18 Gyms, No HMs and More: Tons of Pokemon Sword and Shield Info Revealed!

18 Gyms, No HMs and More: Tons of Pokemon Sword and Shield Info Revealed!

Earlier today, Game Informer started posting a series of articles about Pokemon Sword and Shield. Based on a trip to Game Freak’s HQ earlier this year, the articles were meant to give an inside view of the games and some of the new features included in them.

And in that they sure succeeded. Indeed, in the series of articles posted on the site so far, they’ve already revealed things like the number of gyms in the game, the way HMs are implemented in game and much more besides. It’s a full out Pokemon info bonanza, with more information about the game than almost every one of this year’s Directs combined.

So in this article, we’re gonna go through it all. Time to see what Pokemon Sword and Shield have in store this November!


Starting with the new autosave feature. This was unintentionally revealed a few weeks ago in a trailer for the game, but drew a bit of criticism none the less, with fans complaining that it’d ruin strategies meant for catching legendary Pokemon or those with good IVs.

Fortunately for those people though, autosave is optional. It’s on by default, but as mentioned in Game Informer’s article here:

Pokemon Sword and Shield Introduce Autosave to the Series

Can be disabled at any time if the player doesn’t want to use it. So the old ‘save before fighting a legendary Pokemon, then reset if you lose’ setup doesn’t break in these games either.

That said, game director Shigeru Ohmori does mention it’s a bit more cumbersome to do on a Nintendo Switch because of the hardware:

I think the Nintendo Switch, compared to previous consoles, it’s actually a bit harder to restart your game. Like, on the NES, you’d have a dedicated button to reset the whole thing, but with the Switch, it’s a little bit more complicated of a process

So that may need to be kept in mind if you do things that way.

Still, onto another reveal now. Namely, one related to in game teams and how Sword and Shield may try and make them more useful for competitive play…

Competitive Play

Since in the titles up until this point, the Pokemon you’ve journeyed through the region with have usually never been the best for tournament play. They lack the right natures, IVs and abilities for the competitive metagame, and often leave pro players spending ages breeding Pokemon in a desparate search for the ones with just the right build.

Admittedly, the series has tried to address this in various ways. It’s made EV training less of a hassle thanks to mini games and Poke Pelago, allowed players to ‘modify’ IVs via Hyper Training and Bottlecaps, and added in failsafes so legendaries have at least three maxed out IVs when caught in the game.

And Pokemon Sword and Shield apparently add more methods for doing this. Presumably including one that allows players to modify their Pokemon’s ‘personalities’to make them more competitively viable:

I’ve got to be very vague about it, but one example – it will be visible to the player and they’ll know when they see it, I think – say you have a Pokémon where it’s got all the right stats and everything, but there’s a personality parameter as well that comes into play in battles, and it might not be the right personality, so you’ll breed until you get the right one, is what people do currently. But you’ll see that there’s a system in the game that will fix that for people.

Hopefully it won’t require the Pokemon to be at level 100 or meet some other ridiculous requirement to use this time.


The series of articles also reveals a few details about the gym setup too. Such as how in this generation, there aren’t just 8 gyms to deal with any more.

No, there are now 18 gyms spread across the Galar region, which are in turn split into major and minor leagues. This goes well with the more open structure found in the game, and makes things a bit more dynamic too (since the leagues a gym is in apparently differ based on the version and year).


And speaking of open structure, that’s apparently why HMs got booted out of Pokemon Sword and Shield too. As planning director Kazumasa Iwao points out in another article, they didn’t match the structure of Sword and Shield, hence their removal from the game:

We didn’t have them in Sun and Moon, and this time around, we didn’t feel it really matched the concept, especially with the Wild Area and wanting to have this higher degree of freedom. The player can kind of choose how they want to engage with the gameplay. Having the more HM-based elements, we didn’t feel it really matched the game, so this time around they’re not in it.

Which is probably for the best overall really. HMs were a terrible mechanic in the earlier games, and their removal in Pokemon Sword and Shield (plus Let’s Go Pikachu/Let’s Go Eevee) were appreciated by most of the fanbase.

Glad to hear they’re still gone in Sword and Shield, especially given the comments about the gsame being more open and the player being allowed more freedom to explore this time around.

National Dex

Unfortunately, not everything mentioned in the articles is good news. Because as expected, there’s still no mention of Game Freak changing their mind on the removal of the National Dex, or the limits on what Pokemon species can be transferred into Sword and Shield.

