Finally we see the new generation Pokémon game; Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield.
And… it looks like a Pokémon game.
Okay, that’s unfair. Set in the Galar Region – British themed, cheers guv’nor – the environments look fantastic. You can tell a lot of work went into these places – bright, vivid colours, beautiful environmental details like ivy and stones, polished and refined… it looks like the Galar Region is kind of what I wish Britain looked like really. Seriously, it’s nothing like that bright and lovely here.
And the starters are… well, typical. Grookey, the Grass Monkey type, is kinda nice. Sobble is the underwhelming Water type (little salamander thing), and Scorbunny just screams “Fire/Fighting Evolution” type.
Everything looks like business as usual then.
One thing I did notice though was that the human models are starting to look a little on the tired side.
All the Pokémon look great from what I’ve seen – the animations are par for the course, partly because you don’t want long animations and partly because most competitive players turn them off in the options anyway. But the human models have noticeably jaggy edges in many spots – this stands out more so when they’re the ONLY thing to have such noticeably jaggy edges.
Did GameFreak take a short-cut and upscale Sun and Moon’s models? I don’t know. I don’t know if this really works in HD. There’s some dissonance going on that I can’t put my finger on…
Is this the “reinvention” we wanted? Probably not.
There’s clearly something of a new engine at play here – the weather and water effects are top-drawer and what you’d expect from a more recent game engine. And there is also a clear eye for detail; the backdrops are stunning, the buildings have an attention to the finer points. It looks like as a setting, Galar will be quite the place to be.
We’ll have to wait for more information – but it looks like it’ll be classic Pokémon for the most part. Badges, leaders, an evil organisation (or two), Pokémon league and legendary Pokémon hidden away.
Did we hope for more? Sure. But if they were right and they had just started this back in June of 2017 (when they announced their work at E3), then we’re talking two years of work here. That’s an impressive amount of visual polish (aside the humans) for just shy of two years.
But it’ll sell. It’ll be good – Pokémon is good and there’s a reason the series is still popular and selling in huge volume. It looks fine. Better than fine, even. It’s not as ambitious as, say, Breath of the Wild – but does it need to be?
What we’ve been shown is great. Of course the series needs to move forward and with the times. Maybe in a few years, when GameFreak has a little more confidence in this engine, they’ll try and reinvent the wheel a bit.
I still think this will be a great game. It’s just people had higher expectations than the rather conservative GameFreak could deliver for their first major new-console Pokémon game.
We do this to ourselves so often…