If you’ve been steadily plugging away the last few weeks at Pokémon Sword and Shield, you’ve probably hit a wall when it comes to the Pokémon evolutions that aren’t straightforward and easy to guess. Most of the time, you just pop that first evolution into your party, keep leveling up, wait until it matures, and that’s that. But there are many Pokémon in the Sword and Shield Pokédex that require more effort. There are unique rules and circumstances you’d probably never guess. If that’s you, and you need the rundown before you complete your Pokédex, here’s what you need to know. Some are classic, based on previous generations, and others are brand new. But all sit firmly outside of the box.
While there are some spawn spots for Arcanine in Pokémon Sword and Shield, if you need one sooner than you can find it, you can always evolve a Growlithe using a Fire Stone.
This final evolution of Swinub is triggered by evolving a Piloswine that has the move Ancient Power.
This Pokémon evolves from a female Snorunt that is exposed to a Dawn Stone.
There are areas where you can obtain the Musharna by catching, but if you want to evolve one from a Munna, you must use a Moon Stone.
This Pokémon is an unusual case, in that it spawns from the Nincada simultaneously with the Ninjask. To trigger the evolution, you will need to get your Nincada to level 20 while there is one open spot in your Pokémon party.
As with all previous generations, the Pokémon your Tyrogue evolves into will depend on their stats. A Hitmonlee will evolve when its Attack is higher than its Defense. A Hitmonchan results when its Defense is higher than its Attack. And Hitmontop results when its Defense and Attack are equal. However, if you can also take a shortcut by catching these evolutions out in the open in the Wild Area.
The evolution for Vespiquen isn’t particularly hard, but you do need to use a female Combee to make it happen.
It’s pretty easy to get a Gardevoir or Gallade out in the Wild Area, but if you want to evolve them yourself, remember that Gardevoir evolves naturally from Kirlia, whereas Gallade must come from a male Kirlia that has been exposed to a Dawn Stone.
The Persian is on the Sword and Shield Pokédex, but you cannot obtain one from the Galarian Meowth, as that Pokémon evolves into a Perrserker. Instead, you must obtain the Meowth by trade from the boy inside the gym at Turrfield. It will evolve into a Persian at level 20.
The Alcremie has the astonishing distinction of having a total of over 60 different variations, which we covered recently in our Alcremie evolution guide. To get an Alcremie from a Milcery, you must do a spin move with your character by rotating the left analog stick. The kind you get, however, will depend on the time of day, the duration and direction of the spin, and if your Milcery is holding a treat. Be sure to check out our full Alcremie guide to ensure you get the one you want.
The many evolutions of Eevee can be attained as they always have, by using special evolution stones. The stones you need can be found scattered all over the field behind the Lake of Outrage in the Wild Area, behind the rocks forming a ring around a nearby Raid den. For Vaporeon, you will need the Water Stone. For Jolteon, Thunder Stone. Flareon needs a Fire Stone, Leafeon requires a Leaf Stone, and Glaceon predictably is triggered by the Ice Stone.
Espeon, Umbreon and Sylveon are the most unique cases. Espeon can be obtained by having a high friendship level and evolving during the day or night. To get an Umbreon, you’ll need to evolve the Eevee at midnight, with a Dark move equipped (but no Fairy!), and just in case, a high friendship level. Sylveon results from a Pokémon with a Fairy move equipped and a high friendship level, evolved during the day.
For where, how and when to find these evolutions in the Wild Area, be sure to check our full guide.
This unique Pokémon has two different evolutions, and the one you get will depend upon which version of the game you have. The Applin will evolve into Flappe in Pokémon Sword, and Appletun in Pokémon Shield. Both are evolved by using apples—a Tart Apple for a Flappe and a Sweet Applefor an Appletun. Unfortunately you can’t evolve ‘em into a Larry Appleton.
This Pokémon evolves from Swirlix when traded while holding a Whipped Dream. If you can’t find a Whipped Dream, you can win one from one of the cafes in Motostroke, Hammerlock, or Wyndon, or purchase one from the goods seller in the Pokémon Center in Hammerlock, for 10 BP.
This evolution has two specific conditions: you must trade a Spritzee, and the Spritzee must be holding a Satchel at the time.
