While Pokemon Sword and Shield have made certain franchise innovations, like the introduction of the wide-open Wild Area, they have also removed particular features known to be Pokemon series staples. Pokemon Sword and Shield caused controversy because of Game Freak’s removal of the National Pokedex, which greatly reduced the number of Pokemon obtainable in-game. Before release, rumors circulated that Sword and Shield also removed the real-time day/night cycle that has been a part of the mainline Pokemon games since Gold and Silver. Now that the games are out, is there really no day/night cycle in Pokemon Sword and Shield? The answer isn’t as simple as “yes” or “no,” so we’ll give you the details in this Pokemon Sword and Shield day/night cycle guide.
Do Pokemon Sword and Shield have a day/night cycle?
The answer to this question depends on which part of the Galar region you’re in and how far you are in the games’ story: If you’re in a city or a route during the early game, then no, Pokemon Sword and Shield do not have a real-time day/night cycle. If you’re in the Wild Area at any point in the Sword and Shield’s story, then yes, they do have a one. Until you reach the endgame, towns and routes are locked at particular light levels depending on what makes sense the story. When you first visit Turffield, it will always have a sort of late-afternoon feel to it. This helps establish the mood of each area of the game and provides timely set ups for certain story moments, but it could also be seen as a bit jarring, especially when you jump back and forth between the Wild Area and the rest of Galar.
As seen in the image below, the Wild Area follows the Nintendo Switch’s on-board clock, but the rest of the game corresponds the story-determined time of day, regardless of the Switch’s clock. It will become night eventually, but only after you complete certain required story sequences and until you complete others. A full day/night cycle is finally unlocked for all routes and towns after beating the games’ main story, but Wild Area and route/town times will remain on this odd, asymmetric schedule for the many hours it takes to get there. This may seem strange to longtime fans of the series who have come to expect a full day/night cycle in Pokemon games, but it might not necessarily be out of place in Sword and Shield, considering other elements of their game design.
Despite the freedom the Wild Area allows, many features in Pokemon Sword and Shield seem to be governed by this context-specific design logic. Gigantamaxing and Dynamaxing can only be done in specific places (including the Wild Area), for example, and using some favorited Key Items requires you to be in certain locations.