A closer look at today's Pokemon Sword and Shield Direct

Earlier today, Game Freak debuted a new Nintendo Direct centered around Pokemon Sword and Shield. Though the Direct only lasted around 15 minutes, there was a surprising amount of information packed into the presentation. Some of generation 8's new Pokemon were revealed, and we received some new details about the Galar region that players will be exploring as they make their way through the game.

Chief among the new details, though, was information about the new Dynamax mechanic. Once you find the Dynamax Band in Sword and Shield (something that's bound to happen early on), you'll be able to transform one of your Pokemon into a towering monster, Rita Repulsa style, in each battle. Dynamax is described as something that's integral to Pokemon battles in the Galar region, so expect to encounter it a lot as you play.

There's no word on if things like Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves – the two other once-a-battle twists that Game Freak added in previous generations – will be returning for Sword and Shield, but it stands to reason that they'll appear in some form. Dynamax Pokemon will appear outside of regular trainer battles, as they also feature in Max Raid Battles. In Max Raid Battles, you'll partner up with other players to take down (and potentially catch) powerful Pokemon that are in Dynamax form throughout the entire encounter.

There are some interesting caveats to Max Raid Battles. Even though four players participate in each one (either via local wireless or Nintendo Switch Online), only one player can use Dynamax abilities for their own Pokemon, so you'll need to plan ahead and strategize to determine who that will be. Game Freak notes that some Pokemon can only be caught in Max Raid Battles, so if you want to fill up the Pokedex, participating in them will be a necessity.

The we come to the Wild Area, which is described as a "vast expanse of land" that connects several cities in the Galar region. When exploring the Wild Area, the Pokemon you encounter depends on a number of variables, including terrain, your location within the Wild Area, and the weather, so exploring the whole thing and revisiting every time the weather changes might reveal some rare Pokemon.

In the Direct, it initially seems that Pokemon appear on the overworld map only within the Wild Area, but according to a press release from The Pokemon Company, we'll see wild Pokemon wandering around the entire region. Some will still be hiding in tall grass, though, and can be flushed out of hiding when an exclamation point appears above the player's head. Some Pokemon, on the other hand, will pursue you, so make sure that you're ready to fight before you approach wild Pokemon you see in the overworld.

We're expecting somewhere around one hundred new Pokemon to make their debuts in generation 8, and today, Game Freak revealed a handful of them. The new Pokemon include the flowering Pokemon Gossifleur, which evolves into Eldegoss; Wooloo the sheep Pokemon; Corviknight, which resembles a raven and is used to taxi people from town to town within the Galar region; and finally, Drednaw, a massive Pokemon with a hard shell and strong bite.

We were also introduced to the two version legendaries for Sword and Shield: Zacian and Zamazenta. There isn't much that's known about these two Pokemon yet, but there's probably a good reason for that as version legendaries often play a major role in the narrative of Pokemon games. Their respective roles probably won't be clear until the games are out, but we're looking forward to learning more about them nonetheless.

Finally, Game Freak and The Pokemon Company shared a ton of new screenshots for Pokemon Sword and Shield, which you can see in the galleries dotted throughout this article. Pokemon Sword and Shield are out on November 15, 2019, and we're hoping that Nintendo will have more information for us at E3 2019 next week.