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Pokémon Sword and Shield: How to catch shiny Pokémon

Regular Wooloo next to shiny Wooloo
(Image credit: iMore / Amino)

For those who don't know already, shiny Pokémon are rare, alternately colored creatures that appear in the Pokémon series. Sometimes shinies are super obvious, like the case of the sheep Pokémon Wooloo whose normal form has white fleece but has a shiny variant with black fleece. However, others are far more subtle, like how a shiny Pikachu only has a slightly different shade of yellow.

Usually, your chances of running into a shiny Pokemon are 1/4096, which makes spotting one unlikely. However, some tricks can increase your chances up to 1/100. Pokémon Sword and Shield also introduced "super shiny" Pokémon that are even rarer. Luckily, you don't have to stick with those low chances as there are several ways to boost the likelihood of seeing a shiny. Even, for instance, purchasing the Sword and Shield Expansion Pass increases your chances quite a bit. Here's how to catch shiny Pokémon in Sword and Shield, including those super rare square shinies.

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Pokémon Sword

Select your starter by choosing from Grookey, Scorbunny, or Sobble and then travel around the Galar region capturing new and familiar Pokémon.

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Pokémon Shield

Explore the UK-inspired Galar region while battling gyms alongside your chosen starter and team of Pokémon.

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Shiny Pokémon in Sword and Shield: A few things to know

  • Unlike Let's Go, Pikachu!, and Let's Go, Eevee!, you can't tell if a Pokémon is shiny when you're walking around. You must engage it in a battle to tell if it's shiny.
  • Unlike previous games, you cannot get a shiny starter. Don't try to soft-restart your game; it will just be a waste of time.
  • You don't have to worry about coming across a shiny Pokémon that's too high-leveled for you to catch in the Wild Area. The coding doesn't allow this to happen.
  • When you come upon a shiny, sparkles and light emit around the Pokémon. You're going to want to pay attention to this if you're shiny hunting a Pokémon that doesn't look a whole lot different from its original coloring.
  • When playing the Dynamax Adventures found within the Crown Tundra section of the Pokémon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass, you won't be able to tell if the Pokémon you caught were shiny until choosing which Pokémon to keep at the very end.

Sword and Shield: Shiny Pokémon vs. Super Shiny Pokémon

Grookey shiny Pokemon Sword and Shield

(Image credit: Destructoid)

Two different types of shiny Pokémon appear in Sword and Shield. One of them is much rarer than the other and has been dubbed "super shiny" by the internet. Regular shiny Pokémon pop out with stars glittering around them, whereas super shiny Pokémon appear with squares, as seen in the picture above.

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Data miners have dived into Sword and Shield's coding to determine what the shiny odds are. According to respected data miner Kurt, the odds of catching shinies are still 1/4096. However, 15/16 shiny Pokémon will show stars, whereas only 1/16 shiny Pokémon will show squares. That makes super shinies super rare to come across with only a chance of 1/65536!

There are a few ways to increase your chances to find a shiny and super shiny Pokémon, however, following these tips does not guarantee that you will catch them. Regardless, read on to see what you can do to get lucky in spotting one!

Encounter streak Catch the same Pokémon 25+ times

Pokemon Sword and Shield screenshot

(Image credit: iMore)

If you played the Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! games, you might be aware of something called catch combos. This means that you fight the same Pokémon, say Nicket, repeatedly without fighting any others. Each time you catch the same Pokémon, the chances of finding a shiny increase. After you've caught the Pokémon 25 times in a row, your chances of catching a shiny go up from 1/4096 to 1/2048. However, the percentage can't go up anymore after 25 chain encounters. Whenever you have a high encounter streak for the same Pokémon, that creature is more likely to pop up, which also helps.

