Evolving your Pokémon is a major part of any Pokémon game, including Pokémon Sword and Shield.
If you want to fill the Galar Pokédex, then you're going to have to use a variety of evolution methods; from trading with other players, to raising Friendship Level and, even, spinning round in circles.
There are a range of benefits to evolving Pokémon, which go beyond making them look cooler. You can also, if you so wish, prevent a Pokémon from evolving.
On this page:
Evolution Methods list in Pokémon Sword and Shield
There are the various evolution methods that you can use in Pokémon Sword and Shield:
Unique Gen 8 Evolution Methods in Pokémon Sword and Shield
Pokémon Sword and Shield introduced us to the Gen 8 Pokémon rooster and, amongst all these new Pokémon, are some very interesting new evolution methods. This includes evolving Pokémon in specific locations, with special items or fulfilling certain criteria.
If you want to add Sirfetch'd to your party, for example, then you must ensure that Farfetch'd scores three Critical Hits in one battle.
For an in-depth look at these new evolution methods, have a look at our guides for:
Evolution Stones in Pokémon Sword and Shield explained
Evolution Stones are one of the earliest evolution methods in the Pokémon games, first appearing in Pokémon Red and Blue.
Only a certain number of Pokémon need an Evolution Stone to evolve and it can be used at any level.
All you have to do is find the Evolution Stone your Pokémon requires and you can start the evolution process.
Trade Evolutions in Pokémon Sword and Shield explained
Having a Pokémon evolve after you trade it with another player is a staple of the Pokémon series.
It's as simple as it sounds - trade the Pokémon with a friend, watch it evolve on their Nintendo Switch and then, hopefully, they'll trade it back to you.
Some of the Pokémon that are traditionally evolved by trading can be found in the Wild Area. All of these Pokémon, however, are 'Strong-looking' Pokémon and you'll need specific Gym Badges if you want to catch them.
If want one of these Pokémon before you have the correct Gym Badge, however, then trade evolution is the solution for you.
Below are all the Pokémon that evolve from just trade evolution in Pokémon Sword and Shield:
- Machoke evolves into Machamp
- Haunter evolves into Gengar
- Boldore evolves into Gigalith
- Pumpkaboo evolves into Gourgeist
- Phantump evolves into Trevenant
Both Shelmet and Karrablast also evolve by being traded, but they must be traded with each other to cause their evolution.
Special Item Evolutions in Pokémon Sword and Shield explained
Some Pokémon require a special item for them to evolve. This item can be either held by the Pokémon or you use the item on them to begin the evolution.
Here are the Pokémon in Sword and Shield that require an item to evolve:
- Applin evolves into either Flapple (Sword) using the Tart Apple or Appletun (Shield) using the Sweet Apple
- Milcery evolves into Alcremie by holding a sweet, while you spin in circles
- Sneasel evolves into Weavile while holding a Razor Claw at night
- Sinstea evolves into Polteageist using either the Cracked Pot or Chipped Pot depending on whether or it you have a forgery or rare Sinstea
There are also a couple of Pokémon that need to hold a specific item while being traded with another player to evolve.
Below you'll find a list of all the Pokémon in Pokémon Sword and Shield that need to be traded while holding an item, including the name of that item, to evolve:
- Onix evolves into Steelix when holding the Metal Coat
- Rhydon evolves into Rhyperior when holding the Protector
- Dusclops evolves into Dusknoir when holding the Reaper Cloth
- Feebas evolves into Milotic when holding the Prism Scale
- Spritzee evolves into Aromatisse when holding the Sachet
- Swirlix evolves into Slurpuff when holding the Whipped Dream
Friendship Evolutions in Pokémon Sword and Shield
Not all Pokémon need magic stones or trading to evolve, some simply need the power of friendship.
Attack Based Evolutions in Pokémon Sword and Shield
A couple of Pokémon will only evolve if they learn a specific attack.
These attacks can be learned by levelling up the Pokémon and through the use of TMs or TRs.
