2It’s Not the Prettiest Game

Many haters like to exaggerate generation eight’s visual shortcomings. Pokemon Sword and Shield are not ugly games necessarily. In saying that, even for Switch standards they are underwhelming in certain areas. Specifically, some environments feel lazily implemented and poorly rendered.

There’s a clear resolution issue present too. Certain edges or angled lines are very jagged due to a lack of pixels to accommodate them. Pokemon Sword and Shield runs at 1280×720, 30 FPS at all times. I didn’t notice any resolution upscaling in docked mode. As a result, the docked mode can look pretty unimpressive. Stretching out a 720p image that far is a recipe for disaster.

This is disappointing because we know full well the Nintendo Switch can perform better. ARMS runs at 1080p, 60 FPS when docked. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also manages to comfortably hit 1080p, 60 FPS in docked form. Even an open-world game like Super Mario Odyssey can hit 900p, 60 FPS most of the time.

Super Mario Odyssey

The only conclusion I can come to is that Game Freak just doesn’t understand Switch hardware as well as other first-party Nintendo developers. That seems to be the only logical explanation for the dire pop in too. I’d say Pokemon can appear invisible on screen as close as 10 meters away. It hurts what is otherwise an excellent opportunity for open-world exploration.

For clarity, I don’t think Pokemon Sword is a bad looking game. Pokemon models, as well as the character models, are well done. Equally, the cities and towns look better than ever. The environments whilst battling are pretty clean and, most important of all, I’ve yet to experience any significant frame drops. The visuals may not be ground-breaking but they’re not bad enough to really impact general gameplay.