How to get Expansion Pass exclusive Pokémon without paying for DLC in Sword and Shield

You might not need to buy the expansion to catch them all.

Image via Nintendo

With the Expansion Pass coming to Pokémon Sword and Shield, some fans were a little worried that their favorite returning creatures would be locked behind a paywall like some other games do when new DLC launches. 

But that isn’t the case with Sword and Shield. Game Freak has already confirmed that there will be multiple ways to get expansion-exclusive Pokémon, even if you don’t purchase the DLC. 

The most obvious option here is trading with a friend who does have the Expansion Pass. They would need to have both versions of the game, but every Pokémon will be transferable between games regardless of if it’s DLC or not. 

This also means that all of the new Galarian forms, legendary Pokémon, and Gigantimax enabled Pokémon should also be obtainable via trade. There’s no confirmation at this time if this is the case, but Game Freak is usually pretty open with letting Pokémon through even if they aren’t in the base Pokédex of a game. 

The second option is transferring your older Pokémon into Sword and Shield through Pokémon Home

Home is set to release in February and will allow players to store their Pokémon from older games on a cloud-based server while freely moving them from compatible titles on Nintendo 3DS to Switch. As long as the Pokémon is included in the expanding Galar Pokédex, you’ll be able to bring over any of your older ‘mons, including those with moves and abilities not yet available in Sword and Shield

This is great news for players who don’t really want to spend the $29.99 on new content for the games and would rather just continue playing the base versions. There will likely be a few snags along the way if you do plan on skipping the Expansion Pass, but it shouldn’t be anything that would hurt your experience with Sword and Shield.

The Isle of Armor expansion will be released in June, while The Crown Tundra won’t drop until an unspecified time during the fall.