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Pokemon Sword & Shield Starters: which starter Pokemon should you choose, and starter evolutions revealed

As is series tradition, you won't actually catch your first partner in Pokemon Sword & Shield - instead, your starter Pokemon will be gifted to you by the champion, Leon. And as ever, you'll be given a choice between grass, fire and water - Grooky, Scorbunny and Sobble.

These three new starter Pokemon were revealed a while ago. There's cute little grass-type monkey Grooky, energetic fire-type rabbit Scorbunny and nervous-looking water-type lizard Sobble. You probably already have a favorite - but that doesn't answer the question of which starter Pokemon is best, what their utility is like in-game and where they go with the starter evolutions that ultimately end in a powered-up third and final form later on in the game. So we're here to help you with that. Be aware that this page obviously contains spoilers for the starter evolutions.

Which starter Pokemon should you choose in Sword & Shield?

There's something important to note and define right off the bat here - you really shouldn't sweat your choice of starter Pokemon too much. If you're a more casual player, any of the three is good enough to help carry you through your adventures through Galar Region's gym challenge. All have good moves, and all will make a great starting anchor for any Pokemon team. If you're looking to approach Sword & Shield from a more competitive angle, we likewise would advise not fretting, but for very different reasons - none of the three starters are particularly stand-out in their stats, and therefore are unlikely to become player-vs-player competitive staples.

Another thing to keep in mind is that it appears that it's not possible for a shiny Pokemon to spawn as part of the starter set - if you want a shiny version of one of the starters, the only way is likely going to be through the Pokemon daycare and breeding mechanic.

Whatever starter Pokemon you don't pick will go two ways - the one your Pokemon is strong against will go to your direct rival and best friend, while the other will be kept by Champion Leon. There won't be a chance to catch another starter breed in the main story, but you can obtain them through trading and the like. With all that noted, you no doubt want to make an informed decision - so here's all the information you need on the starters and their evolutions:

All about Grooky, the grass starter Pokemon, and its evolutions

Grooky is a mischievous little chimp-like Pokemon. It's a happy little thing and is said to be very curious. It carries with it a stick, and that stick actually has special powers thanks to some sort of energy that Grooky have. Grooky drums its stick on the ground - and this action becomes key later on when it evolves. When it evolves, it doesn't gain a secondary type - it remains pure grass-type. Here's the other basic facts you need to know about Grooky and its evolutions:

  • Type: Grass
  • Strong Vs: Water, Ground, Rock
  • Weak Vs: Fire, Poison, Flying, Bug, Ice
  • Ability: Overgrow (powers up grass-type moves when HP is low)
  • Potential Hidden Ability: Grassy Surge (turns terrain grassy when it enters battle, which powers up grass moves and heals grass-types)
  • The Grooky Evolutionary line naturally learns some Grass, Dark and Normal-type moves, but via TMs and TRs it can also learn a few Fighting, Flying, Bug and Ground moves, among others.
  • Evolves into Thwackey at Level 16, then Rillaboom, its final form, at Level 35.

Rillaboom, Grooky's starter evolution

After a brief stop-off at the middle step of Thwackey, the Grooky Pokemon evolutionary line ends with Rillaboom - appropriately, this little chimp turns into a hulking gorilla. He retains his useful stick, but now uses it with a huge drum to pound out a beat. Rillaboom is a tanky Pokemon in terms of stats - it has a high attack and HP, and a very serviceable defense stat. It retains the abilities, typing and therefore strengths and weaknesses that Grooky has.

Rillaboom's signature move is 'Drum Beating' - a powerful 10PP move with 100% accuracy. Drum Beating dishes out damage, but also lowers the target's speed stat after it hits them, helping to make up for Rillaboom's speed, which is the lowest of the three starters.

