Ever since the Pokemon Let’s Go games came out last year, it’s been clear that Nintendo and Game Freak have been eager to make the portable-centric Pokemon series more prominent on consoles, which have only played host to spin-offs throughout the decades. That eagerness will culminate in two days with Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield, the first-ever pair of mainline Pokemon RPGs not being released for a dedicated handheld.


The buildup to this week’s launch has been interesting, to say the least. More so than past games, the new games have managed to leave fans divided over the changes that were coming with the move to the Switch. For every exciting reveal like the new Dynamax feature that turns select Pokemon into giants, there was backlash-inducing news like the fact that not all of the series’ 800+ previous Pokemon would be appearing in the games. Combined with a number of other problems that early reviewers are discovering in Sword and Shield, it’s looking like these could prove to be the most polarizing set of Pokemon games in a long time.




But does that mean the games aren’t any good? If the pre-launch reviews coming out today are any indication, far from it, actually. Check out what a handful of them have to say:


IGN (Casey DeFreitas)


Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield are closer to my dream Pokemon RPGs than anything that’s come before. I’d still like better cutscenes, companion Pokemon, the complete Pokedex, and a more visually interesting Wild Area, but nitpicks are just not very effective when everything else was such a complete joy to play. The way they respect my time is wonderful, and the removal of monotony from random encounters and other odds and ends distills it down to only the pure and charming fun of capturing, training, and battling wonderful creatures. And hey, if I’m missing any tedious repetition, I can always get back into breeding.


Score: 9.3/10


GameSpot (Kallie Plagge)


With each new Pokemon game comes a new set of Pokemon, mechanics, and a region to discover, and Sword and Shield are no exception. The vibrant Galar region is a consistent delight to explore, incentivizing and rewarding collecting and battling in equal measure, and grandiose battles add an exciting dimension to the familiar Gym formula to deliver an engaging adventure beginning to end. But most notably, Sword and Shield cut down on the tedious and protracted elements from previous games in favor of amplifying what makes Pokemon great in the first place. This is the most balanced a Pokemon game has felt in a long time, and with that, Sword and Shield mark the best new generation of Pokemon games in years.


Score: 9/10


VG247 (Alex Donaldson)


Pokemon Sword & Shield is all too often a bit disappointing, and in some places actually feels a little unfinished, but it also fully provides that warm, fuzzy feeling that one expects from the series. Crucially, even through frustration, never once did I think about putting it down, which is to its credit.


Score: 3/5


Kotaku (Gita Jackson)


The magic of Pokémon is that it lets you tap into a sense of wonder that becomes more and more difficult to access as an adult. Sword and Shield do that more successfully than any Pokémon release has in years. It won’t be everything to everyone, and it will not make everyone happy. I’m not sure it needs to. It’s a portal to a new world. And it definitely has something for Pokémon’s core audience: everyone in the entire world.


Score: Unscored


Game Informer (Brian Shea)


It’s disappointing to have so many classic and fan-favorite creatures missing from this game’s Pokédex, but with hundreds of creatures to catch and add to my party, it didn’t significantly impact my experience. Pokémon Sword & Shield are strong first attempts for the series’ full transition to consoles. While some frustrations hold it back from true legendary status, this new generation proves the Pokémon franchise is still great more than two decades after its debut.


Score: 8.75/10





Nintendo Life (Alex Olney)


Pokémon Sword and Shield succeed in bringing some new ideas to the table, but they’re also somewhat guilty of not pushing things far enough. What’s done right is done right, but what’s done wrong feels like it’s come from a decade-old design document. There are moments contained within that are best the series has ever been, but this joy is at times spoiled by contrasting moments that left us disappointed and did not match up to the rest of what the rest of these games can offer. What we've got here is an experience full of highs and lows, from the unadulterated wonder and joy of seeing a brand-new Pokémon in a stadium full of cheering crowds, to the monotonous and dragged-out dialogue we just wanted to skip.


Score: 8/10


Eurogamer (Chris Tapsell)


Pokémon Sword and Shield project a sense of scale and ambition far beyond any previous ones in the series, but to take it back to those gargantuan new Dynamax forms, the size is merely a shadow. A shallow projection, in place of the real thing.


Score: Unscored


GamesRadar (Sam Loveridge)


Thankfully though, this is a seriously memorable Pokemon adventure. The story delivers enough twists and turns to keep you guessing, steeped in the kinds of myths and legends that you forget the British Isles are chock-full of. It might lack the puzzling areas of previous series' entries like Silph Co, but there's plenty to love about Pokemon Sword and Shield, especially the loveable cast of characters, and the impeccable attention to detail in the Galar region both visually and in terms of the regional dialogue. It's a great way to start the next core generation of Pokemon games.


Score: 4.5/5


In short, the next Pokemon games probably won’t win over those who’ve taken issue with its omission of the longstanding National Pokedex feature, especially in light of Game Freak’s plans to omit the National Dex for future games as well. And for those who’ve spent years embracing the “gotta catch ‘em all” spirit the franchise was born on, it will certainly be a hard blow that they won’t be able to take all of their Pokemon with them to the Galar region and beyond.


But for the average fan, they should have plenty to excite, in spite of the issues that came with the move to console. While they won’t be the true revolution many have been asking for, from the sound of it Pokemon Sword and Shield change things up enough to make the series formula feel the freshest it has been in years. If fans are still wondering if they should be excited for the next generation of Pokemon, it’s looking like they should.


Pokemon Sword and Shield come out on November 15 for the Switch.