To update: During E3 2019 we had the opportunity to talk with Pokemon Sword and Shield, producer Junichi Masuda, and director Shigeru Ohmori about the upcoming games. They confirmed that sword and shield have no random encounters in the traditional sense. While you will not see every Pokemon in the Overworld – sometimes an exclamation point is displayed indicating that a Pokemon is hiding – Pokemon does not just pick you out of the tall grass without having warned you in the previous games. The original story follows.
The Pokemon Direct aired on June 5th showed a new trailer and more details about Pokemon Sword and Shield. One of these new details was a bit unclear. The trailer and the following clips showed Pokemon wandering around the Overworld, much like Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee, but we also saw an encounter in the tall grass. Are there random encounters or not?
From what we know so far, chance encounters seem to be mostly, if not completely, over. The Direct showed a plethora of Pokémon roaming the Overworld, similar to the Let's Go games. You encounter this wild Pokémon in a so-called wildlife area, which refers to the vastness of nature between cities. In the Wild Area you will encounter different Pokémon depending on your location and the weather. You start fighting these Pokémon by meeting them. However, some will track you as soon as they discover you.
Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield – Official Trailer
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The Direct also featured a more typical wild pokemon encounter in the tall grass. As it turns out, you also have some control over these encounters. A small exclamation point appears in the grass indicating that a Pokemon is here. Then you can start the fight by bumping into it – just like the Pokemon that physically appears in the Overworld. It is unclear whether Pokemon will attack you in a random and surprising manner in certain situations, but that seems unlikely. We have sought clarification and will update this story as we hear more.
More news from Pokemon Direct can be found in our explanation of the new Dynamax mechanics and all new Galar Pokemons. Pokemon Sword and Shield will be released on November 15th. Find out more in our Pre-Order Guide.