This guide is still under development; the game just came out after all.
Controversy and “Dexit” aside, there’s a lot to like about Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield for the Switch. It’s an accommodating entry for newbies, the new Pokémon are cool and nifty (more on that on a future article), and there are some welcome tweaks to the tried-and-true RPG gameplay where your customizable trainer fights 8 gym leaders to be the best.
That isn’t going to stop us from helping you out though. The Galar forests and wildlands can be a treacherous Pokémon-filled trek; here are some tips to get you going.
Sneak up on Pokémon when traversing the tall grass.
Pokémon live in the tall grass—this much we already know. In Sword and Shield, you can see Pokémon on Routes and in the Wild Area with your own two eyes and walk into them to battle them, instead of having to trudge back and forth through the grass. If you tap your joystick gently, you can tiptoe through the grass without alerting the Pokémon in the area.
It’s worth it to just run full speed in the grass, though. There will be other Pokémon hiding in there that you can’t see in the overworld. If you run through the grass and see an exclamation point appear, run toward it. There are Pokémon you can catch this way that do not appear in the same area of the overworld.
Look out for sparkles.
If you see a glimmer on the ground, try to check it out. Those are items that you can pick up, and sometimes they’re worth big bucks. The collector character that will buy certain items for a higher price day to day returns as well, in Stow-on-Side. The items will also replenish over time, so don’t be afraid of exhausting them.
Turn on Casual Controls if you’re inside public transportation.
Pokémon has always been a mobile/portable game, so it makes sense for the next mothership title to be on the Switch. To make your experience more commute-friendly, turn on Casual Controls. This disables the right analogue stick, so instead of manually controlling the camera, it’ll shift and move toward whatever you’re running towards. Pretty handy if you rather play the game with one hand while on the go.
Start the game with Sobble.
If you have trouble picking one of the three starter Pokémon, and believe us when we say it’s pretty tough since all of them are cute and have decent stats and attacks, just go with Sobble. Since you’ll be tackling the first three gyms in this respective order -Grass, Water, Fire- you might as well pick the starter that will make your life easier in the long run. Your first major gym battle isn’t going to be that tough anyway.
Sort the differences between TMs and TRs.
TMs can be reused, so you can use this on as many Pokémon as you like. TRs break after us, so you’ll have to pick carefully which Pokémon gets this special skill(s).
Get your team up to speed.
Using the Rotomi in PokéCenters, you can send Pokémon out on Poké Jobs. These listings ask for a Pokémon of a specific type, and if you send multiples of the appropriate type, you’ll earn more experience when they come back. Pokémon can be sent on a job for up to an entire day, and they earn tens of thousands of experience in some of the more advanced jobs. Pokémon will also sometimes bring back a treat for you—usually either an item or cash.
Max Raids can also help you level up a Pokémon quickly. After completing a Raid, you earn Experience Candies, ranging in size from Small to Extra Large. The more difficult the Raid, the more likely you are to get Large or Extra Large candies.
Store a specialized Pokéball or two.
If you have trouble catching Pokémon even after whittling their health and using a regular Pokéball on them, you may want to buy a few specialized balls like Quick Balls (higher capture rate at the start of a fight) or Dusk Balls (higher rate in dark areas).
You can either buy them at Pokémon centres or get them for free from this one guy dressed as a Pokéball who hangs out at Gyms. If you want the more expensive balls, you can get the via Watt merchants in the Wild Area.
If you’ve played Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee, claim your free Pokémon.
You’ll be able to get the corresponding Pokémon in Sword and Shield. If you’ve got save data for either game on your machine, you can talk to an NPC in the train station at the Meet Up Spot right outside the Wild Area.
The woman standing in the Nursery on Route 5 will give you a Toxel, an adorable Poison/Electric-type that looks like a grumpy baby.
Sword or Shield?
Which version of the game should you get? Well, it depends on which exclusive Pokémon do you want. Here’s the breakdown:
- Galarian Farfetch’d
- Galarian Darumaka
- Galarian Darmanitan
- Galarian Ponyta
- Galarian Rapidash
- Galarian Corsola