Pokemon Sword & Shield Take Online Battling More Seriously Than Past Games
Ranked Battles, official competitions, and more online battling options are coming in the new Switch Pokemon games.
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The Pokemon Company dropped a new trailer for Sword and Shield ahead of this weekend's Pokemon World Championships. Fittingly given the occasion, the video focuses primarily on new battle mechanics that are being introduced, and now the official Pokemon website has shared more details about how online battling will work in the titles.
Like previous Pokemon games, Sword and Shield will give players the ability to connect online and battle other trainers around the world via the Battle Stadium. This time, however, it appears your battling options have been expanded significantly. First, the games are introducing a Ranked mode. In Ranked Battles, you'll be matched up against other players of a similar rank, and you'll earn points depending on the outcome of your matches and potentially raise your standing.
Ranks are divided up into several different tiers, with the competition getting stiffer as you ascend the ladder. There will also be different Ranked seasons. The Pokemon Company notes that players' ranks will "go down a certain amount at the end of each season before being carried over to a new season."
For less competitive players, there will also be a Casual Battles mode, where wins and losses don't matter. On top of that, Casual Battles allow players to use certain Legendary and Mythical Pokemon that would normally be barred from Ranked Battles. Both Casual and Ranked modes support two battle formats: Single (each player has one Pokemon on the field at a time) or Double (each player has two Pokemon on the field at a time).
In addition to the new Battle modes, Sword and Shield will feature two different types of Online Competitions: Official and Friendly. The former are held by Nintendo and feature different rules and restrictions, like the tournaments regularly held through the Global Link service for Pokemon Sun/Moon and their Ultra counterparts. A chance to participate in the Sword and Shield World Championships may also be on the line as part of some Official Competitions. Friendly Competitions, meanwhile, can be hosted by any player.
If you don't have your own team of battle-ready Pokemon, you'll have the option to use rental teams in both Casual and Ranked matches. You can read more details about all of the online battling options on the official Pokemon website.
Players will need to have a Nintendo Switch Online membership to make use of the Battle Stadium and other online features, such as trading and Max Raid Battles. Subscriptions are available for US $4 / £3.49 / AU $6 for one month, US $8 / £7 / AU $12 for three months, and US $20 / £18 / AU $30 for one year. Nintendo also offers an annual Family Membership that costs US $35 / £31.49 / AU $55 and covers up to eight Nintendo Accounts across multiple Switch systems.
As previously mentioned, Pokemon Sword and Shield's latest trailer revealed a handful of new Pokemon Abilities and held items that will shake up battle strategies considerably, such as Galarian Weezing's Neutralizing Gas, which mitigates the Ability of every Pokemon on the field, including your own in Double battles. We also got a look at the Eject Pack; when equipped, it will cause your Pokemon to automatically switch out of battle if its stats are lowered.
Pokemon Sword and Shield launch for Nintendo Switch on November 15, just a few days after Nintendo releases a special Pokemon edition Nintendo Switch Lite. You can see all of the new Gen 8 Pokemon revealed so far in our gallery. For more info about the titles, including where you can secure a copy, be sure to check out our Pokemon Sword and Shield pre-order guide.
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