Fans of Pokemon Sword and Shield seem to have discovered a twist on the player restriction mechanics in the recent livestream from Game Freak. In a post on Reddit, user SuperLuckyCharms posted just a few hours ago, at the time of writing, about how they’re livid about this restriction.
Based on footage from the livestream, it seems as though players are restricted to only being able to catch Pokemon within a few levels of their current highest-level Pokemon. The stream showed a developer in a fight with a level 28 Sneasel, but when it came to options for the fight, capture wasn’t one of them because the Pokemon was above level 25. SuperLuckyCharms argues that there’s no reward for the risk of running into higher levelled Pokemon if you don’t have the opportunity to catch them during the fight. Seeing this, I was reminded of an old mechanic in Pokemon Red and Blue, which I believe has been carried over to every game since, and it feels like this issue that SuperLuckyCharms is talking about is just an evolution of that mechanic.
The restriction I’m talking about from Pokemon games that are old as the series is the gym badge level restriction. Usually a player needs to defeat a gym leader and earn their badge in order to control Pokemon up to a certain level. I fondly remember getting stuck at a gym, only to have my Pokemon level up too high for me to control them as I attempted to beat the leader again and again. This just led to my Pokemon disobeying me in the fight, and actually hurting themselves out of confusion because they couldn’t hear my authority, or they were just being obstinate like my cats are 90 percent of the time.
In this way, the Pokemon games ensured that players couldn’t farm fights and overlevel one Pokemon to be more powerful than every gym leader. It encouraged team play among a party of Pokemon, and pushed players to use a diverse range of creatures, not just the starter Pokemon.
Too High To Catch
With this in mind, you can see how the mechanic has now evolved to also stop players from catching Pokemon of a higher level than their own. It’s simply another stipulation that forces players to make the most of their own team of Pokemon, and work on levelling them up, rather than catching high level Pokemon and skipping that bonding process of fighting with them against many enemies.
I can see how this mechanic is frustrating, in fact in the comments on Reddit many people have said that they’ve now cancelled their pre-order for the game. However, as an old-school Pokemon player, I relish the challenge that this obstruction represents. I wasn’t ever going to try to capture a high level Pokemon just to skip levelling up my own, but now I know I don’t have that opportunity it seems like a much more worthwhile cause.
Despite the fact that Pokemon are creatures rendered digitally on a screen, players form a bond with them. There are occasions where they pull off incredible feats in fights that make you love them, and when they faint you’re genuinely concerned. There aren’t a lot of games that can achieve this, but Pokemon games do. By putting this small barrier of level into the capture system, I think that players will become even more attached to their Pokemon, and those who don’t wouldn’t have cared for them properly anyway.