Pokemon Sword and Shield Ditches the Trainer School, Much to Everyone's Relief

Pokemon Sword and Shield Ditches the Trainer School, Much to Everyone's Relief

I learned how to catch Pokemon from a drunk old man, and that's good enough for me.

Pokemon Sword and Shield is preparing to land. Some outlets got to go hands-on with the latest Pokemon adventure for a hefty chunk of time, and some of the changes and features being reported on are interesting. Nintendo Life's preview offers a particularly enticing tidbit of news: The dreaded "tutorial sequence," the long-winded scourge of modern Pokemon games, is greatly streamlined in Pokemon Sword and Shield.

"The tutorial finally takes a back seat. It's glorious," says Nintendo Life's Alex Olney to the brief accompaniment of a singing angel choir. Olney says you still receive instruction on how to capture a Pokemon, but it's "less of an information overload." He goes on to describe how important Pokemon-netting lessons are baked into your traditional first fight with your rival. Most notably, when a bystander notes you're clearly versed in how Pokemon types work, you can answer "Yes" and (presumably) skip any further lecturing on the decades-old mechanic.

Olney admits he was trying to blast through his trial time quickly as possible—he was only allowed to play the game for 90 minutes—so he might have missed some tutorial triggers. Regardless, what he's played so far seems immensely preferable to forcing you to attend "Trainer School," which is how you kick off Pokemon Sun and Moon. Olney, and others who went hands-on with Sword and Shield, was able to access the game's sprawling "open area" quite quickly. By the way, there are massively over-levelled Pokemon wandering around outside, so tread carefully.

The Pokemon series faces a unique accessibility challenge since it's beloved by kids and adults alike. It needs to be friendly to newcomers, but that doesn't mean it should bore the pants off veterans. It sounds like Game Freak is trusting players to find their own way in Sword and Shield. Really, it'll be fine. Countless kids learned how to catch Pokemon from a drunk old man blocking the only exit from Pallet Town, and we all turned out kind of OK.

Pokemon Sword and Shield comes to the Switch on November 15. Don't forget to check out our Pokemon Sword and Shield guides to prepare for the big day.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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