All about Scorbunny, the fire starter Pokemon, and its evolutions

Scorbunny is an energetic, speedy rabbit-type Pokemon that runs so fast that the soles of its feet heat up and burn the ground. It's all about those feet - it has a lot of kicking-based moves, but despite that it and its evolutions aren't part fighting-type as in fire starter Pokemon tradition - instead, they'll all pure fire-type. Here's some other key stuff to know about Scorbunny and its evolutions:

  • Type: Fire
  • Strong Vs: Grass, Bug, Ice, Steel
  • Weak Vs: Water, Ground, Rock
  • Ability: Blaze (powers up fire-type moves when HP is low)
  • Potential Hidden Ability: Libero (changes the Pokemon's type to match the move it uses next)
  • Scorbunny and its evolutions naturally learn Fire, Fighting, Normal and even a single Flying-type move - but via TMs and TRs they can also learn a few Bug, Ground and Dark-type attacks.
  • Evolves into Raboot at Level 16, then Cinderace at level 35.

Cinderace, Scorbunny’s starter evolution

Scorbunny evolves into Raboot first when it hits level 16, and then at level 35 Raboot evolves into Cinderace, this starter Pokemon's final form and for our money the overall pound-for-pound best starter Pokemon evolution in the game. Cinderace leans into the British-inspired setting of Pokemon Sword & Shield by making Cinderace a would-be footballer type.

Cinderace isn't great defensively, but it has a strong physical attack and blistering speed. At a high level it'll be a glass cannon - very powerful, but completely unable to take a beating. What really makes Cinderace is special is its hidden ability, Libero - which if you can get it functions like Protean from previous generations. When you select an attack, Cinderace will temporarily change its type to the same as the attack. Cinderace can naturally learn some fighting, normal and flying-type moves, and can learn even more via TM or TR.

Cinderace's signature move is Pyro Ball, which is still football inspired - the Pokemon plays keepie-uppie with a stone until it becomes a ball of flame, then kicks it at the enemy. It's a powerful move but only has 5PP, but it also might leave the target burned on top of the damage dealt.

All about Sobble, the water starter Pokemon, and its evolutions

Sobble melted the hearts of Pokemon fans everywhere when it was revealed, with this cute water lizard Pokemon introduced to the world in a flood of tears. It's a chameleon, essentially, and turns invisible in order to hide itself before attacking with streams of water. It's a timid Pokemon, but it doesn't stay that way... When it evolves, it remains a fully-fledged water-type with no secondary Pokemon type. Here's a little more key Sobble facts:

  • Type: Water
  • Strong Vs: Fire, Rock, Ground
  • Weak Vs: Grass, Electric
  • Ability: Torrent (powers up water-type moves when HP is low)
  • Potential Hidden Ability: Sniper (increases the power of crtiical hits by 1.5x - making them deal 2.25x normal damage)
  • Sobble and its evolutions are all about the water-type moves, but it can also learn some Dark and Bug type attacks naturtally, plus Ice, Flying, Dragon and even Ghost-type moves via TMs and TRs.
  • Evolves into Drizzile at Level 16, then Inteleon at level 35.

Inteleon, Sobble’s starter evolution

Once the Sobble evolutionary line hits level 35, it'll evolve into the cool-looking Inteleon. Look how they grow up! That crying nervous lad is now a cool super-spy - as is befitting a chameleon. Scorbunny was fast, but Inteleon is actually a little bit faster still - but instead of regular attacks, it's all about the Special Attacks, which pairs well with the Sniper Hidden Ability, if you can get it.

Leaning into the espionage theme, Inteleon's signature move is Snipe Shot, a powerful move with 15PP. Best of all, this move ignores draw-in effects - meaning that if a Pokemon is using a draw-in status effect like Lightning Rod or Storm Drain to protect itself, this move snipes right past it!

About the Author

Alex Donaldson avatar

Alex Donaldson

Assistant Editor

Alex started out his career in the games media as an over-eager kid working on fan sites, and now has decades of experience. He's the resident expert on esoteric matters such as Pokemon Go, gaming hardware, and genres like RPGs, fighters, and strategy games. Outside of VG247 he's the co-founder of genre-dedicated website RPG Site. He also collects original arcade machines, Lego, and considers himself a whiskey buff.

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