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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
RowletGrass / Flying685555505042

Fully evolved base stats:

Max EvolutionTypeHPPowerDefenceSpecial AttackSpecial DefenceSpeed
DecidueyeGrass / Ghost781077510010070
IncineroarFire / Dark9511590809060
PrimarinaWater / Fairy80747412611660

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
---TackleNormal4010035100 Power
---LeafageGrass4010040100 Power
4--GrowlNormal-10040Defense Up
8--PeckFlying3510035100 Power
11--AstonishGhost3010015100 Power
15--Razor LeafGrass559525100 Power
1819-ForesightNormal--40Critical Up
2224-PluckFlying6010020120 Power
2528-SynthesisGrass--5Reset stats
2933-Fury AttackNormal158520100 Power
323738Sucker PunchDark701005140 Power
364244Leaf BladeGrass9010015175 Power
394649Feather DanceFlying-10015Defence Up
435155Brave BirdFlying12010015190 Power
465560Nasty PlotDark--20Reset Stats
XXESpirit ShackleGhost8010010160 Power
XX-U-TurnBug7010020140 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
---ScratchNormal4010035100 Power
---EmberFire4010025100 Power
4--GrowlNormal-10040Defence Up
8--LickGhost3010030100 Power
11--LeerNormal-10030Power Up
15--Fire FangFire659515120 Power
1819-RoarNormal--20Defense Up
2224-BiteDark6010025120 Power
2528-SwaggerNormal-8515Reset Stats
2933-Fury SwipesNormal188015100 Power
323738ThrashNormal12010010190 Power
304244FlamethrowerFire9010015175 Power
394649Scary FaceNormal-10010Speed Up
435155Flare BlitzFire12010015190 Power
465560OutrageDragon12010010190 Power
XX66Cross ChopFight100805180 Power
XXEDarkest LariatDark8510010160 Power
XX-Bulk UpFight--20Power Up
XX-Throat ChopDark8010015160 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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Matthew Reynolds


Matthew Reynolds edited guides and other helpful things at Eurogamer from 2010 - 2023. When he wasn't doing that, he was out and about playing Pokémon Go or continuing to amass his amiibo collection.