During its latest Nintendo Direct livestream this morning, Nintendo finally provided some details about its much-anticipated next Pokémon game for the Switch. Called Pokémon: Sword and Shield, the new mainline games are due to launch late this year.
The new games feature a more detailed 3D art style compared to the Let’s Go games, and include a wide variety of locales in a new region called Galar that appears heavily inspired by the UK. Naturally, there are also new monsters, including a frankly adorable trio of starters called Grookey, Scorbunny, and Sobble. Here’s how the Pokémon Company describes the new setting:
Galar is an expansive region with diverse environments — an idyllic countryside, contemporary cities, thick forest, and craggy, snow-covered mountains. The people and the pokémon who live there work together closely to develop the industries in the region. Fans will have the opportunity to visit various gyms in the Galar region in their quest to become champion.
Nintendo first announced that a traditional Pokémon role-playing game would be coming to the Switch back at E3 2017. And, despite reassurances last year that the “core” game was still slated for 2019, we hadn’t heard any real details about the new game. Before today we didn’t even know what it was called. Not coincidentally, today also marks the 23rd anniversary for the long-running franchise.
Despite the secrecy around the next mainline adventure, Pokémon has been busy of late. Last year saw the launch of Pokémon: Let’s Go, a pair of Switch games that combined traditional RPG gameplay with the more streamlined structure of Pokémon Go. The result was arguably the most approachable game in the series to date. Pokémon Go, meanwhile, continues to go strong, most recently adding an advanced AR photo mode, and later this year the live-action film Detective Pikachu will hit theaters.
When it launches later this year, Pokémon will join the upcoming Animal Crossing as 2019’s major Switch releases.