Video: Digital Foundry explains why Pokémon Sword and Shield “doesn’t quite deliver”

The wait is officially over for Pokémon Sword and Shield! The latest duo of Pokémon games are now available for purchase around the world for Nintendo Switch. Pokémon Sword and Shield allow you to choose from three new partner Pokémon and encounter never-before-seen Pokémon. Explore the Wild Area, a vast expanse of land where the player can freely control the camera. Meanwhile, the folks at Digital Foundry have completed their thorough tech breakdown of the games:

Pokémon Sword/Shield – Switch’s Next-Gen Pokémon Doesn’t Quite Deliver

The wait is over. A new, true mainline Pokémon game has landed on Switch, with Sword and Shield showing Game Freak’s full use of a new console generation. The big focus is on the Wild Areas here – open terrain for trainers to explore with free camera movement – and yet, there’s a lot that doesn’t quite hit the mark.

– Engine is an evolved vrsion of Let’s Go.
– Wild Area is big, surprisingly high foliage density and nice bloom effect.
– City design more in line with Sun and Moon’s standard than Let’s Go “grid based” design.
– Locked camera in city helps performance.
– Shadows improved over Sun and Moon, now proper shadows are present outside of battles too.
– Over 400 Pokémon cut, Z-moves, Mega and many online features are removed for increased quality…
– … but environments are mostly static (“window dressing”), huge repetition of rooms and decorations.
– Texturing is generally of poor quality highlighted by the low camera angle.
– Dynamic shadow system is impressive, but it has a lot of flickering. It can look rough.
– Pop-in is a huge issue, rendering range is extremely limited and almost comical.
– Human character higher detailed than ever, but contrary to Game Freak’s pre release statements the Pokémon models were not reworked.
– Lighting and material interactions are sensibly increased over the 3DS, but it does not explain the huge cut of Dex. Why are Pokémon from Let’s Go missing if they were already reworked?
– Compared to BotW and Xenoblade 2, the game is “in a lower league”.
– Docked res: 1080p indoor, dynamic res outsidide (864p worse case scenario). Game is more demanding than Let’s Go so it justifies the lower res.
– Portable res: 720p dynamic, drops at 576p outdoor worst case scenario.
– Zero AA
– No graphical differences beween portable and docked.
– Performance is 30 fps and it’s stable most of the time. Switching into battles momentarely drops the framerate in the 20s and dynamax battles can drop too.

> Positives: enviroments, engine cutscenes
> Negatives: emptiness of the world, pop-in, removal of many Pokémon

+ Overall: a step forward, but the pop-in is a glaring issue and it doesn’t fully matches the expectations of a next gen Pokémon game, and the Pokédex cut is a big limitation.


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