Competitive battling has always been a niche community within the Pokemon franchise, and is notorious among casual fans for its high barrier of entry. Small tweaks and new features over the course of the last few main-series entries have done wonders for getting new players into the competitive scene, however Pokemon Sword and Shield are looking to overhaul this process and make it even more easy to raise a competitively viable team.
In an interview with Game Informer, Kazumasa Iwao (the planning director for Sword and Shield) teased what some of these new features will bring to the formula:
“Traditionally in the series, you start with your starter Pokémon and then you catch a lot of Pokémon in the beginning, and those are with you throughout your whole adventure, and the player gets attached to them. But a lot of times, they get into the competitive battles and they find they can’t actually use those Pokémon or they’re not competitive, so they have to go out and find the exact right Pokémon or breed them in a certain way to make sure they’re viable in competitive battle,” planning director Kazumasa Iwao says. “This time around, we really wanted to introduce some systems that help the player be able to take those Pokémon they caught in the beginning, and the first one they chose, and actually take them straight into competitive battle. There’s a lot of hidden parameters to Pokémon that aren’t surfaced to the player. We’re doing a lot of stuff in the back end introducing systems that allow players to make sure that Pokémon they want to use in competitive battles are viable.”
It seems that the team behind Sword and Shield has been paying a lot of attention to how competitive players raise their teams, and this statement acknowledges how many players feel about the tedious process. What’s interesting here is that Iwao teases a system involving making Pokemon that a player uses during their in-game play through able to be easily converted into more viable renditions for competitive play.
Iwao went on to say:
“…say you have a Pokémon where it’s got all the right stats and everything, but there’s a personality parameter as well that comes into play in battles, and it might not be the right personality, so you’ll breed until you get the right one, is what people do currently. But you’ll see that there’s a system in the game that will fix that for people.”
The system that will be in place looks to be a means of easily editing Pokemon that didn’t end up having the correct stats or nature that are a result of a casual play through or unsuccessful breeding attempts. According to Iwao, this is an attempt to give players the opportunity to use the Pokemon that have the most sentimental value to players in competitive play, whether they traveled through the Galar region with the player or took part of another journey in the back.
With the prospect of being easily able to edit Pokemon and make teams suitable for competitive battling in Pokemon Sword and Shield, the competitive scene will likely see a monumental spike in its player base. A once niche aspect of Pokemon will now be able to be experienced by players of all skill and interest without having to sacrifice hours or even days just to create a competitive team.
Once November rolls around, we may see a renaissance for competitive Pokemon, as surely a new wave of players will be looking to get into the action.
Images from Pokemon Sword and Shield and The Pokemon Company International
Read the full interview on Game Informer