On today's Pokemon Direct presentation, Game Freak's Shigeru Ohmori and Junichi Masuda introduced the new way that the lifespan of Pokemon Sword and Shield's Galar region will be extended. In lieu of following up the games with another standalone installment set in the same region, Pokemon Sword and Shield will each receive Expansion Passes that add new environments, Pokemon, Gigantamax forms, characters, fashion items, and more.
The Expansion Passes for both titles will deliver content in two chunks: the first, due in June 2020, will take players to the new Isle of Armor, while the Fall 2020 installment will be set in the Crown Tundra. The passes cost $29.99 each—just as with the base games, the passes for Sword and Shield will contain slightly different content and need to be purchased separately.
Hiroyuki Tani, Game Freak's director for the Expansion Passes, introduced both the Isle of Armor and the Crown Tundra following a sizzle reel centered on the various Pokemon set to appear in the new areas. On the Isle of Armor, players will train under the tutelage of a new character, Mustard, alongside a new rival: Klara, a Poison-type trainer in Sword, or Avery, a Psychic-type trainer, in Shield. There, players will also have a chance at catching a new fighting-type legendary Pokemon named Kubfu. Kubfu evolves into Urshifu, a Pokemon with two different fighting style-based forms.
The icy expanses of the Crown Tundra seem more focused on adding even more legendary monsters to the Sword and Shield roster in souped-up endgame content. In addition to new legendaries such as Calyrex (said to have ruled all of Galar) and what appear to be new elemental additions to the Regi-family, a whole host of legendary monsters from previous generations will be found in the tundra. Some of these will be encountered in new co-op Dynamax battles that take place in Pokemon dens.
In all, Game Freak promises that over 200 "well-known" Pokemon will return in the expansion passes. Whether or not this will sate the "Dexit" crowd, it's quite something to see the Pokemon series step away from Black and White 2 or Ultra Sun and Moon-esque mid-cycle releases and release straightforward DLC. Even more interesting is the fact that, Expansion Pass or not, Sword and Shield owners will receive an update that allows them to trade for Pokemon found only at the Isle of Armor or Crown Tundra, so if there's just one Pokemon in the DLC you've been pining after, you won't necessarily need to buy it.