Skip to content

Digital Foundry examines Pokemon Sword & Shield


The latest game which the team over at Digital Foundry has tackled is the newly released Pokemon Sword & Shield for the Nintendo Switch platform. The summary to take away here is that technically it doesn’t quite live up to expectations as the first next generation Pokemon game for the Nintendo Switch. However, that’s from a technical perspective and I’m sure many of you are enjoying it. Here’s a full summary thanks to Reset Era member Joseki:

  • Engine is an evolved version of Let’s Go.
  • Wild Area is big, surprisingly high foliage density and nice bloom effect.
  • City design more in line with Sun and Moon’s standard than Let’s Go “grid based” design.
  • Locked camera in city helps performance.
  • Shadows improved over Sun and Moon, now proper shadows are present outside of battles too.
  • Over 400 Pokémon cut, Z-moves, Mega and many online features are removed for increased quality…
  • … but environments are mostly static (“window dressing”), huge repetition of rooms and decorations.
  • Texturing is generally of poor quality highlighted by the low camera angle.
  • Dynamic shadow system is impressive, but it has a lot of flickering. It can look rough.
  • Pop-in is a huge issue, rendering range is extremely limited and almost comical.
  • Human character higher detailed than ever, but contrary to Game Freak’s pre release statements the Pokémon models were not reworked.
  • Lighting and material interactions are sensibly increased over the 3DS, but it does not explain the huge cut of Dex. Why are Pokémon from Let’s Go missing if they were already reworked?
  • Compared to BotW and Xenoblade 2, the game is “in a lower league”.
  • Docked res: 1080p indoor, dynamic res outsidide (864p worse case scenario). Game is more demanding than Let’s Go so it justifies the lower res.
  • Portable res: 720p dynamic, drops at 576p outdoor worst case scenario.
    – Zero AA
  • No graphical differences between portable and docked.
  • Performance is 30 fps and it’s stable most of the time. Switching into battles momentarily drops the framerate in the 20s and dynamax battles can drop too.
  • Positives: environments, engine cutscenes
  • Negatives: emptiness of the world, pop-in, removal of many Pokémon
  • Overall: a step forward, but the pop-in is a glaring issue and it doesn’t fully matches the expectations of a next gen Pokémon game, and the Pokédex cut is a big limitation.

15 thoughts on “Digital Foundry examines Pokemon Sword & Shield”

  1. Leakers and the people who looked at them made these issues sound worse then they actually were. I almost cancelled my preorder because of how bad they sounded. Really glad I didn’t and have been enjoying it so far.

    1. I’m enjoying it as I do most other Pokemon games, it’s mostly the nostalgia factor that gets me but It’s the same Pokemon game as usual. I’ll probly finish it quick and sell it lol

  2. From the stuff I’ve heard from the reviews I think would’ve wound up not really digging the game anyways. I really can’t say I care too much about how a game looks or performs (though that isn’t to say I don’t appreciate when devs actually put the effort in to polish their products) but everything has just painted Sword/Shield as just more of the same with a little less.
    Lackluster story/characters, too easy with a forced exp share, less trainer battles, empty region that has little to do in it. Really doesn’t sound like my cup of tea.
    Cool to hear there are changes made to bolster competitive play, but that’s not the part of the games that I’m into.
    Makes me wonder what was so wrong with Sun/Moon outside of the handholding that they couldn’t just take a page from that.

  3. As far as I’m concerned the game looks good, has great music, performs well and has been hugely enjoyable. Have been playing for over 8 hours and have barely got started so will give me more than enough content

  4. Wait, Pokemon that were in Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee were NOT included in this? Despite having models already done and totally reusable? (I skipped Let’s Go so I don’t know the Dex for them)


    1. And then they want $60 for it. When thos game was in R&D, they should had placed every Pokemon in the game. Why didnt they? What was Gamefreak thinking when they worked on this in R&D?

      It is called “Research and Development ” for a reason yet Gamefreak failed to do this when they were using R&D. Just like Nintendo did when Wii U was in R&D. They decided to make a console in 2008 just a little more powerful than the PS3 and 360 and release it in 2012. When you gave things in R&D you think about the future not the current. Why would you think about the current and ignore that Sony and Microsoft was coming out with PS4 and Xbox 1 at the time Wii U was in R&D? That’s why Wii U failed .

  5. I personally feel like the Let’s Go games have nicer more polished looking graphics, kind of disappointing, but I’m still having fun discovering the new Pokemans in this one.

    1. I don’t even know how to respond to this, your constrictive statements and lack of logic make my head spin… seriously. What?

      The reason these games feel rushed is because they were, and you want them to turn it over quickly again so the game can feel rushed again? What?

      Seriously, you literally just complained about this being released as a full priced game and ranted about it and then you said that they should start working on the next one immediately, just wow. Gamefreak has a high turnover, they release a game a year, so don’t worry there is absolutely zero chance they didn’t start working on the next game right away (probably before even finishing the last one), but that’s not a good thing, that’s the problem with the game industry as a whole. This franchise could benefit from them taking their time on the next games, giving them selves an extra year or two or three to release a polished product that will raise the bar for the franchise instead of keeping it more or less at the same level or even lowering it.

      All frequency does in release cycles is guarantee a steady decline in quality. Seeing you always pushing for more of that boggles my mind.

    1. I picked up the game on release, I have no regrets. Issues aside; this is a fun game, my very first mainline pokemon game since Emerald in fact. So to me compared to that, this is a VERY feature rich game. Actually after playing it I could never go back and replay those old games now, this has spoiled my with all of the QoL features it has.

      However, I realize that the games that came after Emerald might have also been a lot heavier in features. People say this has been cut down, I can’t say myself because I never played any of those other games, but the problems actually seem pretty minor to me, mostly nit picky things about graphics and some animations. I noticed those things, but not enough to be bothered by them. I mean this still looks and runs worlds better than any of the handheld game. Though it is behind the curve graphics and performance wise to other gems on the system like BoTW and Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

      But I know I’m going to easily get my monies worth out of this game. My metric for that is quite a simplistic one: an hour of game play equals 1$ as long as I can get 60 hours I have gotten my value and I know I can easily squeeze 100+ hours out this going for 100% and battling online, so I’d say it’s a great value. I think you should just grab it, you might be pleasantly surprised by it. I think people have been making it sound way worse than it actually is.

Leave a Reply