Pokémon Sword and Shield has online competitions, seasonal raids, and heaps of QOL changes

It’s that time of the week where The Pokémon Company graces us with new information about Pokémon Sword and Shield. They’ve been extremely reserved in their marketing of late, and because of that, this update isn’t a huge one. Rather, it’s a collection of small, interesting additions that are all vaguely related to competitive battling. And since there’s nothing else happening in the world of Pokémon this week, it’ll have to do. Yup, nothing else at all.

Online Competitions

Like previous Pokémon games, Sword and Shield will feature online competitions, with the first one starting right out of the gate. It’s called the Galar Beginnings competition, and it’ll run from the 6th of December to the 8th, after a signup period starting as soon as the game is released.

In the Galar Beginnings competition, you can only use Pokémon obtained in Sword and Shield — which is good, given there’ll be no way to obtain Pokémon obtained in any other games for several months at least. Unlike previous games, you won’t have to register on the Pokémon Global Link, with everything available in-game from the VS menu.

Seasonal Raids

Raids are a new feature to Pokémon Sword and Shield, offering a very GO-like chance to team up with your friends (or random players) around the world to take down a gigantic Dynamax Pokémon. Sometimes, players will encounter special raids with transformed Pokémon called Gigantamax Pokémon, but these are extremely rare. The solution? Seasonal raids, which increase the likelihood of a particular Gigantamax Pokémon appearing for a set amount of time.

From the game’s launch until January 2020, Gigantamax Butterfree will appear more commonly in raids for players of both Sword and Shield. In addition to this, in the same time period, players of Sword will see an increase in Gigantamax Drednaw raids, and players of Shield will see an increase in Gigantamax Corviknight raids. After January 2020, these Pokémon will still be available, they’ll just be a lot rarer.

Features and Items

And now it’s time for the “everything else” section. A bunch of really cool quality of life changes were revealed, most of which pertain to competitive battling. From being able to change natures (but not really), to the option to max out a Pokémon’s base stats using supplements, inheriting egg moves from breeding partners, and a new item called EXP Candy, which is kind of like Rare Candies but give a huge chunk of experience instead of flat levels. That means it’ll be more useful for bringing lower level Pokémon up, and less wasteful than pumping them up in levels using one Rare Candy at a time.

In addition to all of these, you’ll also be able to access your Pokémon PC boxes anywhere you like (except gyms), turn on auto-save just in case you’re forgetful when it comes to saving, and rename Pokémon received in trades — as long as they don’t have a nickname already, and only once. These are all extremely welcome additions, if not particularly exciting.

Pokémon Sword and Shield launch on the Nintendo Switch on the 15th of November — a little over a week from now. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our Bargain Roundup by clicking here to make sure you get the best deal.

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Oliver Brandt
News Editor, sometimes-reviewer, and Oxford comma advocate. If something's published on Vooks, there's a good chance I looked over it first. I spend way too much on games and use way too many em dashes.

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