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Pokémon Sword and Shield guide: Which is the best starter?

It’s time to decide: Grookey, Scorbunny, or Sobble?

Pokémon starters from Sword and Shield Game Freak/The Pokémon Company, Nintendo
Julia Lee (she/her) is a guides producer, writing guides for games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Genshin Impact. She helped launch the Rift Herald in 2016.

Picking your starter Pokémon is one of the most important decisions you can make in a Pokémon game, and Sword and Shield is no exception. If you’re stuck on which starter to pick, we’ve noted some things for you to consider.

For the first time in over a decade, all three starters stay as their pure typing through their third evolution. Scorbunny will remain a fire-type, Sobble will remain a water-type, and Grookey will remain a grass-type.

That being said, they still all learn a variety of moves from all different types.

No matter which starter you pick, there won’t be much a difference in difficulty. The first three gym leaders in the game focus on grass-types, water-types, and fire-types, in that order, which means each starter will have a chance to shine once you start taking down gyms.

In the short term, Grookey will be the best starter to pick, since it will be super effective in the second gym, and won’t take added damage in the (easier) first gym.

Technically Scorbunny also has a slight advantage over the others in the later game since the sixth gym leader, Melony, is an ice-type specialist, but only in Pokémon Shield. In Pokémon Sword, the sixth gym leader is Gordie, a rock-type user, so Sobble and Grookey would be more helpful against him. Though by then you’ll likely already have an alternative Pokémon to help against them (if not several).

It should be noted that the routes before the first gym leader, Milo, are filled with a diverse set of Pokémon, making it fairly easy to grab something to even out the field, even if you started with Sobble (who is weak in the first gym). For example, psychic- and flying-type Woobat can be found in Galar Mine right before the gym. Other grass-, fire-, and water-types can be found shortly after you start your adventure, so you’ll never be at an extreme disadvantage.

Long story short, picking the “wrong” starter won’t dramatically impact the difficulty of Pokémon Sword and Shield, so really you should just opt for whichever one you like best. Or which one’s final evolution doesn’t horrify you.