Did Pokemon Sword and Shield Nerf Catch Rates?

Did Pokemon Sword and Shield nerf its catch rates? That's a question many players are wondering after their initial playthroughs of the game. Numerous complaints have sprung up about the allegedly lowered catch rates in Pokemon Sword and Shield, which seems to occur mainly when battling a wild Pokemon with a Pokemon of a lower level. Various game boards and Twitter are filled with comments about the allegedly lowered catch rate, although no one has confirmed whether Game Freak has made any substantive changes to the complex formula used by the Pokemon games to determine whether or not a player succeeds in catching a Pokemon.

While the equation for catch rate percentages is quite complex, it usually only takes into account the amount of damage a Pokemon has taken, the type of ball used in the catch attempt, any status conditions the wild Pokemon has, and the individual catch rate of a certain Pokemon species, players speculate that a new element has been added to the catch rate percentage - a new factor that significantly decreases the catch rate if a player's active Pokemon has a lower level than that of the wild Pokemon species.

It's possible, of course, that all the complaints is just due to some unlucky "RNG," but the number of complaints seem to indicate otherwise. And based on our (admittedly unscientific) tests, there does seem to be some anecdotal proof that it's easier to catch a Pokemon when your active Pokemon is of a higher level than the wild Pokemon. We conducted two dozen tests in the Wild Area against various "strong spawn" Pokemon. After putting each Pokemon to sleep, we switched out our active Pokemon with a Level 3 Grubbin and then tried to catch the Pokemon. None of our catches made when Grubbin was active went through, but when Grubbin was switched out with a Level 61 Rillaboom, we managed to catch the wild Pokemon on 20 of the 24 subsequent throws made under the same conditions. Admittedly, our sample size isn't enough to prove anything, but it definitely suggests that something is going on.

If you're having difficulty catching Pokemon in Pokemon Sword and Shield, you may want to bring a stronger Pokemon. Let us know if you're having this problem in the comment section, or find me on Twitter at @CHofferCBus to chat all things Pokemon!