This regal Pokémon evolves under very specific circumstances from the Galarian Farfetch’d: it must make three critical hits in battle. This is easier to obtain at higher levels, particularly with the move Leaf Blade or Razor Leaf, and a critical hit enhancing item held by Farfetch’d, like a Scope Lens.
You can find many Weaviles out in the open in the Wild Area, but if you need to evolve one yourself, you can use a Razor Claw on a Sneasel at night.
To evolve a Pikachu into the final form Raichu, you will need to expose them to a Thunder Stone.
Take heed—a Salazzle will only evolve from a female Salandit.
This bulky Pokémon evolves from a Rhydon when traded with another player while also holding a Protector.
To obtain an Escavalier, you will need to trade a Karrablast, a Sword exclusive, with Shelmet, a Shield exclusive. The Karrablast will evolve to a Escavalier during the trade.
Similar to the above, to obtain an Accelgor, you will need to trade a Shelmet with a Karrablast. The Shelmet will evolve to the Accelgor during the trade.
The Chandelure will evolve from a Lampent when exposed to a Dusk Stone.
If you can’t obtain this Pokémon from a Raid, another way is to evolve the Inky at level 30—but you’ll have to do it while holding the Switch upside down!
There’s no real trick to getting the Toxel to evolve into a Toxtricity—it’s getting the version of Toxtricity that you want that’s the hard part. For the Amped Form, its Nature must be Hardy, Brave, Adamant, Naughty, Docile, Impish, Lax, Hasty, Jolly, Naive, Rash, Sassy, or Quirky. For Low Key Form, its Nature must be Lonely, Bold, Relaxed, Timid, Serious, Modest, Mild, Quiet, Bashful, Calm, Gentle, or Careful.
A Milotic can be found in Lake of Outrage, so you may be more concerned with breeding for a Feebas (versus hours of fishing) than evolving to get one. That said, if you get a Shiny Feebas, you’ll need this information. For this evolution, you’ll need a Prism Scale, which can be found at the lake southwest of the Professor’s house, on the shoreline. Give it to your Feebas and trade them to evolve to a Milotic.
Both getting and evolving from a Togetic requires some special effort. To get one, you must evolve a Togepi with whom you have a high level friendship. It will evolve into a Togekiss when exposed to a Shiny Stone. All forms, however, are also available openly in the Wild Area.
Lucario can be found as an open spawn in the Wild Area, but to evolve a Riolu, you’ll need a high level friendship and to evolve them during the day.
Silvally evolves from Null, a verstile and intriguing Pokémon picked up from a trainer in Wyndon following your final match. When it is leveled up with high friendship, it will change types when it is holding any type of memory, each of which correlates to a different Pokémon type.
This mummy like Pokémon evolves from the Galarian Yamask by passing under the biggest stone archway of the Dusty Bowl after the Yamask has taken at least 49 HP in damage during a battle without fainting.
It’s easy enough to get a Snorlax in Pokémon Sword and Shield, but if you’d like to do the evolution yourself, you can always use a Munchlax—just make sure you have a high relationship with them before you evolve, first.
This one is tricky if you’re not paying attention to the evolution item or the authenticity of the Pokémon you wish to evolve from. To get a Polteageist, you’ll need a Sinistea that matches its evolution item. With an Antique Form Sinistea (which has a drop rate of about 1/100 and a distinctive mark on its bottom), you must use a Chipped Pot. If it is Phony Form Sinistea, you will need the Cracked Pot.
To get this spooky tree Pokemon, you’ll need to trade a Phantump with a friend.
To get the beautiful Frosmoth, obtain a high level of friendship with a Snom and evolve them at night.
The Fossil Pokemon
There are four different Pokémon that can be obtained by visiting the scientist Cara Liss at Route 6, and which one you get will depend on which fossils you give her. There are four kinds total, and of course, two types are very common to each version of the game and not the other. The fossils are Fossilized Bird and Fossilized Dino (Sword), and Fossilized Drake and Fossilized Fish (Shield). While the common ones are found out in the open in the Wild Area, all of them can be found by visiting the Digging Brothers near Bridge Field.
To get a Dracozolt, give her a Fossilized Bird and Fossilized Drake.
To get an Arctozolt, give her a Fossilized Bird and Fossilized Dino.
To get a Dracovish, give her a Fossilized Fish and Fossilized Drake.
To get an Arctovish, give her a Fossilized Fish and Fossilized Dino.