The Worst Part of Pokemon Sword and Shield Is Its Online Features

Pokemon Sword and Shield's most disappointing feature is its poorly implemented online features. While Pokemon Sword and Shield has a lot of good things going for it, the game's biggest disappointment is its new Y-Comm system, a feature that replaces the Global Link and Global Trade System features used by Pokemon games since Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. Players have to activate the Y-Comm system by pushing their Y button and then accessing the Internet by pushing the "+" button. After doing so, players can use Link Battles and Link Trades, as well as enter other players' camps or see them around the Wild Area.

There's two main problems with the Y-Comm system. The first is that it lacks much of the functionality offered by previous Pokemon games. While players can still Wonder Trade (a system in which players send one of their Pokemon to a random trade partner), players can no longer post potential trades on the Global Trade System, a system used by many Pokemon players to collect version exclusive Pokemon or Pokemon not available in their games. While it makes sense to do away with the Global Trade System on some level (since not every Pokemon can be transferred into Pokemon Sword and Shield), it makes no sense that a replacement system wasn't introduced.

The other problem with the Y-Comm system is that it just....doesn't work very well. While the system hypothetically notifies players when other players are looking for Max Raid Battles, it doesn't do a very good job of matching players or giving players enough notice to jump into a Max Raid Battle. I love the idea of teaming up with strangers to face down a Dynamax Pokemon, but my three days of playing online only garnered a handful of actual raids and a ton of error messages. I'd much rather face down a Dynamax Pokemon with actual players as opposed to the NPC trainers with Pokemon that can often be one-shotted in a fight, but the Y-Comm system just seems clunky and not very good at its job.

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While Pokemon fans generally loved the Global Trade System and other online features in past Pokemon games, the online features in Pokemon Sword and Shield seem like a major step back. Hopefully, Game Freak can improve on this system either through some online optimization or ditch the system with its next games. Right now, the Y-Comm system feels like the biggest disappointment in what's otherwise been a solid Pokemon experience.

Pokemon Sword and Shield are available now.