Pokemon Sword and Shield has made a plethora of changes to the standard Pokemon formula that has appeared in the past. Some of these like the Pokemon storage box change simplify and improve upon this formula, whereas others have been met with controversy. Perhaps one of the strangest changes thus far is how the game handles its mascot legendaries. It's important to note that this article, due to the nature of this change, will contain MAJOR STORY SPOILERS, so turn back now if so wanting to avoid them.
In the past, Pokemon players have almost always received their mascot legendary before entering the Final Four. Pokemon Gold and Silver's Ho-oh and Lugia, Sapphire and Ruby's Kyogre and Groudon, Diamond and Pearl's Dialga and Palkia, X and Y's Xerneas and Yveltal, and Sun and Moon's Solgaleo and Lunala all followed this pattern. Pokemon Black and White's Reshiram and Zekrom are an exception to this rule, but in this situation, players catch the legendary immediately after defeating the Elite Four and before battling the champion. SPOILERS FOLLOW for Pokemon Sword and Shield.
Pokemon Sword and Shield players will not catch their respective mascot, Zacian or Zamazenta, until after beating the Champion Cup and becoming Champion. While there's not an Elite Four, the Champion Cup plays a similar role, so many may have expected to run into their legendary before then. That's not the case. The legendary encounter that always happens does, players meet both Zacian and Zamazenta, and complete that subplot with their help.
However, after becoming Pokemon Sword and Shield's Champion, there's a plotline that follows the main story similar to Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire's Delta Episode. In it, players are able to catch the weather trio's third legendary, Rayquaza. In Sword and Shield, this post-championship episode results in the trainer catching their mascot legendary, nearly 3-4 hours after completing the Gym challenge, and resulting in a serious break from tradition.
In the main story, players actually end up catching Eternatus in lieu of either legendary and end up waiting until well after before they catch their mascot. It's practically a reverse of the Delta Episode, and for those who don't intend to play the game much beyond the main storyline, it severely limits how much time they can spend using their mascot.
Pokemon Sword and Shield is out now, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.
Image Credit: Prosafia Gaming