Reviews for the new generation of Pokemon games dropped today, and if you haven't been on social media at all, congratulations! For everyone else, you've probably seen a lot of people voicing concern over Pokemon Sword and Shield, ranging from perceived faults in visuals to gameplay systems like Exp. Share, the latter of which the game's director has addressed.
In an interview posted yesterday on the Pokemon blog, Pokemon Sword and Shield director Shigeru Ohmori addressed the Exp. Share mechanic being locked into always being on. As he puts it, his team discovered that the "vast majority of players" leave Exp. Share on all the time anyways.
"When thinking of why players would want to turn it off, we thought it would primarily be to give Exp. Points to only one of the Pokémon in your party," Ohmori says. "We felt the same result could be achieved by players simply limiting the number of Pokémon in their party to one. That would be a more intuitive way to limit Exp. Point gains for most players."
If you're unfamiliar with it, the idea is that when you beat a Pokemon, the monster you currently have on the field gets experience, and the rest of your team on the bench gets some experience too. It's a good mechanic for helping under-levelled or mismatched-type Pokemon still develop. As producer Junichi Masuda notes in a previous answer, it's one of several mechanics meant to make it easier for trainers to not get outlevelled by the story campaign's gradual ramp-up in difficulty.
"We felt that it is important for all players who spend a lot of time with the games, even if they don't focus on battling, to be able to finish the main story," Masuda says.
But for the diehard Pokemon fan, Exp. Share has some ramifications. Without getting into the deep, granular mechanics of Pokemon, there are reasons you might not want certain Pokemon in your party when you're grinding levels for others, due to the way stat progression and values can evolve over time. Ohmori's answer is simple, to swap out Pokemon, and the always-available Box makes it so you don't have to go and swap out Pokemon each time.
Of course, having Exp. Share be a switch that's flipped on by default, but toggleable for those who really want direct control of it, is also a reasonable ask. Sadly, today has not been a day for reason; disillusioned fans, spurred on by cuts made to the National PokeDex and various leakers posting somewhat-suspect clippings of the game have been speaking out in harsh tones. It even sparked a counter-campaign prior to today's embargo lift, thanking the devs for their hard work.
As Nadia notes in our review impressions of Sword and Shield, this new Pokemon definitely has its rougher edges, and discussing those is certainly healthy. But hey, maybe blindly and glibly insulting developers isn't the best way of doing it, especially when they're clearly articulating their reasoning for these changes and methods you could use to get similar effects.
Pokemon Sword and Shield hits the Nintendo Switch this Friday, Nov. 15. Keep it tuned to our guides section, where we'll be adding more need-to-know info for the Galar region closer to launch.