Strategies for Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield! Start your new Pokémon journey off on the right foot with some useful gameplay tips that will set you on the path of a champion!
Top Tips to Begin Your Pokémon Sword or Pokémon Shield Adventure
With the arrival of the long-awaited Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield for Nintendo Switch, fans are taking their first steps into the Galar region. With a new region comes a new set of challenges, and you might be a little unsure what awaits you. Don’t worry, though—we’re here to help! This guide will set you on the right path with tips on what to do in the Wild Area and Pokémon Camp, why Poké Jobs matter, how to form a solid Pokémon team, and how to prepare for the first Gym.
If this is your very first time venturing into a Pokémon role playing game, please check out our Pokémon RPGs 101 article. It’s a great place to learn the basics on how the games work and what you’ll need to do to succeed. Then, come back and continue reading to see what awaits you in this latest Pokémon adventure.
Explore the Wild Area
The vast, open Wild Area in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield presents a lot for players to do. Not surprisingly, there are plenty of wild Pokémon to battle and catch. While these Pokémon can regularly be found in tall grass (as usual), occasionally you’ll see larger Pokémon roaming the Wild Area. These Pokémon are typically more powerful and can prove daunting to defeat. If you decide to take them on, prepare for a challenge—and be ready to retreat if necessary. You may need to use a Poké Doll, which allows you to immediately flee a battle with a wild Pokémon.
The Wild Area is also home to Pokémon Dens, which look like circles of stones on the ground. Sometimes, they’ll have beams of light shining out of them. Investigate one of these dens, and you can take part in a Max Raid Battle against a giant Dynamax Pokémon. You can invite other players to join you in battle, or you can have game-controlled Trainers as your backup. Either way, you’re in for a good match, and when you win a battle against a Dynamax Pokémon, you can attempt to catch it to add it to your team. Additionally, you’ll earn various items for successfully completing Max Raid Battles, including Exp. Candy, Dynamax Candy, Berries, and TRs (Technical Records). TRs are single-use items that teach a Pokémon a powerful move—similar to TMs found in previous Pokémon games (and this one!).
Checking out Pokémon Dens can also earn you Watts. This is a type of currency that can also be found in various other ways, such as by catching special glowing wild Pokémon called Brilliant Pokémon. There are characters in the Wild Area that will exchange your Watts for useful items and upgrades. Other characters will offer to sell you ingredients to make curry (more on that below), and some will even want to battle. Exploring the Wild Area is a great way to level up your team and earn all sorts of useful rewards.
Set Up Camp
When you need to take a little break from your adventure, it’s time to set up camp and relax for a while. Pokémon Camp gives you an opportunity to bond with your Pokémon partners and earn a few tasty bonuses as well. It’s a good way to give your Pokémon a boost, especially when they’re at lower levels.
The most obvious thing to do at your camp is to play with your Pokémon. You’ll see all the Pokémon in your party walking about, and they will come over to you when you call them. Once one is near, you can interact with it to get an idea of its current mood. You can also play simple games with your Pokémon by tossing a ball around or wagging a feather on a stick. The practical benefit of this is that once you leave the camp, your Pokémon that you directly interact with will earn Exp. Points, so be sure to spread the love around.
The other major activity you’ll probably try while camping is cooking. Remember those ingredients you bought from those blokes in the Wild Area? Well, toss those in a pot with some Berries that you’ve collected, and you’ve got a curry going. Whipping up a plate of curry is simple—you’ll play a minigame in which you wave your Joy-Con controllers or press a few buttons to fan your campfire’s flames and stir your cooking pot. After adding a bit of soul with a properly timed button tap, you’re ready to feast!
Depending on your choice of ingredients and your cooking skill, you’ll receive a tastiness rating for your curry. And eating the dish will provide a variety of effects, such as your Pokémon’s HP being restored, your Pokémon becoming friendlier toward you, and more. Experiment with different ingredients to see what other benefits you can get from these delicious treats.
Work Poké Jobs
As you progress through Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, you’re going to catch an awful lot of Pokémon. However, you can only have six active Pokémon in your party at a time, which means you’re going to have many Pokémon just chilling out in a Box and waiting for their time to shine. In the meantime, why not put those Pokémon to work? Poké Jobs give those inactive Pokémon something to do that benefits you and them.
