It looks an awful lot like Pokémon Sword and Shield will be the first mainline Pokémon games to have an autosave function, something which has the potential - if nothing else changes - to drastically impact how the most dedicated players actually play the game.
Fans spotted apparent evidence of the new feature in the form of a "Now saving..." dialogue, which briefly popped up during the latest Sword and Shield trailer released in last Wednesday's Nintendo Direct. Take a look for yourself, in the top right corner at about the 45 second mark.
It's always possible that "Now saving..." dialogue is on screen for that brief moment because the player had just manually saved and quickly quit the menu, of course, but it's unlikely - given the player character seems to be running into the building as it appears, it seems like the kind of Skyrim-like autosave function which occurs every time you cross a certain in-game threshold.
Why's it so important, you ask? Well, mainline Pokémon games have had a single save system since the original Red and Blue way back in the '90s. It's how the choice of starter Pokémon is given its weight - you only get one, and can't play through with another without wiping your entire save - and perhaps more cynically preserves the value of having at least two, separate editions with each release. You're more likely to double-dip on Pokémon Moon when you're tied to just the one save in Pokémon Sun.
Trading over the internet has mitigated that somewhat, but the competitive, "hardcore" Pokémon fans still rely quite heavily on controlling where and when they save. Players who want a shiny version of a one-off Pokémon like a legendary, for instance, will save and reload hundreds or even thousands of times to get it. The same goes for getting the right IVs and nature - which dictates which two stats get a slight boost or reduction in power - on a certain Pokémon, an essential part of min-maxing 'mons for competitive use.
There's also the simple fact certain Pokémon can't be caught again if you mess up your one chance - by knocking out a legendary in a one-off battle, say - although in recent years the games have tended to give players multiple shots, if they do manage to make a mistake while forgetting to save first. Most of the recent entries have even had a soft-reset function built in, letting you quickly reload your last save for seemingly those exact reasons.
How any of those practices would be affected, if at all, isn't really clear. It might not be an autosave function at all, or it might be a nice hybrid system, where autosaves are stored separately to your manual ones like they are in most games. That, if anything, would give players even more control as usual, with an insurance system for the clumsier players out there (I've heard a few horror stories of Pokémon Let's Go players who forgot to save before putting their Switch to sleep, and proceeded to let it run out of battery...).
In other words, depending on how it's handled, it could actually be good news for Sword and Shield players - which would be welcome, amid all the grumbles over the size of the still-growing Sword and Shield Pokédex.