How Pokemon Sword & Shield's Raid Battles Work

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During a Nintendo Treehouse Live segment directly following Nintendo's E3 2019 Direct presentation, we learned more about Pokemon Sword and Shield's Max Raid Battles. The games' producer, Junichi Masuda, and director, Shigeru Ohmori, were on stage detailing some of the features we were first introduced to during the June 5 Pokemon Direct; this included a demo of a Max Raid Battle, in which four players team up to take down an incredibly powerful Pokemon.

In Sword and Shield, Max Raids involve Dynamaxed Pokemon, or Pokemon who have become huge in size and more powerful. Up to four players can queue up to Raid, and once they're all ready, they each choose one Pokemon to take into the battle. In this case, the Max Raid Pokemon was a giant Steelix, who was shown in silhouette before the battle.

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Once in the Raid, each player chooses their next move like any other Pokemon battle. Previews of these attacks seem to appear in the top-left corner of the screen, signaling each Pokemon's next move--they're icons representing things like attacks or defensive moves like Reflect. This seems to be a feature designed to help players strategize during the Raid.

Additionally, we saw that the Max Raid Pokemon can (or will) put up a barrier shield at some point in the battle. A five-section meter for this barrier appears under its HP, and the Pokemon will not take damage until the barrier has been broken, like how a Substitute works. The barrier seems to be unaffected by the involved Pokemon's type advantages or stats, so even weaker Pokemon can contribute to taking down the barrier. In this particular demo, once the barrier fell, Steelix's defense and special defense harshly fell, making it easier to take it down. After the Max Raid Pokemon's HP is knocked out, each player has a chance to catch it.

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