When Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee released on the Nintendo Switch, the series traditional random encounters system was replaced with a new feature that allowed for wild Pokemon to appear in the overworld. For Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield, developer Game Freak has opted for a new hybrid system with the introduction of the Wild Area and it looks like online multiplayer is going to play a major role.

The Wild Area in Pokemon Sword and Shield is a large open-world location in the center of the Galar Region where players will be able to explore freely with an unlocked camera, and discover new Pokemon to catch and trainers to battle. The Wild Area will have a combination of visible Pokemon in the overworld, random encounters, a new rare encounter system, and feature some Pokemon that are drastically over-leveled.

According to GamesRadar+, Pokemon Sword and Shield's Wild Area is also going to feature a "constantly connected" multiplayer component that will allow players to interact with each other online whenever they're exploring the area. In an interview with The Pokemon Company, Game Freak producer Junichi Masuda stated that players will be able to see "players from around the world appearing in your game," as well as locally connected players on the same system.

Game Freak is looking to provide players with more variety in gameplay and offer new kinds of experiences never before seen in a core Pokemon RPG. "If you want to focus on the story, you can do that and go through the gym challenge," explains Masuda. "But, if you want to challenge yourself in a different way, perhaps you can go into the wild area, search out a lot of new and rare Pokemon that will come out, and the very strong Pokemon that you can encounter.

pokemon sword shield galar region map

The Wild Area is one of the most intriguing parts of Pokemon Sword and Shield. While it's disappointing that not all Pokemon will be visible in the overworld like the Pokemon Let's Go games, having an always-connected hub-world similar to the Destiny 2 Tower and the fact that the area is equivalent to two regions in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is more than enough to be excited about.

According to the official guidebook, Pokemon Sword and Shield will have at least 500 Pokemon in the National Dex. Combining a large number of unique Pokemon in the Wild Area with Game Freak's first attempt at an MMO-like "constantly connected" online world has the potential to create one of the best new features to a Pokemon game in years.

Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield release on November 15, exclusively on Nintendo Switch.

Source: GamesRadar+