What are the major differences and exclusives between Pokémon Sword and Shield?

What can you expect to get with each one?

Image via Nintendo

Pokémon Sword and Shield are the first core RPG games from Game Freak and The Pokémon Company coming to a console. Both titles are set to launch for the Nintendo Switch on Nov. 15.

As we get closer to the release date, it might be hard for fans to decide which version to purchase. After all, just like previous Pokémon games, certain story elements, creatures, and other features are exclusive to each version to entice players to buy both of them.

Here are some of the major differences between Sword and Shield.

Version-exclusive Pokémon

Image via Nintendo

Just like previous core RPG titles, Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield have version-specific Pokémon. This means you’ll only be able to capture certain creatures in one specific version of the game. This encourages trading with other players while you try to complete your Pokédex.

At time of writing, these are the Pokémon that are exclusive to both games:

Pokémon Sword

  • Deino
  • Zweilous
  • Hydreigon
  • Jangmo-o
  • Hakamo-o
  • Koomo-o
  • Zacian
  • Galarian Farfetch’d
  • Sirfetch’d
  • Gothita
  • Gothorita
  • Gothitelle
  • Rufflet
  • Braviary
  • Mawile
  • Turtonator
  • Passimian
  • Scraggy
  • Scrafty
  • Swirlix
  • Slurpuff
  • Seedot
  • Nuzleaf
  • Shiftry
  • Lunatone
  • Galarian Darumaka
  • Galarian Darmanitan
  • Flapple (Item only available in Sword to evolve it)
  • Stonjourner
  • Indeedee (Male)

Pokémon Shield

  • Larvitar
  • Pupitar
  • Tyranitar
  • Goomy
  • Sliggoo
  • Goodra
  • Zamazenta
  • Solosis
  • Duosion
  • Reuniclus
  • Vullaby
  • Mandibuzz
  • Sabeleye
  • Drampa
  • Oranguru
  • Spirtzee
  • Aromatisee
  • Croagunk
  • Toxicroak
  • Lotad
  • Lombre
  • Ludicolo
  • Solrock
  • Eiscue
  • Indeedee (Female)
  • Galarian Ponyta
  • Galarian Rapidash
  • Galarian Corsola
  • Cursola
  • Appleton (Item only available in Shield to evolve it)

Version-specific gym leaders

For the first time in the series’ history, Pokémon Sword and Shield will have different gym leaders in the same locations of the story. This isn’t a simple swap of characters, either, like in Pokémon Black and White. This time, the type of gym and its theme will both change.

These version-exclusive gyms and gym leaders include:

Pokémon Sword

Bea: Fighting-type gym

Gordie: Rock-type gym

Gordie sword exclusive.png

Pokémon Shield

Allister: Ghost-type gym

Melony: Ice-type gym

Melony shield exclusive.png