Review: You should buy the Pokémon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass

More Pokémon to catch, new challenges to face, new features to enjoy, and new places to discover.

Back in November 2019, the highly anticipated Pokémon Sword and Shield games finally released on Nintendo Switch. They brought with them several new experiences, locations, and Pokémon that we hadn’t previously seen in core Pokémon games.

Flash forward several months and the first half of the Pokémon Expansion Pass has released bringing even more areas to explore and more Pokémon to capture. However, is this extra content worth the high $30 price tag?

After spending the last few days playing this game, I can definitely say that the Expansion Pass is a worthwhile experience for any Pokémon fan. There are several Pokémon to capture that we didn’t see in the original Galar region, new features, and new activities to keep players entertained. It’s definitely something you should consider purchasing if you enjoyed the base game.

However, keep in mind, that only half of the promised DLC has released. That means there will be even more to enjoy come this Fall.

Pokémon Sword & Shield Expansion Pass

Bottom line: This DLC allows Sword and Shield players to explore the Isle of Armor and the Crown Tundra. There are more Pokémon to capture, new rivals to meet, and more challenges to complete. You’ll just have to wait for the rest of it this Fall.


  • New Pokémon to catch
  • Can teach Pokémon to G-Max
  • Pokémon follow you in overworld
  • New areas to explore
  • Diglett scavenger hunt


  • Expensive
  • Isle of Armor is short
  • Crown Tundra isn’t out yet

$30 at Amazon $30 at Best Buy $30 at Target

Pokémon Sword & Shield Expansion Pass What I like

By now the subject of Dexit has been talked to death. Not every Pokémon from the previous games made it into Sword and Shield. However, the Isle of Armor DLC brings several more of these Pokémon into Gen 8. For instance, players get to choose between getting a Bulbasaur or a Squirtle at one point during the main storyline. Additionally, players recieve a new legendary Pokémon named Kubfu who can actually evolve into one of two forms, depending on what the player chooses.

Category Persona 4 Golden
Title Pokémon Sword & Shield Expansion Pass
Developer Game Freak
Publisher The Pokémon Company
Genre RPG
Players Single
Launch Price $30

Several other creatures can be found while exploring the Island’s caves, foresty location, oceans, or deserts. As with the original games, some Pokémon can only be encountered in the Sword version of DLC while others will only be seen in the Shield version. Additionally, players are given an Isle of Armor Pokédex and can earn a reward for completing it. That definitely gives players a reason to trade with others and gives them a goal to work towards after the main storyline is completed.

Klara and Avery are better rivals than Hop

Klara and Avery offer more of a challenge as rivals than Hop ever did.

Within the original games, Hop is designated as your rival friend and leads you through a tutorial throughout your Galar-region journey. However, in the Expansion Pass, players encounter a new rival at the Isle of Armor. Those playing Sword meet Klara, a Poison-type trainer who dreams of becoming a gym leader. Shield players meet Avery, a Psychic-type trainer who also aspires to become a gym leader.

Hop was always a lackluster rival. He always seemed weaker than you, so the battles between you two never felt impactful. Meanwhile, these new rivals are mean. They cheat and do everything they can to push the player away from victory. In so doing, they inadvertantly explain to the player exactly what they need to do in order to progress throughout the DLC. On top of that, they actually know what they are doing when it comes to Pokémon battles, which Hop never actually got the hang of.

They prove to be much more of a challenge to fight than Hop ever was in the original games. Plus, it doesn’t feel like they are talking down to you the whole time.

You can teach certain Pokémon to Gigantamax

One of the frustrating things for me while playing the base Sword and Shield games was realizing that one of my favorite Pokémon couldn’t Gigantamax even though its species had the potential to do so.

The Isle of Armor solves this problem with Max Soup. Feeding it to one of your Pokémon with G-Max potential makes it learn how to G-Max. The DLC’s main story that surrounds Kubfu and Urshifu basically serves as a massive tutorial to teach you how to create Max Soup and feed it to your other Pokémon from the Galar region who also have the potential to Gigantamax.

Pokémon can now follow you in the overworld

I was upset when I learned that Pokémon couldn’t follow you around in the original Sword and Shield games. This had been something that had been implemented in a few previous games including Pokémon Yellow and Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee!

When I realized that Isle of Armor finally made it possible for my favorite Pokémon follow me around, I became ecstatic. I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent swapping out the first Pokémon in my party and taking pictures of my favorite Pokémon trailing behind me.

Diglett scavenger hunt

Near the start of the Isle of Armor DLC, I came across an NPC who told me he had lost his Alolan Digletts. I was expecting him to ask me to find 5-10 of them, but he surprised me by asking me to find 150 of the little guys. I initially rolled my eyes figuring this was a cheap way for Game Freak to prolong gameplay on the Isle of Armor.

However, when I finally started hunting for these little diggers I got sucked in. It was kind of like the relaxation I feel when running around my Animal Crossing island looking for weeds. The difference is with the Pokémon DLC, I got rewarded with Alolan Pokémon whenever I reached a certain milestone for the number of Digletts found. This was a fun addition that kept me exploring for quite a bit.

Pokémon Sword & Shield Expansion Pass What I don’t like

Game Freak has traditionally released a followup game of some kind after releasing the first two set of games in any given Generation. For example, after the launch of Ruby and Sapphire, Game Freak released Emerald. Similarly, after Sun and Moon, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon followed. So it wasn’t too surprising that the Japanese game developers created some extra DLC for Sword and Shield. However, it is a bit costly considering what you’re getting.

I was able to beat the Isle of Armor’s main storyline in just a few hours.

All in all, I was able to finish the main storyline for the Isle of Armor within a few hours. Granted, this was partially because my Pokémon were already at high levels from playing the original game, so the Expansion Pass battles weren’t very challenging for me. That being said, Klara and Mustard’s Pokemon were all between level 60 and level 75, so they won’t be a walk in the park for everyone.

Beyond the new story details, filling in the new Isle of Armor Pokédex and finding the previously mentioned Digletts do add a lot of time to your Armor of Isle experience. I realize that a lot of work had to go into creating all of these additional Pokémon and locations, but I feel like the DLC was a bit overpriced.

Other than that, the only other complaint I have is that the Crown Tundra portion of the Expansion Pass hasn’t released yet and I’m dying to play it. Especially since it’s going to allow us to capture different versions of previously seen Legendary Pokémon.

Pokémon Sword & Shield Expansion Pass Bottom Line

The Expansion Pass is a fun little splash of extra content that gives players more of the Galar region to enjoy. Key among these new experiences is a brand new storyline surrounding the Legendary Pokémon Kubfu and it’s evolutionary varients of Urshifu. I also love having the ability to walk around the Isle of Armor with my favorite Pokémon trailing behind me as I discover new places. If that wasn’t enough, this is only the first half of the DLC, so more is to come this Fall.

out of 5

Considering how short the DLC storyline is, the $30 price tag is a bit costly. However, if you’re the kind of person that loves filling out a Pokédex and meeting new Pokémon then this will definitely be a fun way to expand upon that.

Pokémon Sword & Shield Expansion Pass

$30 at Amazon $30 at Best Buy $30 at Target

Explore more of Galar

This DLC allows Sword and Shield players to explore the Isle of Armor and the Crown Tundra. There are more Pokémon to capture, new rivals to meet, and more challenges to complete. Just make sure you select the proper version of the DLC that matches the version of the game you’re playing.

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