By Patrick Lucas Austin
February 27, 2019

Nintendo on Wednesday announced the next entry in the long-running Pokémon video game franchise. The complementary titles, Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, will be available on Nintendo Switch with an expected release date of late 2019. The news comes a week after Reggie Fil-Aime, Nintendo of America’s President since 2006, announced his retirement.

“This year, a new Pokémon journey will begin for all of you,” said Tsunekazu Ishihara, President and CEO of The Pokémon Company, in the announcement video, which showed a glimpse of gameplay and gave us a look at three new Pokémon.

“These games will be new entries in the Pokémon series,” said Sword and Shield producer Junichi Masuda, who has worked on the franchise since its debut on the Nintendo Game Boy. These new entries in the primary Pokémon franchise will differ from spinoffs or spiritual successors like Pokemon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! released for the Switch in November. That means you’ll be diving into a new game complete with a catalog of as-yet-unseen Pokémon. Sword and Shield will be the first new entry in the primary series since 2016’s Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon for the Nintendo 3DS.

As is tradition, you’ll have the option to choose between three brand new starting Pokémon: the rabbit Pokémon Scorbunny, the water lizard Pokémon Sobble, and the chimp Pokémon Grookey.

The Pokémon Company

Both Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield take place in the fictional Galar region, according to game director Shigeru Ohmori. “Galar is an expansive region with many environments, containing idyllic countrysides and contemporary cities, vast plains and craggy snow-covered mountains,” Ohmori said in the announcement video. Regions in the Pokémon franchise are often inspired by the geography of actual countries. In Galar’s case, its varied environment is most likely meant to mimic the geographic diversity found in the United Kingdom, a country yet to be represented in the franchise’s design.

While there are two titles, that’s the norm when it comes to Pokémon. Consider Sword and Shield two sides of the same coin. While they will offer the same experience in terms of gameplay, the two will likely vary slightly when it comes to certain storylines, and you can bet filling up your catalog of Pokémon — or Pokédex — will require interacting and trading Pokémon with someone who owns a different version than you.

“That’s not all you’ll have to look forward to in 2019,” Ishihara said. “We’ve got plenty in the works for the Pokémon brand that we hope will delight you.” It’s not hard to believe considering the proliferation of the franchise in recent years. Between the Pokémon Go smartphone game phenomenon, the recently released Pokémon: The Power of Us animated feature film, the upcoming Pokémon: Detective Pikachu live-action film, and the brand’s venture into the sartorial through its collaboration with clothing brand Original Stitch, it looks like your favorite pocket monsters will be more in your face than ever.

Write to Patrick Lucas Austin at patrick.austin@time.com.

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