Below you'll find a list of all the Pokémon in Sword and Shield that evolve when they learn a specific attack, the name of the attack and the level at which they learn it:
- Bonsly evolves into Sudowoodo by learning Mimic at Level 16
- Clobbopus evolves into Grapploct by learning Taunt at Level 35
- Eevee evolves into Sylveon by having a high friendship level and knowing either Baby-Doll Eyes at Level 15 or Charm at Level 45
- Mime Jr. evolves into Mr. Mime by learning Mimic at Level 32
- Piloswine evolves into Mamoswine when it knows Ancient Power, which it learns from evolving from Swinub
- Steene evolves into Tsareena by learning Stomp at Level 28
Time-based Evolutions in Pokémon Sword and Shield
Some Pokémon only evolve during the day, while others only evolve during the day.
The day and night cycle in Pokémon Sword and Shield works a little differently than the other main-line Pokémon games.
The day of day in the cities, towns and routes you visit is tied to where you are in the story-line. This means that if you're at a part of the story-line set at night, then these areas will all be set at night.
Meanwhile, the time of day in the Wild Area is tied to your Nintendo Switch's internal clock. If your Nintendo Switch thinks its daytime, then so will the Wild Area.
Below you'll find all the Pokémon in Sword and Shield that only evolve during the day:
- Eevee evolves into Espeon with a high friendship level
- Riolu evolves into Lucario with a high friendship level
Below you'll find all the Pokémon in Sword and Shield that only evolve at night:
- Eevee evolves into Umbreon with a high friendship level
- Galarian Linoone evolves into Obstagoon at Level 35
- Sneasel evolves into Weavile while holding the Razor Claw
- Snom evolves into Frosmoth with a high friendship level
Level-based Evolutions in Pokémon Sword and Shield
There are a number of Pokémon in Sword and Shield that you can only find through by levelling up each one and evolving them.
This includes the second and third evolution for each of the starter Pokémon. You will have to trade with another player, however, for one of the two starter Pokémon you didn't pick at the start of the game.
These Pokémon include:
- Thwackey from Grookey at Level 16
- Rillaboom from Thwackey at Level 35
- Raboot from Scorbunny at Level 16
- Cinderace from Raboot at Level 35
- Drizzile from Sobble at Level 16
- Inteleon from Drizzle at Level 35
You can also only get Cofagrigus and Persian by levelling up and then evolving a non-Galar Meowth and Yamask.
You can receive a non-Galar Meowth by trading a Galarian Meowth in the Turffield Stadium and a non-Galar Yamask by trading a Galarian Yamask in the Ballonlea Stadium.
Meowth will evolve into Persian at Level 28, while Yamask will evolve into Cofagrigus at Level 34.
What are the benefits of evolving Pokémon in Pokémon Sword and Shield?
Evolving your Pokémon has a number of great benefits that makes the full process of training your Pokémon team more worthwhile.
Evolving a Pokémon will make it stronger, by raising its base stats and, sometimes, changing its type, making it a dual type Pokémon.
When Hattrem evolves into Hatterene, for example, it goes from being just a psychic-type Pokémon to being both a fairy and psychic-type Pokémon.
Once a Pokémon evolves it might also be able to learn new skills, both from TMs and from levelling up.
A Pokémon's ability might change when it evolves as well, allowing you to adapt your play style to take full advantage of this change.
Finally, evolving Pokémon will also fill in empty entries in your Pokédex, allowing you to become the ultimate Pokémon Master.
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 to prevent Pokémon evolving in Pokémon Sword and Shield
There are two main ways you can prevent a Pokémon from evolving in Pokémon Sword and Shield.
The first is to press B as the Pokémon is evolving. This will cancel the evolution completely, until the next time the Pokémon levels up. At this point you can either press B again or allow the Pokémon to evolve.
The second method is to give the Pokémon an Everstone to hold.
An Everstone will prevent this Pokémon from even entering the evolution process, because, when a Pokémon holds an Everstone, they are completely incapable of evolving.
Once you take the Everstone away from the Pokémon, they will be able to evolve again.