For the first time since the year 2000, you can actually skip this key part of the tutorial.
At the beginning of every Pokemon game, you can expect two things: a man who loves the power of science and technology, and a person who teaches you the basics of catching Pokemon. The science guy is definitely present in Pokemon Sword and Shield, but the Pokemon-catching Tutorial is, for the first time since Pokemon Crystal in 2000, not mandatory.
During a demo of Sword and Shield, I managed to skip the tutorial on accident. After choosing your starter Pokemon (Grookey, Scorbunny, or Sobble), you naturally have to stop by your house to talk to your mum. She gives you some pocket money to start you off, but what she doesn’t tell you is that she slipped five Poke Balls in, too. I caught some Pokemon on my way to meet my rival, Hop, and his brother Leon, the Galar Champion and the person I was told would teach me how to catch Pokemon. But that didn’t happen when I caught up to them, and Leon instead made a comment about how I’d already captured some Pokemon before moving on to the next topic of conversation.
It’s a small thing, but this change–provided it’s not some weird fluke created in the demo environment–makes starting a new Pokemon game just a little bit smoother for those of us who’ve been playing the games for years and know the ropes. Compared to Sun and Moon, which have a notoriously long tutorial sequence, Sword and Shield get you into the action relatively quickly–before my 90 demo minutes were up, I’d already made it to the Wild Area, a large, open space that’s home to powerful Pokemon and the new Raid Battles. (I didn’t get to wander around the Wild Area much, though, so I’m still very curious about the secrets it holds.)
Pokemon Sword and Shield release for Nintendo Switch on November 15. Be sure to read our pre-order guide if you’re interested in getting the games on day one.