Pokémon Sword and Shield for the Nintendo Switch was a breath of fresh air for the franchise, bringing new mechanics, Galarian forms, and a wide range of Pokémon to discover, train, and battle. Whether you’re an elite trainer fighting your way to the top of the ranks, a dedicated collector maxing out your Pokédex, or simply a casual player looking to have fun exploring the Galar region, these are the ten best Pokémon in Sword and Shield that stand out as the strongest, rarest, and most iconic.
The Strongest Pokémon in Sword and Shield
Let’s face it: The most fun and addictive aspect of Pokémon is battling. It’s only fitting that a list of the best Pokémon in Sword and Shield begins with the strongest monsters. Here are the strongest Pokémon in Sword and Shield that elite trainers can use to dominate their opponents:
Zacian is a legendary Fairy-type Pokémon and the mascot for Pokémon Sword. Its regal appearance and powerful moveset make it a force to be reckoned with in battles. Zacian’s unique ability, Intrepid Sword, boosts its Attack stat upon entering battle, allowing it to hit even harder.
Evolution: Although Zacian doesn’t technically evolve, it turns into a second Crowned Sword form when given a Rusted Sword to hole. The Zacian Crowned Sword form becomes a hybrid Fairy/Steel-type Pokémon.
Strengths and Weaknesses: Zacian’s Fairy-typing makes it effective against Dark, Dragon, and Fighting-type Pokémon but vulnerable to Poison and Steel attacks. In its Crowned Sword form, Zacian’s Steel typing gives it an advantage against Fairy, Ice, Rock, and Dragon-types. It’s weak to Ground and Fire-type moves.
Fun Fact: The Crowned Sword Form of Zacian is considered its true form, which it assumes when holding the Rusted Sword item during battle.
The counterpart to Zacian, Zamazenta is a legendary Pokémon and the mascot for the Pokémon Shield. It’s a Fighting-type in its standard form and gains an additional Steel-typing in its Crowned Shield form. Whereas Zacian is offense-focused, Zamazenta is a formidable defensive tank built to withstand even the toughest hits in battle.
Evolution: When given a Rusted Sword to hold in battle, Zamazenta will turn into its Crowned Shield form. This isn’t an evolution, but nonetheless enhances Zamazenta’s capabilities (especially its defense).
Strengths and Weaknesses: Zamazenta’s Fighting typing grants it an advantage against Normal, Ice, Rock, Steel, Dark, and Ice-types. However, in its Crowned Shield form, it’s weak to Fighting, Ground, and Fire-type moves due to its Steel-typing.
Fun Fact: Like Zacian, Zamazenta’s Crowned Shield Form is its true form, activated when holding the Rusted Shield item during battle.
Eternatus is a Poison/Dragon-type Legendary Pokémon and the mastermind behind the events of the Pokémon Sword and Shield storyline. Its unique hybrid typing and signature move, “Dynamax Cannon,” make it a potent choice for trainers who want to add a powerful combatant to their teams.
Evolution: Like the Hero Duo Zacian and Zamazenta, Eternatus doesn’t evolve but features a second, more powerful form. This form, Eternamax Eternatus, is activated and must be fought after the player first defeats Eternatus at the game’s climax.
Strengths and Weaknesses: Eternatus’s Poison/Dragon typing gives it advantages against Grass, Fighting, Bug, Fairy, and Poison-types, but it is weak to Ground, Psychic, and Ice-type moves.
Fun Fact: Eternatus is the only Pokémon with a catch rate of 255, making it the easiest Legendary Pokémon to capture. This is because catching Eternatus is a scripted event after you defeat its Eternamax form near the end of the game.
Rare and Unique Pokémon in Sword and Shield
Battles are the highlight of the series, but catching and collecting Pokémon is the other half of the fun – especially the elusive creatures that you can only catch once. Here are the rarest Pokémon in Sword and Shield for trainers to add to their Pokédexes:
Mewtwo is a Psychic-type Legendary Pokémon known for its incredible psychic abilities and high base stats. While Mewtwo wasn’t initially present in Sword and Shield, players can obtain it via Dynamax Adventures in the Crown Tundra DLC, which made it available in the Galar region.
Evolution: Although Mewtwo cannot evolve normally, it can Mega Evolve into one of two forms, Mega Mewtwo X or Mega Mewtwo Y, if a trainer gives it a Mewtonite X or Y to hold in battle. These Mega Evolutions are more powerful forms of Mewtwo, with Mega Mewtwo X also gaining Fighting-typing – making it a rather unique Fighting/Psychic-type Pokémon.
Strengths and Weaknesses: Mewtwo’s Psychic typing gives it an advantage against Fighting and Poison-types but leaves it vulnerable to Bug, Ghost, and Dark-type moves.
Fun Fact: Mewtwo was created through genetic manipulation, making it one of the franchise’s most iconic and mysterious Pokémon.
Galarian Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres
The Crown Tundra DLC for Pokémon Sword and Shield also introduced the Galarian forms of Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres, bringing a refreshing twist to these classic Generation I Legendaries. Each has a unique type combination – Psychic/Flying, Fighting/Flying, and Dark/Flying, respectively, making them powerful additions to your team.
Evolution: As the name implies, Galarian forms are unique to Galar, the region featured in Pokémon Sword and Shield. However, unlike the Legendaries mentioned above, the birds do not transform into their Galarian forms – this is simply how the player will encounter them in Galar.
Strengths and Weaknesses: Trainers likely already know that Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres are hybrid elemental and Flying-type Legendaries. Their Galarian forms are a bit different: Galarian Articuno is a Psychic/Flying-type, Galarian Zapdos is a Fighting/Flying-type, and Galarian Moltres is a Dark/Flying-type. This shift from their original elemental typing gives the Galarian birds different strengths and weaknesses and allows trainers to use new strategies when sending these aerial Legendaries into battle.
