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E3 2019 Hands-on: ‘Pokémon Sword’ & ‘Shield’



The eighth generation of Pokémon is dropping later this November featuring a brand-new series of Poké-friends to collect and train in the all-new Galar region. After revisiting our childhood with Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! & Eevee on the Nintendo Switch last year, this E3 marked the first opportunity to experience a traditional, core series Pokémon game on Nintendo Switch. While the E3 demo for Pokémon Sword & Shield didn’t offer any additional information on the catching pokémon or Max Raid Battles, it did showcase the new, impressive Dynamax technique.

Much like the Mega Evolving and Z-Moves mechanics from past generations, Dynamaxing is a way to significantly boost the power of a pokémon that helps shape the outcome of a battle while offering a new level of strategy. When Dynamaxed, a pokémon not only increases massively in size, but also acquires a new, devastating move-set that affects the terrain of the battlefield. However, unlike Mega Evolution, Dynamaxing only lasts for a maximum of three turns, which requires trainers to think strategically about when to use it or how to burn their opponent’s. For example, during my demo the Water Gym Leader, Nessa, used her Dynamax on the ‘bite pokémon,’ Drednaw, a powerful new water/rock pokémon. I was caught off-guard and decided to Dynamax my active Yamper, a new, electric corgi pokémon, as well. Sadly, Yamper didn’t have the defense or speed to go head to head with a leveled Drednaw, leaving me in a pinch where I was forced to buy time against the Dynamaxed Drednaw’s onslaught. By sacrificing several weaker pokémon, I was able to save the grass starter, Grookey, in reserve until the Dynamax wore off, and then crushed Drednaw with type effectiveness.

While new battle mechanics always mix up the typical Pokémon formula in interesting ways, new generations always offer something even better — new pokémon! The Pokémon Sword & ShieldE3 demo didn’t disappoint here, as it showcased not only the three new starters, but also a pocketful of new monsters to battle with, including the dark knight of the skies, Corviknight! A new steel/flying bird with a massive amount of speed and defense, Corviknight proved itself on the battlefield against the new dark/fairy pokémon, Impidimp. And even though Yamper lost its gym battle in my playthrough, it won a place in my heart by being the cutest new addition to the PokéDex. Along with Wooloo, these new pokémon join a collection of familiar monsters to help make up the Galar region PokéDex.

By the end of the demo, I was thrilled to know that Pokémon Sword and Shield feel like core Pokémon games, with gyms featuring puzzles that will feel natural to any veteran players, while battles are intense and tote new mechanics to change up the games are played, and that there’s a collection of new and returning Pokémon for fans of any experience to enjoy. Dynamax, in particular, offers a new tactical element that can rapidly change the pace of a battle, with its dynamic three-move limit acting as a double-Honedged sword that can make or break a battle if enacted recklessly. It’s something that fans can truly look forward to when Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield release on November 15, 2019.