speculate as to whether this Pokémon exists. And if Game Freak really want to go all out they could add an entire quest centered around this Pokémon as the DLC rather than just a simple patch adding it to the game. The surprise of it alone would make Sword and Shield something special the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Red and Blue and would make the strongest case possible for the introduction of actual DLC to the Pokémon series. After all, a surprise like that just wouldn’t be possible without DLC.
These are a sample of some ideas that could really add to the experience of Sword and Shield and cement them as possibly the greatest Pokémon games yet. Some fans want an overhaul in which Game Freak upends the tea table and does something completely different with Pokémon. However, there are many aspects that are essential to a Pokémon game, and changing them drastically could create a game that’s “Pokémon” in name only.
Such unchecked radical changes could lead results like a bloated MMO with no single-player experience that forces users to pay a subscription fee on top of paying for Nintendo Nintendo Switch Online service to even play the game, or a washed-out Monster Hunter clone that ends up feeling neither like Pokémon or like Monster Hunter. Developers that lose touch with their roots end up chasing trends or upheaving for upheaval’s sake. Game Freak stated during the reveal that they plan to innovate in Sworn and Shield while still staying true to what makes Pokémon special. This is a hopeful comment that suggests they may be more open to experimenting, but they will keep true to Pokémon’s core.