Pokemon Sword and Shield Max Raid Battle NincadaSource: iMore/ Casian Holly

One of the coolest features new to Pokémon Sword and Shield has got to be the Max Raid Battles. Between being able to co-op play with up to three others and the Dynamaxing and Gigantimaxing, these oversized battles definitely combine some of the best battle elements of Pokémon Go with the classic battle system of the core games. This feature can be even more fun when you're playing with friends face-to-face, and we're here to walk you through just how to do that.

What even is a Max Raid Battle?

A Max Raid Battle is a new type of battle introduced in Pokémon Sword and Shield, where four players (or NPCs if four players cannot be found) team up to fight a Dynamaxed Pokémon in the Wild. A Dynamaxed Pokémon looks similar to their normal brethren, except they're huge, glowing, and their attacks are charged up. If the team can beat the Dynamaxed Pokémon, they'll each have a chance to catch a standard version of the Pokémon they defeated, much like a Pokémon Go Raid Battle. But, each player only gets to throw a single Poké Ball, so choose wisely!

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To participate in these battles at all, you have to have made it to the Wild Area where you will be able to track down their glowing dens. There are two types of Max Raid Battles: Local and Global. In this guide, we're going to walk you through the Local Max Raid Battles. So, grab up to three local friends, and let's get to it!

I have my friends. How do we battle?

  1. First, you and each of your friends need to go into the Wild Area.
  2. Next, open up your Y-Comm Menu by pressing Y.
  3. Within the Y-Comm Menu, verify that you're connected to Local Communication. If not, you will have a prompt to connect to Local Communication.

    Pokemon Sword and Shield Y-Comm MenuSource: iMore/ Casian Holly

  4. Return to the Wild Area overmap.
  5. One of you, whichever will "host" the Battle, needs to find a Max Raid Battle Den. These are the Dens that aren't just glowing, but have a beacon of light shining out the top and into the sky.

    Pokemon Sword and Shield Max Rain Battle DenSource: iMore/Casian Holly

  6. The host presses X on the Max Raid Battle Den and follow through the text prompts.
  7. A new menu will open and the host will select Invite Others.

    Pokemon Sword and Shield Max Raid Battle InviteSource: iMore/ Casian Holly

  8. The other players can now open their Y-Comm Menus again by pressing Y.
  9. The other players can now press X to load new stamps.
  10. The Max Raid Battle Stamp should now be visible on the other players' screens. They can now click on the stamp, and select Join in.

    Pokemon Sword and Shield Max Raid Battle JoinSource: iMore/ Casian Holly

  11. One by one, the other players will show up on the roster. Once everyone has joined, the host selects Ready to Battle.

    Pokemon Sword and Shield Max Raid Battle Ready to BattleSource: iMore/ Casian Holly

  12. Kick that Dynamaxed Pokémon's butt and good luck catching!

And it's just that easy. Now you and all your local friends can join in for some co-op fun!

Additional tips

To really get the most out of your Max Raid Battles, here are a few extra tips.

  • The Menu will tell you the Type(s) of the Pokémon you'll be battling, its Star Rating, and show you its "Who's that Pokémon?" silhouette.
  • The "host" of the Battle will be able to Dynamax or Gigantimax from the start.
  • While you can host or join Local Max Raid Battles and Global Max Raid Battles, you cannot invite players from both to the same Battle.
  • This means, if you only have one or two friends, you can't fill in with a fourth online. But the game will assign you NPCs to fill any empty slots so that you won't be grossly overpowered.
  • You only get to throw a single Poké Ball at the Max Raid Boss upon completion, but it can be any of the Poké Balls in your bag, so be sure to bring out those Great and Ultra Balls!
  • While rare, sometimes the Max Raid Battle is against a Gigantimax Pokémon. These Pokémon have even higher stats, special attacks, and cool new looks!

Any questions?

Pokémon Sword and Shield are finally here on the Nintendo Switch. Generation 8 beckons you to take up arms and explore the Galar region. Catch all-new Pokémon, explore the continent, and experience one of the most anticipated games of the year, and of course, your mystery gift. How are you enjoying the Max Raid Battles? Let us know in the comments.