The latest Pokémon games, Pokémon Sword and Shield, have finally arrived on Switch. While it’s largely a single-player experience, there are a few multiplayer and co-op features to enjoy.
Sadly, there’s no way to play the main game of Pokémon Sword and Shield in local or online multiplayer. While Pokémon Let’s Go allowed a local co-op player to drop in and explore the world with you, Pokémon Sword and Shield has no similar option. The main bulk of the game is very much a single-player experience.
However: there are portions of the game that can be played with others. You can engage in battles in the ‘Vs’ menu, complete Dynamax battles with friends, and trade with others.
In the ‘Vs’ menu, there are two options: Battle Stadium and Live Competition. Battle Stadium is online, and unfortunately there’s no way to choose who you battle against: you’re randomly matched against another player. But Live Competition allows you to host and join competitions, creating a set of rules in order to battle with friends. You’ll need a Digital ID in order to join a competition.
As for Dynamax battles: you’ll find these while exploring the Wild Areas of Pokémon Sword and Shield. They’re displayed with a glowing column coming from the ground. Interact with one, and you’ll be given a menu screen that allows you to either invite friends, find players online, or play alone (supported by CPU characters). You can either generate a code to allow friends to join, or be matched with random players online.
The final way you can play Pokémon Sword and Shield with friends is via trading. From the game, press ‘Y’ to access the trading (or ‘Y-Comm’ menu). In order to trade with a friend, you’ll need to access the ‘Link Trade’ option, and then set a Link Code. You’ll need to give this code to a friend and, once they’ve inputted it, you’ll be able to connect to each other to trade Pokémon. If you don’t set a link code, you’ll be matched with a random player in order to initiate a trade.