Best answer: No, Pokémon Sword and Shield won't feature Hidden Machines (HMs). According to the planning director for these games, HMs don't facilitate the level of freedom they want players to experience in Gen 8.

What is an HM, and why aren't they in Gen 8?

Hidden Machines or HMs have been a part of Pokémon games from the very beginning. For most of the RPG titles in the series, they were used to teach your Pokémon necessary moves like Fly, Cut, or Surf to get to new areas of a map. Pokémon Sun and Moon were the first games to do away with HMs, and according to Kazumasa Iwao, Sword and Shield's planning director, they won't be in Gen 8 either.

"I think they played a role in the series traditionally to be like the relationship between a door and a key; the HM will unlock something and you're able to progress and feel the ability to go to a new place. We didn't have them in Sun and Moon, and this time around, we didn't feel it really matched the concept, especially with the Wild Area and wanting to have this higher degree of freedom. The player can choose how they want to engage with the gameplay. Having the more HM-based elements, we didn't feel it really matched the game, so this time around they're not in it."

Game Freak has been making several changes to the Pokémon formula when it comes to Pokémon Sword and Shield. Given that, it's not too surprising that HMs won't be involved.

Game mechanics that act similar to HMs

We've already seen that Corviknights function as flying taxis in Gen 8, which likely takes the place of the HM Fly, and we've also noticed that trainers will have bikes that can traverse water, so that takes the place of Surf. Overall, I think this change will make the game feel more open and less formulaic than previous titles.

Since HMs have been done away with, I'll be curious to see if players will still be able to cut through bushes, travel up waterfalls, or use a Pokémon's strength to move obstacles. I hope at the least that players will be able to use Pokémon's moves outside of battle in some form or other. It helps make the world seem more realistic when that happens. I guess we'll have to wait and see what's in store for us when Pokémon Sword and Shield release on November 15, 2019.

Attack and defend

Pokémon Sword and Shield

Who will you choose?

Trainers will have the chance to explore a brand new map and come across brand new Pokémon as well as familiar fan favorites. Players who choose Pokémon Sword will have the opportunity to capture the Legendary dog, Zacian, while Pokémon Shield players have the same chance to catch Zamazenta.

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