I’ve been playing Pokemon Sword and Shield for a couple of days now, and it’s been an enjoyable experience thus far. But one thing in particular is marring my Galarian adventure. It’s not that the game is missing some of my favorite Pokemon, or that there are weird limits on which Pokemon you can get when. No, it’s that seemingly every single Pokemon is way too hard to catch.
Different Pokemon have always had different catch rates across the series. That kind of makes sense — it adds a tenseness to battles with rarer wild Pokemon you’re trying to capture. But in Sword and Shield, the rates seem totally out of control. I had hardly any issues catching Pokemon until I ran into a Galarian Stunfisk in the mines, which seemed to have the lowest catch rate of any Pokemon I’d ever encountered. It took two trips back to the Pokemon Center and over 20 Great Balls before I was able to catch it. I didn’t even really want it at that point — it’s kind of ugly-looking — but it had become personal.
Out in the Wild Area, things aren’t much better. I threw ball after ball at a wild Pumpkaboo, only to have it Curse itself to death. I ran out of balls on my first encounter with a Sneasel, and only caught my second by whittling it down to a sliver of health, putting it to sleep, and throwing a half-dozen Great Balls at it.
- PSA: Don’t Try to Catch “Strong-Looking” Pokemon in Pokemon Sword & Shield
- Pokemon Sword and Shield is a Lesson in Moving On
- Where to Find the Hi-Tech Earbuds in Pokemon Sword and Shield
I don’t know if I’m imagining things or if the catch rates really are lower in Pokemon Sword and Shield than they were in past games. But I don’t recall ever having to spend a dozen or more Pokeballs to add a single new monster to my party, with the exception of Legendaries. It’s to the point that I don’t even really want to spend the time it would take to catch Pokemon when I could just play through the game with the ones I already have.
An across-the-board increase in catch rates could help here, but I also think it would make sense to drop the concept of variable catch rates entirely. Maybe a few exceptionally rare Legendary Pokemon should be tougher to catch, but otherwise I don’t see why there should be a difference in how hard it is to get an Onix versus a Roggenrola. As it is, low catch rates just seem like an artificial way to extend the time it takes to get a rare Pokemon. Some already have low spawn rates, so why tack a low catch rate onto that?
Pokemon Sword and Shield is a solid Pokemon game, but there are a number of perplexing design choices amongst the quality-of-life improvements. Why lock sound options behind an item you have to find in-game? Why heal my team in every occasion except before a tough battle? And why make it so hard to catch an incredibly ugly-looking Pokemon? I don’t know, but it’s a bummer — and I’d love for catch rates, at least, to be patched sometime soon.