(1 of 2) Zacian in Pokémon Sword.

Zacian in Pokémon Sword. (left), Zamazenta in Pokémon Shield. (right)

In typical Pokémon tradition, Sword and Shield are released as two separate versions, but they’re essentially the same game, with some minor differences. Most notably the selection of Pokémon, to encourage trading between players. As such, unless you’re a huge fan (or absolutely loaded), there’s no reason to own both versions.

Here’s a look at the key differences between the two…

The Pokémon

This is the most important aspect–the Pokémon exclusive to so and so version. Of course, you can obtain exclusive Pokémon by trading, but it’s always going to be easier for you to catch them in your own game. Especially the Legendary Pokémon, which few people will want to part with. If you’re unsure of which version to buy, base your decision off the Legendary Pokémon.

Exclusive to Sword Exclusive to Shield
Seedot, Nuzleaf and Shiftry Lotad, Lombre and Ludicolo
Flapple Appletun
Swirlix and Slurpuff Spritzee and Aromatisse
Galarian Farfetch'd and Sirfetch'd Galarian Corsola and Cursola
Scraggy and Scrafty Croagunk and Toxicroak
Gothita, Gothorita and Gothitelle Solosis, Duosion and Reuiniclus
Rufflet and Braviary Vullaby and Mandibuzz
Mawile Sableye
Galarian Darumaka and Darmanitan Galarian Ponyta and Rapidash
Passimian Oranguru
Turtonator Drampa
Solrock Lunatone
Stonjourner Eiscue
Deino, Zweilous and Hydreigon Larvitar, Pupitar and Tyranitar
Jangmo-o, Hakomo-o and Kommo-o Goomy, Sliggoo and Goodra
Zacian Zamazenta

Gigantamax Forms

Similar to exclusive Pokémon, there are exclusive Gigantamax Pokémon (these are Pokémon that change their appearance when they Dynamax), which can only be found in Max Raid Battles in one of the two versions. However, like all Max Raid Battles, players of both versions can join in for these.

Exclusive to Sword Exclusive to Shield
Machamp Gengar
Coalossal Lapras
Flapple Appletun

Gyms and Gym Leaders

Now for something very different! Two of the Gyms in the game–the 4th and the 6th Gym–are different depending on which version you’re playing. That also means the Gym Leaders that you’ll face won’t be the same. In fact, you won’t even see the other Gym Leaders that aren’t in your version.

Exclusive to Sword Exclusive to Shield
Fighting Gym (led by Bea) Ghost Gym (led by Allister)
Rock Gym (led by Gordie) Ice Gym (led by Melony)

Other Differences

Curry connoisseurs should keep in mind that Bob’s Food Tin is exclusive to Sword, while Bach’s Food Tin is only in Shield. If you desire to complete your Curry Dex, you’ll probably need to ask other players to trade you Pokémon holding the exclusive ingredient that you need.

Not a true exclusive, but the Fossilized Bird/Dino items are way more common in Sword, while the same is true for the Fossilized Fish/Drake items in Shield. Fossil fans who want all 4 Pokémon created using a combination of these fossils may want to trade, unless they’re (really) patient.

Guide Information

  • Publisher
    Pokemon Company International
  • Platforms
    Switch
  • Genre
    RPG
  • Guide Release
    15 November 2019
  • Last Updated
    2 December 2020
    Version History
  • Guide Author

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Welcome to our comprehensive strategy guide for Pokémon: Sword and Shield, the latest entries in the Pokémon video game franchise. Our guide also incorporates all the DLC, including the Isle of Armor and brand new Crown Tundra DLC.

In Sword and Shield, you explore the Galar region, based on the United Kingdom, alongside rivals Hop, Bede and Marnie, with the aim to dethrone the Pokémon League Champion.

The games introduce several new features such as Dynamaxing and Gigantamaxing, functions that increase size and change forms of certain Pokémon; the Wild Area, a large open world with free camera movement; and raids with co-op battling. They also reintroduce features previously seen in Sun and Moon and Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee!, such as regional variants and roaming Pokémon depicted in the overworld.

Brand New October 2020:

Version 1.2

  • A Complete Walkthrough of the Isle of Armor.
  • Details of all 16 new Wild Areas, including Pokémon encounter rates.
  • All the new Max Raid Dens: Locations and Featured Pokémon.
  • Images and Locations of All 150 of the Missing Diglett.
  • The Isle of Armor Pokédex (featuring 100 Returning Pokémon).
  • Recipes for the Cram-o-matic.
  • A Full Walkthrough featuring Pokémon encounter rates.
  • All Gym Encounters and Strategies.
  • New Items: Mints & Natures Explained.
  • Post Game content including Champion Cup.
  • Dynamaxing and Gigantamaxing.
  • The Galar Region Pokédex (featuring 400 Pokemon).

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