The system of flying from city to city and surfing across the open ocean was quite regimented in previous Pokémon instalments, and you could trust that once you needed to get to a gym leader across the water, you’d be given the HM Surf.
One of a great many tweaks in the games Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield to improve the experience for players is that the developers, Game Freak, have done away with HMs, offering different methods of getting around that are far less invasive on your Pokémon’s move list. While your Pokémon can still learn the move Surf, it isn’t needed to get across the water.
While the method has changed, getting the ability to roam the waterways of Pokémon comes in a rather familiar way.
Warning, spoilers ahead!
Win your first badge and get on your bike
By now, you will have most likely seen people gliding across the water in the Wild Area on a specialised bike. If you haven’t got a basic Rotom Bike yet, you’ll need to continue with the story until you defeat the Turffield gym leader, Milo.
After defeating the grass-lover, you’ll be told to progress to Hammerlocke Stadium, along Route 5. It is here where you will engage in an encounter to rescue a person in blue scrubs and a medical face mask. When you win the ensuing battle, you’ll be given a bike.
Riding on the water in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield
Jumping forward a fair bit in the story, after you’ve been to Circhester to claim your sixth gym badge, you can then continue along the story by going down Route 9 – found on the east side of Circhester, leading south. Following this route, you’ll cross a bridge to further tease the fact that you can’t ride on the water just yet.
Further down the route, you’ll come to Circhester Bay, where you’ll once again engage in a battle to help a person in scrubs. Once you have defeated your foes, they will reward you with some modifications to your bike, making it possible for you to ride on water in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield.
As soon as you cycle into Circhester Bay, you can encounter Pokémon like Remoraid, Mantine, and Wailmer on the open water. After that, you can make your way back to the Wild Area, specifically Bridge Field or Dusty Bowl, to take on one of the most iconic Pokémon of the franchise: Gyarados.
Unfortunately for those of you who want a quick fix to jump onto the lake and try to catch or battle some mighty water Pokémon, you’ll just have to keep training, defeat Gordie and his rock-type team, and then venture down the icy Route 9 to get your bike upgrade.
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