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Spoiler Sw&Sh First Impressions

Nagasa

for just 10 cents a day...
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Feel free to post your first impressions with the game here! I’m sure many of us purchased the game and I’m excited to see how you like it after your first time booting it up!

Of course if you rather would put it in a personal blog, please share the links here as well.

Spoiler warning, just in case.
 

Spirit

ZD Legend
My first sitting with Shield was six hours long, it ended with me popping back to the Pokemon Center after defeating the first gym. Yes, taking out the gym took me six hours of play time.

Shield starts off strong, we're introduced to Chairman Rose, an important business personality in the Galar region's Gym Challenge.

The Gym Challenge is pretty much the standard earn-badges-to-enter-the-league scenario but dialled up to eleven. It is very much portrayed how a highly regarded sporting event such as the World Cup would be, it's a nice take on something familiar and is handled much better than the attempted shake up Alola tried with the Island Trials.

The game actually makes a good first impression when you start playing it.

The graphics don't look as polished as Let's Go and the textures are trash across the board, but there is a lot going on to pull your eyes around the screen and distract you from the low grade assets.

This probably won't ring true for the majority of players, but as a Brit, I am hyper-sensitive to Galar as the setting for these games. Despite Sword and Shield being stylised renditions of the UK, there is a lot that feels familiar and homely to me and makes me feel somewhat connected to the region overall, I can't deny that GF have certainly done their research on the UK.

However, once I began to adapt to the southern Galarian countryside's aesthetic, Shield's shortcomings became annoyingly, irritatingly, and painfully clear.

There is inexcusable pop-in everywhere. Not just in the Wild Area, everywhere. Routes and towns are full of pop-in and it looks bloody atrocious. It makes Galar feel like a region of ghosts, with NPCs peeling in and out of the ether as you pass them.

My favourite video game is The Wind Waker, I can stomach entire islands popping into existence on a flat horizon, but in Shield it is somehow worse.

Places look abandoned until you start walking through them. Crowds of cheering NPCs and giant Pokemon like Onix suddenly spring into being as if they were always there and fade away again as if they never were.

It is horrid to look at, it gives the region a horribly artificial aura and it's distracting as hell.

All of this is before you get into the Wild Area, where these issues become even worse. There's pop-in everywhere from Pokemon big and small to roaming trainers and landmarks. If you thought the routes and towns leading up to the Wild Area were distracting then the Wild Area itself just exacerbates it all.

The textures in the Wild Area look even worse than those used in the routes and towns of the game. Stepping into the Wild Area genuinely felt to me like a dip in quality.

The way Pokemon behave in the Wild Area is horrible too. They mostly spring out of the ground for some reason or just appear above your head out of thin air. The Pokemon all gather together too instead of making use of the space of the Wild Area which is supposedly the size of two regions in Breath of the Wild.

The huddling of Pokemon can make it difficult to get to others that spawn within the clusters, which makes things more annoying than they need to be.

Pokemon also have a tendency to behave in… odd ways. For example; a roaming Onix got stuck in the ground and kept clipping through a nearby incline, a Xatu spun on the spot above my head for minutes on end like something out of a surreal nightmare until I distracted it and a Wingull got very intimate with one of the trees from OoT.

These moments were bad enough but even when the game was working as intended it still showed off just how little effort GF have seemingly put into this game.

For example, I was looking out over one of the lakes when a Gyarados spawned. It should have been a cool moment, but instead it was a miserable one as I watched Gyarados pivot and slither on the spot in the water without causing any ripples, wakes or waves as it moved. It was a simple model clipping through a surface with no sense of purpose.

It was a horrible reminder of the lack of polish GameFreak have given these games and made the Wild Area feel like something that was tacked on near the end of production rather than a concept the game was built around.

Also, despite having a 3D camera in the Wild Area, you can only pan left and right around your trainer and not look up and down. Instead, to get a better view of things, you have to toggle between the standard view and a slightly more zoomed out view which doesn't help much, especially when there are Pokemon circling your head… So GF can't even get a camera right.

