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‘Pokemon Sword and Shield’ expansions: What to know about Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra

For anyone who's itching to do more with their Pokémon, don't fret; Nintendo's got your back. During its Nintendo Direct broadcast, the company announced two additional expansions for Pokémon Sword and Shield along with a remake of an older, beloved game — Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team. Both the expansions and the remake will be released this year.

The expansion passes for Sword and Shield are downloadable content that are available for pre-purchase now on the Nintendo eShop. The passes add two new parts to the story. The first is called the Isle of Armor, coming in June 2020. This part adds new environments and at least 200 more Pokémon to the main game. According to the product description on the Nintendo eShop, players will "become the student of a former champion" and encounter a new, startlingly adorable, teddy bear-like Legendary Pokémon called 'Kubfu.'

The theme of the Isle of Armor is "Growth," said Hiroyuki Tani, director of the Sword and Shield expansion passes, during the broadcast. Players will train in a dojo with their rivals and learn from an old mentor — a man who also trained the Pokémon Champion Leon.

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The second part of the expansion, The Crown Tundra, is expected to be available in Fall 2020. This new environment appears to be more snow-filled and chilly, and new outfits will be available so you can dress your trainer appropriately. The Nintendo eShop says The Crown Tundra is "all about exploring uncharted territory" as players learn more about another new Legendary Pokémon, the deer-faced 'Calyrex.'

The theme for The Crown Tundra is "Exploration," continued Tani. The player will be the leader of an exploration team by a "certain someone," according to the Direct, and will introduce a new co-op mechanic to the game. Players can join with their friends to explore underground dens that might contain Legendary Pokémon from older games to catch.

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Just like the base games, the expansions will differ depending on whether you have Sword or Shield. For example, if you have Pokémon Sword, the rival character for the Isle of Armor will be Klara, a poison-type user. If you have Pokémon Shield, your rival will instead be Avery, a psychic-type user.

Both games, however, will add plenty of new customization options for trainers such as new clothes and new styles for their bikes. The developers encouraged Pokémon players to continue trading, battling, and sharing the Pokémon they have with players that own different versions.

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For folks who are worried they can't get the expansions right away, Nintendo has your back, too. The company plans to release updates to the base Sword and Shield games that will allow players without the expansion passes a chance to get the new Pokémon through trading. Players with or without the expansions will also be able to bring in Pokémon from the Pokémon HOME service as long as the Pokémon appears in Sword and Shield. (Which could still exclude some older Pokémon from earlier games.)

Pokémon HOME is a cloud-based, paid service that will allow players to store and transfer their Pokémon from different games in one place. Its current release date is February 2020, though the Pokémon developers intend to release more information about the service before then.

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The move to expansion passes suggests that Nintendo, and the Pokémon developers at Game Freak, won't be releasing a 'third version' of Sword and Shield. In the past, a third version of the base games would be released as a more updated and 'complete' version a year or two later — Pokémon Crystal and Pokémon Platinum are examples of this — which meant sometimes it was best to wait for that version instead. But in these internet-fueled, modern times, that doesn't appear to be necessary anymore. The continued development on expansions and updates to Sword and Shield have some fans believing that there won't be a third version of the games.

The expansions are still being worked on, but the developers vowed to release more details and co-op features as we get closer to the release date.

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In addition to the Sword and Shield news, the Pokémon developers also announced a pleasant little surprise. A remake of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team for the Nintendo Switch. Originally released for the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, the Mystery Dungeon series was a charming spin-off of the main games that turned the player into an actual Pokémon. After taking a brief survey at the beginning of the game, the player will 'wake up' as a certain Pokémon depending on how you answered the questions. (Is your personality more like a Pikachu or a Chikorita?)

Mystery Dungeon was an adorable series that garnered fans with its fun sense of Pokémon humor — How can Diglett have sore feet? Diglett have feet?? — unique take on the traits of different Pokémon, and a wholesome look at how Pokémon team up to help each other out.

The remake, titled Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX, will be released on March 6, 2020. A demo is available on the Nintendo eShop starting today. Any progress made in the demo can be carried over to the full game upon purchase.

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The Pokémon series is still very much alive and kicking. If you're like me and you were holding out for a third version of the latest main Pokémon games — it might be time to stop waiting. The continued development on the expansions for Sword and Shield, as well as the new Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, seems to indicate that Nintendo is planning to support the games for a while yet before moving on. It's a new move for the company, but an interesting one, and this might be a good time to jump in and join the fun before we get overwhelmed by more new releases.