So basically, aim to catch the same Pokémon 25+ times in a row to seriously increase your chances of happening upon a shiny. This process can take hours to pay off, but it's fun flaunting that Pokémon once you've caught it. If you accidentally run into another Pokémon other than the one you're focusing on, run away. Keep in mind that accidentally catching or defeating another Pokémon will break your combo, and then you'll have to start your combo streak over.

A Pokémon fleeing from you in battle could break the streak. However, we haven't been able to verify this for sure.

Battle the Pokémon you want a shiny of

Wooloo shiny hunting Pokemon Sword and Shield

(Image credit: iMore)

Another way to increase your chances is by having battled a Pokémon several times during your game. You can check to see how many times you've fought a specific Pokémon by checking your Pokédex. Your chances of finding a shiny increase incrementally when you've fought the same Pokémon 1, 20, 50, 100, 200, 300, or 500 times total. That means that the best way to increase your chances is by having fought the same Pokémon 500 times during your game. That's definitely a lot, but for the serious shiny hunter, it's worth it. If you've gotten to the end of the game, you might have gotten close to that number. Otherwise, it will take a lot of work to battle a Pokémon that much.

Fun fact, I've been shiny hunting for Wooloo for over 17 hours. In that time, I've fought well over 1,000 of them. However, the Pokédex stops counting once you've fought 999 of the same Pokémon.

Getting the Shiny Charm

Pokemon Sword and Shield

(Image credit: iMore)

If you're adamant about getting shiny Pokémon, then you'll want to get the Shiny Charm. This is a reward you receive for completing the Galar region Pokédex. To do that, you'll need to trade Pokémon with friends or people online to get the version exclusive Pokémon not found in your game.

Once you have all 400 Pokémon, travel to Circhester and go to the first hotel you see in the city. You'll need to take the elevator to the top floor and then head to the room that's farthest on the left of the building. Enter the room and talk to the doctor in the back. He'll give you the Shiny Charm, which will increase your chances of coming upon a shiny Pokémon to 1/1365.33. When combined with all of the other catching methods, your odds go up to 1/458.

If you're close to getting the Shiny Charm before playing through the Isle of Armor or Crown Tundra DLC, it's probably worth finishing up your Pokédex quickly. You'll run into plenty of wild Pokémon during the DLC, and as you explore the new areas, so it's a great time to run into an accidental shiny. Having a Shiny Charm will make your chances even better.

Combining everything together

Of course, the best way to help you catch a shiny Pokémon is to do all of the above things. Capture the intended Pokémon a total of 500 times throughout the game, catch the same Pokémon exclusively 25+ times in a row, and have the Shiny Charm. When you do this, you're not guaranteed to find a shiny right away, but your chances of coming across one go way up to 1/455. If you happen to get the Shiny Charm as well, your chances go up even higher.

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For those of you who like to know percentages, the respected data miner, Kurt, did the work and figured out the exact catching percentages you get when you combine the number of Pokémon caught in a row with the number of Pokémon caught total.

Crown Tundra: Dynamax Adventures Shiny rate

Pokemon Sword Shield Expansion Pass Dynamax Adventures Caves

(Image credit: The Pokémon Company)

Catching shinies is even easier for players who have access to the Sword and Shield Expansion Pass. You'll be able to visit a snowy region known as the Crown Tundra. Within the caves of a snow-topped mountain, players join together to battle against several Dynamax Pokémon one after the other until finally culminating in a battle against a Legendary Pokémon.

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As Twitter user @SciresM explains, anyone playing through the Dynamax Adventures without a Shiny Charm has a 1/300 chance of encountering a shiny. In comparison, players who have earned the Shiny Charm have a 1/100 chance of encountering a shiny while in the caves.

I myself have caught a shiny while participating in the Dynamax Adventures with a Shiny Charm. One thing to note is that the Pokémon don't appear shiny until the battles are completely over. So when you get to that page where you only get to choose one Pokémon to keep, you're going to want to check all of the Pokémon you caught along the way to see if any have unique coloring.

Breeding shiny Pokémon