Pokémon Sword and Shield offers a large new world, the Galar Region, to explore and there are many features, both new and old to take in mind. As your new adventure gets started and you begin the Gym Challenge alongside Hop, keep these tips in mind.
1. All Three Starters Are Useful
Unlike most Pokémon games, the three starters in Sword and Shield are all more than viable. Additionally, this time around, the starters will remain at their given Type throughout their evolutions. As each of the first three Gyms all focus on each of the three Types; Grass, Water and Fire, your starter will be useful for at least one of the beginning gyms.
Looking further ahead, all three Pokémon are viable at the end game too but out of the three of them, Sobble has great Speed growth making it a great choice if indecision strikes.
2. The Differences Between Overworld and Random Pokémon
As you enter the Routes for the first time, you may notice that you'll see Pokémon wandering around the tall grass and coming into contact with them will initiate a battle. This is handy because you can directly see what Pokémon you're going to battle and aim for ones that you may not have caught yet. These Pokémon are known as Overworld Pokémon and are the ones you'll come into contact most commonly.
However this is not everything you need to learn about tall grass as when you walk in yourself, you'll notice the grass rustle and a Pokémon will rush towards you, triggering a Pokémon battle. These are known as Random Pokémon and the important difference here is that there are some Pokémon that can only be encountered in that way. Always experiment on every Route to catch as many Pokémon as possible.
3. Catch 'em All!
Which leads nicely to the next tip, attempt to catch every new Pokémon you come into contact with or see. For series veterans, this may be common knowledge but for the newer players out there, you'll want to make a habit of tracking down every Pokémon you see. Not only will this give you a more diverse roster to create your team from but you'll fill out your Pokédex that you obtain from Professor Magnolia's House on Route 2. For completing this Pokédex, you'll receive a special reward at the end of the game.
To aid you, the new Pokédex will inform you of some Pokémon that you've seen but not caught yet on the Pokédex screen and even tell you the habitat and what weather conditions you can find them in.
4. Create a Diverse Team
It's incredibly easy to get into the habit of choosing your favorite looking Pokémon when creating your team of six but try to keep an open mind and create a diverse team of all Types. You'll often find yourself in Pokémon battles where you're up against a Pokémon that is strong against yours so you'll need to cover a variety of Types to get through them. This is especially true for when you reach the Gyms; it's foolish to wade into a Grass Type Gym with a team full of Water Pokémon as you'll be defeated with great ease.
5. Catching Shiny Pokémon
The elusive Shiny Pokémon are back in Sword and Shield and there are a few differences to keep in mind when you begin your hunt. To begin with, the Starter Pokémon cannot come as a Shiny so there's no reason to reload your game at the beginning to get one. Next, Shiny Pokémon will never be Shiny on the field, meaning you'll have to take a chance and encounter every Pokémon of the one you're looking for a Shiny version of.
Finally, there is a way to boost your chances of scoring a Shiny Pokémon. This is by chaining battles against the same Pokémon, as you battle more and more of the same Pokémon without fighting a different one, you gain an increased chance that a Shiny one will appear. This will reset however if you battle a different Pokémon than the one you've been chaining.
6. Search Everywhere!
In Pokémon Sword and Shield, there are a lot of items hidden off screen; this is due to you having no control of the camera outside of the Wild Areas. For this reason, search behind houses and grassy paths to uncover every item - an early example is searching behind the Professor's House in Route 2 to score a useful TM. Additionally, keep an eye out for orange sparkles; these are hidden items that you can pick up if you search at the location.
7. Stock Up On Berries and Other Ingredients!
New to Pokémon Sword and Shield is the ability to set up camp in the Wild Area; this is useful for a number of reasons not least the ability to prepare a meal. Using Berries and other Ingredients, you can cook a meal that will provide a whole host of useful effects such as healing your Pokémon, awarding Exp for the whole team and even raising their happiness.
8. Make Constant Use Of The Wild Area
The Wild Area is a large expanse full of all different kinds of Pokémon that will get updated as you progress through the story of Pokémon Sword and Shield. You'll be able to catch any Pokémon of any Level up to the Level indicated on your League Card (20 to begin with). To increase this Level Cap, you'll need to go and win more Gym Badges; every time you do, the Cap raises some more.
What's more, go online and you'll encounter other players running around the Wild Area. Upon speaking with them, they may hand over some useful items so try to stay online when adventuring in Wild Areas.
9. Raid Battles and Max Raid
While you're out and about in the Wild Area, you may notice spots that emit a red beam of light. These will initiate a battle with Dynamax Pokémon; tough encounters that can be fought alone or with up to three other players. The rewards are great for these battles and you'll have the option to catch one if you defeat it along with rare items such as Exp Candies or Nuggets to sell at shops.
These are tough though and should not be underestimated; you'll see a list of conditions that will end the battle in the bottom left before you begin such as fainting four times or a battle that lasts for 10 turns.
10. Make Use Of The Y-Comm and Other Online Features
There are many online features in Pokémon Sword and Shield and you'll gain your first taste of them after you've visited the Professor at her house on Route 2 and obtain the Y-Comm. This will allow you to use all manner of features such as swapping League Cards or making a Surprise Trade where you'll trade one of your own Pokémon for a random one from somebody else using the feature online. It's also where you'll find the feature to trade Pokémon with friends or get into a Link Battle or Max Raid battle without having to head to the Wild Area.
You'll also find the Victory Station (VS) in the menu too, this will allow you to take part in local battles, gain information about other players from a sample of up to 100 or make use of the Battle Stadium. Here you'll find Casual Battles, Ranked Battles and Online Competitions where you can participate for exclusive items.