Pokémon: 5 Ways Sword & Shield Can Be 2 Player (& 5 Ways It Kind Of Already Is) (2024)

In gaming, few things are as satisfying as finding a great co-op game. After all, anything can be fun with friends, and a good co-op game makes it even better. Even franchises like The Legend of Zelda have dabbled in co-op with the Four Swords games and Triforce Heroes. The option to play with friends is something that is always appreciated.

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The Pokémon franchise is no exception. Although true co-op is still relegated to spin-offs like Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee, playing Pokémon with another person at your side is a blast. The kind of co-op that Let's Go had, however, is unfortunately absent in Sword and Shield. So, for Pokémon fans looking for ways to play Sword and Shield with their best friend either competitively or cooperatively, here are some ways to do it officially, along with some potentially spicy homebrew options.

10 Could Be: Two-Headed Giant

Pokémon: 5 Ways Sword & Shield Can Be 2 Player (& 5 Ways It Kind Of Already Is) (1)

Loosely inspired by the game-mode in Magic: The Gathering, Two-Headed Giant has two separate players operating the same team of Pokémon. This is really only good for double battles, so trying this in the Battle Tower is where this idea is limited. Each player will take one side of the Pokémon at hand and try to coordinate strategy between two different players.

In previous titles, this kind of double battle was in the Battle Tower, but is mysteriously absent in the newest title. It's said to be added again in later DLC, though. It might not be the most exciting way to play the game, but it is an option to try out in the story. In single battles, the two players could also just take turns giving battle commands and hoping for the best.

9 Already Is: Pokémon Camp

Pokémon: 5 Ways Sword & Shield Can Be 2 Player (& 5 Ways It Kind Of Already Is) (2)

Although it's fairly limited, Pokémon Camp allows multiple players to hang out in one camp, show off their Pokémon, and make curry together. Hang out with Pokémon from strangers and close friends alike, then hope everyone coordinates to make Gigantamax Charizard ranked curry.

The fact that Pokémon Camp is on this list is more of a desperate thing than a good thing. There really is a lack of good multiplayer options in Sword and Shield. Previous titles had minigames that could be played with friends, but those no longer exist. Maybe in the future these minigames will return. Until then, enjoy cooking with friends in a much less stressful environment than Cook, Serve, Delicious!

8 Could Be: Nemesis Draft

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Nemesis Draft, a name inspired by an old game mode in League of Legends has the two teams draft characters for their opponents, not for themselves. While these kinds of games should have the players picking out an optimal team, Nemesis Draft forces creativity in creating something thoroughly sub-optimal.

In Sword and Shield, competitive battlers with a large roster of viable Pokémon could do this as a fun option for semi-serious matches. Casual play would work a little differently, with two people playing separately together, but selecting which Pokémon their IRL rival will use. It might be harder to coordinate, but with some experimentation it could be worth a shot.

7 Already Is: Explore Separately, Together

Pokémon: 5 Ways Sword & Shield Can Be 2 Player (& 5 Ways It Kind Of Already Is) (4)

The Wild Area allows players online to see other people biking about the open-world at a crispy sub-30 frames-per-second. This isn't quite seamless multiplayer and it hardly qualifies as an MMO-like experience, but two players locally can reliably see each other in the open world. Online is a different story, but expecting good online in a Nintendo title is a bit much.

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Again, this isn't very exciting co-op gameplay, but exploring the world for the first time with another person is definitely more fun than doing it alone. When the next DLC releases, give it a shot.

6 Could Be: Rotom Rally Races

Pokémon: 5 Ways Sword & Shield Can Be 2 Player (& 5 Ways It Kind Of Already Is) (5)

Speaking of the Wild Area, one of the minigames Sword and Shield does deliver is the Rotom Rally. This "game" has players bike through the Wild Area, dodging Pokémon and aiming to get a good time. And, as with any game that has a built-in timer, this lends itself to speedrunning and races.

The Rotom Rally is a hardcore competitive experience between expert players. The Switch allows players to bring their device and race right next to each other on separate consoles. The brutal RNG of having a teleporting Pokémon body racers during their run is just a part of the thrilling experience. If Mario Kart gets too stale, give the Rotom Rally time trials a try.

5 Already Is: Max Raid Battles

Pokémon: 5 Ways Sword & Shield Can Be 2 Player (& 5 Ways It Kind Of Already Is) (6)

Now, an actually incredible addition to the game would have to be the Max Raid Battles. Bring one-to-three friends along and battle gigantic Pokémon, aiming to bring them down in under 10 turns. Realistically, these battles aren't too difficult and can be easily cheesed. Just a high-powered Eternatus can shred through most battles as long as the player rolls good allies and not Martin.

However, these battles can still be fun with friends if the goal is optimizing a clear or grinding for Shinies. Take a step back and look at ways to artificially make them difficult, and there is a whole world of opportunity for Max Raid Battles to stay at least somewhat engaging.

4 Could Be: Battle Tower Races

Pokémon: 5 Ways Sword & Shield Can Be 2 Player (& 5 Ways It Kind Of Already Is) (7)

A step below Rotom Rally races, Battle Tower races pits two or more players against each other in an asynchronous race through the Battle Tower. Set a specific floor to stop at, or go until defeated. Either way, the goal is to climb through the tower as fast as possible.


This is a competitive way to use the already existing Battle Tower. By using Rental Teams, both participants can work with the same set of Pokémon in an effort to make things as fair as possible. There can be additional ways to add challenge as well, but that's best left up to the people playing. As with any homebrew game, too many rules can start to make things tiresome rather than exciting.

3 Already Is: Good Ol' Fashioned Trades

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This one is obvious. Since the start of the franchise, trading with friends was one of the few multiplayer options. As the franchise expanded, new options were added and removed, but trading is still a constant. And for two trainers trying to complete their Pokédex, trading is absolutely necessary.

However, there are ways to experiment. Find a rare Pokémon that's terrible? Send it to a friend instead of dealing with the guilt of placing it in the PC for all eternity. Give the Nintendo Switch over to the other player and have them pick out a Pokémon, praying they don't nab Cinderace. It's not the most exciting, but it is a way of playing with another person.

2 Could Be: Wild Area Bingo

Pokémon: 5 Ways Sword & Shield Can Be 2 Player (& 5 Ways It Kind Of Already Is) (9)

This idea comes from the absolute lack of options Sword and Shield offers for multiplayer. It cannot be stressed enough just how lacklusterthe co-op options are. But, once again, with a little bit of homebrew magic, there are still some ideas left.

Wild Area Bingo is not something anyone has actually tried, and likely needs work. To start, brainstorm some ideas that are feasible within the Wild Area. For example, catch a Pokémon holding an item could be a task on a bingo spot. Compete against the other player to finish tasks quickly enough to get bingo. It likely needs a large variety of tasks to keep from getting stale, but it is still possible. This idea has not been tested, though, so proceed with caution as it could be terrible.

1 Already Is: Good Ol' Fashioned Battles

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What else is there to say about this one? Link Battles, both locally and online, are still a core part of the experience. In fact, some of the alternative ways of playing the game with two players still rely on the core battling experience. Honestly, there isn't much else to multiplayer outside of a variety of different types of battles.

And yet, that doesn't make the battles bad. Battling other trainers is still as fun as it always is in Pokémon.

NEXT: Pokémon: The 10 Most Badass Women Gym Leaders In The Series, Ranked

Pokémon: 5 Ways Sword & Shield Can Be 2 Player (& 5 Ways It Kind Of Already Is) (2024)
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