Pokémon: 5 Things Sword and Shield Did Wrong

Pokémon: 5 Things Sword and Shield Did Wrong

Pokémon Sword and Shield are the Pokémon franchise’s eighth generation of games. Since even before their release, they have been a point of contention in online fan communities who argue that they fall short of previous generations, especially considering the processing power available to them on Nintendo Switch. Even now, two years after launch, players continue to compare The Pokémon Company’s most recent games with fan-made ROM hacks, previous generations and upcoming projects to point out Sword and Shield’s flaws.

However, in online discourse, it’s easy to lose sight of the specific complaints players level against the games and instead write them off as collectively controversial. It’s important to look past the criticisms of both Game Freak and angry players to analyze the exact issues fans have with Sword and Shield. Here are the five most prevalent ones.

Lackluster Graphics

Perhaps the most commonly noted complaint towards Pokémon Sword and Shield has to do with its somewhat unimpressive graphics. While many players were hoping Generation VIII would look like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the finished product seemed to make little progress from its predecessor, Sun and Moon. Players online often point out the Wild Area relatively polygonal and crude assets in comparison with outdoor features of similar games on Switch.

Additionally, some have expressed frustration with the Pokémon themselves, which look similar in quality and definition to how they appeared in previous generations that ran on significantly weaker hardware. Many criticize the models and animations for seeming to have been made with little effort or passion. Many attack animations involve Pokémon models simply freezing in place halfway through a move, and turning around in the overworld usually means entering a walk cycle, rotating around a point in the center of their body, and then moving.

Lack Of Independence

Another major complaint leveled against the Gen VIII games is the lack of independent gameplay they allow. For example, there are many moments of dialogue where the player is presented with two or more response options that effectively mean the same thing. This is not unheard of in Pokémon games, but the frequency with which they occur in Sword and Shield is astounding.

This detail alone is only mildly irritating, but this fundamental trend of refusing to allow the player to make meaningful decisions carries over to almost every part of the game. Players are constantly interrupted by NPCs telling them where to go and what to do, and there is almost no room for free exploration or discovery. At times, the game feels less like a grand adventure and more like a movie players have to mash through.

An Uninspired Region

One reason for the game constantly ushering players through the region could be to hide the fact that Galar itself actually contains very little to do outside of the immediate plot. With routes that seem at times like nothing more than hallways from one town to the next and almost no room for exploration, it can feel like the game tries to pull players from one plot point to another.

In fact, trying to go back down routes from earlier in the game (with the exception of the Wild Area) makes the player realize that the front-facing camera actually dissuades them from backtracking by making it nearly impossible to see where you’re going. Not just the design, but also the ingenuity of the region is lacking. With areas like Galar Mine and Galar Mine No. 2, it is hard to believe that some of these locations were created for anything but to serve as typical placeholders in the story.

Frequent Interruptions

Many of the game’s flaws manifest themselves though Sword and Shield‘s many interruptions. While repeatedly being told over your entire stay in Hulbury to go to The Seafood Restaurant next is annoying for a plethora of reasons, it is especially frustrating that it halts the player’s progress. Interruptions can range from several minutes of dialogue to short cutscenes that simply hinder player progress for a few moments, but the sheer volume of them that exist in the game add up.

In a game that is already filled with “good interruptions” like trainer battles and plot events, it can be especially frustrating when you round a corner and see Hop waiting for you at the end of a path to tell you something. There is even a point where the player is told to find Sonia with the guidance of her Yamper, which interrupts you to bark, turn and run uphill three times in what should be a ten second jog up a straight path.

Removed Features

Perhaps the biggest complaint of all is that Pokémon Sword and Shield removed a great deal of features on top of falling short on the new ones. This includes a first for the series: removing nearly half of the Pokémon from previous generations at launch. Many of these cuts, particular in regards to the Pokédex, were done to increase the quality of the game — but that only makes the issues with Sword and Shield‘s quality more frustrating.

Looking back on previous generations and their ability to include new features on systems with a fraction of the processing power, it’s easy to see why so many fans were disappointed by Sword and Shield. These are only a few of the problems that players have noted about the game, but they are the most glaring one, all of which are made worse by the sacrifices the game makes in the name of quality.

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