Pokémon’s first mainline Nintendo Switch games are Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, The Pokémon Company has revealed. They’ll launch later this year.
The games are the first totally new, traditional RPGs in the series since Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon in 2017. A trailer showed the games’ fully 3D setting, with new areas and trainers. The region is called Galar, described as a more modern setting by director Shigeru Ohmori of Game Freak. It looks to be a factory-heavy one, with cranes, trains, and steelworks. The Pokémon Company adds that it is “idyllic countryside and contemporary cities — vast plains and snow-covered mountains.”
We also see trainers fighting in actual Pokémon stadiums — grassy arenas that resemble soccer fields. One trainer even walks out in a uniform, suggesting something more akin to the anime’s interpretation of the Pokémon world. Other areas include a mine, a library, a train station, and a much bigger, cuter hometown than ever before. (Ivy-covered door frames!) But as seen in the map above, the Galar region also certainly has plenty of snow to trek through; it also looks much more north- and south-oriented than previous worlds, which should make for an interesting journey.
Sword and Shield will feature actual wild Pokémon battles, unlike the most recent Nintendo Switch games, and the usual trainer battles. There will be both new Pokémon and the reappearance of Pokémon from previous generations. (We saw monsters like Pikachu, Tyranitar, and Munchlax, for example.) There will also be the return of actual Pokémon gyms, according to the games’ website. The seventh-generation games, Sun and Moon, replaced these with island trials, a fun diversion from the usual Pokémon mold — but we missed proper battles against gym leaders and trainers. (Although none were seen in the trailer today, unfortunately.)
Also shown were the newest trio of starters toward the end of the debut trailer: grass-type Grookey, fire-type Scorbunny, and water-type Sobble.
Sadly, no other new Pokémon were shown, including the starters’ evolutions, but we have time to see more before launch.
This morning’s Pokémon Nintendo Direct presentation was timed with the franchise’s birthday. Pokémon turns 23 today, with the original Game Boy games having launched in Japan on Feb. 27, 1996.
The Pokémon Company first announced in 2017 that Pokémon games for Switch were in the works. In spring 2018, those games were revealed: Pokémon: Let’s Go!, a pair of newcomer-friendly Pokémon Yellow remakes. At E3 later that same year, the company made sure to tell fans that there were more hardcore, traditional, new Pokémon spirits also destined for the console.
Earlier this year, Nintendo confirmed a late 2019 window for the next Pokémon games, in line with the traditional release schedule for the series. Let’s Go! launched on Switch in November, much like the previous mainline RPGs in previous years.
For more from Sword and Shield, check out the gallery below.