With the release of Pokémon Sword and Shield back in 2019, we got to meet a whole host of new gen 8 Pokémon. Many of them inspired by Galar’s British influence, there’s plenty of variation throughout the 96 new ‘mons. That might not sound like a lot, but that includes a granny smith dragon, a steel bird to rival Skarmory, and a super-charged corgi.
So, we’ve decided to try and pin down the best gen 8 Pokémon for the next time you feel like heading out on a Galarian adventure. Of course, Pokémon don’t disappear with the end of each generational era, so you should get your head around these creatures even if you don’t plan to revisit the wild area any time soon.
For more best-of-the-generation picks, check out our lists of gen 1 Pokémon, gen 2 Pokémon and gen 4 Pokémon. Or, if you’re looking for a new roster of monsters to introduce yourself to, check out our Temtem review and see if the Pokémon-influenced title lives up to its inspiration.
The best gen 8 Pokémon
So this list doesn’t just end up as all the gen eight legendaries and starters, we’ve decided to exclude them from this list (not that Inteleon would have made it anyway). So, with that caveat out of the way, let’s get into the best gen eight Pokémon.
Remember I mentioned that granny smith dragon? Well, it’s Appletun, the peculiar dragon and apple crossover with its customary helmet. Sure, it’s one of the few flightless dragons from Pokémon’s long history, but it makes up for that with species unique typing of grass and dragon, as well as its generous all round stats (except for speed, but look at the thing, do you really expect it to run?).
Barreskewda belongs to that classic category of Pokémon that don’t look nearly as threatening as they are. With incredible attack and speed stats, access to the swift swim ability that doubles speed in the rain, and a surprisingly diverse movepool, Barraskewda is a competitive beast who makes up in ability for what they lack in imaginative design.
If you’re anything like me, before journeying into Galar you could take one look at a Linoone and say “perfect, no notes”. Then Obstagoon arrived, the mafioso-looking badger-mon with a new dark typing and some incredible sharp claws to slash away with, and suddenly Linoone just seems a little boring. Better still, Obstagoon’s shiny alternative is a wash of white, blue, and pink, and is one of the most exciting palette swaps across the entire roster of 900+ Pokémon.
For the longest time, Skarmory was the only steel bird Pokémon in the skies of the Pokémon world. Then came Pokémon Sword and Shield, with its route one flying-type Rookidee. Rookidee itself isn’t much to write home about, but its fully evolved form Corviknight is something entirely different. With killer stats, access to some powerful moves, and a typing that means your opponent will spend endless rounds trying to shoot the bird out of the sky, there’s a reason Corviknight was a staple of the early eighth-gen competitive meta.
A Pokémon that looks, and sounds, like it’s just escaped from collecting coins from children under a bridge? Sign me up. Seriously though, Grimmsnarl might look ferocious, but it’s actually one of the better support Pokémon, and often sees play in competitive online battles. The last thing we have to mention is Grimmsnarl’s gorgeous shiny palette, swapping out the black and green for white and pink.
Say what you want about Greedent, but perhaps with the exception of Bibarel, I can’t think of a much cuter early-game normal evolution. Admittedly, Greedent makes the list through design alone, and while it might not hold its own in battle, it can at least soak up a few hits by utilising a stockpile strategy. Just look at those chubby little cheeks and try and say that Greedent isn’t an improvement on the route one normal-type evolution line.
How do you like your ghost Pokémon, with one sugar or two? Either way, Polteageist’s arrival in Pokémon Sword and Shield served up a surprise with one of the most ingenious Pokémon designs we’ve seen in years. Better still, Polteageist and its base form Sinistea can come in what’s known as “phony form”, hinting that somewhere in Galar there is a fake Pokémon porcelain operation. Sounds like a job for Detective Pikachu if you ask me.
Honestly, I don’t care if you don’t like Eiscue, I spent 30 hours breeding a shiny one, so it’s on this list. It’s true that Eiscue is one of the more divisive Pokémon in the gen eight lineup, but with its Mimikyu-type ability to survive every first hit, a decent speed stat, and access to swords dance through breeding, you can turn this penguin into an unlikely competitive sweeper, and trust me, your opponents will hate it.
You can’t make a Pokémon game with British influences without including a punk rock Pokémon, and adding Toxtricity to the team is the closest we’re ever going to get to having a party with Sid Vicious, so it has to be done. With access to a bunch of ability-boosted sound-based moves, a wicked design that embraces seventies punk aesthetics, and a tricky-to-deal-with poison/electric hybrid typing Toxtriciy is an all-round threat to any Pokémon authority.
Ok, so no legendaries on this list, but a pseudo-legendary can’t hurt, right? Wrong. Dragapult can and does hurt basically anything in it’s way, with a frankly ridiculous move pool and dragon/ghost typing, this aircraft carrier-influenced monster might be something of a glass cannon, but when it fires it really fires. If all that isn’t enough, it’s clear Dragapult attracts only the best trainers, as Ash himself has one on his team in the anime.
There you have it, our picks for the best gen 8 Pokémon. For more marvellous monsters, see our picks for the best games like Pokémon.