You’d think that the first mainline Pokémon game on a Nintendo home console would be an endless source of joy for the long-running series’ fans, but developer Game Freak have been on the end of an unrelenting stream of criticism practically since the game’s first reveal. The latest flashpoint surrounds Exp. Share and apparent leaks about the game.
Exp. Share has been a part of Pokémon games since Gold and Silver, giving players the choice of letting unused Pokémon in your trainer’s lineup of six to receive experience and level up, regardless of whether they’re used in battle or not. It’s a great quality of life change, but has been avoided by purists who prefer the original style of levelling and the added difficulty that this lends the games (which aren’t exactly noted for difficulty). Pokémon Sword and Shield makes this a permanent game mechanic, with no way to turn it off.
Director Shigeru Ohmori explained the move to Dutch site InsideGamer. He explained that most players used Exp. Share, and gave a workaround for those who don’t want it:
“Those who have it turned off want to train one specific Pokemon. We thought: is there a way to achieve that? There is, simply by putting the rest of your Pokémon in the PC.”
Yeah, you won’t be surprised to hear that this comment hasn’t gone down too well, adding to the pushback from long-time players displeased that the National Dex isn’t a part of the game – the National Dex has allowed importing of all Pokémon into previous games, even if not a part of that region’s local fauna, and Sword & Shield is the first game not to feature it since its introduction. Extensive leaks over the last week have revealed the extent of those Pokémon being included and those not, as well as digging into the game mechanics. There’s plenty of spoilers, so we won’t go into it too far.
That spawned the Brexit-alike hashtag #Dexit, a nod to the UK-inspired setting, with a counter hashtag #ThankYouGameFreak looking to celebrate what Game Freak has done over the past decades.
A further point from this includes that you will no longer be able to even try and catch Pokémon of a higher level to you, information gleaned from someone streaming a copy of the game attained well before the game’s release. You could always try to catch high level Pokémon, giving the game a risk-reward mechanic, at the risk that the Pokémon then wouldn’t obey you without enough Gym badges.
So yeah, it’s all kicking off in the vocal Pokémon community, and with the game out at the end of this week on 15th November, it’s going to be fascinating to see the critical and commercial reaction to the game.
On the plus side, the soundtrack seems fab.