Pokemon Sword and Shield have been officially announced, Nintendo's first Pokemon main franchise entries coming to the Nintendo Switch. And with the new platform comes a new region for players to explore. Introducing the Galar region, Pokemon Sword and Shield's United Kingdom-inspired land of rolling hills and industrial cityscapes.
The new map for Pokemon Sword and Shield was fully unveiled in today's Nintendo Direct, with the map itself shared afterward by Nintendo. It looks to be either an island or a peninsula, arranged in a manner perfect for a more traditional RPG. It's also an appropriate shape for games named Sword and Shield. Players start in the lower area of the map, which consists of small towns and fields. They move further and further north, with the cities growing larger and the local areas growing more mysterious along the way.
Compared to the Alola islands of Pokemon Sun and Moon, which while beautiful were somewhat constraining, Galar will offer a wide-open region for players to explore at their own leisure. The open countryside should be a reinvigorating throwback to early generations of Pokemon filled with forests and fields.
While Nintendo hasn't officially described the Galar region as based on the UK, the references that can be drawn from Pokemon Sword and Shield's map makes it an easy assumption. The northernmost city fits as a London parallel, with its own Big Ben clocktower and Eye of London Ferris wheel. The red and white coloring of the lighthouse along the eastern coast is a common sight in England. The southern city features what could be the Manchester Town Hall clock. There's a lake district, a spin on the Uffington White Horse, and even a bit of standing stones akin to Stonehenge and other such monuments.
Some have said Galar is better described as a European region, rather than a UK region, but that doesn't wholly fit. Specifically, the region is filled with direct references to the UK, but doesn't necessarily feature any direct references to other European landmarks. And while the shape of the continent is definitely not akin to the land of Great Britain, a change from previous Pokemon games that have historically maintained the shape of the areas they're borne from, it's perhaps only indicative of a change in approach from Game Freak. It wouldn't be the only change made in Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield.
Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield will release late 2019 exclusively on the Nintendo Switch.