Pokémon Sword & Shield will be introducing the Dynamax mechanic to the series, which also has an off-shoot called Gigantamaxing - and there are key differences between the two. The Dynamax transformation allows any Pokémon to grow to a huge size and gain access to special new moves, while specific Pokémon can transform either further through Gigantamaxing, which gives them even more power.
Pokémon Sword & Shield won't be using the Mega Evolutions or Z-Moves from the previous entries from the series, which means that their distinct presence in the competitive battling scene will be absent for the time being. They have been replaced by Dynamaxing and Gigantamaxing, which offer a temporary boost in power, in comparison to the battle-length Mega Evolutions or the one-shot hit of the Z-Moves.
The ability to transform a Pokémon into a giant will be a huge part of Pokémon Sword & Shield, so it's important to understand the mechanics behind how they will work.
Pokémon Sword & Shield's Dynamax Explained
In order to perform the Pokémon Sword & Shield Dynamax transformation, players will need to acquire an item called a Dynamax Band, which means that they will likely be given one at an early point in the story. The Dynamax Band can only be used in specific locations that are made to accommodate giant Pokémon, such as Gyms.
When it's their turn, players can transform their current Pokémon using the Dynamax button, which will turn it into a giant. A Dynamax Pokémon will have its stats increased for the duration of the transformation; it only lasts for three turns. A Dynamax Pokémon will see all of its moves transformed into Max Moves, which will change how they function. One example that has been given involves the Normal-type move Scratch. If a Pokémon with Scratch undergoes the Dynamax transformation, then it will turn into a new move called Max Strike, which adds the additional effect of lowering the enemy Pokémon's Speed stat.
It's possible for four players to take on a Dynamax Pokémon during Max Raid battles, which can be found in Pokémon Dens in the Wild Area, and they won't revert to normal after three turns have ended. Each player can only select a single Pokémon for these battles. There are some Dynamax Pokémon that will be protected by a barrier that needs to be hit a certain number of times in order to break it, while others can neutralize the abilities and stat buffs of other Pokémon. If the player's Pokémon is knocked out in battle, they can cheer on their allies during their turn in order to give them beneficial effects.
If a Pokémon lands the winning blow on a Dynamax Pokémon, then players have a chance of catching that Pokémon. The other players will also get one shot each at catching it if the previous player fails. All of the players can win items from Max Raid battles. The caught Pokémon will return to normal after the battle ends.
Pokémon Sword & Shield's Gigantamax Explained
It's possible for all Pokémon to use the Dynamax transformation, but there is a second form known as Gigantamaxing, which allows the Pokémon to grow even bigger and change their appearance.
There are currently only three Pokémon that are confirmed to be able to perform the Gigantamaxing transformation - Alcremie, Corviknight, and Drednaw. It's stated that these Pokémon will usually undergo the regular Dynamax transformation, but certain individuals among the species will use the Gigantamax transformation instead. The reason why only certain Pokémon can use the Gigantamax transformation in Pokémon Sword & Shield is unknown, but it's stated that it's possible to catch them during Max Raid battles.
A Gigantamax Pokémon won't just take on a new appearance, as they gain the ability to perform a powerful G-Max Move in battle. There are three G-Max Moves confirmed so far:
- G-Max Finale (used by Alcremie) is created from a Fairy-type move and will heal all damaged Pokémon on Alcremie's team, while also damaging the opponent.
- G-Max Stonesurge (used by Drednaw) is created from a Water-type move and has an effect similar to Stealth Rock, while also damaging the opponent.
- G-Max Wind Rage (used by Corviknight) is created from a Flying-type move and will remove beneficial effects from the opponent's side of the field (like Light Screen or Reflect), while also damaging the opponent.
It's clear that Dynamaxing and Gigantamaxing will change the face of competitive battling going forward in the Pokémon series, while also giving the player some epic battles during the single-player campaign.