Pokémon Sword and Shield strong-looking Pokémon and how to get their guard down explained

How to deal with the higher level creatures you may come across.

Pokémon Sword or Shield strong-looking Pokémon are a new type of powerful foe you'll encounter on your travels.

Ever thought it was strange that previous Pokémon adventures would scale each route close to your level? In Sword and Shield, things are different - as strong-looking Pokémon will appear at a higher level than your squad when you explore a place for the first time.

As well as being more challenging foes, an important difference is you cannot catch strong-looking Pokémon - at least not right away - until you get their guard down.

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What should you do with strong-looking Pokémon in Pokémon Sword and Shield?

There are two things you can do around strong-looking Pokémon in Pokémon Sword and Shield - fight or flee!


Since their levels are higher than yours, the XP gains you'll receive will be better than usual wild encounters - making them a welcome source of experience for early-game levelling.


Of course, they are also much harder to fight - so working out type-advantages is very important, both in terms of attack and defense. If you have the right line-up, then it might be worth spending the time to take them on.

If they are too powerful, or you simply prefer to move on without battling, then you can flee. Though the usual 'run' option is available, it's not guaranteed to work every time, so if you need to escape, then use the Poké Doll item will end the battle no questions asked.

If you're in need of some Poké Dolls early in the game, return to the Wild Area station - the same location where you get the Pokémon Sword and Shield Let's Go reward - and speak to the bystander with the yellow backpack to get five for free.


It's time to start the Isle of Armor DLC and our Pokémon Isle of Armor walkthrough. Plus, here's how to find the Slowpoke, where to find Max Mushroom locations, and how to get Kubfu, become best friends and evolve it! We've also got pages on how to catch the returning Pokémon from past generations, and all Diglett locations too! Elsewhere, 2020 has seen a few new announcements - such as Mythical Zarude, the ability to transfer Pokémon to Pokémon Home, news of the Sword and Shield Expansion Pass and the release of Gigantamax Toxtricity. Elsewhere, our Pokémon Sword and Shield walkthrough gives an overview of the game. Otherwise, we cover everything from the Wild Area, starters Sobble, Scorbunny and Grookey, lists of all TM locations and TRs, all Galarian forms and the Legendaries Zacian and Zamazenta.

How do you catch strong-looking Pokémon and get their guard down?

If a Pokémon is described as strong-looking, then it cannot be caught at the moment in the game. You can try to use a Poke Ball, but you'll be given the message 'You can't throw a Poke Ball! It won't get its guard down!'.


To get their guard down, the answer is to continue playing, beat gym leaders and earn gym badges.

Each gym badge will allow you to catch increasingly higher-level Pokémon, increasing the cap each time.

For example, the first gym badge will allow you to catch creatures up to level 25. You can see the level you're able to catch by looking at your Trainer badge screen.

By the end of the game, strong-looking Pokémon won't be a factor - so it might be easier to not worry about catching them at all until you're done.

That said, if you have your heart set on a certain creature you encounter as you go, make a note of its level, and when you get the right gym badge, it'll be worth circling back round to get it.

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About the author

Matthew Reynolds

Matthew Reynolds

Guides Editor

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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