Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Pokemon Sword and Shield is too easy

As I skipped a lot of Nintendo consoles in my life, I played relatively few Pokemon games. However, I always recognized that behind the child-friendly exterior of the Pokemon games there lurked thr most hardcore of all turn-based combat systems, which made the games interesting to adults as well. And up to Pokemon Let’s Go I enjoyed the few Pokemon games I have been playing. Now, in my last week of summer holidays playing Nintendo Switch games, I started Pokemon Sword. And I don’t like it so much. It appears that the more hardcore aspects of the game have been deliberately pushed behind a paywall of Nintendo Switch Online and Pokemon Home Premium, while the basic game has been dumbed down and made far too easy.

There are two related big changes to the base game: The wild area and the camping system. The wild area is a new “open worldish” area, which is larger than the usual zones (although still small compared to other open world games). And in this wild area you can collect respawning treasures and farm “max raid” dens. That is A) very easy, and B) extremely profitable, so that after a bit of doing so you are swimming in money and items, making the rest of the game economy pretty much obsolete. And in the wild area you learn how to do camping, aka resting between battles, and you can keep doing that outside the wild area as well. Camping allows you to cook, which restores the health and moves of your Pokemon, as well as giving them experience points. XP for resting? Really?!?  If you combine the treasure hunt in the wild area giving you thousands of credits with the greengrocer selling you berries for cooking for 80 credits, you end up being able to camp and cook whenever you want, even in the middle of a dungeon. Your Pokemon will never run out of the Power Points you need for your moves, or run low on health over time. That completely kills the resource economy of the previous games, and makes the whole campaign ridiculously easy.

Meanwhile, the judge function you need to see whether a Pokemon you caught has good stats is only available either after finishing the campaign, or by paying for Pokemon Home Premium. The game basically tells you that you don’t need to worry whether your Pokemon are any good until after the campaign, where you can do online PvP battles, if you pay for the Nintendo Switch Online service. The PvE game got dumbed down to the point where you don’t need to care whether you Pokemon have good stats. As Pokemon Sword doesn’t even have basic quality of life features like the ability to automatically sort Pokemon, you can just get away with building a team out of the relatively good Pokemon you easily get from max raid dens and just ignore the previous “gotta catch them all” Pokemon collection game. For somebody like me, who isn’t interested in paying for post-game PvP modes, the basic PvE game is now far too easy to be really enjoyable. The balance that the resource management of previous versions of the game brought simply isn’t there anymore, making the single-player experience a rather boring one already pretty early on in the game. Not recommended!

Pokemon as a franchise feels like it's still stuck in the early 2000s. Idk how many of the other games you have played but the issues you describe aren't isolated to Sword and Shield. You can steamroll any of the older games without caring about types or stats. The reason it's more obvious in the newer games is because they toss so much xp at you that you don't have to grind battles to become over leveled.

I liked Let's go because of the nostalgia trip of playing Gen 1 again but the mainline games have been disappointing for years. It's a shame because this was Gamefreaks chance to do a Breath of the Wild type change and really change up the franchise but they decided to play it safe and release the same old thing we've had for years now.

These days when I want my Pokemon fix I go and play one of the Rom hacks as those are infinitely more interesting.
There's a pokemon like game out at the moment getting a lot of favourable reviews from the pokemon crowd called Temtem, its on PC might be worth taking a look.
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