Pokémon Sword and Shield vs. Pokémon X and Y: Full Comparison

Pokémon Sword and Shield vs. Pokémon X and Y: Full Comparison

In the ever-changing world of Pokémon, each new game, or set of games, brings its own set of challenges, features, and pocket monsters to catch. Many of these games have close connections to each other, either in terms of the fauna or the story. Pokémon Sword and Shield for Nintendo Switch and Pokémon X and Y for Nintendo 3DS are not directly connected, but they do share some geographical and thematic connections. Based on close-by regions, the UK and France, these two sets of games offer still unique experiences. But how do they stack up against each other in terms of gameplay, features, Pokémon, and more? 

This article dives deep into the comparison between Pokémon Sword and Shield and Pokémon X and Y. Hopefully, we’ll manage to give you a comprehensive look at what to expect from each of these titles and make your potential choice between the games an informed one.


Pokémon Sword and Shield hit the market in November 2019 for the Nintendo Switch and quickly became fan favorites. These titles have over 25 million copies sold, setting them among the highest-selling in the Pokémon franchise. In contrast, Pokémon X and Y debuted in 2013 on the Nintendo 3DS, marking the franchise’s transition to the sixth generation. Although they have sold around 16.5 million copies, these titles haven’t surpassed the sales figures of Sword and Shield. However, it is worth noting that Nintendo Switch is a more popular platform than 3DS. Additionally, as a more modern title, Pokémon Sword and Shield has a bigger audience.

Frogadier from Pokémon X and Y.
Frogadier is one of the Pokémon available in Pokémon X and Y.

Both of the games have a massive amount of Pokémon to catch and trade. However, the older of the two, Pokémon X and Y, has more at over 450 compared to over 400 Pokémon in Sword and Shield. The critics and the public have clearly loved both sets of games. They are among the most popular Pokémon titles. Both also have introduced features, that give them a unique experience. We’ll get to each of their separate feature sets a little later on, so keep reading.

CategoryPokémon Sword and ShieldPokémon X and Y
Release Year20192013
Total Units Sold25.9 million16.6 million
Available Pokémon400+450+
ConsolesNintendo SwitchNintendo 3DS


Sword and Shield takes players on a journey through the Galar region, which draws inspiration from the United Kingdom. This region offers a range of landscapes, including cities, countryside, and even snow-covered mountains and underground caves. A standout feature in Galar is the Wild Area, an open space for exploration, diverse Pokémon encounters, and Max Raid Battles. The setting also inserts the essence of British culture and folklore, which might be something one is drawn towards.

X and Y, on the other hand, offer a tour of the Kalos region, based on the real-world country of France. Kalos has a sort of artistic flair by offering boutiques for trainer customization. This feature was introduced in Pokémon X and Y and has since become a staple in the series. The main area of the region is Lumiose City. This sprawling city is reminiscent of Paris and even includes an Eiffel Tower-like monument.

A partial map of the Galar region from Pokemon Sword and Shield.
Galar is the region of Pokémon Sword and Shield, inspired by the UK.


In Pokémon Sword and Shield, one of the standout features is Dynamaxing, which allows Pokémon to grow to enormous sizes during battles, gaining boosted stats and special Max Moves in the process. This feature is a central element in Max Raid Battles, where players can team up to take down powerful Dynamaxed Pokémon in the Wild Area. Speaking of the Wild Area, it’s another innovation in Sword and Shield that allows for open-world exploration. In this vast space, players can encounter a wide variety of Pokémon, control the camera freely, and participate in various activities. The game also has a battle feature called Z-Move, which was introduced after X and Y.

Also, several other features make the game distinct. One of these is the Rotom Phone, which replaces the traditional Pokédex and has multiple utilities. The games also introduced the concept of Galarian forms, where existing Pokémon get new forms and types unique to the Galar region. The Curry Cooking activity is another fun addition, offering players a way to cook various types of curry to bond with their Pokémon. Players can also participate in the Y-Comm multiplayer feature for trading and battling with other trainers.

  • Dynamaxing: Allows Pokémon to grow larger and gain boosted stats and special Max Moves.
  • Wild Area: An area that offers open-world exploration and various activities including Max Raid Battles.
  • Z-Moves: A feature where Pokémon can perform a special powerful move once per battle.
  • Rotom Phone: Replaces the traditional Pokédex and has multiple functions.
  • Galarian Forms: New forms and types for existing Pokémon, exclusive to the Galar region.
  • Curry Cooking: A mini-game allowing players to cook various curries to bond with their Pokémon.
  • Y-Comm: Multiplayer feature for easy trading and battling with others

On the other hand, Pokémon X and Y introduced the concept of Mega Evolution. This allowed certain Pokémon to temporarily evolve into a more powerful form, changing their appearance and boosting their abilities. Mega Evolution became a game-changing mechanic in battles and has been a fan favorite since its introduction. Another notable feature in X and Y is Horde Encounters. In these, players face multiple Pokémon at once. This ramps up the challenge and opens up new strategies for capturing or defeating Pokémon. Trainer customization is also one of the features that were introduced in X and Y. It became a popular feature in upcoming Pokémon titles. The game has various boutiques where players can personalize their trainer’s look.

Mega Charizard
One of the features introduced in Pokémon X and Y is Mega Evolution.

Pokémon X and Y also added the Fairy-type Pokémon, which added a new dynamic to battle strategies. However, these are also available in Sword and Shield. The games also brought the Player Search System (PSS), an online feature that allows players to trade and battle more easily. A similar feature is included in the newer titles, including Sword and Shield with Y-Comm. A unique element was the introduction of Sky Battles and the Super Training. The former has aerial battles which require specific Pokémon. The latter is a new way for players to train their Pokémon’s base stats through mini-games.

  • Mega Evolution: Provides a temporary evolved form for specific Pokémon, enhancing their abilities and changing their appearance.
  • Horde Encounters: Challenges players with battles against multiple Pokémon at once.
  • Trainer Customization: Extensive options for personalizing the trainer’s appearance through boutiques.
  • Fairy-type Pokémon: A new type of Pokémon introduced in X and Y.
  • Player Search System: An online feature for trading and battling.
  • Sky Battles: Battles in the air, restricted to specific types of Pokémon.
  • Super Training: Mini-games that allow for base stat training of Pokémon.

Gyms and Battles

In Pokémon Sword and Shield, gyms are integrated more into the player’s journey than in most previous Pokémon titles. In the games, the gyms are large stadiums instead of intimate buildings. The game also introduces the concept of Gym Challenges, which often involve completing a mini-game or solving a puzzle before facing the gym leader. There’s no Elite Four in this game. Instead, the player participates in a Champion Cup, a tournament where they battle other top trainers to ultimately face the champion.

Pokémon X and Y stick to a more traditional gym formula, where each gym is a smaller venue with its unique design and elemental focus. The gym leaders here are part of your journey but are less important to the story than in Sword and Shield. After defeating all gym leaders, players in X and Y challenge the Elite Four in the Pokémon League, each specializing in a particular type of Pokémon. The Elite Four structure is a series of battles. At the end of this, the players have a final battle with the champion, similar to previous generations of Pokémon games.

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