Pokemon Sword and Shield: Everything we know so far from release date to gameplay details

Pokemon Sword and Shield

With every trailer and Pokemon Direct we're learning a lot more about Pokemon Sword and Shield. From the new Team Yell, to your rivals Bede and Marnie, the world of Galar is slowly being fleshed out. And yes, there are Galarian forms for Pokemon Sword and Shield. 

There's less than four months until the release dates, and now we know quite a lot about the upcoming Switch games. That includes info about new gameplay mechanics, the Galar region where the games are set, and even some shiny new Gen 8 Pokemon too. So before you get your hands on the games, read on to find out everything we know so far about Pokemon Sword and Shield.

Watch the first gameplay trailer and carry on reading for more information below. 

Pokemon Sword and Shield release date set for November, 2019

Pokemon Sword and Shield release date

Start counting down to one of the biggest Switch games yet, as Pokemon Sword and Shield are coming this year. The Pokemon Sword and Shield release date has been set as November 15. 

Interestingly, The Pokemon Company is releasing a special Double Pack that includes both of the games. From the looks of the pre-order pricing though, it's not exactly a saving, with the Double Pack available via the Nintendo store for $119.99

Pokemon Sword and Shield are set in a brand new region: Welcome to Galar

Move over Kanto, because there's a new idyllic paradise on the way that's also full of Pokemon. Pokemon Sword and Shield will be set in the Galar region, a brand new locale for the long-running JRPG series. Based on the UK's varied landscape, Galar's main appeal is its variety of landscapes, and weather conditions, something that's quite fresh for the series as a whole. In the first trailer, we got a look at thick forests, snow-covered mountains, cities, idyllic countryside villages, glittering caves and more. According to the official website, "the people and Pokemon live together in this region, and they've worked together to develop the industries here", so no doubt it'll be British with a twist. 

As you can see from the gif above, we're looking at some mighty pretty-looking environments, so hopefully we'll see some equally unique, and potentially location-themed Pokemon. 

Take a look at the full Galar map below:

Pokemon Sword and Shield: Galar region map

How the Pokemon Sword and Shield Wild Area works

Interestingly, part of the Galar map will be taken up by a region called the Wild Area. It's basically a suped-up version of the original Safari Park, where wild Pokemon roam visibly in the wild, like they did in Pokemon Let's Go. It seems like that is the only place where they'll appear like that, but will change according to the weather conditions and time of day. 

According to the official website, the Wild Area "connects several different towns and cities", and is a "vast expanse of land". 

"You’ll find a greater variety of Pokémon living here than anywhere else in the Galar region. The Pokémon you’ll run into will change depending on things like the weather or location, so you might see something new each time you visit!"

While you're in this area, you'll be able to take control of the game's camera too, offering an open-world experience that's never been seen in the series before as you explore this untamed wilderness.

If you see a specific Pokemon you want to catch in the Wild Area, you can whistle to get its attention. On the other hand, if there's a timid Pokemon you want to catch, you'll be better off crouching and slowly approaching it so it doesn't get startled.

Pokemon levels in the Wild Area can vary massively, so make sure you're not taking on something too tough! This is different to the routes from previous games, which would always tend to be around your level the first time you passed through.

Finally, if you're connected to other players online, you'll be able to encounter them in the Wild Area. Stamps (emotes) are a new way to communicate, so you can indicate what you want to do, like trade or try a max raid battle.

Pokemon Sword and Shield will contain the eight generation of Pokemon

Pokemon Sword and Shield starter Pokemon

The Pokemon Company confirmed the three Pokemon Generation 8 Starters with the first Pokemon Sword and Shield trailer, and as you can see above they are as follows:

- Grass type monkey, Grookey
- Fire type rabbit, Scorbunny
- Water type lizard, Sobble

If the trailer is indictative of the kind of moves they'll have, Sobble may well be able to turn invisible, Grookey attacks with a stick it keeps in its hair, and Scorbunny (judging by the plaster on its nose) may be melee focused. 

It's also worth noting that there are a lot of older Gen 2 and Gen 5 Pokemon featured in the trailer. Could that mean the world is littered with a range of Pokemon, a Pokemon Go tie-in, or something else entirely?

Here's the full list of all Gen 8 Pokemon announced so far

(Image credit: Nintendo)

There will also be new Galarian forms of Pokemon. Like the Alolan forms, the new Galarian forms will put a new spin on some old favourites, like a steampunk Weezing, complete with smog moustache (see above), and the black and white striped Galarian Zigzagoon, which evolves into the unique Obstagoon.