However, game producer Junichi Masuda did at least give one new reason why the dex was removed, this time in reference to features cut from previous games:

Up until now, we’ve been proud we’ve been able to include so many Pokémon in the games, but as a result of that, there’s actually been quite a few features or gameplay ideas that we’ve had to abandon in the past. Going forward, thinking about the future of Pokémon, we want to prioritize all those new gameplay ideas, new ways to enjoy the game, and want to challenge ourselves at Game Freak to create new ways to enjoy the game. That’s really what drove the decision for this new direction.

It’s at least a better one that the old ‘animation quality’ comment, we’ll give him that.

And provides a better reason for removing the Battle Frontier than ‘kids like smartphone games now, and are too stupid/impatient to appreciate said features’.

But it doesn’t exactly sound plausible overall. Game Freak already has models for the first seven generations of Pokemon at a high enough quality level they’ll lag Sun and Moon to hell on an old 3DS, and it’s unlikely their game data is going to change much either. So it seems like it should be pretty simple for the company to include them all in future games too, with the only challenge being to add the new species and forms introduced in that generation.

Plus the choice of features to include/remove doesn’t seem too heavily tied to which species are included either. For instance, seasons were in gen 5, then never seen again. Walking Pokemon were a feature added and brought back too many times to count. Contests got into three generations, but not the rest. And the list just goes on and on. Cosplay Pikachu? Super Training? Z-Moves? Yeah, all of those got into one generation, only to be gone the next.

So no Mr Masuda, not sure we buy the idea of all these Pokemon being responsible for cool features being cut. Seems more likely to us that Game Freak just loves introducing and cutting features at semi random.

Raid Battles

Still, back to the positive stuff. Like Raid battles, which very much feel like someone from Pokemon GO.

But apparently they weren’t entirely inspired by the game. Instead, they originally came about as something akin to ‘cooperative battles’, and became more like their Pokemon GO counterparts when the mobile game’s version took off around the world:

The initial concept of having cooperative battles against a Pokémon – the raid idea – came before raids were even implemented in Pokémon Go, but we saw Pokémon Go implement this raid feature and how popular it was for people to get together in the same space and enjoy these cooperative experiences

Either way, they’re apparently rather challenging, with the harder ones being some of the more difficult battles in the series. So if you do take them on, keep in mind that you may not be able to win even with a good team and a lot of experience with the series.

Exp Share/All

Finally, there are also a few details shared about the Exp Share setup in generation 7. Or more precisely, the lack of it.

That’s because in these games, your entire party gets exp for winning a battle, regardless of whether they fought in it or not. So instead of having to setup the item, it’s basically equipped and on by default, making level ups a breeze.

Is that good or bad?

Honestly, it all depends on the implementation really. On the one hand, the last two generations have certainly gotten complaints about being too easy because of it, since a party using said system will end up overleveled compared to the wild Pokemon and trainers they’ll encounter along the way.

So there are some people fearing the same will be true of Sword and Shield too.

However, we’re not sure that’s necessary the case. It might be, sure. But at the same time, it doesn’t have to be, since the issue really comes down to ingame opponents have weak teams and poor strategies rather the system itself. If every enemy trainer had a full team at reasonable levels and used strategies akin to those humans use, no one would be complaining about the difficulty at all.

But they don’t, and that’s where the issue comes in. When your final boss has four Pokemon out of six and none of them can fight to save their own lives, it doesn’t really matter how the Exp Share has been setup; it’s a bad final boss encounter. Same goes with gym leaders who have only half a team at the point in the game in which a player has a full six Pokemon on hand.

Hence whether this system is a good idea or not will depend on the implementation, not the concept itself. Make the gym leaders and elite four tough opponents and have in game enemies use strategies, and it’ll be fine. Have them significantly underleveled with half a team, and they most certainly won’t.

And that’s all the information provided so far. 18 gyms, no HMs, better systems for making Pokemon into competitive battlers and yet more reasons why the National Dex won’t be in Sword and Shield.

So what do you think about it all? Are you happy with some or all of the reveals from Game Informer’s recent article series on Pokemon Sword and Shield? Do you think they make the games sound more promising than they did before?

Tell us what you think in the comments below or over on the Gaming Latest forums today!


Pokemon Sword and Shield Hub (Game Informer)


  1. CM30, did you spell “game” wrong? Yes you did CM30. CM30, you know you are not supposed to spell “game” wrong in this article. Why would you spell “game” wrong? You cannot have that word in that article. That’s the number 1 rule. I am Alex Gordillo. I can do what I want with you until you’re very old. I am just going to dislike this. I am a human being. Now I’m going to report your channel.

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