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Pokemon • Jun 13, 2019

Is Pokemon Sword and Shield really open world? It's debatable

Is Pokemon Sword and Shield really open world? It's debatable

Ever since trainers experienced Pokemon Red and Blue for the first time in 1998, fans have wanted another open world game. Pokemon Sword and Shield may finally be that game - well, kind of.

Finally an open world Pokemon game?

The reality of a truly open world Pokemon game has evaded the series so far, mainly due to hardware limitations and creative direction. To this day, Game Freak have opted for a linear story-line whereby your route through the game is largely decided.

One of the leading figures in Game Freak, Junichi Masuda, has said in interviews that they are making a console-scale Pokemon game. He was referring to Pokemon Sword and Shield. 

That's the thing about open world, though, the definition is somewhat open ended. Even today, a universal consensus can't be reached as to what the first open world game was. Some cite Mario 64 as the first of its kind, whereas others go a few years in advance of this with Shenmue, or even Grand Theft Auto 3.

The fully explorable wild area

Whether or not Pokemon Sword and Shield is open world, from what we've seen so far, is still up for debate. Pokemon games have never been completely linear, as you can complete the story by doing things in a slightly different order. How linear Game Freak's latest Pokemon game will be, though, remains to be seen.

Pokemon
The initial trailer appears to show various scenes where the environment is closed off...

What we do know is that at least part of the game will be truly open world. The new wild areas, vast spaces of nature where lots of wild Pokemon reside, are an open world element that can be explored at will.

The question remains, though, do these wild areas make Pokemon Sword and Shield open world or not? Well, that depends on your own definition, but at least Game Freak have made an effort to appease enthusiasts who are wanting that type of experience. 

This is only part of the game that appears to be fully roam-able though. While E3 2019 hasn't provided the opportunity to explore Galar region's cities yet, footage from the initial trailer suggests they are more of a closed environment. The seconds of gameplay we do have for these areas show fixed pathways.

Open world?

This is where the definition of open world becomes debatable as some trainers will consider that the freedom of the wild area makes Pokemon Sword and Shield an open world game.

On the other hand, some will look to Zelda: Breathe of the Wild as a comparison point and think that is the yard stick for an open world game on the Nintendo Switch.

Whether you think it is or not, Pokemon Sword and Shield appears to be the most open world Pokemon game to date - sort of.

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