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Pokemon Sword & Shield: The Biggest Takeaways From February's Pokemon Direct

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It's a whole new world, but you still gotta catch 'em all.

At long last, Nintendo and The Pokemon Company have given fans their first look at Pokemon Sword and Shield, the upcoming "core" Pokemon RPGs for Nintendo Switch. The games are slated to release in late 2019 and take place in an entirely new region called Galar, which seems to be inspired by Britain.

Like other regions in the Pokemon series, Galar is a vast and varied backdrop, spanning beautiful countryside and snowy mountains. It's also home to an array of new and familiar Pokemon, including a new starter trio: the Grass-type chimp Grookey, the Fire-type rabbit Scorbunny, and the Water-type lizard Sobble.

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Now Playing: Pokemon Sword & Shield Nintendo Switch Release Window, Starters, And More Revealed - GS News Update

Beyond that initial glimpse at the titles, The Pokemon Company hasn't divulged many details about Pokemon Sword and Shield just yet, but the games' announcement trailer did reveal a few other noteworthy tidbits (and tease some mysteries). Here are the biggest takeaways from the trailer.

Random Encounters And Wild Pokemon Battles Appear To Be Back

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The latest Pokemon games, Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee, caused some ripples among fans for eschewing wild Pokemon battles in favor of Pokemon Go-like capture mechanics. As we see early on in the new trailer, however, it seems wild Pokemon battles are once again a central component of Sword and Shield. In the video, the player trainer encounters a Pikachu while exploring a patch of grass, and she sends out a Minccino to battle it.

Moreover, it appears the upcoming games will revert back to random encounters, much like older titles. In Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee, players were able to spot wild Pokemon on the overworld before engaging them, but the trailer for Sword and Shield suggests that Pokemon will once again randomly beset you when you walk through tall grass, caves, and other environments.

Gyms Are Returning

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One of the ways Pokemon Sun and Moon shook up the series' formula was by replacing Gyms, a staple of the franchise since the days of Pokemon Red and Blue, with a new type of challenge called trials. As we see in the trailer, Game Freak is bringing Gyms back for Sword and Shield. In keeping with tradition, each is themed around a specific Pokemon type, and players will need to conquer all of them as they journey across the Galar region in order to become a Pokemon Champion.

Sword And Shield Are Still Very Traditional Pokemon Games

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Prior to Sword and Shield's reveal, there was much speculation over whether the upcoming Switch games would be a dramatic departure for the series. Every new Pokemon generation carries with it certain expectations, and that was especially true of Sword and Shield, which are the first new generation to debut on a home console. As such, many fans expected it to be a Breath of the Wild-type leap forward for the franchise.

As was evident in the trailer, however, Sword and Shield are at their heart still very much traditional Pokemon games. While the titles are indisputably vaster and more beautiful than any previous entries, they stick closely to established Pokemon conventions. That certainly isn't to say they won't introduce new elements to the series. The Pokemon Company has only given us a cursory glimpse at the games, so it's much too early to tell whether or not there will be other notable differences. Based on what we've seen, however, longtime fans should know what to expect from the adventure.

You Can Wear Different Outfits

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Since Pokemon X and Y, each successive Pokemon RPG has placed a greater emphasis on character customization, and it appears that trend will continue in Sword and Shield. While we don't yet know if you will again be able to customize your trainer's physical appearance, it at least appears you'll be able to don different outfits. Throughout the announcement trailer, you can see the male player character wearing a red shirt and beanie, but toward the end of the video, he can be seen wearing a soccer-like outfit.

Pokemon Sword and Shield launch for Nintendo Switch in late 2019. We don't yet know how many new monsters the pair will introduce, but the announcement video did show off a number of returning Pokemon; you can see every Pokemon from the trailer here. For more news about the titles, be sure to check out our Pokemon Direct recap.

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Kevin Knezevic

Kevin Knezevic is an associate news editor who has been writing for GameSpot since 2017. Star Fox Adventures is good and he will die on that hill.

Pokemon Sword / Shield

Pokemon Sword / Shield

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