Need to know which of the new Pokémon games to buy? Here are the differences between Pokémon Sword and Shield.
Nintendo and Game Freak’s dual-pronged approach has always felt a little peculiar. Yes, the official party line is that it’s to encourage friends to trade Pokémon with one another, but we have a suspicion that it’s a tactic to prise twice the cash out of the most ardent collectors.
Gotta catch ’em all, remember?
It can make the mental gymnastics to calculate how well a new Pokémon game has performed in the charts a little tricky. That becomes more tricky when you’re also able to buy a double-pack of Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. (For reference, Pokémon Sword debuted in first, Pokémon Shield in third, and the double pack in seventh place.)
For those of you who have decided to jump in, but aren’t planning to buy the dual pack, or both, or you don’t have any buddies you can easily trade with? You’re going to want to know which version to pick. Here are the key differences between Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield.
The box art
Pokémon Sword has a dog with a big sword. Pokémon Shield has a dog with a shield for a face. (He attacc, he protecc.)
That’s it. That’s the difference. Oh, and the words, obviously.
Obviously the key difference between Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield is the Pokémon. In addition to those two good boys on the cover, who are the legendaries in each version, there are different regular Pokémon in each version.
Exclusive Pokémon in Pokémon Sword
- Basculin (blue stripe)
- Galarian Farfetch’d
- Galarian Sirfetch’d
- Galarian Darumaka
- Galarian Darmanitan
- Gen 8 – Flapple
- Gen 8 – Indeedee (male)
- Gen 8 – Stonejourner
- Legendary – Zacian
Exclusive Pokémon in Pokémon Shield
- Basculin (red stripe)
- Galarian Ponyta
- Galarian Rapidash
- Galarian Corsola
- Galarian Cursola
- Gen 8 – Appleton
- Gen 8 – Indeedee
- Gen 8 – Eiscue
- Legendary – Zamamenta
That obviously isn’t the full list of every Pokémon in Sword and Shield’s “controversial” Pokédex. There are many more than the list above, and all of the other Pokémon – plus the starters, Grookey, Scorbunny, and Sobble – are available in both versions.
The gym leaders
In addition to the exclusive Pokémon in Sword and Shield, there are some exclusive gym leaders. These are the fourth and sixth gyms in either game, and in each version, these gyms will feature a different gym leader. They will also be based on different Pokémon types. This means you won’t get to fight Allister the sad goth Pokémon trainer in Pokémon Sword, for example, which is probably a deal-breaker for some of you.
Here’s the full lowdown.
Pokémon Sword exclusive gym leaders
- Fourth gym – Bea (fighting type, located in Stow-on-Side)
- Sixth gym – Gordie (rock type, located in Circhester)
Pokémon Shield exclusive gym leaders
- Fourth gym – Allister (ghost type, located in Stow-on-Side)
- Sixth gym – Melony (ice type, located in Circhester)
And we think that’s it. That’s certainly all of the differences between Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield that we know about to date.
If we’ve missed anything, or you discover anything new, be sure to let us know on Twitter. (Like we have to tell Pokémon fans twice to yell at someone on social media.)
Special delivery for you
If you want to keep on top of the latest news, features, reviews, guides, and sales, we can send all our latest articles and great content straight to your inbox. You know, collated together, once or twice a week, in a newsletter. We wouldn't send them one at a time – that would be weird and annoying!
Recommended for you
Latest from Thumbsticks
New Nintendo Switch releases for August 1-6, 2021
A Monster's Expedition, The Falconeer, and retro Picross headline this week's lineup of new Nintendo Switch eShop releases.
New Xbox releases for August 2-6, 2021
Apex Legends: Emergence is the big-ticket item on the list of new Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One releases this...
Marvel’s Avengers is now free on PS4, PS5, PC, and Stadia
Square Enix opens up Marvel's Avengers to PlayStation, Steam, and Stadia players for the next three days.
Ori: The Collection bundles both games on one Nintendo Switch cartridge
Iam8bit, the specialist publisher of collector's editions, is bringing Ori: The Collection to Nintendo Switch later this year.
PlayStation Plus gets three games in August 2021
Sony reveals the free video games available to PlayStation Plus subscribers in August 2021.
The Xbox Games with Gold for August 2021 are pretty good
The Xbox Games with Gold lineup for August 2021 includes an underrated sequel and a flawed but fun homage to...
Krispy Kreme developing Nexus Level Doughnut in partnership with Xbox
This Krispy Kreme / Xbox mashup doughnut looks delicious, sure, but why is it called the "Nexus Level" doughnut?
Is Valve’s Steam Deck the perfect gateway to PC gaming?
With a simple and approachable device like the Steam Deck, will PC gaming finally get its hooks into console gamers?