All the differences between Pokemon Sword and Shield

By Steven Rondina

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Jul 5, 2021

Reading time: 3 min

Since Pokemon Red and Green launched in Japan in 1996, a staple of the Pokemon video game series has been to release mainline games in pairs. Sword and Shield are no different but the most recent games took things a step further. 

Instead of just having different exclusive Pokemon, Sword and Shield have exclusive gym leaders, NPCs, and Dynamax versions of Pokemon. There’s a lot to go over when it comes to the different Pokemon Sword and Shield exclusives, but here’s everything you need to know.

Pokemon Sword and Shield exclusives

In the base versions of Pokemon Sword and Shield, there were 68 exclusive Pokemon with both versions having 34 exclusives that could only be obtained from the other game by connecting with another player to trade or Max Raid Battle. That number grew even further with both DLCs for Pokemon Sword and Shield, the Isle of Armor and Crown Tundra.

Here is the list of exclusive Pokemon, condensed into the highest form of their evolutionary lines:

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There are a handful of notes when it comes to these exclusives.

With the Isle of Armor DLC, players can activate and deactivate Gigantamax forms of any applicable Pokemon in Mustard’s Dojo, making it so Sword players can catch and upgrade Gengar and Lapras and Shield players can do the same with Machamp and Coalossal. Players that don’t have the DLC will need to trade or join a raid hosted by a player of the opposite game.

In terms of hard exclusivity, Indeedee can be caught in either game but the genders are game-exclusive, with males appearing in Sword and females appearing in Shield. Players in both Pokemon Sword and Shield can catch Applin but evolves into Flapple with the Sword-exclusive Tart Apple or Appletun with the Shield-exclusive Sweet Apple, with the Gigantamax versions of those Pokemon appearing in their respective games. Finally, Basculin’s Pokedex entry can be filled in either game without trading but the red version is in Sword while the blue version is in Shield.

For the most part, Pokemon Sword and Shield’s exclusive Pokemon are evenly distributed based on their relative strength and archetype. For example, both have an exclusive one-stage dragon Pokemon, with Sword getting Turtonator and Shield getting Drampa. Both have two exclusive pseudo-legendaries with Kommo-o and Hydreigon going to Sword while Goodra and Tyranitar go to Shield. The list goes on like that, ensuring neither game has a serious advantage over the other.

Pokemon Sword and Shield have exclusive gym leaders, rivals

The differences between games within the same Pokemon generation can vary wildly. Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire had different enemy teams, Sun and Moon swapped the day and night cycles, and so on. Alongside having a particularly long list of version-exclusive Pokemon, Sword and Shield also introduce a number of version-exclusive NPCs. 

Pokemon Sword’s fourth gym leader is fighting-type trainer Bea and the sixth gym leader is rock-type Gordie. In Shield, Bea is replaced with ghost user Allister, and Gordie is replaced with ice-type Melony. 

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This is expanded out further in the Isle of Armor DLC. Isle of Armor adds another rival to the player, with Sword players getting poison gym leader-in-training Klara while Shield players face psychic specialist Avery. Both have lineups built around Galarian Slowbro.

Different curry ingredients available in Pokemon Sword and Shield

The last big difference between Pokemon Sword and Shield revolves around the curry-making mini-game.

Pokemon Shield players can find Bach’s Food Tin, making Rich Curry. Pokemon Sword players can create Juicy Curry with Bob’s Food Tin. These items can be purchased from the ingredient sellers in the Wild Area passageway to Hammerlocke and in Rolling Fields.

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