In some ways, Pokémon is a lot like FIFA. Come the end of days or when Half-Life 3 is made, it will still be with us. And we’ll have pocket monsters based off of garden furniture.
In all seriousness, Pokémon Sword and Shield has something big to show off in terms of gameplay development. More on that in a sec. Meanwhile, the latest set of games of the long-running franchise were a cornerstone of Nintendo’s lineup at this year’s Gamescom. A lot of people are excited and keen to get their hands on them. Given what I had the chance to experience the past week, I can see why.
The core gameplay mechanic of Pokémon has remained intact and continues to be the driving element of the title. Setting you up for a confrontation, the game wastes no time in engaging battle. The graphics are simple and colourful, and gives each of your Pokémon a chance to strut their stuff when they come out of their Pokeballs. In the case of splitsecond battles, the backdrop visuals can be a bit dull, but that’s not where the attention is ever centered. Combat can quickly engaged with battle decisions carried out in the space of two button clicks. In the case of switching Pokémon and deciding which one to use, their information and stats are clearly indicated and leave little room for doubt when comparing them to your opponent.
In terms of “big” development: Dynamaxing. A technique that can come to the rescue of any trainer. Players only get to activate this feature so many times during a match, and it is easily pulled off provided you have a Dynamax band on you. It adds a completely new dimension to the core mechanics of the battle, and unlike in 60-second matches where your strategy is formulated in the same space of time, here you actually need to think about where your Dyanamx placements will land, and who’s going to land them.
Overall game progression was not completely clear during this hands-on. The story abides by the same formula: Prove your worth in the Galar Region and ascend to the top to take on the champions of champions. What I like is how mini-games are interwoven along your path to the stadiums. It breaks up the battle elements and even showcases a good dose of Nintendo platforming. Whether you’re happy with that kind of content being present and playable in your Pokémon game depends on you. Combined with the open world factor, I like it.
Pokémon is a genre unto itself, and definitely not for everyone. Pokémon Sword and Shield remain the most unique experience of Gamescom for me simply because there remains nothing like it. The game is everything Nintendo has for their fans and you can feel the influence that it has had on all of its major franchises. It’s a fun game that is most likely what fans are expecting, with a few riveting additions.
Pokémon Sword and Shield are scheduled for a worldwide release on 15th November.
Last Updated: August 28, 2019