Pokemon Sword and Shield: Essential tips for your adventure across the Galar region the game won’t tell you

There are a lot of new features in Pokémon Sword and Shield. Raid battles, camping, Dynamaxing; it’s easy to get lost in feature creep. The games do very little to tutorialize you about these new systems so we have put together a few essential tips to help you through your journey.

If you want an easy time, choose Scorbunny

Aside from the fact that it is the cutest starter (and that is an objective fact, don’t @ me,) Scorbunny is the starter you want to choose if you want to have it easy going throughout most of the game. It only has three weaknesses to ground, rock, and water, and ground and rock type moves are fairly rare. For that matter, he’s absurdly fast and can learn fighting moves, which will take out threatening rock opponents, and electric moves, which will take out threatening water opponents. When he evolved into Cinderace, he can also learn any move with “ball,” “shot,” or “pass” in the title, including Electro Ball, Gunk Shot, and Shadow Ball. He’s just an absurdly flexible Pokémon that will stay relevant and powerful the whole game.

Don’t ignore raid battles, especially if you want to power-level

Max Raid Battles are some of the most profitable battles in the game. Completing them grants you several TRs, berries, EXP candies, and a 100% chance to catch the Pokémon you battles provided that you were the one who started the battle in the first place. EXP candies are particularly powerful. Just a few will take a Pokémon from level 1 to level parity with the rest of your party. They are the best way to power-level a mon in this game. You should take a break every so often to clear the Wild Area of raid battles, and should a raid battle notification show up in your sidebar you should always join in.

Catch everything

There is no reason to not catch everything you come across. Don’t go out of your way to weaken a Pokémon you encounter unless you want to catch it, of course. You can just as easily make them faint. However, if you find yourself in the position to catch something just by chance you might as well do it.

Catching a Pokémon gets you XP just like defeating one does. This means throwing a Pokéball and catching it instantly ends the battle AND saves you a PP in the process. If it’s a double, you’ll never know if it will have a better stat or nature than the one you are currently using. If it’s worse, you can use it for trading fodder in surprise trades. There’s basically no disadvantage to filling your boxes up with literally everything you come across.

Quick Balls are insanely useful and valuable

Quick Balls might be the best ball in the game. They give you an increased chance to catch a Pokémon if you throw it early in the fight. For most Pokémon this is equivalent to a Master Ball. Just throw it right at the beginning of the fight and scoop whatever Pokémon you like up. To give you an idea of how powerful Quick Balls are, I caught Sword’s legendary, Zacian, by throwing a Quick Ball without using a single attack.

If you purchased the game digitally then you will get a mystery gift of 12 Quick Balls. Save these for Pokémon that really need them! You won’t get a chance to purchase Quick Balls again until after you earn every single gym badge.

Note, that even if you don’t capture a Pokémon on your first chance with a Quick Ball, it still retains its catching energy through the second and even third turn in a fight. After that, you are better off using traditional Pokéballs, however this does mean you can spend a turn putting a Pokémon to sleep for an even better chance to catch it with a Quick Ball.

Play with your Pokémon at camp to raise their affection

Don’t ignore the camp menu. Playing with Pokémon in this menu will raise their affection. Certain Pokémon only evolve when their affection is raised. Even if your favorite Pokémon doesn’t have one of these special evolutions, raising their affection will help you out in battle. They will withstand lethal hits, shrug off status effects, and even score extra criticals, just because they like you so much.

Remember to cook your Pokémon curry too. Aside from healing them to full for next to no resources, giving them stat boosts, boosting their affection, and filling out your “Currydex” which eventually gets you more rewards, it also blatantly proves that people eat Pokémon in the Pokémon universe.

You bet I fed a Farfetch’d to another Farfetch’d. I’m just that sort of sicko.

Your Pokedex can tell you what to catch next

If you are the type of person who genuinely wants to catch em’ all, then look to your Pokedex. It will give you a “recommended catch” for whatever area, time of day, and weather you are currently experiencing. This will always be a Pokémon you don’t currently have and that can be caught right now where you are. It’s the most effective way to fill out your dex, without spending a lot of effort.

