Pokémon Sword and Shield Max Raids explained - including updating Max Raid spawn, Max Raid Lobby and Max Raid rewards explained

Everything you need to know about Max Raids in Pokémon Sword and Shield. 

Max Raids are a new form of battle, which you can find in the Wild Area in both Pokémon Sword and Shield.

Each Max Raid will allow you, and your friends, to battle a powerful Dynamax Pokémon, which might even be in a Gigantamax form.

Successfully completing a Max Raid will grant you a variety of reward and, if you're lucky, a chance to catch a rare Gigantamax Pokémon.

On this page:

What are Max Raids in Pokémon Sword and Shield?

Max Raids are special Pokémon battles that only occur when you interact with a Pokémon Den in the Wild Area, which up to four players can take part in.


Every Pokémon you face in a Max Raid will be a Dynamax Pokémon.

Each raid has a difficulty rating, ranging from one to five stars, which dedicates how powerful the Pokémon you're fighting is.

When you first visit the Wild Area, you'll only be able to find one-star Max Raids, but, as you defeat more gyms leaders, the higher ranking raid battles will become available to you. Finally, once you earn the eighth badge, you'll unlock the five-star Max Raids.

You'll know if a Pokémon Den has a Pokémon hiding within it, because it will be emitting a beam of red light.

Head to the red beams of light to find the infested Pokémon Den.

If this light is a dark purple, with a series of clouds swirling around it, then the Pokémon within the Den is both stronger and rarer.

If you clear every Max Raid available, then the Wild Area will refresh, bringing you a new series of Max Raids to complete. This means you can grind the Max Raids all day and it also raises your chances of encountering a Gigantamax Pokémon.

Occasionally you'll be able to find rare Gigantamax Pokémon in Pokémon Dens for a limited time. Luckily, these limited release Gigantamax Pokémon can appear in both types of Pokémon Dens.

How to update your Max Raid spawns in Pokémon Sword and Shield

If you want to update your Max Raid spawn table, you need to connect to the Internet.

Once your Nintendo Switch is connected to the Internet, your Wild Area spawn table should update to include any new Max Raid Pokémon.

You can also use the 'Get the Wild Area News', found in the Mystery Gift function, to update your Max Raid spawn tables.


How to participate in other players Max Raids in Pokémon Sword and Shield

To join another player's Max Raid, you must first connect your Nintendo Switch to the Internet.

Once you've done that, keep an eye on your Y-Comm; you're looking for a red stamp with a Pokémon's silhouette.

When one of these stamps appear, open your Y-Comm and select the stamp to take part in the Max Raid.

You can also use the 'Search Stamps' feature to specially look at just the Max Raid stamps. This is especially useful if you only want to take part in Max Raids against rare Pokémon.

Using the 'Search Stamp' option will help you find Max Raid Battles.

Max Raid Lobby in Pokémon Sword and Shield explained

Interacting with a Pokémon Den containing a Pokémon will send you to the Max Raid Lobby.

The Max Raid Lobby.

On the left side of the lobby, you'll be able to see the details of the Max Raid.

This includes a silhouette of the Pokémon you can battle, this Pokémon's type, any weather conditions and the lose conditions.

You'll also find the star rating on the left-hand side of the lobby, which dictates the difficulty level of the battle. This ranges from one-star raids to five.

It's a good idea to carefully read through all of these details, because they will help you plan your strategy for the Max Raid.

On the right-hand side of the lobby, you'll see which Pokémon you're taking into the Max Raid and a series of options.

The first option is 'Invite Others,' which will allow you to invite other players to take part in your Max Raid, or 'Don't Invite Others,' which allows you to fight the Pokémon alone.

Since you can only take one Pokémon into a Max Raid and the Pokémon that is currently in the first slot of your party will automatically be selected. You can change which Pokémon you take into the raid by selecting 'Switch Pokémon.'

If you don't feel like taking part in the Max Raid, select 'Quit.'

Getting ready to battle!

Once you select either 'Invite Others' or 'Don't Invite Others,' you'll be sent to the second page of the lobby.

Here you'll have three minutes to allow any other players to join you if you wish.

You can, if you like, skip straight past this page and enter the Max Raid immediately. If you do this without having any other players, the game will select a random collection of NPCs and Pokémon to fight alongside you.

Everything you need to know about Max Raid Battles in Pokémon Sword and Shield

Max Raids work a little bit differently to normal Pokémon battles.

Your opponent will remain Dynamaxed throughout the battle, meaning they will always have access to their Max or G-Max Moves.

Your Pokémon can still only be Dynamaxed for three turns.

The Dynamax rules for your Pokémon, however, will always remain the same. You can only Dynamax your Pokémon once and it will only last for three turns.

If your Pokémon faints, then you won't be out of the battle straight away. Instead you need to wait for one turn and, afterwards, your Pokémon will return to the battlefield. If your Pokémon faints too many times, however, then the Max Raid will be over.

Max Raid Pokémon can also summon a mysterious barrier, which will protect them from status affecting attacks, such as Thunder Wave, and lower the damage of other attacks.

Knock down the barrier, so you can cause proper damage again.

The metre for this barrier will appear beneath the Max Raid Pokémon's health bar and will be made up of several segments. Each one of these segments equals an attack that you and your allies must use to break the barrier.

Max Moves and G-Max Moves will destroy two segments of the barrier at a time.

The strength of this barrier depends on the difficulty of the raid. If you're battling a three-star raid, for example, then the barrier will have three segments.

Destroying the barrier will allow you to damage the Max Raid Pokémon properly again, but also cause it to take damage, lowering both its Defence and Special Defence.

If you manage to defeat the Pokémon, you'll be given the opportunity to catch it and, even if you don't catch it, a selection of rewards.

Select your preferred Poké Ball.

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.

Max Raid rewards in Pokémon Sword and Shield

Successfully completing a Max Raid will net you a variety of rewards, including:

  • Dynamax Candy
  • Exp. Candy XS
  • Exp. Candy S
  • Exp. Candy M
  • Exp. Candy L
  • Exp. Candy XL
  • Gigantamix
  • A TR based on the type of the Pokémon you defeated
  • Random Berries
  • Random treasure items
  • Rare Candy

If you need help tracking down a good Pokémon Den, then check out our Gigantamax Pokémon guide where we've detailed the locations of the Den that are more likely to contain a Gigantamax Pokémon.

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Lottie Lynn

Lottie Lynn

Guides Writer

Lottie Lynn is Eurogamer's guides writer. She likes exploring new games and still has nightmares about the moon from Majora's Mask.


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