The Pokémon Gen 8 Reveal Analysed
By Nathan Ellingsworth
After years of waiting, the day has finally come! Wednesday’s Pokémon Direct announced the latest generation in the series, Pokémon Sword & Pokemon Shield, which players will get their excited hands on later this year.
The Pokémon Company revealed the seemingly UK-based Galar region, which would certainly tie the games’ titles in with local mythology. Should we expect to see Greggs on every corner? A local pub in each town? A Loch Ness Monster lurking in the depths?
Only time will tell. But, for now, let’s dive into the trailer to see what details we can glean so far.
Green and pleasant land
So, first of all, we’re confirmed to be spending our next Pokémon adventure in Galar:
“an expansive region with many environments—idyllic countryside, contemporary cities, thick forests, and craggy, snow-covered mountains. The people and Pokémon live together in this region, and they’ve worked together to develop the industries here.”
The focus on industry is clear throughout as we see mining elements, steam powered machinery in every town, and a train network going across the region. Hopefully this’ll be more reliable than Southern Rail though, or trainers will just be waiting hours to travel rather than catching them all…
We also see forests with thick fog, lakes and even some Stonehenge inspired sculptures. Never to do things needlessly, there seems to be a lot of environmental hints towards the mysteries that we’ll be delving into, as well as some of the possible Pokémon we might encounter.
This looming figure carved into the countryside could depict a giant Pokémon, shooting some sort of possible attack out of it’s mouth. Can we see lightning bolts, and maybe some sort of fire? This large creature painted in the hill also has a spiked head and an antenna-like protrusion as a tail. Who knows if this is pointing towards something, but a Pokémon based on the real life legends of British countryside would certainly be interesting. We also see either some people or smaller Pokémon getting stomped on by this huge creature. Could this, in fact, eventually point to a legendary Pokémon later in the game?
In official artwork released, we can also see sculptures cut into rock across the region as well. This, coupled with the Stonehenge monuments, could suggest some Pagan and Celtic themes in the game.
Kick about anyone?
In the snowy town, we get a glimpse of a series of flags which, given the British influence, could point towards a house system similar to Hogwarts or Game Of Thrones. It would be interesting to see different clans represented across the region, with different characters having different allegiances.
Considering all the colours of the assumed gyms on the map, these could also correlate to them. But, I have another theory as well. At the end of the trailer, we get a brief glimpse of the player in a football kit walking onto a pitch. And, during the gameplay montage, we also see Lucario and Tyranitar battling on a green pitch.
One of the possible reasons for these flags could be different football teams, with each sharing an arena with a gym. Having the houses each with a football team, similar to Quidditch in Harry Potter, would be a great way to integrate these mechanics across all of the world. And, considering the games mention people working with Pokémon to develop industries, could we see Pokémon assisting in football somehow? Only time will tell.
Mining for ‘mon
While not given much detail, we are offered many glimpses of some sort of mining facility during the trailer. Given previous entries, this could be how we interact with hidden bases, fossils, evolution items or even a completely new mechanic. It’s too early to make any guesses on the role mining plays in these titles, but it’s heavily featured so it must be significant. The towns themselves have a lot of steam powered machinery, so clearly the focus on different industries bleeds into all of this region. I’m excited to see how this impacts the world.
Later on in the trailer, when hearing from lead developer Shigeru Ohmori, he is situated in front of a blurred image of a street from the game, but there are a couple of subtle giveaways even in the background of this. On the left we seem to have some sort of café or coffee shop, heavily inspired by Costa Coffee or Pret-a-manger. Considering these are everywhere in UK cities, I can’t help but feel like The Pokémon Company really did their field research. Now, honestly, where is Greggs!? Café shops in Pokémon X & Y were found in the main cities, and were a place for players to battle lots of different trainers whilst enjoying a fresh mocha. It would be a great mechanic to return, and it would certainly help to add the regional flair that Gen 6 had.
Also featured in this shot is a very indistinct image of the front of a different shop, that could be interpreted as a silhouette of a Pokémon, or as the outline of a t-shirt to confirm customisation options. While it’s too blurred to make any clear conclusion, every Pokémon game in recent years has featured player customisation, so it would certainly be a strange omission for the new titles.
Finally, it’s wild speculation time! Now, bear with me here, if we can expect eventual Let’s Go sequels that will probably focus on the Johto region and the Pokémon from Gold and Silver, one thing I definitely expect to return is regional variants. The amount of Pokémon is slowly becoming overwhelming, so regional variants are a good way to offer some variety while playing on nostalgia, instead of giving players too many things to see and do.
So, you’ll notice in the arena shot, when the character is walking onto this pitch, the number on the back of the shirt is 227. Which Pokémon is number 227? Well, that would be the ‘Armor Bird’ Pokémon, Skarmory. With the English motif, as well as the names Sword & Shield, a variant of this Pokémon focusing on the armour would be a fantastic way to tie this previous pocket monster into the new themes. Other regional variants, if we get them, could easily build on themes of British countryside. Hoot Hoot (who is even featured in the trailer) as a British tawny owl or barn owl would be fantastic. Gen 2 also features Pokémon based on ladybirds, crows, pine cones, bulldogs and sunflowers, all of which could have interesting adaptations to better depict a British setting.
And finally, one of the biggest hints could be staring us right in the face. Pokémon games never have designs or logos that have been blindly thrown together – almost all of the released games have some sort of hint or thematic parallel to the design of each title. The logos for Pokémon Sword and Shield while depicting a sword and shield respectively, also show a wolf motif on both items. Not only can we expect the box legendaries to probably be matching in theme and colour, but I would be wildly surprised if we don’t see something based on wolves and other animals linked to British royal crests.
The legends of the UK mean that creatures like lions, wolves, fairies, centaurs and more are fair game. We’re so excited to see what they’ve cooked up this generation in monster design, as well as what the beautiful countryside and varied sights of the United Kingdom can offer.
So, the Meowth is now out of the bag, and up until release fans are going to be poring over every detail, trying to figure out what features Gen 8 will include. We now have our first look at the region and the starters, which is more than we had last week. So, for the time being, all we can do is imagine what creatures will be added to that ever expanding Pokédex.
Nathan has worked in the UK in TV & Film for years, whilst also dabbling in editing, presenting & stand up comedy. He's now focusing his energy on his life long passion of video games to justify still buying them at his age. His favourite Nintendo game will always be Pokémon Yellow, and it's the reason he's still playing to this day.