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Pokémon Sword and Shield guide: Best early Pokémon to catch

Starting your journey can be hard, but these should help

A Pokémon trainer throws a Poké Ball to catch a Pokémon 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.

For those starting out in Pokémon Sword and Shield, it can be hard to decide which of the many Pokémon in front of you to catch. Here are a few recommendations and where to find some strong early Pokémon to pair with your selected starter. They’ll definitely come in handy as you’re trying to take down the first set up gyms.

Wooper and Quagsire

A Pokémon trainer stands in a grassy field with unsuspecting Wooper minding their own business. Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon

Wooper can be found in the West Lake Axewell Wild Area when the weather is partly cloudy, rainy, stormy, or windy. Both it and its evolution, Quagsire, are extremely helpful for Nessa, the water-type gym leader, and Kabu, the fire-type gym leader.

Quagsire with the Water Absorb ability can do some serious damage against Nessa’s Dreadnaw, which is weak against ground-type moves. When Dreadnaw attacks Quagsire with water-type moves, it will just absorb the damage. Dynamax your Quagsire, use Mud Shot, and watch her Dreadnaw faint quickly.

Woobat and Swoobat

A trainer stands in a cave next to a wild Woobat Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon

Woobat can be found in the Galar Mines shortly before Turffield. (Note that you can see Woobat in the Watchtower Ruins Wild Area, but it’ll be too high level to catch at first.) While Woobat and its evolution, Swoobat, aren’t going to be as helpful later on in the game, their dual-typing of psychic- and flying-type will prove helpful against Milo, the grass-type gym leader. Flying-type moves will also help you against Kabu, the fire-type gym leader, who uses a Centiskorch, a bug- and fire-type Pokémon.

Magikarp and Gyarados

A Pokémon trainer reels in a fish Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon

Magikarp can be found in any of the early bodies of water you pass. Just walk up to the bubbles you see, press A, and your character will take out a fishing rod and start fishing. Chances are, you’ll bring up a Magikarp. It won’t know any good moves for a while, but since the game automatically divides experience up among all your Pokémon, it will turn into a powerful water- and flying-type Gyarados in no time.

Vulpix and Ninetails

A Pokémon trainer sneaks up on a Vulpix Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon

Vulpix can be found on Route 3. Vulpix, and its evolved form, Ninetails, are always solid fire-types to have on your team, so grabbing one before you head off for Milo’s grass-type gym is imperative unless you started with Scorbunny.

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