Pokémon Sword And Shield Will Have 18 Gyms

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In yet another surprising turn of events for Pokémon Sword and Shield, developer Game Freak has revealed that it intends to change a fundamental aspect of the upcoming Switch exclusives. Since the series’ very beginning, the method in which players progress through each Generation’s story is simple. Catch and train a team of six Pokémon and then defeat a gauntlet of increasingly difficult Gym Leader battles in order to unlock the final endgame face-off against each region’s Elite Four and Champion.

Fans who picked up 2016’s Sun and Moon for the 3DS will remember that Game Freak attempted to put a twist on the format with Kahunas and Island Challenges, which, while a refreshing change of pace, didn’t quite work as a replacement for what came before.

Fortunately, Sword and Shield will be returning to the Gym format, but unlike the usual eight Gyms, this year’s games will feature a whopping 18, more than double the typical number. As to why the decision to expand the Gym challenge came about, director Shigeru Ohmori has discussed the team’s reasoning as part of a recent interview with Game Informer, saying:

According to director Shigeru Ohmori, the gyms are split into a system resembling major and minor sports leagues. “There are 18 different types of gyms in the story, and depending on the version, which gyms are in the major league are different,” he says. “For example, in Sword, the fighting-type gym will be in the major league, but in Shield, the ghost-type. The idea is that every year, the Galar region is playing and which gyms make it into the minor league versus the major league changes.”

As with many of the features baked into Sword and Shield, then, the pair’s new and improved League has clearly taken inspiration from Galar’s real-world UK counterpart, mimicking the various football (soccer) leagues and divisions of the sport. Whether players will actually get to compete in each of the 18 Gyms is another matter entirely, however, as Ohmori’s comments leave wiggle room for interpretation, but at the very least, don’t expect the road to victory to be an easy one.

Pokémon Sword and Shield are out November 15th for Nintendo Switch.

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