Pokemon Sword and Shield are the series' first mainline titles to launch on home consoles, but they still continue the franchise's tradition of releasing two versions of a game for every generation. Much like their predecessors, both versions of the first game in Generation VIII of Pokemon have exclusive elements that can only be found in their respective version.
These differences range from who players will fight alongside and against in their journey down to what they'll wear during it all. Here's a rundown of the exclusive elements that players will encounter in their journey to be the best of the new Galar region.
As in preceding generations, Sword and Shield have certain Pokemon that only appear in one version of the game. Chief among these are of course the version mascots, the canine legendaries Pokemon Zacian and Zamazenta. The former is the sword wielding mascot of Pokemon Sword, while the latter is an armored exclusive of Pokemon Shield. Players who wish to complete their Pokedex will have of course have to either buy both versions or trade with other players to get the Legendary not in their version of the game.
Other exclusives involve the wild Pokemon that players can encounter and capture in the verdant greenery of the games' landscapes. The exact number and variety of which Pokemon are exclusive to each game have not been completely confirmed, though some of the version-exclusive returning Pokemon have been announced. These include pseudo-Legendaries such as Deino, Jangmo-o (both exclusive to Pokemon Sword) Larvitar, Goomy (both exclusive to Pokemon Shield), as well as new evolutions of known Pokemon such as Farfetch'd's evolution Sirfetch'd (exclusive to Sword) and the Ghost-type Galarian Corsola and its new evolution Cursola (exclusive to Shield). Shield will also get a new version of Ponyta that is Psychic instead of Fire-type, similar to Sun and Moon's Alolan Vulpix being Ice-type instead of Fire.
Exclusive Gym Leaders
A new addition that Sword and Shield bring is exclusivity of gym leaders. Previous Pokemon have used the same gym leaders for the entire generation, no matter which version of the game players bought. Pokemon Black and White changed this by having different gym leaders based off of the starter chosen at the beginning of the game. Pokemon Sword and Shield will take this one step further and gave each version proprietary Gym leader battles.
Early in the game, Pokemon Sword players will face off against Bea, the gym leader of a Fighting-type gym. For players who purchase Pokemon Shield, however, the fight against Bea is instead replaced with a battle against Allister, the leader of a Ghost-type Pokemon gym. Given the differences between these two Gym Leaders' types, the exclusive Gym Leaders will likely be opposites of each other, i.e. a Fire-type Gym Leader in Sword and a Water-type Gym Leader in Shield.
Players also have to wear special attire whenever they face each Gym Leader, which also implies exclusive costumes for each version. It's possible that the differences in Gym Leaders will also be matched with different members of the Elite Four (or Champion Cup in this generation) in each version, though that has yet to be revealed. This does confirm, however, that traditional gyms are back, after they had been replaced with the Island Challenge in Pokemon Sun and Moon.
Gamefreak has confirmed that the new feature of Gigantamax will be utilized not only by trainers, but by wild Pokemon, as well. Also confirmed is that each version will have exclusive frequencies for which Gigantamax Pokemon players will run into more often. For instance, players who own Pokemon Sword will be more likely to face a Gigantamax version of Drednaw, while Pokemon Shield owners are more likely to encounter Gigantamax Corviknights. This encounter frequency is meant to be in effect from the games' launch until January 2020, with the Pokemon who are more likely to be encountered while Gigantamaxed changing after this point.
It's unknown what other elements and features will be exclusive to a specific version of the game, though they are unlikely to be drastically different enough to warrant buying both versions outside of trading Pokemon. Fans will have to see for themselves what each version as to offer when the long awaited duology of Pokemon Generation VIII launches this week.
Pokemon Sword and Shield launches on November 15, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.