Scathing Metacritic user reviews and #GameFreakLied dull the shine of Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield's release
Recent critic reviews for Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield were reasonably good; both the Sword and Shield variants brandished scores of 81 on Metacritic and have received a fair share of glowing reports. But as is often the case, the critical opinion has not matched the user opinion. The current Metacritic user score for Pokémon Sword is 3.5 (based on 1,608 ratings) while Pokémon Shield is even more disliked on 3.4 (739 ratings). There are a number of reasons why the games have been met with such apparent user dissatisfaction.
A logical person might just go for the simplest conclusion here: Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield failed to deliver what hardcore fans wanted. Whereas critics seem more willing to accept the controversial changes (Pokédex refinement) and try to remain objective, gamers have no need to be so measured in their reviews. Browsing through the damning comments, it becomes clear to see that the biggest issues are the short story, a “rushed” feel to the games, substandard graphics, and crippling bugs (deletion of saved data). All of those problems and that’s without even mentioning the cut cast of characters.
The discord among Pokémon fans has been building ever since it was announced that hundreds of monsters would not appear in either Pokémon Sword or Pokémon Shield. Reasons for the cuts were given that initially seemed fair, but a growing wave of resentment has been made more visible online thanks to the #GameFreakLied tag that recently trended on Twitter. Perhaps one of the most pertinent criticisms was based on the graphics modeling, as it was claimed that the creation of completely new character models was a reason for slashing the Pokédex. However, many have accused developer Game Freak of simply reusing older models.
There will be some argument that, similar to many disgruntled members of the Star Wars fanbase that continue to lambast The Last Jedi (Rotten Tomatoes score: 91% critics, 44% audience), there are always going to be people who follow a particular franchise who will hate any kind of change. But, it seems many Metacritic user review writers have deliberately avoided basing their low scores on the Dexit controversy or from just being angry at Game Freak. At the moment, it simply appears that Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield are really just not much fun.