'Pokémon Sword and Shield:' Region Likely Based on the UK, Gym Leaders Return and More

Pokémon Sword and Shield are the Generation 8 games coming to Nintendo Switch. The Pokémon Company and Nintendo presented the latest titles in the franchise during a special Direct stream on Wednesday, and the debut trailer contained plenty of clues for what Pokémon fans can expect when Sword and Shield are released later this year.

The Pokémon Sword and Shield announcement revealed the new region and starter Pokémon, and here are some interesting mechanics and features you may have missed.

pokemon_sword_shield_map uk britain england
Welcome to the Galar region Pokemon Company/NewsGeek


Each region in the Pokémon franchise is based on some real-world source of inspiration. Some are more obvious, like the Kalos region's connection to France, and Alola being based on Hawaii. So what could the new Galar region be based on?

The rumor pre-Direct was that Gen 8 would be based on the United Kingdom, and that seems to be the case. While not confirmed by The Pokémon Company, there are plenty of signs that the Galar region has U.K. influences. Here are a few examples.

Homes like the protagonist's house have thatched roofs with flowers all over, reminiscent of the Cotswolds region of England. The larger cities shown elsewhere in the trailer have trains and towers that look similar to Big Ben and the House of Parliament in Westminster.

pokemon sword shield big ben thing
Pokemon Company/YouTube

Another quick scene in the reveal trailer shows some of the Galar region countryside, including a prominent chalk figure on the hillside. This is likely a reference to the Hill Figures scattered throughout numerous counties and in particular, the Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset.

pokemon sword shield hill marking
Pokemon Company/YouTube

And then there's the scene of the trainer dressed in soccer gear, walking into what looks to be a stadium. Soccer, or football, is the most popular sport in the U.K., which is home for numerous leagues and teams.

Even the regional map looks an awful lot like the island of the United Kingdom.

pokemon sword shield soccer stadium
Pokemon Company/YouTube


The Alola region swapped out Gym Leaders for Trial Captains, giving Pokémon trainers a different adventure compared to previous generations. However, Sword and Shield will see the return of Gym Leaders and the Pokémon League.

None were shown in the first trailer for the Game, but Game Freak's Junichi Masuda and Shigeru Ohmori briefly mentioned Gym Leaders and the League during the Direct. Expect a return to the Gym Leader and Elite Four system that was found in previous games.


Each Pokémon game treats the integration of new and older Pokémon differently. Some regions give trainers the chance to see Pokémon from different generations appear in the same area, while other titles, like Black and White, only had its region's Pokémon appear.

The first gameplay footage of Sword and Shield shows how some older-generation Pokémon will look on the Nintendo Switch and confirms that there will be a mix of Pokémon to catch. The producers of Gen 8 said there will be more Pokémon than the starters shown in Wednesday's Direct, so trainers will be able to create a team of new and old if they want.

Here are the Pokémon shown in the first Sword and Shield trailer, which means their evolution line will be included:

  • Pikachu
  • Minccino
  • Grubbin
  • Hoothoot
  • Wishiwashi
  • Zweilous
  • Flygon
  • Braviary
  • Wailmer
  • Lucario
  • Tyranitar
  • Meowstic
  • Munchlax

It also should be noted that wild Pokémon encounters return in Sword and Shield. In Pokémon Let's Go, wild Pokémon showed up in the overworld, but the first trailer shows that encounters happen randomly, like they have in every prior Pokémon game.

Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield will release on Nintendo Switch in late 2019.

What do you think of the upcoming Pokémon games? Is there anything you noticed that we missed? Let us know in the comments section below.