Pokémon Sword & Pokémon Shield reviews have started to go live ahead of the Switch game’s release on Friday.
At the time of publication, the game has a Metascore of 81 based on over 20 reviews. While it’s largely scoring well, some critics have highlighted what they feel is a lack of ambition when it comes to introducing new ideas to the long-running series.
Eurogamer wrote in its review: “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.”
Announced in February, Pokémon Sword & Pokémon Shield is the first core entry in the RPG series to be released on a home console.
Developed by Game Freak, it’s set in the UK-inspired Galar region. Starter Pokémon include curious grass-type chimp Grookey, energetic fire-type rabbit Scorbunny, and stealthy water-type lizard Sobble.
Sword and Shield is also the first main entry in the series that doesn’t include every Pokémon.
Pokémon Sword & Shield review round-up
- Nintendo Life (8/10) – “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.”
- VG247 (3/5) – “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.”
- Eurogamer (no score) – “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.”
- IGN (9.3/10) – “Pokemon Sword and Shield are the best games in the series, streamlining its most tedious traditions without losing any of the charm.”
- Games Radar (4.5/5) – “Gameplay tweaks and attention to detail make Pokemon Sword and Shield the most compelling Pokemon world to date.”
- Metro (7/10) – “The furore over Dexit may be overblown but even without it this is an underwhelming and unambitious attempt to modernise Pokémon and expand its horizons.”
- The Verge (no score) – “Pokemon Sword and Shield are the best Pokemon games in years. The shift to console makes the latest Pokémon bigger and more exciting.”
- GameSpot (9/10) – “In collecting, battling, and exploring, Sword and Shield cut out the bloat and focus on what makes these pillars of the Pokemon games so captivating in the first place..”
- EGM (4/5) – “The first new-generation Pokémon game to release on a proper home console does not disappoint…. It’s just a shame that Game Freak didn’t lean into the new features more than they did.”
- Game Informer (8.75/10) – “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.”
- Daily Star (3/5) – “Pokémon Sword and Shield are not bad games. But fun character arcs and inventive, creative designs of new ‘mon are often offset by poor pacing and restrictive world design.”
- Kotaku (no score) – “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.”
- Polygon (no score) – “Make no mistake, Sword and Shield is not an open-world game. There are limitations. But the game’s designed for me not to notice them, and mostly, I don’t”
The unpopular decision to limit the amount of legacy characters in Pokémon Sword and Shield came under further scrutiny on Wednesday, after it was reportedly confirmed that the Switch game reuses some models from older Pokémon games.
Game Freak is increasingly prioritising original game creation as part of its Gear Project initiative, programmer and director Masayuki Onoue has told VGC.