Today's Nintendo Direct filled in a lot of blanks about the upcoming Pokemon games, Sword and Shield. We knew we were heading to the Galar region, but today we learned about the region's distinct biomes, new Pokemon, new characters, and making our Pokemon really, really big.
It may have been only 15 minutes or so, but it was packed full of new facts. Here's everything we learned from today's Pokemon Direct, just ahead of Nintendo's E3 2019 Direct.
There are new Pokemon!
We got a look at some of the new Pokemon natural to the Galar region. Wooloo look like sheep with big fluffy fur, that is apparently used for craft goods. Gossifleur is a Grass-type Pokemon whose pollen has healing properties, and it evolves into Eldegoss, a dandelion-esque Grass-type with seeds on its head. Drednaw is a large Pokemon with giant jaws that can bite through rock. Finally, Corviknight is a "flying taxi," who can take the player back to towns they've already visited.
Game Freak also confirmed that many familiar faces would be returning. Pokemon like Raichu and Growlithe were all spottable in the trailer, so those with favorites in the older generations should be set. The Pokemon Home system should also allow for porting forward a lot of your favorites anyways.
The biggest announcement, both figuratively and literally, is the introduction of Dynamax, which boosts a Pokemon's power and size to titanic proportions. It can only be used once during battle and lasts for three turns, but it seems like an evolution of the super moves from Sun and Moon.
Using Dynamax also powers up your Pokemon's moves to Max Moves, which can have different effects. The Normal-type Max Move, Max Strike, also lowers the Speed of an opponent it hits, for example. What moves they get will depend on the moves they know when they Dynamax. You'll need a Dynamax Band to be able to Dynamax your Pokemon as well.
Max Raid Battle
This is a new battle format where multiple trainers can team up to fight one wild Dynamax Pokemon. The wild Pokemon will stay in its Dynamax form the whole time and have unique powers, forcing the trainers to work together. That's right, Pokemon has raids now.
You can either fight alongside friends or strangers using Nintendo Switch Online, or if three trainers aren't available, support trainers will be automatically added to your team. If you defeat the Dynamax Pokemon, you'll have a chance to catch it as well. According to a press release from Nintendo, some Pokemon can only be caught in Max Raid Battles. I wonder if this opens the door for special timed raids?
The vast expanse of land between towns and cities can be inhabited by many different Pokemon. In Sword and Shield, the types of Pokemon around will change depending on weather or location. You can also move the camera around and move a bit more freely, in a way that feels almost a little Breath of the Wild-like. The plains, deserts, and other wilds of Galar look gorgeous, so it feels like it'll be easy to get lost in a good way.
Pokemon Gyms in the Galar region are definitely akin to soccer stadiums, which is fitting for the region's UK theme. Gym Leaders can also Dynamax their Pokemon, leading to giant fights in these stadiums that seem a bit unsafe for the thousands of onlookers. Game Freak showed off one leader, Milo; he's the Grass gym leader who always enjoys battles and is well-liked. That's a shame, because we're taking his badge.
The People of Galar
Of course, there are other people you meet on your journey. Leon is the current champion of the Galar region, and is extremely popular. Hop is his younger brother and your rival, as you set out on your journeys to become Champion on the same day. Professor Magnolia is the Pokemon Professor of the Galar region, who has been researching the Dynamax phenomenon with help from her granddaughter Sonia, who offers help and advice to the player.
The Direct closed with a look at the Galar regions' legendary Pokemon, Zacian and Zamazenta. Zacian holds a shifting blade that can cut through anything, and reminds me a lot of Sif from Dark Souls. Zamazenta has a shield covering its body, and can turn back any opponent. They both look really cool, and also like very good Pokemon who can do no wrong and are perfect.
Finally, we have a release date! Pokemon Sword and Shield will be coming to the Nintendo Switch on November 15, 2019 for the Nintendo Switch. Game Freak also teased a double-pack of Sword and Shield, with details to come later.
Overall, it was an exciting Direct with a lot of information about the next big entry in the Pokemon series. The Galar region looks like a cool place to explore, it's a lot more open than previous games, and Dynamaxing looks like a blast. I cannot wait to Dynamax my Arcanine and wipe the stadium with Milo's team.
Look forward to more news from Nintendo as we get closer to their E3 Direct on June 11. Keep up to date on all things E3 with our E3 2019 guide.