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Pokémon Sword and Shield guide: Wild Area explained

There is so much to do, but don’t get overwhelmed

A Pokémon trainer stands in the Wild Area with a Mudsdale roaming in the background Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon
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.

Shortly after you get your starter Pokémon and join the Galarian gym challenge in Pokémon Sword and Shield, you are tossed into the Wild Area.

The Wild Area is huge and it can be pretty overwhelming to deal with. Pokémon are everywhere and you can control your encounters by just avoiding or running into them. If you want to just run through the Wild Area without battling anything, you can. If you want to only battle Combees, you can do that, too.

We put together a list of tips to help you navigate this beast of an area.

Which Pokémon to look for

When you first get into the Wild Area, only a few sections will offer Pokémon that you can catch around your level. In East Lake Axewell and the Rolling Fields, you’ll be able to find helpful Pokémon. These areas have Vulpix, Oddish, and Quagsire roaming about, which will round out your party and prepare you for the three upcoming gyms, which are grass-, water-, and fire-type. The Pokémon in the area change depending on weather, so you’ll find more water-types in the rain and more fire-types in sunny weather.

Looking for TMs

At first, only one or two zones of the Wild Area will have Pokémon that you’re able to catch, but the entire Wild Area is filled with helpful items like TMs for teaching your Pokémon useful moves. These items will look like Poké Balls sitting on the ground. Just walk around the high level Pokémon and head straight for the items you can reach.

Run around and get acquainted with the area. Make note of where things like Raid Dens and berry trees are, since you’ll want to continue to check up on them every now and then.

Whistle to grab the attention of flying Pokémon

If you can’t reach the Pokémon flying above you, press the left analog stick to whistle. They’ll fly down so you can battle them.

Don’t bother trying to catch Pokémon above your level

Don’t waste your time trying to whittle down any high-leveled Pokémon to catch. On your first visit to the Wild Area, you can only catch Pokémon up to level 20. As you get more gym badges, you can catch stronger Pokémon, but there’s no point in trying to snag that high-leveled Snorlax early on.

Fish when you see dark bubbling spots

A Pokémon trainer fishes in the Wild Area Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon

If you see a bubbling spot in the water, get as close as you can to it and press A to start fishing. You don’t have to wait to get a fishing rod from a NPC, either. After throwing your line, a water-type Pokémon will bite and an exclamation point will appear over your character’s head. Just press A to reel it in and prepare for a Pokémon battle.

Any big Pokémon you see in the water will be inaccessible until you get a bike upgrade on Route 9.

Look for sparkles on the ground

A hidden item shines in Pokémon Sword and Shield Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon

While walking around the Wild Area, keep an eye out for sparkles. Interact with sparkles you see on the ground to pick up items like Tiny Mushrooms or curry ingredients like Fancy Apples. Sparkles can be found outside of the Wild Area, but the Wild Area refreshes and adds more sparkles to find over time.

Always interact with Raid Dens

A Pokémon trainer interacts with a raid den to get Watts Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon

In the Wild Area, you’ll come across Raid Dens. They’re represented by a group of rocks surrounding a hole (pictured above).

Interacting with glowing Raid Dens will reward you with Watts, a currency you can spend on things like TRs (one-use TMs) or upgrading your bike speed. The latter gets especially pricey, so it’s best to stock up on Watts.

Use type advantages in Raid Dens

The raid menu screen Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon

Completing raids in dens isn’t hard, but it can be tough if you’re just using any Pokémon. After interacting with the den, you’ll be prompted with either joining raiders online to complete the den together or completing the raid with randomly generated NPCs. No matter what you pick, the raid fight should be a breeze as long as you’re using a Pokémon with a type advantage. The type is even listed on the raid menu screen for ease.

Use Wishing Pieces to spawn raids from Raid Dens

A map showing the whereabouts of two important NPCs in Pokémon Sword and Shield Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon

If there are no raids around you, you can use a Wishing Piece to help lure Pokémon to the Raid Den. Each Wishing Piece costs 3,000 Watts, and you can buy them from a trader near the steps to Motostoke (pictured above). You can also find them on the floor as a random sparkling object.

Show this NPC your curry Dex

A Pokémon trainer talks to an NPC who gives her sausages to cook with Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon

An NPC standing next to the stairs to Motostoke will also offer to rate your curry dex. After you make new recipes, he’ll reward you with items and new toys for your Pokémon.

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