You can access Poké Jobs at the Rotomi terminal in Pokémon Centers. When you look at a job request, you’ll see that the company asking for help will need the services of a certain type of Pokémon. There will also be a limit to the number of Pokémon that you can send out to do the job. Once you choose which Pokémon from your Boxes that you want to put to work, just decide how long you want them on the job and then send them on their way.
When the Pokémon return, you’ll be given some useful items as payment for their services, and the Pokémon will earn valuable Exp. Points as well. As you might guess, the longer a Pokémon is on the job, the more Exp. Points they’ll earn. However, if you’re more concerned with increasing your item inventory, opt to send your Pokémon away for a shorter period. The time your crew is gone doesn’t affect the number of items they bring back with them.
New Poké Jobs may become available as you complete existing jobs and as you earn Gym Badges from the Galar region’s Gym Leaders, so check in with Rotomi often. After all, why should you be doing all the work? Your Pokémon can all lend a hand!
Build a Balanced Team
To effectively face the many Trainers throughout the Galar region— and their many Pokémon—you’re going to need a well-balanced team of Pokémon partners. You may love Fire-type Pokémon, but having an entire team of them is going to get you in trouble when you battle against a Trainer that uses Water- or Ground-type Pokémon. The key is to form a team with a wide range of Pokémon and with moves that will prepare you for anything.
One of the early choices you’ll have to make in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield is which Pokémon will become your first partner Pokémon—the Grass-type Grookey, the Fire-type Scorbunny, or the Water-type Sobble. Go with your personal preference, of course, but use that choice as a basis for assembling the rest of your active team. Luckily, you’ll encounter a nice variety of wild Pokémon early in the adventure. It’s not too difficult to quickly form a team with a solid range of skills.
Keep in mind that the first Gym you’ll face focuses on Grass-type Pokémon. That means you’ll have the advantage if your team is full of Fire-, Ice-, Poison-, Flying-, or Bug-type Pokémon. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to build a team of those before reaching the Gym, too. For example, if you don’t choose Scorbunny as your first partner Pokémon, you’ll have a good chance early on to encounter other Fire-type Pokémon—such as Vulpix (if you’re playing Pokémon Sword) or Growlithe (if you’re playing Pokémon Shield)—before reaching the first Gym. (You can also find Growlithe in Pokémon Sword and Vulpix in Pokémon Shield deep in the Wild Area, but that’d be a long and difficult journey!) Chances are also very high that you’ll come across other useful Pokémon along the way.
The same holds true for the other first partner Pokémon. Grass types, like Budew and Gossifleur, and Water-type Pokémon, such as Wingull (which is also Flying type), are abundant on the first few routes, allowing you to cover those three initial types. Likewise, you’ll come across plenty of other Pokémon types early on, so spend some time rustling through that tall grass in order to flush out more Pokémon.
Keep in mind that even if you catch a Pokémon of a certain type, it may not necessarily know a move that matches its type. Sometimes you’ll need to level up a Ground-type Pokémon before it learns a Ground-type move, for example. This is important because when a Pokémon uses a move that matches its type, that move becomes more powerful, making it even more effective against a Pokémon with a weakness to the move’s type.
Prepare to Face Your First Pokémon Gym
Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield isn’t just about camping and catching Pokémon, though. You’ll need to toughen up and do some battling in the many Gyms that dot the Galar region. It won’t be long into your adventure before you encounter your first Gym in the town of Turffield.
You can’t just stroll into a Galar region Gym and get a Gym Badge, however. You’ll first have to complete a Gym mission and challenge a few Trainers before reaching the pitch where you’ll confront the real pro—the Gym Leader. Whenever you head into a Gym, be sure to bring along some Potions and other healing items so you don’t have to hoof it back to a Pokémon Center to heal any damage your Pokémon incurred.
Once you’ve defeated the first Gym Leader, you’ll earn a Gym Badge along with a couple of other valuable items. And although you’ll be prompted to head off to the next Gym (and those after it), don’t ever be afraid to continue exploring the Galar region first. As you earn more Gym Badges, for example, Pokémon Centers will begin stocking new merchandise. The Wild Area will change as well—you’ll even begin to find higher-level Max Raid Battles there. New weather conditions may appear as you proceed through your adventure, which will influence which Pokémon appear.
These tips should get you started on your adventure through the Galar region, but there is still plenty to discover! You’ve got several Gyms to challenge, Trainers to battle, and Pokémon to catch, and even that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Check back often to learn more about what surprises await you in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. Until then, stock up on supplies, keep your Pokémon partners trained and happy, and go become the ultimate champion. Have fun, Trainers!