Pokémon Sword & Shield will go beyond the usual exclusive Pokémon in each version of the new games and will also add exclusive gym leaders for trainers to challenge, according to an update on the official Pokémon website. Pokémon Sword & Shield is making several major changes to the franchise's tried-and-tested formula, not the least of which is the leap to a console, a series first for its main entries and something that has Pokémon fans the world over excited about what Nintendo and Game Freak will bring to the table.
Unfortunately, some recent controversy regarding Pokémon Sword & Shield has dulled the anticipation for the next game somewhat, however unfairly that may be toward Nintendo and Game Freak. After producer Junichi Masuda released a statement regarding the decision to forgo a National Pokédex for the first time since the series had grown large enough to include one, fans took to social media to voice their outrage over the feature's sudden disappearance. While the reaction is certainly over the top, there's a fair reason to be angry, too - many fans port Pokémon they've had for generations over to each new game, and the lack of a National Dex could mean that years of training will be rendered obsolete.
Those issues aside, though, it's been smooth sailing for announcements regarding the upcoming Pokémon Sword & Shield, and the official reveal of version exclusive Pokémon and gym leaders is another pleasant surprise. Version specific Pokémon are nothing new - we've had them since Red & Blue, and they've never gone away - but having gym leaders change based on which version of the games players choose to purchase is a brand new element that adds further decision-making to the process. According to the website, Pokémon Sword will feature Bea, a Fighting-type trainer, while Pokémon Shield will feature Allister, a Ghost-type trainer. Their gym will be in the same location in both versions, just housing a different challenge.
Some version specific Pokémon were also unveiled today as a bonus announcement. In Pokémon Sword, trainers can catch Deino and Jangmo-o, while in Pokémon Shield, Larvitar and Goomy will be available as exclusives. The version exclusive roster will almost certainly be much bigger than just those samples, but they're headliner Pokémon and some of them are fan favorites that trainers will be happy to see return now that it's not a guarantee.
Pokémon Sword & Shield's increased version differences suggests that Nintendo would like players to purchase both versions if the option is available to them, and it's much more obvious in this iteration than in previous games. That is likely part of the reason we also saw Nintendo announce a Pokémon Sword & Shield bundle pack that allows players to pick up both versions in one purchase - with more than just Pokémon, which are tradeable, on the line when it comes to picking a version, many people might opt to just save themselves the trouble and experience both if the incentives are good enough.