Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield are only a couple days away, and the road to get here has been long and paved with a myriad of controversies that have left a sour taste in many die-hard fans' mouths. Since the announcement of Pokemon Sword and Shield, fans were promised a Pokemon game that would be exactly what long-time fans have waited so long for: a more in-depth and rich experience that utilizes the power of the Switch to go further than any previous 3DS Pokemon title. However, as time went on and release got closer, more and more details surfaced about Sword and Shield that turned long-time fans against Game Freak and created a movement that called for a boycott of the series until things start to change.
#Dexit and the Move Purge
The first, and perhaps largest, controversy regarding Pokemon Sword and Shield is what is widely known as Dexit. The name is inspired by the Brexit movement in Britain, and since the Galar region is heavily inspired by the UK, the name came quickly and naturally to Pokemon fans. In total, there are nearly 500 Pokemon missing from Sword and Shield, including many fan-favorite Pokemon. In fact, the Charizard evolution line is the only starter evolution line from previous generations in the game (Eevee and Pikachu notwithstanding). The full list of returning and cut Pokemon are in the graphic below.
For many detractors, this is the biggest argument against Sword and Shield. In interviews, Game Freak claimed that the cuts were to ensure that the remaining (approximately 400) Pokemon received higher quality animations, but that will be covered shortly. Alongside the drastic PokeDex cut, many Pokemon moves were also axed in the move to Galar. Thanks to leaked copies of the game and datamines, it has been confirmed that at launch, Pokemon Sword and Shield will be missing over 144 fan-favorite moves from previous titles. Of course, new moves are being added as well alongside new Pokemon, but some moves that were cut were iconic staples of the franchise dating back to the first generation so some fans were really upset. Even some unique moves only known by one Pokemon were cut, detracting from what makes that Pokemon unique. While fans are certainly more upset about Dexit, the loss of moves is also a major talking point.
Animations and Graphics
Circling back to the Dexit vs. Animations comment, back at E3 2019, Game Freak announced that Pokemon Sword and Shield would block transfers of Pokemon not in the Galar Pokedex. While the reasoning was vague and unspecific, many speculated that it was due to the difficulty of making and animating Pokemon models. With over 800 Pokemon in the franchise at this point, that is understandable to a degree. However, recently leaked gameplay shows lackluster animations show that the animations are not improved - save for some special cases - and are in other cases even worse than animations on the 3DS.
This has prompted the new #GameFreakLied hashtag on Twitter which has taken off over the past couple days. The game so far seems to be littered with terrible pop-in and fade-out animations in the overworld, and disappointing cutscene animations - even in big moments like the encounter with the box art Pokemon. Fans were hoping that since the games were the first main series Pokemon games on a home console that the animations would be better than the 3DS titles, but it seems to not be the case.
Game Length and Quality
Pokemon games have never been known for their lengthy stories, but early reports from those who have already played it say that Sword and Shield may be one of the shortest Pokemon games to date. While some reviews are listing 30-40 hour completion times, some streamers who played the game early beat the game in nearly 14 hours - though that is skipping some trainer battles along the way. On top of that, the game reportedly still features many of the hand-holding mechanics that long-time players of the series have grown to hate. The series has reportedly never been easier thanks to the permanently-on EXP Share giving experience to all Pokemon in the party, meaning that players don't need to take the time to train every individual Pokemon.
However, another key complaint outside of length is that major features that were supposed to take Sword and Shield to new heights fell flat. In a number of new reviews for Pokemon Sword and Shield, reviewers noted that the Wild Areas felt like more of a proof of concept than a full-fledged feature. The areas felt less interactive and more like large swaths of land with some big Pokemon roaming around. While the Wild Area was not the main selling point for the game, it was one of the most anticipated features, though it seems fans will have to try it out for themselves to see if they like it or not.
Removal of Fan-Favorite Features
As with every Pokemon game, Game Freak implemented new features and removed older ones. However, some staple features are missing for seemingly no reason, despite the framework for it being in the code of the game. The popular GTS is seemingly missing from the game, meaning unless it is added later, there is no way to trade with players from around the globe easily. The Global Trade System/Station allowed players to offer up Pokemon or request specific Pokemon with people around the globe, but despite there being hints about it in the game's code it does not appear to be in the game whatsoever.
Mega Evolution and Z-Moves are also gone from the game, and replaced with Dynamax and Gigantimax actions. While the addition of the Dynamax mechanic is interesting, many fans are upset at the loss of Mega Evolution as they played a significant role in the competitive Pokemon scene. Another perplexing choice is that, for some odd reason, Game Freak implemented a key item that is hidden with an optional NPC that unlocks the ability to customize audio options in the game.
Overall, despite getting fairly positive reviews from critics, many fans are upset with Sword and Shield for a myriad of reasons. From cut features to the infamous Dexit, fans have made comprehensive lists as to why Sword and Shield is lacking in their eyes. While many fans are just downright angry, some are just disappointed that the game is seemingly not living up to expectations. With other titles under the Nintendo brand, like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, being revolutionary in their genre, fans were hoping that Pokemon Sword and Shield would revolutionize the beloved franchise. However it seems that it is just more of the same, so some fans may either skip out on it or just wait to get Pokemon Sword and Shield at a discounted price.
Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield launch November 15, exclusively for Nintendo Switch.