Pokemon Sword and Shield | Release date, starters, Galar region, and everything we know

Pokemon Sword and Shield are, if you excuse the pun, finally out in the wild. Gen 8 of the core Pokemon series will come out on Nintendo Switch later this year, but plenty of questions remain unanswered. We still don’t know much about the starters, the Galar region, if it’ll have Pokemon Go functionality, and more. Find out what we do know with our Pokemon Sword and Shield guide.

Pokemon Sword and Shield | Release date

pokemon sword and shield

The Pokemon Direct for Pokemon Sword and Shield revealed that both games would be released in late 2019. This is in keeping with what Nintendo had announced previously, but any definitive date is yet to be revealed.

Late 2019 means that we likely won’t see the games until October at the earliest. If we were to hazard a guess on a possible release date, sometime around Thanksgiving  for US-based players anyway would work well. That would give people time to sit down and play over the long weekend, and mean that eager fans and families could buy them as gifts ahead of the holiday season.

Pokemon Sword and Shield | Platform

pokemon sword and shield

As we mentioned earlier, Pokemon Sword and Shield will only be available to play on the Nintendo Switch. There’s no chance of it being ported to any other console Nintendo or otherwise so you’ll have to buy a Switch if you want to play it.

It’s almost certain that Nintendo will produce special bundles ahead of release so, if you don’t own one yet, you might want to hold out until those ones are.

Pokemon Sword and Shield | Starter Pokemon

pokemon sword and shield

As with any new game, Pokemon Sword and Shield will let you choose from three starting Pokemon as your first in this new region. We know each of the trio’s names and types — Scorbunny (fire), Grookey (grass), and Sobble (water) — but you can read more about them in our separate starter guide here.

Pokemon Sword and Shield | Galar region

pokemon sword and shield

If there’s little information on any of the above, then there’s a ton of intrigue and mystery surrounding Pokemon Sword and Shield‘s region. Known as Galar, it looks like it’s been based on European countries, with fans online speculating that it looks like a cross between the UK and Italy above all others.

If we take a quick look at the full map that was released, there are some things we can speculate on at this early stage. The small town in the southernmost area is likely to be your starting position. We’ve based that on the villages that players have always lived in at the start of other Pokemon games, so we’re sticking to this until told otherwise.

Moving up from there, it looks like there will be a routine cave system to navigate before you hit the first major city. It’s nailed on that there will be a gym in this area, as well as a number of side quests for you to conduct too. The train tracks and bridges in and around this city will give you fast travel options to other parts of the map as well, without the need to sprint everywhere.

The settlement to the northwest offers up what we’d consider to be the biggest mystery that you’ll have to solve in Pokemon Sword and Shield. The massive carving on the hill nearby could be some form of religious symbol for a Pokemon that people in Galar used to pray to. Again, we won’t know for sure until the games drop though.

Each of the other major cities and towns look like they house gyms as you would expect and they’ll contain leaders who specialize in unique Pokemon types. For example, the seaside town will definitely have a gym leader who has water Pokemon, the mountainous area in the North-West will have Rock types, and so on.

There are two possible locations for the end game to take place in. The huge city right in the North, or the central hub city that grants access to numerous areas. It’s likely the Northern most city will be the final area to explore, and the huge tower in the center could be this series’ version of the Elite Four.

Pokemon Sword and Shield | Pokemon Go link

pokemon sword and shield

There’s a chance that Pokemon Sword and Shield could have Pokemon Go functionality weaved into it. We’ve already seen that Niantic’s smartphone game was linked to the last Pokemon console games in Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee. It would make sense for Nintendo and Niantic to continue this partnership for the former’s latest core series’ installment, but what form that would take is anyone’s guess.

If we had to place our bets, we imagine it would be a similar feature to the one we saw between those two titles. This lets you trade Pokemon from Pokemon Go to Pokemon Let’s Go, but not in the opposite direction.

If Pokemon Sword and Shield don’t contain every Pokemon in all of the other previous titles, your best bet to get them in the Gen 8 games will come from a link with Pokemon Go.

Pokemon Sword and Shield | Co-op support

pokemon sword and shield

Pokemon Let’s Go allowed two players to play alongside each other on the Nintendo Switch. Pokemon Sword and Shield could do likewise, and this would give the Gen 8 installments something extra to keep people entertained.

There’s no reason to suggest Nintendo wouldn’t carry co-op support over to Sword and Shield, so here’s hoping that they do.