Pokémon Direct – February 27, 2019

Since the reveal of the beginner-friendly nostalgia trips that were Pokémon Let’s GO Pikachu and Let’s GO Eevee, longtime PokéNerds have been clamoring for information on the next Pokémon games for the Nintendo Switch, which were promised to be traditional JRPG titles with all of the battling, raising, and training depth for which the series is known. While l absolutely adored the wave of nostalgia that washed over me via Lapras’ Surf in Let’s GO Pikachu, as a competitive battler and veteran trainer I’ve been counting the days until Nintendo would greenlight the Pokémon Company International to give us a sneak peek at what’s in store for players in Fall 2019. While this morning’s Pokémon Direct showed nil in the way of gameplay mechanics, it did give us a glimpse at the world our collective trainer eyes will be glued to for hundreds of hours. The new setting, which appears to be based on England, is called the Galar Region and gives off a markedly more industrialized look and feel than any region in the previous seven generations of Pokémon games. This is for good reason, as Junichi Masuda-san, longtime director and producer helming the franchise, stated that people and Pokémon have worked together for years to industrialize the region. On the region itself, this is no Xbox One X that they’re working with here, but the game looks beautiful. Environments and battle effects are at an all-time high (as well they should be), and player immersion will follow in a Ditto fashion.

The player character/trainer is somewhere between that of Pokémon Sun/Moon and Let’s GO Pikachu/Eevee, with the former’s build and the latter’s resolution. That might be simplifying things a bit, but for anyone thinking we were getting Square-Enix-level character models, you were off your Rockruff from the get-go. That said, the trainers look great, and their more lengthy models give them a much higher sense of realism (or as real as it’s going to get for now) than we’ve seen thus far. The character models for the Pocket Monsters themselves were largely ripped straight from the Let’s GO engine, or at least that’s what I can surmise from this early footage from the Pokémon Direct. Something I noticed immediately was the marked lack of Pokémon following behind the player character. Now, it is entirely possible that they were deliberately hiding that feature, either with it being an optional thing like it was in Let’s GO, or that they simply pulled it from the build for the purposes of the clips we were shown, and will reveal it at a later date. Either of these explanations is certainly fine by me, so long as we end up with the feature by the release of the final product; however, I suspect it may have been canned in exchange for the aforementioned gorgeous game world. Time will tell, and I’m still hopeful, but again, the Pokémon Company International isn’t working with super effective hardware on the power scale here.

Pokémon Direct

All of the Pokémon we saw in the Pokémon Direct were those we are already familiar with, Pikachu chief among them, that is until the video’s waning moments, when Masuda-san introduced aspiring and returning trainers to the three new starters they can choose from in the Galar Region: Grookey, a green and brown little monkey that will likely serve as our Grass-Type starter; Scorbunny, a white and red-accented rabbit as our Fire-Type; and Sobble, a blue and yellow-finned Water-Type Pokémon. All three starters look adorable, and I personally can’t wait to get my hands on them and start wrecking shop around the Galar Region. The Pokémon Direct closed with the reveal of the titles: Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield (not different colors, rocks, or gems this time!), and their late 2019 release window (c’mon Nintendo, we’ve been here a few times before; just tell us they’re out in November like every other Pokémon game for the last few years). In the months to come, we will inevitably receive more information and see more gameplay footage with the starter Pokémon’s succeeding evolutionary stages, as well as more of the Galar Region’s inhabiting Pokémon. How excited are you all for the titles revealed in the Pokémon Direct? Let us know it the comments below and stay tuned to Geeks + Gamers for all of your Pokémon Sword and Shield updates!

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