The Pokemon series has been full of limitations over the years. You can only have six characters in your party. Each of these six characters can only learn four moves. If you go into certain dungeons or take on specific challenges, you can’t change your party. Until you learn certain skills, you have to follow a set path. With an array of Pokemon Sword and Shield quality of life adjustments, Game Freak has done more than just make the game feel more modern and less frustrating. It feels like you are in a better position to make strategic decisions.
Some of these quality of life adjustments are more minor options that could help with strategies in more obvious ways. Fast travel is not tied to the Fly special ability and doesn’t require you to have a creature capable of using it or access to any special items. After a few in-game hours, the Corviknight Flying Taxi lets you jump to a number of in-game locations. They don’t even have to be towns. Nurseries in the Wild Area qualify too. Being able to give a traded Pokemon you have received a nickname once is also helpful, in case you like to throw people off with different character names.
But there are also different Pokemon Sword and Shield quality of life adjustments that let you make smarter battling decisions without even realizing it. The ease of leveling Pokemon is one element. Doing some cooking while camping is great for making characters friendlier and restoring their statuses, but it is also a good way to build up friendship with a lot of characters at once and start to get lower level creatures on par with more powerful ones without grinding. Going through raids is great for getting powerful Pokemon, but it also gives you experience candy items that you could spend on creatures who might be viable party members. Maybe you didn’t have time to improve them in your day-to-day travels and don’t want to stick them in a nursery? Give them some EXP Candy and they will be ready to go. You could also send them out on a job to have them do some work, rather than sit in a box, to help get yourself an item or two and improve your extra allies.
Speaking of ready to go, the changes to the Pokemon Sword and Shield storage system are something the series has needed for years. As long as you aren’t in certain situations, like say a Gym Challenge, you can access your boxes from anywhere. You can sort through your Pokemon, shift around your party composition, and organize them immediately. It’s a time saver, to be sure, but it also lets you better prepare for handling challenges you might face. Instead of having to hope you have the right characters for fights when getting from point A to point B, you can switch your party around to ensure you have the exact typings you need for the enemies in your immediate area. This also means you have more opportunities to switch around who is with you, to experiment with what other characters could offer. In past games, I found I tended to stick with creatures I knew would work, rather than tested out ones I was catching for fun.
You also aren’t locked into movesets. You don’t need Heart Scales to help Pokemon remember lost moves. If you visit a Pokemon Center, you can instantly switch things up. It makes it easier to play around with what you’ll have characters do. You can always get those moves they’d learn while growing up back. It means you have the luxury of building and rebuilding characters, rather than abandoning one if it didn’t come out right or hunting down an item to fix things.
Finally, there is the Wild Area and its raids. While it can be fun to have creatures that have friendship requirements or force you to invest a lot of time with a “bad” character until it gets “good,” sometimes you don’t want to deal with all that. I wanted a Lucario, but I only had a Riolu. After spending a lot of cooking getting my Snom to turn into Frosmoth, I didn’t want to bother with doing that again. So, I kept an eye out for a raid and fought one that way. I got a Feebas from trading, but the person who sent it to me didn’t have a Prism Scale attached. (It evolves into Milotic by trading one holding that item.) Since I didn’t have a second Prism Scale, I kept my eye out for a raid. Being able to run across powerful, evolved Pokemon in raids or wandering around in the Wild Area is a big help. It lets you complete your Pokedex with a little less frustration and gives you more options when building teams.
Pokemon Sword and Shield doesn’t just feel modern, thanks to the quality of life adjustments. It’s about more options. People have a chance to try out more characters than before. They aren’t penalized for experimenting, because it is easy to acquire new allies and test out new party compositions. You have more freedom to try new things.
Pokemon Sword and Shield are available for the Nintendo Switch.