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What the critics are saying about Pokemon Sword and Shield

The day has finally arrived! Well, almost. Pokemon Sword and Shield aren't set to release until this Friday, Nov. 15. But the review embargo has now lifted for the next entries in the Pokemon franchise, which means we can read some thoughts from critics and determine whether or not we're going to buy the games ourselves.

In looking at reviews for Sword and Shield, we saw a few topics popping up repeatedly, so we'll briefly hit on those. Then, at the end, we'll tell you what critics thought of the game overall.

So, how did those who played Pokemon Sword and Shield feel about their experiences?

The Wild Area is fantastic

The Wild Area is a new feature in Pokemon Sword and Shield, and to many critics, it's the best part about the game. In between cities and towns, players can explore, discover new Pokemon, and even take on raids (which involve teaming up with other trainers to battle giant Pokemon).

GameSpot said of the Wild Area: "It's all too easy to set out for one destination only to be distracted by a Pokemon you haven't caught yet, an item glittering on the ground in the distance, or even an evolved form of a Pokemon that you didn't realize you could catch in the wild. There's constantly something new to do or discover, and it's there to engage you right out of the gate."

And VG247 felt similarly, adding, "In terms of size think of the Wild Area as more like a GameCube-era Zelda Hyrule Field than Skyrim, but it hits all of the right notes and feels exciting to explore."

The story is a mixed bag

The plot is rarely a strong point in Pokemon titles, and with Sword and Shield, critics seem split as to how effective the games are at telling a story.

"While the plot is silly and the twists are visible early on, I love the way Sword & Shield introduce recurring characters throughout the adventure," said Game Informer's Brian Shea. "Having the league champion pop up throughout the story, or running into the gym leaders in places other than the gyms makes your eventual encounters with them that much more impactful."

Kotaku, however, felt differently.

"The plot is pretty lackluster; for example, nothing reaches the narrative heights of Black and White," the outlet said.

Overall, critics seem to like Pokemon Sword and Shield

What's the consensus on Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield? The games actually seem to be faring very well, with many stating that these latest titles are some of — if not the — best Pokemon experiences to date.

"The magic of Pokémon is that it lets you tap into a sense of wonder that becomes more and more difficult to access as an adult," said Kotaku. "Sword and Shield do that more successfully than any Pokémon release has in years."

And IGN went a step further, proclaiming: "Pokemon Sword and Shield are the best games in the series, streamlining its most tedious traditions without losing any of the charm."

It looks like we might have a hit on our hands. But we'll have to wait until fans get their hands on Sword and Shield to know for sure. That happens on Friday. Nov. 15.