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Pokemon Sword and Shield gameplay features confirmed so far

Watch the June 5 Pokemon Direct above, but here are the biggest Pokemon Sword and Shield gameplay takeaways:

Dynamax Pokemon
This brand new Pokemon phenomenon (gosh that's fun to say) allows you, once per battle, to make your Pokemon absolutely huge, as well as gain a massive boost in power. You can only Dynamax your Pokemon in specific locations within the Galar region, like the Pokemon Gym stadiums. 

Max Raid battles
Taking a few cues from the Pokemon Go school of thought are the Max Raid battles. These will introduce four-player co-op battles against a wild Dynamax Pokemon in a fight like nothing else we've seen in the main game series. These wild Dynamax Pokemon stay in their oversized form for the entire battle and have unique powers, so it'll require coordination to take them down - especially as only one of the four of you will be able to use your own Dynamax ability. 

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The Galar region

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Professor Magnolia

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Sonia

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A shot from the Galar Region

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Leon, the Champion

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Dynamax battles

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(Image credit: Nintendo)

Marnie

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(Image credit: Nintendo)

Bede

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(Image credit: Nintendo)

Team Yell

Professor Magnolia is your brand new Poke Prof
Focused on discovering more about the Dynamax Pokemon, Professor Magnolia is going to be your guide as you start your Pokemon journey to become the Champion. She lives with her granddaughter, and assistant, Sonia, who'll also be of great help to you. 

Leon is the Galar Champion
Currently undefeated in the Galar region, you know that Leon is going to be the one you have to beat to become Champion. He's a bit of a celebrity too, so expect to see him a lot in Pokemon Sword and Shield. 

His brother, Hop, will be your close companion and rival
A Pokemon game wouldn't be complete with a rival for you to battle against throughout your journey, and this time it's a young chap called Hop - the brother of Champion Leon. You'll begin your journey on the very same day. 

Bede and Marnie are your main rivals
On your path to becoming Champion, you're going to encounter at least two new rivals - Bede and Marnie - although I wouldn't assume there won't be more. Bede seems a little sinister, and his bio suggests he's got other objectives beyond becoming Champion. Marnie meanwhile is all about her fanbase and is only focused on taking on Leon. 

Team Yell are the new Team Rocket
Rather than looking to take over the world, or steal your precious Pokecrew, Team Yell is about protecting Marnie. They're her biggest fans and will do anything to try and stop you from getting in her way on the road to Champion status. That includes taking over hotel lobbies, stopping you from accessing transportation options and even distract Marnie's opponents in battle. Troublemakers! 

Poke Jobs
You can send your Pokemon off to help out corporations and universities through the new Poke Jobs system, which you'll find by speaking to the Rotomi in any Pokemon Centre. You can send Pokemon in your boxes directly to any accepted jobs, and they will gain experience for completing it, including Exp. Points or base points. The amount of experience they receive will be based on their type and how long they've worked for. 

Pokemon Sword and Shield will take full advantage of the Switch in handheld mode

For those who balked at all that big screen TV mode stuff and motion controls for Pokemon Let's Go, you'll be pleased to hear that for the duo of new Pokemon Switch games, we're going full handheld. 

"Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield are being developed to emphasize the fun of playing Nintendo Switch in handheld mode," the report reads. "We want these games to be played not only by longtime Pokemon fans, but also by consumers whose first encounter with the series was on a dedicated video game platform with Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu and Pokemon Let's Go Eevee."

Could Pokemon Sword and Shield actually feature two regions?

There's a new theory floating around that Pokemon Sword and Shield could actually feature the Galar region, and another locale entirely. The theory goes that Sword and Shield could also feature the Kalos region from Pokemon X and Y. Now, bear with me here, because it's not so farfetch'd as you'd assume (H/T Dexterto). 

In the story of Pokemon X and Y you discover that a 3,000-year-old king once used an ultimate weapon to stop a war that rage in Kalos. It used the energy from Legendary Pokemon Xerneas and Yvelta, which actually led to the creation of Mega Evolutions. However, that's not the interesting bit. It's that the war in Kalos was with some unknown region, which this theory suggests could be Galar. That's because Galar is based on the UK, while Kalos is supposed to be set in France, and there have been many a real-life war fought involving the two countries. 

Also, in Pokemon X and Y, there's a train station in Couriway Town that you could never access. Strange then that trains are so prominent in the Pokemon Sword and Shield trailer. Could it be that the trains connect Galar (the UK) and Kalos (France) like the real-life Channel Tunnel and the Eurostar? 

For an added WTF, Couriway town's slogan is "a town connecting differences". *strokes metaphorical thinking beard* Were Pokemon X and Y really foreshadowing a connection to a Nintendo Switch title back in 2013?