According to Game Informer’s interview with Game Freak, a number of quality of life changes are coming to Pokemon Sword and Shield.
Absence of Hidden Machines
Those who have played Pokemon before know that trainers obtain Hidden Machines throughout the games. Trainers can use these to teach their Pokemon moves that allow them to remove obstacles and access new areas. In the interview, Mr. Iwao, the planning director, shared that the team didn’t feel that the use of HMs matched their theme of focusing on the wild in the overworld. He added that relying on HMs felt restrictive and, in order to facilitate their wish to give trainers the freedom to explore areas filled with wild Pokemon, they needed to forego the feature in favor of new means of traversal.
Back when HMs were necessities, players were forced to teach them to Pokemon just so they could continue to the next area. While it wouldn’t have been a problem had all HMs been useful in both the overworld and in battle, this was not the case. Although some HMs like Surf proved to be a valuable asset due to their high base power and their use in travel, others like Rock Smash were more of a liability in battle. This often caused situations where players had to go regularly travel to the Pokemon Center to change their roster.
Exp. Share is automatically enabled
For those not in the know, Exp. Share reduced training time by carrying over some experience to Pokemon in the party that were not involved in a battle. In the interview with the director, Mr. Ohmori stated that the Exp. Share is now active by default. As a result, it will no longer occupy a slot in the bag.
The interview with Mr. Ohmori also touched on the feature of auto-saves. According to Mr. Ohmori, the team wished to carry over the notion of seamless play not only through exploration but also in areas where players have to interact with Pokemon. Interaction in this sense deals with connecting your game with another player such as when trading. In order to accomplish this, Mr. Ohmori shared that the team is working on bringing auto-saving to the whole game. In other words, auto-save will be implemented for both areas with wild Pokemon and those without. While the feature to record save progress on its own is great, he added that players who enjoy manually recording their progress still have the option of turning it off.
The lack of the National Pokedex
The most popular topic surrounding Pokemon Sword and Shield was the removal of the National Pokedex. In the interview, the team dove into the discussion with Mr. Masuda, the games’ producer. When asked about the prospect of obtaining Pokemon that didn’t make the cut, Mr. Masuda announced that the Pokemon will return in future titles. While he didn’t elaborate on the discussion, Mr. Masuda stressed the importance of their new app, Pokemon Home. He said that Pokemon Home will be even better than its predecessor, Pokemon Bank. He further stated that it serves to bring Pokemon together in one spot. At present, Pokemon Home remains a mystery due to the scarcity of information.
Battle other trainers with your favorite Pokemon
Those who remember Elite Four Karen’s line about choosing your favorites are in for a treat. In the current installments, Mr. Iwao, the planning director, mentioned that players can now enjoy using their beloved Pokemon in competitive battles. In older games, players had to redo training an entire party by choosing Pokemon with the right nature and stats. The method involved a lengthy process of putting a pair of Pokemon in the daycare, hatching eggs, and then replacing them. For players who did not have access to Pokemon with optimal stats, this usually involved extra work to receive some. The process became gradually easier throughout the series, with the newer games adding new features to breeding to make it less tedious than in previous installments.
In Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield, the team took it up a notch by implementing a system where even the trainer’s starter Pokemon can be battle-ready after undergoing some rigorous training. When asked to describe, Mr. Iwao stated that he could only go as far as to mention that the Pokemon’s personality can be altered through a new system. Despite all these efforts to revolutionize the way Pokemon works, Mr. Iwao commended players who take the time to assemble a party of six using conventional methods. He added that the new system does not replace the old one. He hoped that by making the games more accessible, he can convince others to enjoy competitive battling as well.
On top of that, he said that players who brought some of their Pokemon from other games can also enjoy competitive battling. This is in contrast to the previous games, where players who participated in competitive battles could only use Pokemon that came from those games. For instance, in Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, players could only use a Pikachu if they caught or obtained it in the Alola region.
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