As the mainline Pokemon game franchise has reached its more modern titles, many fans have felt the games have become too easy, allowing for players to plow through the games’ main story. This likely leaves some players wondering: Does Pokemon Sword and Shield have a hard mode? We’ll answer that question and more in this Pokemon Sword and Shield difficulty modes guide.
Is there a hard mode in Pokemon Sword and Shield?
While many fans were likely hoping for specific difficulty modes in Sword and Shield — especially after the cakewalk that was Pokemon Let’s Go, Pickachu! and Eevee! — the simple answer is that Pokemon Sword and Shield do not have a hard mode. When you begin a game, there is no option to select between easy and hard, and there’s no Zelda-style “Master Mode.” There is, however, a few ways you can increase the difficulty in the games’ settings.
Changing the Battle Style
The simplest way to make the games more difficult is to change the Battle Style in the Options Menu from “Switch” to “Set.” In Switch mode, you’ll be notified which Pokemon your opponent is sending in after one of theirs faints and asked if you’d like to switch your current Pokemon out for a different one. Set mode removes this option, meaning you’ll have to manually switch out your Pokemon. This can make it harder to anticipate type matchups and gives your opponent a free shot at your Pokemon when you switch it out, making battles more difficult.
Turning off autosaving
Pokemon Sword and Shield are the first mainline games to feature autosaving. This makes them more portable-friendly, since it’s safer to put your Nintendo Switch in rest mode whenever you need to, but it also means the consequences of going into a battle unprepared are less severe. Switching Autosave in the Options menu from “On” to “Off” means you’ll have to be more deliberate about which battles you take on.
These options can increase the games’ difficulty slightly, but it’s a long-held tradition for Pokemon fans to create challenges for themselves to artificially make their journeys harder. For example, you could decide you won’t allow yourself to use items during battle, will release any Pokemon that faints, won’t use Pokemon Centers for healing, won’t use Dynamaxing or Gigantamaxing, or any combination of those choices.