Pokemon Sword and Shield released a year ago on the 15th of November, and having played Shield and its expansions for 90 hours now, I want to re-review it as a complete experience. I scored it 9.5 out of 10 last time around for context, as I loved the strong nostalgic feeling but was unimpressed with some of the max raid battles and the quality of graphics when viewed up close.
Since its release there have been two expansions, Isle of Armor (spell it ‘Armour’ if you’re basing it in England damn it!) and the Crown Tundra. First impressions for both of these were underwhelming, but as time passed I became more and more invested in the mechanics they brought across.
Alarm bells rang in my head upon being given a level 10 Kubfu in Isle of Armor and being told I would need to get it to level 70 to progress in the story! Of course I just threw EXP candies at it, bringing it from level 10 to 80 after seconds of work, but the added fact that the tournament which replaced the usual end game mechanic of the Elite Four yielded such a paltry amount of EXP meant you would either have to use the afore mentioned candies or grind for 20+ hours to get Kubfu to the required level! This is such a bad choice on the part of the developers that I am baffled it made it into the final product, though I concede that this is my biggest issue with the entire game, and ultimately doesn’t really matter.
I am a big fan of the new Galarian forms for the generation one legendary birds as well as Slowbro and Slowking, however I wish there was more of them. It felt like there were far more Alolan forms introduced for generation seven, and if Sword and Shield had doubled down on this I would have been much happier.
The stories of both the expansions are unfortunately quite weak, and serve more as a skeleton of a plot you bounce off rather than weaving a narrative like previous Pokemon games have done. As soon as you realise and accept this you can make your own fun by exploring, collecting new Pokemon and completing max raids, which I gave a tough time last time, but really enjoy now.
The max raid den in the Crown Tundra is particularly fun, as at the end of each run of it you catch a legendary Pokemon from a previous game, ensuring the nostalgia is back front and centre as it was at the beginning of the main Sword / Shield experience.
The Galarian Star Tournament, introduced upon completion of the Crown Tundra, is essentially the ‘true’ ending of the game, similarly to how Asura’s Wrath hid its ‘true ending’ behind a paywall, except here it works really well. Just as the main game ends with a tournament, the ending of the expansions is also a tournament but hugely improved over the original.
Instead of facing off against three opponents one after the other, instead you and a gym leader or rival (that you pick) from the game face two others in a doubles tournament! As the levels of all characters Pokemon have been increased the EXP you get for each match is dramatically improved as well. The Galarian Star Tournament is the primary reason that, when weighed against the albeit small but numerous issues which the expansions have brought, means that my original score is unchanged.
9.5 / 10
Pokemon Sword and Shield may have not brought much that is new to the franchise but are still highly enjoyable entries that I definitely recommend to anyone who owns a Nintendo Switch.