This is a spoiler free hands on with Pokemon Shield.

First of all, I purchased a Nintendo Switch Lite for the sole purpose of playing the new Pokemon games. After 5 hours of gameplay with Pokemon Shield; am I happy with my purchase? The answer is absolutely, yes!

During the first two hours of gameplay I had the biggest grin on my face, as the new Pokemon and environments are absolutely tremendous. I’ve played every mainline Pokemon game, and usually I will establish my preferred team early on and then stick with them. That’s not the case this time around, and I’m constantly finding new Pokemon that I want to add to my team. In my opinion, the new Pokemon added for the Galar region have some of the best types and designs of any generation (yes including gen 1) and I have a good mix in my current team of new and old Pokemon.

As I said in my top five new Pokemon designs article I love the typing and design of my top pick, Toxtricity, and having one in my team is so satisfying. It certainly helps that he’s an absolute powerhouse, and when used in a team with Purrserker (the evolution of the Galarian variant of Meowth) they are nigh on unstoppable.

The gyms are back with a bang after they were swapped out for the mediocre trials from Sun and Moon, and the fact all gym battles now take place in stadiums is a truly inspired move. Dynamaxing enhances the experience of Gym Leader battles (where your Pokemon becomes gigantic to those unfamiliar) and is only possible in gyms and raids, the latter being where four players (replaced by AI if you’re not playing online) battle together to take down a Dynamaxed Pokemon. It’s the closest thing that Pokemon has to boss fights and I find it to be a resounding success.

I was very critical of the introduction of Dynamax from the game trailers, but I can say now that I’ve used it I wouldn’t be without it. My first use of it was against the first gym leader, and I chose to Dynamax my Trubbish just because I thought it would be funny. It certainly was, and the sight of a gigantic trash bag facing down an opponent across a stadium packed with cheering fans is probably one of my most satisfying and hilarious Pokemon experiences that I’ve ever had, certainly one I will never forget!

There are a couple niggles like characters / trees popping in once you get within ten feet of them and disappearing the rest of the time, as well as a couple examples of dodgy textures on walls and bushes. These are far from deal breakers, as when it comes to the battles, gorgeous environments and using the new Pokemon, Generation 8 could well be the best generation so far.

Overall, I can wholeheartedly recommend Pokemon Sword or Shield to fans of the franchise or to those wanting to try something new on their Switch.

Thank you for reading this early hands on with Pokemon Shield, I will post a full review once I have finished the game, as well as a breakdown of the final team that I have been using. Catch you soon.

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