The routes as a whole, beyond the Wild Area which link the towns together are really narrow and unfulfilling too, there's very little sense of player agency and free exploration just doesn't exist. There's only ever one way to go, even if that way is to a secret, you're not going to get lost on the way. Kanto had a much better sense of exploration and had moments early in the game where you could wander off the beaten path, but that just isn't here in S&S so far.

There are only ten routes in the game too…

I noticed lag with opening and closing menus too, nothing major but it was there and enough to notice.

The experience share that has been lifted right out of Let's Go is a mistake too. In the six hours I put into Shield, I used only one Pokemon other than Scorbunny once.

Pokemon go down fast in these games and moves hit hard, type advantages are pretty much one hit kills, but because every Pokemon gets experience for both catching and battling, I never need to cycle through my Pokemon because they're leveling up without my help.

As a result, I struggle to remember which Pokemon I have on me at times, but because I never need to change them it becomes a none-issue.

The raid battles are awful too. For whatever reason, despite having NSO, I couldn't find any human players to battle in raids with me.

Instead I had to use NPCs chosen by the game to help me take down some Swolemon and it didn't go too well because those AI companions were dumb as rocks.

The raid battles drag on as well and don't really yield any worthwhile results or rewards. You don't get experience for the battles, just hard to find or exclusive items and the chance to catch a Pokemon you probably already have, at least in the early hours.

Dynamaxing can feel hype sometimes when you trigger it, but actually fighting with it is a dull chore.

Animations are slow and the move pool is disastrously small. My Scorbunny had two fire attacks as standard but when he Dynamaxed those two different fire moves became the same Dynamax move, giving me a smaller set of attacks to use.

This small Dynamax move pool also reminded me that, for some reason, as well as cutting over 50% of existing Pokemon, many Pokemon attacks were cut too and simply no longer exist to use in Galar.

I also noticed that the background for battles would be somewhere different from where I was. For example, a fight with Hop in an industrial themed town, had the background of the game's opening hillside area.
There were also a handful of battles where there just wasnt a background at all, just a colourful void-like space for some reason...

The music is largely okay, it didn't annoy me, so that's something, but I can't remember any of it outside of the Gym Battle theme, which has already been on my iPod for months.

This is all without mentioning the constant interruptions from our friendly rival, Hop. I'm six hours in and Hop is still around almost every corner ready to run his mouth and talk to me like I'm simple. It's the early hours of Sun and Moon all over again. It made things incredibly tedious.


… There were times when I found myself having fun with Shield, getting hype at Dynamax and successfully catching the creatures that I wanted on my team. But every time I found something to enjoy I was reminded of how uninterested GF seem to have been while they were making this game.

Each successful capture reminded me that over 500 Pokemon are missing from this, the first original, HD, core, home console Pokemon game.

Each intriguing new area with NPCs peeling out of the ether reminded me of how poorly optimised the game actually is.

And each discovery I made in the Wild Area reminded me that GF's incompetency is excused because of the obscene amount of money the Pokemon IP makes by default.


So far Shield is half the game it should be with only a fraction of the polish it should have.
 

Nagasa

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I was browsing through Walmart and noticed that they were selling the game for $10 less than it’s usual asking price. I was going to pass on it, but my wife offered to pay half, so we bought it.