Fun Fact: These Galarian forms are inspired by the lore of Galar and its connection to the Regi Pokémon.
Stonjourner and Eiscue (Shield exclusive)
These two rather interesting pocket monsters are exclusive to Pokémon Shield. Stonjourner is a Rock-type Pokémon with a high Defense stat, while Eiscue is an Ice-type Pokémon known for its amusing Ice Face ability, which changes its appearance based on its health.
Strengths and Weaknesses: Stonjourner’s Rock typing grants advantages against Fire, Flying, Bug, and Ice-types but makes it vulnerable to Water, Grass, Fighting, Ground, and Steel-type moves. Eiscue’s Ice typing leaves it weak to Fighting, Rock, and Steel-type moves.
Fun Fact: Eiscue’s Ice Face ability shields its face from damage until its health falls below 50%, giving it an unexpected defensive advantage. When its ice “helmet” melts, it reveals Eiscue’s head, giving the Pokemon the appearance of a penguin with a blue-colored face.
Sirfetch’d (Sword exclusive)
Sirfetch’d is the evolved form of the iconic Generation I bird Pokémon Farfetch’d. This all-new evolutionary form is exclusive to Pokémon Sword. This Fighting-type Pokémon wields a giant leek as its weapon and has a proud, knight-like bearing that stands in stark contrast to the somewhat silly appearance of the pre-evolutionary form.
Evolution: Farfetch’d evolves into Sirfetch’d when it lands three critical hits in a single battle. There is no level requirement for this evolution to occur.
Strengths and Weaknesses: Sirfetch’d’s Fighting typing gives it an advantage against Normal, Ice, Rock, Steel, and Dark-types but weakens it to Flying and Psychic-type moves.
Fun Fact: Despite being a bird Pokémon, Sirfetch’d does not have Flying-typing, unlike its pre-evolutionary form, which is a hybrid Normal/Flying-type.
Returning Fan-Favorite Pokémon in Sword and Shield
Every game brings its own new and unique Pokémon to the series, but few trainers can deny the simple pleasure of encountering an old friend. We considered restricting this list only to Pokémon introduced in Sword and Shield. However, we quickly realized that there was no way we could leave out these returning fan favorites:
As the franchise mascot, Pikachu is arguably the most iconic pocket monster (and what Pokémon game would be complete without him?). Its cute appearance and the fact that it’s Ash’s partner in the Pokémon anime make it a fan-favorite worldwide. Pikachu is an Electric-type Pokémon known for its speedy moves and powerful electrical attacks, not to mention its lovable character design.
Evolution: Pikachu evolves into Raichu with the use of a Thunder Stone. The Generation II games introduced Pichu, a pre-evolutionary form that evolves into Pikachu when it achieves high friendship with its trainer and then levels up.
Strengths and Weaknesses: Pikachu’s Electric typing grants it an advantage against Water and Flying-types but leaves it vulnerable to Ground-type moves.
Fun Fact: From the start, Pikachu was intended to be the mascot for the Pokémon franchise, a role it still fulfills today.
Charizard is a Fire/Flying-type Pokémon and the final evolution of Charmander, one of the original Generation I starter Pokémon from the Kanto region. Its dragon-like appearance and powerful Fire-type moves have made it a beloved Pokémon for generations, and it has featured heavily in the series over the years.
Evolution: Charmander evolves into Charmeleon at level 16, and Charmeleon evolves into Charizard at level 36. Charizard also has three additional forms: Mega Charizard X, Mega Charizard Y, and Gigantamax Charizard.
Strengths and Weaknesses: Charizard’s Fire/Flying typing gives it an advantage against Grass, Bug, Ice, and Steel-types. However, it is doubly weak to Rock-type moves.
Fun Fact: Charizard, Venusaur, and Blastoise were among the first Pokémon to receive a Mega Evolution. This seems fitting, given that these are the final evolutionary forms of the original starter Pokémon in the Generation I games Pokémon Red and Blue.
Eevee is an iconic Generation I Pokémon notable for being able to evolve into eight different forms, commonly called “Eeveelutions” by fans of the series. Each Eevee evolutionary form boasts a distinct type, moveset, and appearance. This versatility makes Eevee a fan-favorite, although its cute appearance certainly doesn’t hurt its popularity.
Evolution: The eight Eevee evolutions are Vaporeon, Jolteon, Flareon, Espeon, Umbreon, Leafeon, Glaceon, and Sylveon. Eevee evolves into various forms through different methods, such as exposure to specific evolutionary stones, leveling up with a high friendship level, or leveling up in specific in-game locations.
Strengths and Weaknesses: Eevee’s strengths and weaknesses and those of its evolved forms depend on the type of evolution it undergoes. For instance, Vaporeon is strong against Fire-types but weak to Electric-types, while Flareon is the opposite. With eight different types (not including the Normal-type pre-evolutionary form, which would make nine), there’s an Eevee evolution to fit just about any team and strategy.
Fun Fact: Eevee’s ability to evolve into multiple forms was a unique concept in the Generation I Pokémon games, and it has remained a staple of the series ever since.
In our opinion, the above ten Pokémon are the strongest, rarest, and most iconic creatures you can find in Pokémon Sword and Shield. The Galar region has something to offer every type of Pokémon trainer, from battle-hardened veterans to intrepid Pokédex researchers. Whether you’re looking for formidable fighters or nostalgic favorites, you’re now ready to venture out into Galar, catch ’em all, and build your dream team.