There are four Pokémon you can receive as purchase bonuses

Looking for some rare and overpowered Pokémon? Luckily Nintendo is in the business of giving them out as gifts provided that you buy some of their quality products.

You can get a Kanto Meowth (complete with a Long Cat Gigantamax form) simply by going into the Mystery Gift menu and claiming a Mystery Gift between now and January 15, 2020. It comes with Pay Day which is a great way to earn money in the early game.

If you have save data from Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu or Eevee then you can get a Pikachu or Eevee with absolutely broken stats and special Gigantamax forms by speaking with the boy and girl standing near the Wild Area train station.

Finally, you can get a Mew from the Pokéball Plus accessory, but there is a catch. You have to have not redeemed this Mew in Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu or Eevee. Basically, if it’s still in the ball you can go into the Mystery Gift menu and choose to “Take a Stroll with Pokéball Plus” and the Mew is yours.

You can’t see every Pokémon on the map

While every Pokémon is on the map, you can’t actually see them all. Many Pokémon only hang out in the tall grass and smaller Pokémon actually can’t be seen at all. However, a question or exclamation point will reveal their locations, if you startle them while walking through the grass.

Status effects matter so much when catching Pokémon

This is an old piece of advice, but it’s worth remembering. Damage only matters so much when it comes to increasing your Pokémon catch rate. Status effects do a lot more than a few extra points of damage. If you really want to catch a Pokémon, put it to sleep, paralyze it, freeze it, and more. All status effects will make it easier to catch.

In gym battles, either Dynamax first or last

Most gym leaders will Dynamax their last Pokémon, which gives you a decision to make. Your first option is to Dynamax when they do. This creates a giant Pokémon kaiju battle at the end of the match, and keeps your teams even the whole time. The second is to Dynamax early. This allows you to easily sweep through their first three Pokémon while using very few resources. You can then dedicate the rest of your team to cleaning up their last Dynamaxed giant.

Not all Dynamax moves are the same

You may notice that most Dynamax moves share the same name. Every grass Dynamax move is called “Max Overgrowth” for example. However, these moves are not actually the same. Even though their animation is the same, they actually retain some properties from the moves they are based on. Stronger moves will create stronger Dynamax moves, for example. Since Dynamax moves almost always hit, this means that moves with high power and low hit-rates are some of the best Dynamax moves in the game. It’s also worth noting that certain properties, like increased crit-rate, transfer over to Dynamax moves as well.

You can whistle to attract Pokémon and crouch to avoid Pokémon

You don’t really need items to increase or decrease your encounter rate in Sword and Shield. Standing still in the tall grass will cause you to crouch, rendering you invisible to most Pokémon. You can then inch forward with the control stick to sneak around allowing you to avoid bringing attention to yourself.

If, on the other hand, you want to encounter more Pokémon, then click in the control stick to whistle. This will immediately attract Pokémon to you, regardless of species. It’s also one of the best ways to fight against flying Pokémon.

Pokémon respawn when their habitat is off camera

Say you are hunting for a specific Pokémon but it just doesn’t want to spawn. No worries. All Pokémon habitats respawn and refresh their Pokémon when they are pulled off camera for a short distance. Just run away from whatever patch of tall grass you are hunting in and run back and its population will have changed.

Herbs change your Pokémon’s nature

Picked up a Pokémon but its nature isn’t to your liking? Don’t worry! Herbs will change its nature. Their description won’t actually reflect this change but trust us, the background stats are doing their job.

Your online connection will break if you do anything but play the game

And here’s just a tip about an annoying facet of the game’s online code. If you do anything, ANYTHING, other than play the game your online connection will break. Go into the Switch’s home menu, your connection breaks. Suspend the Switch for a literal fraction of a second, your connection breaks. Want to play locally for a bit? You have to manually break your connection for that one.

Any time a connection breaks you have to go back into the Y-comm menu and manually connect to the internet again. It’s annoying, it’s time consuming, and it really should have been programmed better.

That’s all the Sword and Shield tips we have for you today. If you have your own you want to share, let us know in the comments.