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As our first Galar stadium demo battle began – our on-screen character stepping into the crowded arena to a roar of cheers – the ground was quite literally shaking beneath our feet.

No, that’s not a metaphor. Thanks to the subwoofers installed in our station at Nintendo’s E3 booth, and the more realistic ambient sounds being used in Pokémon Sword and Shield, we truly experienced an entirely new level of HD rumble during our demo – making us eager to install our own impressive sound systems at home before the game's launch on November 15th.

The rumbling intensified as our opponent’s Drednaw Dynamaxed before our eyes – which, we can tell you, was much more impressive during live gameplay than we’d previously thought. From here, we were given the standard options to “fight” or switch out our Pokémon (of which we could select any of the starters, as well as Wooloo, Corviknight or Yamper). However, there was also a third, tantalizingly glowing pink option to use “Dynamax” – which we selected immediately, like an obedient Wooloo.

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Image: Zion Grassl / Nintendo Life

In the excitement of the moment, we forgot the fact that Dynamax can only be used once per battle – and will only last for three turns. Alas, we blew up the Sobble we had in play, and missed the opportunity to use it on the more interesting Yamper or Wooloo in our party. The lesson to be taken from this is to ensure you use your Dynamax power wisely in every battle. And frankly, the wisest decision is often to just create a giant electric corgi.

The lesson to be taken from this is to ensure you use your Dynamax power wisely in every battle

When you do choose to Dynamax your Pokémon, be sure to take full advantage of your power in a timely fashion, before you find yourself shrinking again – while still up against an opponent ten times your size. Not that this happened to us, honest. Just take our word for it.

If you’re lucky enough to have a Yamper in your party, you’re likely to be redeemed no matter the choices you make in battle. According to its Pokédex entry: “If the Pokémon is not holding an item, it will fetch the Poke Ball from the first failed throw of the battle.” Thank you for that, Game Freak. In addition, while this electric-type corgi may be cute, it can definitely be powerful in battle.

The entire demo itself involved working our way through the new water-type gym, which belongs to the second official gym leader to be revealed so far – Nessa. For many fans, she is an exciting addition to the Sword and Shield line-up; along with Leon and Hop, she represents broader diversity in the games, and the inclusion of more characters with darker skin than previously seen in other entries to the series.

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Image: Zion Grassl / Nintendo Life

In the gym, we were tasked with a standard switch-based puzzle system, where jets of water had to be turned on and off in order to progress – while, of course, battling a few easy-to-beat trainers along the way. However, adding Dynamax to the mix in the final battle with Nessa truly did introduce a new, more challenging element to the gameplay which we look forward to using more strategically in the full versions.

Other than this, the demo was quite limited, and showcased much of what we’ve seen in the Directs so far. Things such as menus and items were suspended for preview purposes, so exploration of the game’s inner workings was not accessible. Many of the controls were similar to the Let’s Go games, and the gameplay itself felt very similar as we moved around the gym. Although we didn’t get a chance to try out how the Poké Ball Plus will interact with the games, it’ll definitely be interesting to see how that feature plays out in the full games.

All in all, the more we see of Sword and Shield and the new features being made available, the more excited we are to get our hands on the full versions of these games – particularly to explore the vast new region and see the other new Pokémon still in store for us. November can’t come soon enough.

What do you think of the gameplay seen so far for Sword and Shield? Are you looking forward to trying Dynamax battles out for yourself? Let us know in the comments below.