Pokemon Sword and Shield: Every Major Change Revealed So Far

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Pokemon Sword and Shield will be bringing the eighth generation of Pokemon games to the Nintendo Switch, which itself suggests that major changes will be coming to the game. Pokemon Let's Go launched on the Switch, but since these were recreations of older games and had a heavy tie-in with Pokemon GO, they didn't do much to establish how deeply Gen 8 Pokemon games could be changed.

It's clear, with recent revelations concerning Pokemon Sword and Shield, that there are quite a few major changes coming to the franchise. Some of these have been well-received, whereas others have not been so much. Whatever the case, change is coming to the long-running Pokemon franchise, and here's every big one revealed so far.

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No National Pokedex

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This has perhaps received the most flak, especially given that the motto for Pokemon is "Gotta Catch 'Em All." Game Freak's Junichi Masuda did even explain that this was a hard, but necessary, decision given the sheer amount of Pokemon currently out there. There is a silver lining, though. It was recently confirmed that cut Pokemon from Pokemon Sword and Shield will appear in future games, some of which through the assistance of Pokemon Home, and while this may not be the most relief, it is somewhat refreshing to know that missing Pokemon from the Galar Pokedex will be coming back.

No Elite Four

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Sun and Moon made the major change of replacing Gym Leaders with Trial Captains and Kahunas, but that's seemingly not the end of it. In Sword and Shield, Gym Leaders (see next point) return, but the Elite Four are gone. While seeing this tried-and-true formula disappear can be jarring for longtime fans, it is being replaced with an interesting concept that ties in with the anime. Instead of facing off with an Elite Four before the Champion, players will instead face off with others who have completed the Gym Challenge, which does sound like a fun and promising new aspect.

18 Gym Leaders


Full details on this have yet to be shared ⁠— though players will not face off with all of them ⁠— but the Galar region has 18 Gym Leaders, instead of 8. Players will be facing with those 8 selected for the Major League, which varies from game to game, whereas the others will seemingly appear in the Minor League. Certain Gym Leaders will be exclusive to a certain game, which is itself a major change. Regardless of how exactly this works, it gives players another factor in deciding whether they pick up Pokemon Sword or Shield.

Exp. Share Change

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Following the National Pokedex, the Exp. Share has undergone a controversial change. In past games, players would equip it to one Pokemon who would receive extra experience. Later games changed this to where activating it gave all Pokemon in the party, and the major change coming in Pokemon Sword and Shield is that this cannot be deactivated. For the majority of players, this is a non-issue as they would use the Exp. Share anyway, but for those who want to construct competitive teams, this doesn't work well with established methods in the past. It's possible that this training is also receiving some unannounced change, but for now, Pokemon Sword and Shield's Exp. Share is a hot button for many.

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In a franchise first, Pokemon Sword and Shield will have an autosave feature. This raised some eyebrows at first, as this could have meant that the old method for trying to catch a legendary would no longer work, but Game Freak did confirm that autosave is optional. Unlike the aforementioned Exp. Share, players will be able to keep this on throughout the game if they so wish, and turn it off later when attempting to catch a legendary. This could result in some forgetting to do so, but the fact that it is optional is a welcomed fact.

Out With the Old, In with the New

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Previous Pokemon games have introduced new gimmicks such as Mega Evolutions and Z Moves, which were mostly welcome by fans, but these will not be returning. Sun and Moon introduced regional forms (Alolan forms), which does return with Galarian Forms such as the new Galarian Ponyta. The biggest gimmick in Pokemon Sword and Shield is the new Dynamaxing and Gigantamaxing features, which sees some Pokemon grow in size, develop new abilities, and undergo new changes.

Max Raid Battles


Clearly taking inspiration from Pokemon GO, Pokemon Sword and Shield will also feature Max Raid Battles. Players will need to team up to take on Dynamaxed and Gigantamaxed Pokemon, with the difficulty of each Pokemon being ranked by stars. How this plays out remains to be seen, but like most of the other changes on this list, it may very well stand out in Pokemon Sword and Shield.

Pokemon Sword and Shield will release exclusively for Nintendo Switch on November 15th.

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