I’ve only played about two hours and have just gotten to the second major city, so here’s my first impressions so far in a simple bullet list.
  • The references to English slang is appreciated and enjoyed. My ex girlfriend was from the UK and hearing some of the slang brought back some memories.
  • Soundtrack so far is awesome. Some of the music gives me Megaman X vibes and I really enjoy the tunes.
  • Character customization is awesome. I chose the undercut hairstyle so I can finally take those previously mandated hats off. I don’t like the bag that we first get, it looks like a airport luggage bag with straps
  • I can’t help but read the text with the accents and it reminds me of Harry Potter. I was FULLY expecting them to rush through platform 9 3/4 when boarding the train for the first time.
  • Hop is gay for me. Keeps hand holding and talking to me every five minutes. Wish he would just bugger off for a few moments so I can play in peace.
  • Sonia is hot. Didn’t expect the professor to be borderline in hospice care lol.
  • The early pokemon are adorable and so cool. The fox, the dog, and the steel birdie are great! Not to mention I caught a Wooloo and named it Spirit because you know, reasons.
  • Leon has probably the worst character wardrobe I’ve ever seen in a video game.
  • Wild area surprised me. Great to see some older gen Pokémon in the mix. Some of the Pokémon fainted my starter, especially the level 15 care bear with claws, screw that guy.
  • Dynamaxing is meh. My first fight with one was against the Master Oogway looking Pokémon, and my Sobble and crew smacked it into next week.
 

Doc

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I'm approaching the fourth gym and have been enjoying the game for the most part. It's been a long while since I last played a pokemon game, the last being Pokemon Sapphire way back in gen 3, so a lot of the new concepts are a bit of a culture shock, I think.

The first thing I absolutely hate about this game is the inability to turn off EXP Share. I find it absolutely annoying that I don't have the option to play this game the way I want and train my pokemon the way I would like to. In the past, I enjoyed the grind of having to strategically get your pokemon leveled up. Sure, it's a bit more grindy, but it was fun having to plan out my team lineup to make sure weaker pokemon or pokemon with zero damaging moves could gain the levels they need. It's just frustrating now because, like Spirit said, I do consistently forget who I have in my party. I will go through large sections using only one pokemon that I know can absolutely one-shot opponents and know that it will not negatively hurt my team in any way. I have no problem with EXP Share being included, I just don't understand why it can't be toggled.

I'm also growing increasingly disappointed in Team Yell. While I was never in love with their character designs, I liked them conceptually. They were super fans who cause trouble for other trainers because they want their idol, Marnie, to win. That's a fun concept and I was excited. But, so far, they hardly cause any conflict at all. They impact the plot and story just as much as Pokemon Breeder Brittney does. Hell, by the time you finish the second gym there were Team Yell members rooting for you. Hell, there is a point where you battle them because they don't want you to wake up a Sillicobra!

And that kind of leads me into my next criticism. I am by no means far into the game, but there has been zero conflict thus far. I've been moving from gym to gym with literally every person cheering you on and no problems. Yeah, there are vague allusions to the legendaries and the history, and I'm certain that Rose is somehow going to be involved in it all, but everything is happy go lucky. I think because my major comparison to this game was Sapphire, where Team Aqua was present throughout the whole game, I hoped I would see a similar experience. Regardless, I really struggle to feel like there is any form of conflict initiated by any character.

Other than that, I do like a lot of the new pokemon designs and it is exciting seeing all these new Pokemon from previous generations that I skipped over. The town and character designs thus far have been great (even Leon, whose design I find pretty funny). I agree with Spirit in that the apathy of GameFreak is apparent, but its been an otherwise enjoyable experience.
 

Mega Atsuma

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I like the game, but not as much as I have felt excited with previous versions. The most excited I ever was when starting a pokemon game was back in X, and Heartgold follows closely. After I have done most of what has to be done in this one, I felt it was lacking more things to do, and other content. And the fact that many pokemon were left out made me sad. But I won't lose hope on that, maybe GameFreak will make an update in the future with all the missing pokemon. Moreover, why are there items with pokemon that didn't make the cut? When the game starts, I thought I recognized Pikipek on top of the house. Then I saw a shirt with Poliwag on it. Why can't they make one with Mawile? lol I would have my character wear it, for sure. I also thought that the stores could offer more when it comes to clothing. Most things they sell only differ in color, but it's the same design. As to the story, I also thought it wasn't as good as previous ones. I've yet to see a pokemon game that tops X's and Y's story.
 

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