This morning, Nintendo released a new Direct with more information regarding Pokémon: Sword and Shield. GameFreak producer Junichi Masuda and director Shigeru Ohmori hosted, detailing a ton of new content, occasionally passing the baton to various studio workers including art director James Turner. In addition to revealing new Pokémon, including two legendaries, they also revealed new mechanics, regions and more.

In a particularly unusual mechanics change, the game will host a section of the region dubbed The Wild Area, which will allow players to take control of the camera  and search closely for Pokémon and items scattered across the terrain. Additionally, this area is subject to weather shifts, causing the environment’s occupant Pokémon to change.

As Pokémon: Sun and Moon had its unique twist on the classic gym battles with the island Kahunas and captains, Sword and Shield will have its own regional variation. “Pokémon battles are the most popular form of entertainment in the Galar region,” Ohmori states.
Gym battles are not only televised, but now resemble that of European football stations, complete with uniforms, green turf, and massive audiences of excited fans.

On top of that, GameFreak Planning Director Kazumasa Iwao presented a new phenomenon called Dynomaxing, which will allow Pokémon to reach gargantuan size and unlock maximized power moves. This feature is applied once in battle and lasts for three turns.

But that’s not all — in the aforementioned wild area, you can link up with other players for raid battles! Like those in the Pokémon Go mobile game by Niantic, raid Pokémon will be enormous and take a strong team of players to defeat. Max Raid Battles, as Iwao calls them, are found through beacons of pink light across the landscape in the Wild Area, which appear to be portals to a pocket dimension containing these formidable giants.

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As a smaller point of interest, footage from these raids also hint at the likelihood of character customization returning once again. The new Dynomax ability is available here as well, but only for one of the four linked players to use, making coordination key, so these kaiju-sized targets will be picking on someone their own size!
Once defeated, all players have a chance to capture the raid Pokémon. The weather and location in the Wild Area determines the subjects as well. Strategic co-op is a brand new feature for the main Pokémon series, which s available locally and through online connection.

New characters were also showcased in the Direct, including the number one champion in the region, Leon. He’s known to be undefeated and famous around the region for his skill and bright personality. Meanwhile, his younger brother, Hop, serves as a traditional rival, who hopes to follow his brother’s footsteps to become the next regional champion.

Professor Magnolia is the second female character to take on the Pokémon professorship. Personally, I’m excited by this, in part because I’m a fan of the badass older woman type like the Valkyries of Mad Max: Fury Road and Eileen the Crow from Bloodborne. In Pokémon: Sword and Shield, Professor Magnolia and her assistant Sonia provide support to your character and Hop throughout the game.

The release date for Pokémon: Sword and Pokémon: Shield, exclusively for Nintendo Switch, is set for Nov. 15, 2019. Until then, keep an eye out for more coverage on this exciting new Pokémon journey.

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