Gen 8 is going through a lot of changes with the upcoming Pokemon Sword and Shield games, but it seems the whole franchise is also undergoing a series of changes. The anime has made a significant change by adding a second Pokemon protagonist alongside the longstanding mainstay Ash Ketchum.
Pokemon Sword and Shield's release is right around the corner, with fans of the mainline Pokemon games aware of the importance of Hidden Machines, a.k.a HMs, that grant Pokemon new special moves to be used in and outside of battles. HMs have been a staple of the Pokemon games for a long time now, but the latest releases in the series did replace HMs with the Ride Pokemon feature.
Now it has been confirmed that the upcoming Pokemon Sword and Shield games will also do away with HMs. It’s still unclear if there will be a new replacement feature for HMs, or if Ride Pokemon will be back for the new games as well. A 24-hour livestream of Pokemon is scheduled for next week which will show players game footage, hopefully including the new features.
In a recent interview, Game Freak’s planning director Kazumasa Iwao revealed that HMs don’t really fit into the philosophy of the new games: "I think they played a role in the series traditionally to be like the relationship between a door and a key; the HM will unlock something and you’re able to progress and feel the ability to go to a new place."
He explained that HMs actually took away the freedom from the players and forced them into choosing a pre-defined path. "We didn’t have them in Pokemon Sun and Moon, and this time around, we didn’t feel it really matched the concept, especially with the Wild Area and wanting to have this higher degree of freedom. The player can kind of choose how they want to engage with the gameplay. Having the more HM-based elements, we didn’t feel it really matched the game, so this time around they’re not in it," he added.
HMs are not the only thing getting the axe; the popular EXP Share item is being significantly changed, meaning players won’t be able to choose which inactive Pokemon in their party gets extra experience. Instead, Pokemon Sword and Shield will grant all Pokemon in a party equal experience as players progress through the game, with no confirmed way to turn this feature off. Only time will tell how these changes affect the core gameplay and how much fans of the series like the new changes.
Pokemon Sword and Shield launch on November 15, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.