We're just barely over a week away from the launch of Pokémon Sword and Shield and today we've got the first details on some improvements to the game over previous main series entries - particularly in raising Pokémon for battling - as well as the first online competition details and Gigantimax Raid events.
New Items and Features
A new set of Mint items will allow you to change the stat effects of your Pokémon to match the nature in the name of the mint. This means you can give a Pikachu with a 'naive' nature, the stat effects of having a 'modest' nature instead - a huge help in building a competitive Pokémon team.
This item doesn't change the Pokémon's nature, though - just the way it impacts that Pokémon's stats.
The nutrient items in previous games would add 10 EVs to their given stat up to a maximum of 100. That limitation has now been removed, meaning you can use these items to max out your EVs to 255 per stat entirely (so long as you have enough of them). Hopefully, the numbers of items in the demonstrating screenshots is also a sign that they'll be much more accessible and affordable this time too.
New Exp. Candy items, earned as rewards in Max Raid Battles, follow on from the much wider range of Candies in Pokémon Let's Go by coming in a range of sizes. The XL size candy gives 30,000 experience points per item in one go, so collecting these candies will make it much easier to bring your Pokémon up to Level 100 at the end of the game.
Nicknaming traded Pokémon
For the entire history of the Pokémon series, traded Pokémon could not be given a nickname by anyone other than their original trainer. Now, so long as the Pokémon doesn't already have one, you can finally give these Pokémon a nickname yourself once you've received it. It's also much easier to do so now, as each Pokémon Center in the Galar region has a Name Rater, a Move Deleter and Move Relearner in it - all now free of charge.
Egg Moves without breeding
Autosave and Pokémon Boxes
The game's autosave feature has also been confirmed and detailed. By default, this feature is turned on and will automatically save your game at certain points such as when moving between cities or entering/exiting buildings. If you want to turn it off, for the purposes of soft-resetting legendary Pokemon etc, you can do so in the options menu.
Pokémon boxes will also work similarly to Let's Go Pikachu/Eevee, in that they're now accessible throughout most of the game, without needing to go to a Pokémon Center. This option will be disabled in certain areas, such as Gyms, but for the most part you'll be able to swap between your entire collection of Pokémon at any time.
Max Raid Events & Online Competitions
Finally, we have the first details on special online events happening after the games launch next week. From launch on the 15th November until "early January 2020", you'll be more likely to encounter Gigantimax Butterfree in Max Raid Battles than you normally would be. In Sword, you'll also encounter Gigantimax Drednaw more frequently, and in Shield, Gigantimax Corviknight.
To use these Gigantimax forms of Pokémon you'll need to find, defeat and capture them in these Max Raid Battles, so this is your best chance to get your hands on these forms, but they will still be available in raids after January.
The first ranked online competition for Sword and Shield has also been announced. 'Galar Beginnings' takes place between Friday 6th December and Sunday 8th December (GMT), with sign-ups available from launch until the start of the competition.
This will be a single battle competition at level 50. Zacian, Zamazenta, Mew and "some other special Pokémon" (ie: Box Legendaries and Mythical Pokémon that are within the Galar Pokédex) are not eligible.
This is the first opportunity to get Pokémon Organised Play points with Sword/Shield ahead of next year's World Championships in London, so make sure to get involved if you want to start setting up your chance to attend next August.
You will need a Nintendo Switch Online subscription to take part in Online Competitions and Max Raid Battles. You won't need to subscribe to the Pokémon Global Link any more, though. Unlike previous games, you won't need to return to the title screen to enter online competitions. In Sword and Shield, the option is available from the start menu, under 'Battle Stadium'.
A full trailer of most of the above details is also available below: