Pokémon Sun and Moon Rowlet, Litten, Popplio starters - what starter is best and what should you choose?

We weigh up the pros and cons of each seventh generation starter and their evolution.

Perhaps the most important choice in any new Pokémon game - aside from which version you choose initially, of course - is what your starter Pokémon in Pokémon Sun and Moon should be.

As is tradition, Pokémon Sun and Moon starters Rowlet, Litten and Popplio offer a choice between Grass, Fire and Water types, and you can only pick one - the only way to get the others is to trade with friends.

It's a big decision, then, and there's no wrong answer - so here's what you need to know about all three starters, their evolutions and moves to help you make an informed decision.

Rowlet, Litten and Popplio - which is the best starter in Pokémon Sun and Moon starter?

Whilst base stats are of course important, with your start Pokémon their strength will generally come from typing and movesets far more than it will raw power - they rarely see use on the competitive scene, but competition-grade Pokémon simply aren't necessary for a main quest playthrough.

As has been true right back to the days of Red and Blue, certain starters will give you an easier or more challenging time than others. Which you choose, if you're thinking purely in terms of utility rather than cuteness factor (of course that's crucial too) is most important in light of who you'll be battling first.

Your first trials are against Normal and Water-types, which would make Rowlet your best bet. Likewise, there are actually a pretty huge number of Bug-type Pokémon, and Bug / Water-type Pokémon, on the Alolan Islands, which means Rowlet again, thanks to it's Flying-type attacks, the strongest choice in the early game. Litten, with high speed and super-effective attacks agains Bugs, is your next-easiest bet, whilst Popplio, who's fairly weak across the board, will be the most challenging option.

In the late game, Popplio's full evolution, Primarina, will have an easier time against some of the more frequent Poison-type Pokémon which appear, but Bug is again the most prevailant type, particularly in battles against Team Skull, and so again both Primarina and the Fire / Dark-type Litten evolution, Inceneroar, will struggle.

As said, starters are rarely competitive-grade, so you don't be passing over a creature you'll regret later. So while each one has pros and cons based on their strength at certain points during the game, the choice is ultimately one of personal preference. Take a scroll through the below stats of their evolutions to help you decide how each one could fit into your ideal party.

Starter base stats:

StarterTypeHPPowerDefenceSpecial AttackSpecial DefenceSpeed
Rowlet Grass / Flying 68 55 55 50 50 42
Litten Fire 45 65 40 60 40 70
Popplio Water 50 54 54 66 56 40

Fully evolved base stats:

Max EvolutionTypeHPPowerDefenceSpecial AttackSpecial DefenceSpeed
Decidueye Grass / Ghost 78 107 75 100 100 70
Incineroar Fire / Dark 95 115 90 80 90 60
Primarina Water / Fairy 80 74 74 126 116 60

Starter Rowlet, and Dartix and Decidueye stats in Pokémon Sun and Moon

Rowlet (starts at level 5)
Dartix (evolves at level 17)
Decidueye (evolves at level 34)


Rowlet - Grass / Flying
Dartrix - Grass / Flying
Decidueye - Grass / Ghost

Decidueye Weaknesses:

Rowlet, Dartrix and Decidueye move list

Some notes on the below list - any Pokémon with a cross means they cannot learn that move, an E means it'll learn it upon evolving, and a dash means it can only be learnt by visiting a Pokémon Move Reminder. Meanwhile, the Z-Effect is the strength of that Type's Z-Move.

Rowlet - At LevelDartrix - At LevelDecidueye - At LevelMoveTypePowerAccuracyPPZ-Effect
- - - Tackle Normal 40 100 35 100 Power
- - - Leafage Grass 40 100 40 100 Power
4 - - Growl Normal - 100 40 Defense Up
8 - - Peck Flying 35 100 35 100 Power
11 - - Astonish Ghost 30 100 15 100 Power
15 - - Razor Leaf Grass 55 95 25 100 Power
18 19 - Foresight Normal - - 40 Critical Up
22 24 - Pluck Flying 60 100 20 120 Power
25 28 - Synthesis Grass - - 5 Reset stats
29 33 - Fury Attack Normal 15 85 20 100 Power
32 37 38 Sucker Punch Dark 70 100 5 140 Power
36 42 44 Leaf Blade Grass 90 100 15 175 Power
39 46 49 Feather Dance Flying - 100 15 Defence Up
43 51 55 Brave Bird Flying 120 100 15 190 Power
46 55 60 Nasty Plot Dark - - 20 Reset Stats
X X E Spirit Shackle Ghost 80 100 10 160 Power
X X - U-Turn Bug 70 100 20 140 Power

Starter Litten, and Torracat and Incineroar stats in Pokémon Sun and Moon

Litten (starts at level 5)
Torracat (evolves at level 17)
Incineroar (evolves at level 34)


Litten - Fire
Torracat - Fire
Incineroar - Fire / Dark

Incineroar Weaknesses:

Litten, Torracat and Incineroar move list

Some notes on the below list - any Pokémon with a cross means they cannot learn that move, an E means it'll learn it upon evolving, and a dash means it can only be learnt by visiting a Pokémon Move Reminder. Meanwhile, the Z-Effect is the strength of that Type's Z-Move.

Litten - At LevelTorracat - At LevelIncineroar - At LevelMoveTypePowerAccuracyPPZ-Effect
- - - Scratch Normal 40 100 35 100 Power
- - - Ember Fire 40 100 25 100 Power
4 - - Growl Normal - 100 40 Defence Up
8 - - Lick Ghost 30 100 30 100 Power
11 - - Leer Normal - 100 30 Power Up
15 - - Fire Fang Fire 65 95 15 120 Power
18 19 - Roar Normal - - 20 Defense Up
22 24 - Bite Dark 60 100 25 120 Power
25 28 - Swagger Normal - 85 15 Reset Stats
29 33 - Fury Swipes Normal 18 80 15 100 Power
32 37 38 Thrash Normal 120 100 10 190 Power
30 42 44 Flamethrower Fire 90 100 15 175 Power
39 46 49 Scary Face Normal - 100 10 Speed Up
43 51 55 Flare Blitz Fire 120 100 15 190 Power
46 55 60 Outrage Dragon 120 100 10 190 Power
X X 66 Cross Chop Fight 100 80 5 180 Power
X X E Darkest Lariat Dark 85 100 10 160 Power
X X - Bulk Up Fight - - 20 Power Up
X X - Throat Chop Dark 80 100 15 160 Power

Starter Popplio, and Popplio, Brionne and Primarina stats in Pokémon Sun and Moon

Popplio (starting level 5)
Brionne (evolves at level 17)
Primarina (evolves at level 34)


Popplio - Water
Brionne - Water
Primarina - Water Fairy

Primarina Weaknesses:

Need more tips? Use our Pokémon Sun and Moon Walkthrough and guide for the main story, our competitive training guide for info on IVs, EV training, Hyper Training and bottle cap farming, and breeding explained, our choice of the best Pokémon Sun and Moon starter from Rowlet, Litten and Popplio, as well as an in-progress list of where to find Zygarde Cells and Cores and our guide to the Battle Tree and both Battling and Trading in the Festival Plaza. We also have a list of QR codes list, Z Crystal locations, Mega Stone locations, Eevium Z Eevee User locations for Extreme Evoboost, evolutions for Alolan Forms and other new Sun and Moon Pokémon and fast way to increase a Pokémon's Happiness, plus how to transfer across Ash-Greninja from the Sun and Moon Demo, where to catch the Tapu Guardians, how to catch the Ultra Beasts, and how to download the Munchlax Mystery Gift.

Popplio, Brionne and Primarina move list

Some notes on the below list - any Pokémon with a cross means they cannot learn that move, an E means it'll learn it upon evolving, and a dash means it can only be learnt by visiting a Pokémon Move Reminder. Meanwhile, the Z-Effect is the strength of that Type's Z-Move.

Popplio - At LevelBrionne - At LevelPrimarina - At LevelMoveTypePowerAccuracyPPZ-Effect
---PoundNormal4010035100 Power
---Water GunWater4010025100 Power
4--GrowlNormal-10040Defense Up
8--Disarming VoiceFairy40-15100 Power
11--Baby-Doll EyesFairy-10030Defense Up
15--Aqua JetWater4010020100 Power
1819-EncoreNormal-1005Speed Up
2224-Bubble BeamWater6510020120 Power
2528-SingNormal-5515Speed Up
2933-Double SlapNormal158510100 Power
323738Hyper VoiceNormal9010010175 Power
364244MoonblastFairy9510015175 Power
394649CaptivateNormal-10020Special Defense Up
435155Hydro PumpWater110855185 Power
465560Misty TerrainFairy--10Special Defense Up
XXESparkling AriaWater9010010175 Power

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About the author

Matthew Reynolds

Matthew Reynolds

Associate Editor  |  Crazyreyn

Matthew edits guides and other helpful things at Eurogamer.net. When not doing that, he's out and about playing Pokémon Go or continuing to amass his amiibo collection.


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