Pokémon Sword & Shield introduces a new feature called Dynamax. Pokémon using Dynamax increase massively in size and boost their power. Gym leaders will use Dynamax, and there are Max Raid Battles in the Wild Area in Galar.

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Dynamax battle mechanics

Dynamax can only be used once per battle and lasts for 3 turns, after which the Pokémon will return to normal size. Their moves also turn into powerful Max moves - there appears to be one Max move per type for attacking moves, plus Max Guard for all status moves. This means Pokémon can end up with multiple of the same Max move. Max moves attack with great power but also have additional effects such as inducing a sandstorm or Grassy Terrain.

Wild Dynamax Pokémon can also be encountered in the Wild Area, known as Max Raid Battles. These take place at Pokémon Dens which are signified by a red light projecting into the sky. Up to 4 trainers can connect to take part in the Max Raid Battle. Icons on the left of the screen show which category of move (Physical/Special/Status) the teammates are using. Only one of the 4 players can use Dynamax themselves during the battle, and the ability to use it cycles between each Pokémon in turn. The 3-turn limit does not exist in Max Raid Battles.

During Max Raid Battles, the opponent Dynamax Pokémon may use multiple moves, and it can use both its regular moves and Dynamax moves. It may also put up a barrier when its HP drops below half. The barrier has a gauge and needs to be attacked several times before the Pokémon can take damage again. Each attack drops the gauge one step; Dynamax moves drop it by two steps. When the barrier is destroyed the opponent will lose some health and its defenses drop.

After defeating the Pokémon, everyone participating in the Max Raid Battle has the chance to catch the Pokémon. Various item rewards are also given.

Dynamax moves

The following moves have been confirmed:

Name Type Additional effect
Max Strike Normal Lowers opponent's Speed
Max Flare Fire Creates harsh sunlight
Max Geyser Water Creates a rain shower
Max Lightning Electric Creates Electric Terrain
Max Overgrowth Grass Creates Grassy Terrain
Max Knuckle Fighting
Max Airstream Flying Raises user's Speed
Max Rockfall Rock Creates a sandstorm
Max Darkness Dark Lowers opponent's Special Defense
Max Steelspike Steel Raises user's Defense
Max Starfall Fairy Creates Misty Terrain
Max Guard Protects the user

Wild Dynamax Pokémon

These Pokémon are known to appear in Max Raid Battles, as per the current trailers.