Ever since the earliest Pokémon games in the 90s, people have found ways to hack the games and create Pokémon. It didn’t take long for people to find ways to do this in Pokémon Sword and Shield.
Players will often send their hacked Pokémon out into the world via surprise trades. They can also be great bargaining chips for players looking to get something from someone else. Hacked Pokémon are not supposed to be used in competitive play, but it is often difficult to tell whether one is legitimate or hacked. Here are some tips.
The Pokémon is “too good to be true”
Hackers know how to make Pokémon appear legitimate, and it will generally be difficult to tell if it isn’t. A huge telltale sign is if one seems too good to be true. A legitimate player is not likely to send out something valuable in a surprise trade when they could save it for themselves or use it to gain value in a trade.
Hackers tend to create shiny Pokémon, Pokémon with Pokérus, and level 100s with six perfect IVs and competitive movesets. Receiving any of these in a surprise trade probably means that it is hacked.
On the other hand, any Pokémon that is level one was likely bred and traded away. These are generally legitimate even if they have great IVs or egg moves. Unless it is shiny or has Pokérus, it should be safe to use or breed.
Illegal abilities or moves
Each Pokémon in Sword and Shield has a specific set of abilities and moves that they can learn. These moves are referred to as “legal”. If a Pokémon has a move or ability that it cannot learn naturally, it is hacked and cannot be used in competitive play.
An example of this would be if a Cinderace had the ability Sturdy or the move Hydro Pump. It cannot have this ability or learn this move, so the only way to get them would be through hacking. This is fairly rare, but it’s still worth looking out for.
Illegal Poké Balls
The most common instance of this in Sword and Shield would be one of the starters in a different Poké Ball. Scorbunny, Sobble, and Grookey can currently only be found in standard Poké Balls. Receiving one of them in a different Poké Ball means that it had to be hacked.
Be wary of what Poké Ball a Pokémon is in. While breeding a hacked Pokémon is not technically illegal, breeding passes the Poké Ball down. This means that breeding a Scorbunny in a Dream Ball will create an egg that hatches another Scorbunny in a Dream Ball, which will look suspicious.
It’s not in the game
Sword and Shield currently only have 401 Pokémon. While over 200 more will return in the upcoming DLC expansions, creatures like Squirtle or Mewtwo are not currently in Sword and Shield. For now, that means the only way to get them in the game is to hack them in.
Most hackers will try their best to create Pokémon that look legitimate. When trading with random people online, make sure to carefully inspect a Pokémon before using it. If it seems like it’s hacked, that’s because it probably is.
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