Pokemon Sword & Shield E3 2019 Preview: The Biggest Gym Battles Ever Deserve Bigger Features

Our demo with the upcoming eighth generation of the main Pokemon series had us wanting more.

Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield, the eighth generation of mainline Pokemon titles and the second pair to launch on Nintendo Switch after Pokemon Let's Go, Pikachu and Pokemon Let's Go, Eevee, have fans both excited and skeptical for their release.

From the E3 demo I played, this is understandable, although the playable build only featured battling a few gym trainers, solving a gym puzzle, and battling the gym leader at the end. So in the end, it didn't give the best idea of what the full experience will ultimately be like.

The team in the demo consisted of the three starter Pokemon of the new Galar region, Scorbunny, Grookey, and Sobble, the recently revealed Corviknight and Wooloo, and the newly-introduced electric corgi Yamper.

While trying to solve the Gym Mission and gain access to the Gym Leader's arena by pressing different colored buttons to turn corresponding waterfalls on and off, several trainers were encountered, each having only one Pokemon of their own. These trainers seemed to be only for demo purposes, as their Pokemon did not seem to match with the Water-type theme of the gym at all.

While the trainer battles were ordinary except for one of them featuring the new Dark and Fairy dual-type Pokemon, Impidimp, the battle against the Gym Leader is where the demo really got exciting.

Going against Gym Leader Nessa, I thought it would be best to send Yamper out first, but to my surprise, the demo featured no menu outside of battle. Consequently, my initial lineup could not be changed, meaning Pokemon could only be switched while in battle.

Nessa sent out Goldeen while I swapped out for Yamper, but to my surprise, it was taken out in just two turns from Goldeen's waterfall attack, which seemed to have a bigger and much flashier animation than the other attacks I had seen.

After Yamper was taken down, I sent out Grookey to make quick work of Nessa's horned fish and it did exactly that.

After this, Nessa sent out her dual water and rock type turtle Dreadnaw and immediately used Dynamax, making it grow to Gamera size. Of course, I followed suit and activated Dynamax with Grookey to level the playing field.

While information for attacks and types were shown when highlighted, stats were not, so it's unknown if or how Dynamax affects them. It's also unknown just how strong Dreadnaw is, as it was able to knock out Dynamax Grookey with little trouble.

Having a much tougher time than I expected, my options were Wooloo, which couldn't do much, Sobble, which was resistant but likely wouldn't do much damage, Scorbunny, which might have been able to deal a decent amount of damage with double kick but was weak to water, and Corviknight, whose Steel Wing attack might be able to help.

I decided to try out Corviknight, and his Steel Wing did not prove useful in these trying times. After Dreadnaw had returned to normal size — Dynamax has a three-turn limit —  taking out a few slivers of health, I decided to experiment a little bit and switch to Sobble.

As it turned out, Sobble's liquidation attack dealt a decent amount of damage, and I was able to finally get Dreadnaw to faint in two turns. I had finally beat Gym Leader Nessa.

Despite being fun for most longtime Pokemon fans, the Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield demo lacked new features to showcase. While Dynamax is a neat new battle mechanic, not being able to see how or if it changes Pokmon stats makes it feel less significant.

A demo of wild areas and max raids may have been a more preferable way to showcase Dynamax in addition to other new features.

Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield will launch for Nintendo Switch on November 15. A steelbook bundle featuring both versions is also available for pre-order.

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Correspondent

Writer pursuing a career in Games & Entertainment media. Specialties include coverage of non-Pokémon monster taming RPGs, event coverage, indie game coverage, and coverage of various Japanese games.

Published Jun. 17th 2019

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