I Got to Play Pokemon Sword and Shield at E3, and Here's What I Found Out

If you've read my work, you're probably already aware that I am very serious about Pokémon.

There was no way I was missing the upcoming Pokemon Sword and Shield at E3 this year, and I simply had to play it on day one of the expo. I got my hands on the demo, and here are all of the things that I found out:

Gyms Are Back, With a Twist

While most of the Pokémon demos I've played in the past put players in the wild, allowing them to explore the world, this one took place entirely inside a gym. The last mainline Pokémon games, Pokémon Sun and Moon, had no gym battles at all, and these games are bringing them back with style.


(Pokémon Sword and Shield via The Pokémon Company)

But before I could face the gym leader, I had to make my way through a maze of waterfalls. They could be turned on or off by turning red, yellow and blue valves, clearing a path toward the end of the line. Figuring out exactly the right order in which to activate them to make it through to the end was a legitimate challenge. Things were made even trickier by trainers who were eager to challenge me along the way.

And when I finally made it to the water-type gym leader Nessa, the battle took place in a massive stadium, surrounded by cheering fans. Appropriately, the character I controlled was wearing a soccer outfit (as were the folks helping along at the demo). All of the open space was necessary in order to let Dynamax battles safely take place. More on that in a second.



Dynamaxing is a brand new feature in Sword and Shield that's sure to shake things up. When you Dynamax a Pokémon, they get massive, increasing their strength and giving them access to special moves.

When your opponent's Pokémon is Dynamaxed, but yours isn't, it can put you at a massive disadvantage. You'll want to Dynamax your own Pokémon ASAP. However, they can only stay big for three moves, meaning you'll want to activate it strategically.

In my battle against Nessa, I Dynamaxed Grookey. In this state, he could utilize a move that planted big green mushrooms all around my opponent, causing a lot of damage. When I took down the Dynamaxed Drednaw, the animation was super dramatic, with the Pokémon flailing and shrinking down to regular size before finally fainting. It's a really fun new feature to the series, and I can't wait to see further implementation in the final game.


(Pokémon Sword and Shield via The Pokémon Company)


The New Pokémon

The Pokémon Company did this demo right, filling the players' parties with six Pokémon from the new Galar region. My team consisted of the three starters—Sobble, Scorbunny and Grookey—plus Wooloo, Corviknight, and a never-before-seen electric-type Corgi called Yamper. Yamper is weirdly adorable, and I can't wait to see more of it—and I loved the way Scorbunny hops around as its waiting for orders.

While the first lass I battled had a familiar Kantonian Vulpix, I next fought a youngster with a Gossifleur. He happened to be wearing a wooly jumper with a squirrel in it that didn'quite look like Pachirisu, leading me to think there may be a new Galar region squirrel. A second lass also had a strange new Pokémon, Impidimp, who is dual fairy and dark-type Pokémon.


Galar May Be Bigger and Bolder

When I defeated Nessa, I earned a gym badge with water droplets on it. This badge fit inside of a circular shape as if it were a piece of a puzzle. While this is merely an observation, it appeared to me that this piece took up far less than an eighth of the whole. Historically, every region has had eight gym badges, and the size of this badge may indicate that the Galar region has even more gym badges than that. I'm crossing my fingers that this means it'll be a bigger, more event-packed game.


Pokémon Sword and Shield launch on the Nintendo Switch on Nov. 15. If you're having a tough time picking your starter Pokémon, click HERE to take a quiz that'll pick for you.