Although many gamers have been playing the Pokémon series since the very first games in Red, Blue, and Yellow, it’s easy to forget that not everyone has been playing the RPG series for the last 20 years and some are only just diving into the world with Sword & Shield.
The tutorial aspect of Pokémon may be much more in-depth than it was in even the first few entries in the series, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t elements of gameplay that can become pitfalls for beginner players, as many of the more nuanced aspects of the games, such as EVs and IVs, are still not explained to the player.
10 Obsessing Over Which Starter To Pick
More so than any other Pokémon game, Sword & Shield’s early-game wild encounters mean that, no matter which starter Pokémon you took from Leon, there is a Pokémon that can cover that starter’s weaknesses fairly effectively. Unlike past games, where your starter choice is essentially choosing the easy, medium, and hard gameplay options, Pokémon has long since abandoned this kind of game design and tries to make sure that players have an equal experience no matter their preferences. This is particularly noticeable in Sword & Shield, where you can find just about every type of Pokémon before even reaching the first gym.
9 Not Doing Max Raid Battles Early
It can be tempting to leave Max Raid battles for later in the game since trying to complete them while under-leveled can result in what amounts to bashing your head against a wall a hoping the Pokémon faints, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth doing as soon as the Wild Area opens up. Several great Pokémon, such as Togepi and Larvitar, can be found as soon as the Wild Area unlocks, not to mention that many early Raid battles can present you with great TRs if they are completed, which goes a long way in making sure you are ready for what lies ahead.
8 Not Using The Camp System
The Pokémon Camp function is one that is very easy to leave alone for the entire game and never use since it only really serves to give Pokémon a small amount of XP or increase their friendliness, but both of these are reasons enough to actually use the Pokémon Camp.
Aside from increasing friendliness much more efficiently than battling while holding a Soothe Bell, there is also a chance for you to encounter wild Pokémon after having cooked a curry for you and your Pokémon, some of which are otherwise not particularly easy to come across before the game ends.
7 Ignoring The Wild Area Vendors
While most players will check the vendors that sit just outside the entrance to the next main city such as Motostoke and Hammerlocke, there are also several other vendors that roam the Wild Area and are just as worth investigating. In exchange for a few Watts, these vendors will normally present you with either a useful item or treasure that can be sold for a high price. There is also one trainer in particular who can be battled repeatedly and has all three starters in her team, with her team growing in power as you progress through the game and is a fun way of gaining some experience on the side.
6 Not Buying Poké Dolls
Up until Sword & Shield, Poké Dolls were essentially useless as the majority of Pokémon you would encounter would be under your own Pokémon’s current levels. Even if a Pokémon was a higher level, you generally wouldn’t want to run from it as you could normally catch it regardless. In Sword & Shield, however, there are several overworld Pokémon who are too strong to catch until a certain badge threshold is met, such as the Onix found just outside the entrance to the Wild Area. While it is easy enough to avoid most of them, it is also wise to always have a handful of Poké Dolls on hand just in case one manages to chase you down.
5 Not Exploring The Expansion Areas
Although both The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra are designed to be explored after beating the Pokémon League and becoming champion, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be explored before this point. The Isle of Armor functions like the standard Wild Area and will have Pokémon scaled to your own level while also allowing you to get both Kubfuu and either Bulbasaur or Squirtle quite early. While The Crown Tundra is definitely a post-game area, it is possible to power through to the Dynamax Adventures section and start catching some very high-level Pokémon before getting even a single gym badge, an oversight that can make the rest of the game very easy as a result.
4 Using Competitive Teams For Normal Playthroughs
For the most part, there are very few instances before the Battle Tower is unlocked in the post-game where you actually need to think about how your team functions in battle. As long as you have a diverse group of various types and specialties, you should be able to easily beat the game with just your favorites.
Building a competitively viable team also wastes quite a bit of time early on, as many team-building functions, such as Hyper Training and Pokéjobs, don’t unlock until very late in the game. If you plan on diving into online or competitive battles, it is better to finish the game first.
3 Shiny Hunting In The Overworld
Unlike other Pokémon games, where methods like Chain Fishing and Catch Chains have made it very easy to find shiny Pokémon, Sword & Shield have made it much harder to find these sparkly alternatives in the wild. Although your chances of finding a shiny are technically increased after defeating a few hundred of the same species, it isn’t anywhere near as effective as simply using the Masuda Method. In a nutshell, this involves breeding two Pokémon from different countries to give a much higher chance of a shiny egg hatching and is, so far, the best way to find shiny Pokémon outside of promoted Raid events.
2 Trying To Find Gigantamax Pokémon Early
With nearly every gym leader and main rival having at least one Pokémon that can use a Gigantamax form, it can be very tempting to try and find one yourself. However, outside of promoted Raid events, where certain Gigantamax Pokémon will appear in random dens with an increased frequency, Gigantamax Pokémon won’t naturally appear until after you have defeated the Pokémon League. While this is a little unfair considering how every other major trainer is able to find one before you, it also saves a lot of time if trying to find and defeat one, since they are always in five-star Raids.
1 The Weird Catch Rates Of Raid Den Encounters
For the majority of Max Raid battles, a Pokémon is guaranteed to be caught no matter which Pokéball is used on it, though there are several exceptions to this rule that can make catching Max Raid Pokémon frustrating. Promoted Raid events will have a decreased catch rate in general, while online Raid battles that you haven’t hosted will have a catch rate reduced to that species baseline catch rate, which can be as low as 3, the same as most legendaries, for some Pokémon.
Next: 10 Pokemon That Can Learn Moves Based On Their Type Weaknesses
- Pokémon Sword and Shield
Callum Archer is a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia. He is an avid gamer, Nintendo fanboy, and lover of weird sci-fi novels, who also dabbles in manga from time to time, usually dark and twisted work like Uzumaki and Death Note.
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