What are Max Raid Battles in Pokémon Sword and Shield?

Max Raid Sneasel
Max Raid Sneasel (Image credit: Game Freak)

What are Max Raid Battles in Pokémon Sword and Shield?

Best Answer: It's a new co-operative multiplayer mode where up to four players work together to battle super-powerful wild Pokémon and get a chance to catch them.Canine steel: Pokémon Sword ($60 pre-order at Amazon)Wolf guard : Pokémon Shield ($60 pre-order at Amazon)Twin Wolf: Pokémon Sword and Shield Double Pack ($120 coming soon at Nintendo)

How do Max Raid Battles work?

During the Nintendo Direct presentation, we were told that you can connect with nearby friends who each have their own copy of the game and their own Nintendo Switch console using local wireless play or you can play with people around the world using an internet connection. In order to play online, you must have a Nintendo Switch Online membership as well as a Nintendo Account.

From what we can tell, it looks like trainers will be able to wander the Wild Area section of the map together. When they converge on a raid beam, a raid battle begins. But unlike previous Pokémon encounters these are wild Dynamaxing Pokémon, which means they are huge and are far more powerful than usual.

In Sword and Shield, trainers also have the ability to use Dynamax on one Pokémon during a battle. This make your monster larger and more powerful for three turns. However, in Max Raid Battles, only one of the four of you will be able to Dynamax their Pokémon. You'll need to strategically plan with your friends in order to take down your wild opponent.

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Once you've sufficiently weakened the wild raid Pokémon, you'll have the chance to catch it using a massive Dynamax Poké Ball. As of right now, we don't know where you get these Large Poké Balls in the game or how many you can hold at once, but we'll update when we learn more.

What Pokémon can you battle in Max Raid Battles?

Your location on the map and the current in-game weather determine the type of Pokémon you encounter in raids. Some Pokémon can only be caught after you defeat them in a Max Raid Battle, so you'll need to go raiding if you want to complete your Pokédex. We're not sure if legendary Pokémon from previous games will appear in Max Raid Battles, but it looks like just about any regular Pokémon featured in Sword and Shield should show up in raids.

Will Max Raid Battles be hard to win?

Since we haven't been able to experience a Max Raid Battle ourselves it's hard to tell how difficult of a challenge these battles will be. However, Sword and Shield's planning director, Kazumasa Iwao, has stated that some of them won't be a walk in the park.

"I think some of them are going to be pretty difficult. I think it's going to have a kind of difficulty we haven't seen in a lot of main series Pokémon games up until now, but there is a wide spread of difficulties even in the Max Raid Battles. It starts out a little easier, then you can choose the difficulty based on how powerful your Pokémon are. Even for me, a seasoned Pokémon player, even if I go with one of the five-star Max Raid Battles, I can definitely run into situations where I'm not able to win."

Fortunately, players will be able to see how difficult a Raid Battle will be before entering and can choose whether or not to engage. That will help players find challenges that they can tackle or give them something to work up to.

How many Max Raid Battles can you do each day?

We currently don't know if there is a cap for the number of raids you can engage in throughout the day. It might be like Pokémon GO where you can take part in one free raid per day but must pay for additional raid passes. We'll update this section when we learn more.

Here are addition pictures of Max Raid Battles:

Rebecca Spear
Gaming Editor

Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.