How To Pick Your Starter Pokémon In Sword/Shield
Last Updated: August 5, 2021
Just started playing Pokémon Sword/Shield and can’t decide which starter Pokémon to pick? How do you know which one is best? How are these Pokémon different from each other? If all these sound like you, you came to the right place. In this guide, we’ll show you all you need to know about picking your starter Pokémon.
In every mainline Pokémon game, you’ll be faced with a difficult choice in the beginning: choosing your starter Pokémon. No matter what changes they bring into the game, this is the one thing that will always remain constant. Just like every other Pokémon game, you’ll get to choose between a fire-type, a water-type, and a grass-type. Knowing what each of them brings to the table will make your journey through the Galar Region that much easier and enjoyable.
Who are the Starters in Sword/Shield?
For the first time in a long time, all the starter Pokémon in Sword and Shield are not going to have any dual typing. In past games, the evolved forms of the starter Pokémon each get a sub-type like in Generation III when Mudkip evolves into Swampert, they get a dual Water/Ground type. The Galarian starters will remain the same type all the way through their evolution tree. But they will still have access to certain moves of different types. The starters are Grookey, Scorbunny, and Sobble.
For the majority of the game, the starter Pokémon you choose will be the strongest one in your team. So if you want to optimize your gameplay, then it’s important to know which starter you’ll pick. Keep in mind that you’ll run into a type disadvantage within the first three gyms you’ll face. But don’t worry, there are plenty of Pokémon with diverse types you’ll encounter before each gym so you can just catch some to build around your starter.
Now, let’s take a closer look at each starter Pokémon.
Grookey is the grass-type starter in Pokémon Sword/Shield. It resembles a cute little chimp who uses a special stick to create sound waves that bring life to plants and flowers. Its evolution line revolves around using sticks to channel special energy by making beats. Its stats are pretty average but, as it gets more levels, its Attack and Defense stats gain a significant boost.
At level 16, it evolves into Thwackey. Now it has two sticks which it uses to deal damage.
At level 35, it evolves into its final form, Rillaboom. Now the Pokémon has a full-blown drum set with it which it uses to execute its signature move, Drum Beating.
Overall, Grookey is a solid starter that will help you easily beat the 2nd gym early on. Once it is a Rillaboom, it becomes tankier with great progression in its defensive stats like HP and Defense while also having good Attack progression. It does have below-average Speed compared to other Pokémon but one of the effects of its signature move, Drum Beating, is that it lowers the opposing Pokémon’s Speed. So make sure to keep that in mind when against Pokémon with a higher Speed than you.
Next up is Scorbunny, the fire-type starter in Pokémon Sword/Shield. As its name suggests, Scorbunny looks like a rabbit. In this case, a rabbit who likes Soccer. This Pokémon is so fast that its feet can heat up and burn the ground. Most of the moves it will learn are kicking-based but despite this, it remains a fire-type in all of its evolutions. This Pokémon has blazing growth in its Speed stat so you can basically guarantee that it will almost always have the first strike in a battle. Its Attack stat is going to be pretty high as well.
At level 16, it evolves into Raboot. At its first evolution, it slightly deviates from the Soccer team since its design mostly resembles a ninja. It can probably be a nod to how fast this Pokémon actually is.
At level 35, it evolves into its final form, Cinderace. Now it returns back to its Soccer motif. Cinderace looks like a pro-footballer with legs that could give Cristiano Ronaldo a run for his money. Its signature move is called Pyro Ball, where Cinderace kicks a pebble until it burns up and kicks it towards its enemy.
Overall, Scorbunny is a great starter that will help you a lot in the early stages of the game. You’ll probably have an easy time breezing through the gym by choosing this Pokémon. Stat-wise, this Pokémon is a bit of a glass cannon with high Attack and Speed stats but very low defensive stats. Plus it has an incredibly powerful hidden ability called Libero. This allows the Pokémon to change its type to the type of the move it’s about to use. This can prove handy in a lot of situations and the versatility makes Cinderace a must-have for teams in competitive play.
Last, but certainly not the least is Sobble, the water-type starter in Pokémon Sword/Shield. Don’t be fooled by its cute appearance, this Pokémon packs quite a punch. While it starts out as kind of a crybaby lizard, it eventually evolves into a very powerful Pokémon. Out of the three starters, this water-type Pokémon is the only one who will have a pretty high Special Attack stat once its level is maxed out. Early on, this Pokémon will struggle with type match ups but once you reach the 3rd gym, everything will be easier.
At level 16, it evolves into Drizzile. Its second evolution looks like an emo chameleon. A fitting allusion to everyone having an emo phase during the awkward years in middle school.
At level 35, it evolves into its final form, Inteleon. Judging from its appearance, Inteleon looks like a slick super spy with looks that could kill. Leaning into the espionage theme, this Pokémon’s signature move is called Snipe Shot, a very strong water-type move that ignores draw-in effects.
Overall, Sobble is a great pick that may cause you to struggle early on but rewards you by nearly being able to one-shot everything in later stages of the game, thanks to Snipe Shot. It will also have slightly higher Speed compared to Scorbunny. Combine that with a versatile move pool that allows you to learn water-type, ice-type, and even dark-type moves, this starter Pokémon will be an unstoppable sweeper once you reach the end game.
All the starter Pokémon in Sword/Shield are pretty great compared to some of the starters in previous generations. Whichever one you pick depends on how you plan on playing the game. If you want to have a fast playstyle, go with Scorbunny. If you want to play a little defensively without sacrificing the offense, go with Grookey. If you enjoy using special moves to beat your opponents, go with Sobble. Remember, you can’t change your starter Pokémon after you pick it, so choose wisely!
There you have it! You don’t really have to worry about which starter Pokémon you choose. Part of the fun in Pokémon is building a great team that covers up your Pokémon’s weaknesses. Just pick the starter you don’t mind spending countless hours with as you travel through Galar. Have fun!