Pokémon Sword and Shield to let any Pokémon be used competitively thanks to new system

Looks like you won't just have to box your favorite 'mons anymore.

Image via Nintendo

For years, players have been breeding and training up their Pokémon with specific EV and IVs in mind. But even then, not every Pokémon was competitively viable due to reasons including base stats, move pool, and several other factors. 

According to Pokémon Sword And Shield’s  planning director, Kazumasa Iwao, the newest entries in the series are going to implement a new system that will take away a lot of those issues. In an interview with Game Informer, Iwao vaguely teased that mechanics in Sword and Shield would theoretically let any Pokémon be used at the competitive level. 

“Traditionally in the series, you start with your starter Pokémon and then you catch a lot of Pokémon in the beginning,” Iwao said. “And those are with you throughout your whole adventure, and the player gets attached to them. But a lot of times, they get into the competitive battles and they find they can’t actually use those Pokémon or they’re not competitive, so they have to go out and find the exact right Pokémon or breed them in a certain way to make sure they’re viable in competitive battle.” 

This is all true, as once the player beats the main story of most Pokémon games, the team they used during the campaign is then retired to the PC when they jump into competitive play. But in Sword and Shield, Game Freak is working on a way to change that notion. 

“This time around, we really wanted to introduce some systems that help the player be able to take those Pokémon they caught in the beginning, and the first one they chose, and actually take them straight into competitive battle,” Iwao said. “There’s a lot of hidden parameters to Pokémon that aren’t surfaced to the player. We’re doing a lot of stuff in the back end introducing systems that allow players to make sure that Pokémon they want to use in competitive battles are viable.”

This is great news for fans of Pokémon like Golurk, which are fun to use during the main story but don’t have much chance to shine in a competitive scene limited to only a few roles. 

Based on the vague outline Iwao laid out, this new system will essentially allow the player to change the personality traits of their Pokémon in some way, which will then change some of the stat values tied to that creature. This was one of the most frustrating parts of training up an “optimal” Pokémon in the past since it took so long to grind out those values. 

So far, this sounds like an incredible way to let fans use their favorite Pokémon when they jump into competitive matches. But with the limited information we have, it is unclear how this will affect things like tier rankings. 

Normally, a Pokémon gets to a certain usage rate because it has a combination of good stats, moves, and abilities that can work well with other strong Pokémon. Unless this new system changes some basic elements of the game’s competitive core, all it will do is simply make breeding irrelevant, which is still a great thing to do. 

“We do think there’s value in that effort that players put into it,” Iwao said. “But at the same time, I think with Sword and Shield we wanted to also have a system that makes it a little bit more accessible. For example, if you’re bringing a Pokémon over from a previous game into these games, being able to use that specific Pokémon that has sentimental value to you in the battle system competitively is something we wanted to try this time.”

Fans will be curious to see how this new mechanic or system will impact competitive Pokémon battling when Pokémon Sword and Shield releases on Nov. 15.