Pokemon Sword & Shield Articuno, Zapdos & Moltres: where to catch the new shiny-locked Galarian forms

One of the most exciting new additions in the Pokemon Sword & Shield Crown Tundra DLC is the addition of new forms of the classic gen 1 legendary birds: Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres.

We've had our share of regional form Pokemon over the course of the last two generations, but these legendary regional forms stand out. They're just one of a few legendary Pokemon in The Crown Tundra, including Mewtwo and a huge raft of returning legendary Pokemon from every other generation.

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Galarian Articuno, Galarian Zapdos and Galarian Moltres are all available once you have The Crown Tundra DLC - but first you'll need to activate 'A Legendary Tree of a Legendary Three', the quest surrounding these new forms of classic Pokemon.

To start that quest, you need to head to the big red tree near the lake area of The Crown Tundra. Doing so will initiate a cutscene that introduces the trio. After that cutscene, the three legendary birds scatter across the world of Pokemon Sword & Shield, waiting to be caught.

Articuno stays in The Crown Tundra, Zapdos goes to the original Wild Area, and Moltres goes to the Isle of Armor. Unfortunately, all three legendary birds are shiny-locked. With that said, there's a little gimmick for catching all of them - which is explained below. Here goes:

Where to find Galarian Articuno

Its feather-like blades are composed of psychic energy and can shear through thick iron sheets as if they were paper.

Articuno is the first of the three classic Kanto birds that's newly available in Galar with its snazzy new Galarian Form. After you activate the 'Legendary Tree of a Legendary Three' quest, Articuno will then appear in the skies above The Crown Tundra - and you'll also hear that classic Game Boy style Pokemon cry from it when it's nearby.

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If it's despawned, the easiest way to get it to respawn again is to exit and re-enter an area, such as by entering a building - you'll then see it again.

Galarian Articuno is a Psychic-type Pokemon, and catching it has a little gimmick appropriate for that type: this Articuno will split into multiple versions of itself, creating an illusion where there's three of it. It essentially taunts you. 

In order to start the encounter, you'll need to touch the 'real' Articuno - after which it'll attack. The real Galarian Articuno flaps its wings before the trio begin spinning around in circles - that's the tell.

If you fail to touch the correct one, Galarian Articuno will fly away. At this point you can either chase it across the map to its next location, or simply reset by exiting and re-entering the area.

Some other key facts to know:

  • Galarian Articuno is shiny-locked - so you can't catch a Shiny one in this way.
  • Galarian Articuno is a Flying / Psychic type, as opposed to an Ice / Flying type.
  • It has the Competitive Ability, which raises Sp. Attack by two points whenever another stat is lowered.
  • It'll come at Level 70, and expect to use multiple balls and potentially have multiple encounters before you catch it.

Where to find Galarian Zapdos

One kick from its powerful legs will pulverize a dump truck. Supposedly, this Pokémon runs through the mountains at over 180 mph.

The next addition to Pokemon Sword and Shield via The Crown Tundra is a Galarian form of Zapdos, the second legendary bird from the first generation. After initiating the cutscene at the tree, Galarian Zapdos flees, and you have to find it.

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Galarian Zapdos can be found roaming the original Wild Area of Galar - the one you explored back in the base version of Pokemon Sword & Shield. Galarian Zapdos basically runs a loop around the southern part of the wild area.

This version of Zapdos is basically flightless - but it can run real fast. You'll want to be on your bike, and the task is simple: you just have to chase after it. 

It's faster than you, but if you cut corners, take shortcuts and weave through long grass while avoiding Pokemon encounters, you can catch up with Galarian Zapdos and come into contact with it to kick off an encounter. Be sure to use your Bike boost to catch up!

Other key facts to know:

  • Galarian Zapdos is shiny locked - you can't catch a Zapdos that's shiny in this way. 
  • Galarian Zapdos is a Fighting / Flying type - losing the Electric typing of the Kanto version.
  • Its ability is Defiant, which raises its Attack stat by two points whenever it has any other stat lowered.
  • As ever, this is a challenging level 70 encounter - expect it to take some time and effort. 

Where to find Galarian Moltres

This Pokémon’s sinister, flame-like aura will consume the spirit of any creature it hits. Victims become burned-out shadows of themselves.

If you've been following the above, it might not come as much of a surprise that Galarian Moltres spawns into the one remaining unused open-ended area of Pokemon Sword and Shield - the Isle of Armor. Of course, you must have activated the birds quest at the big red tree in The Crown Tundra first.

Moltres flies all around the Isle of Armor, but a reliable way to see it is usually to start at the station and work your way up the earliest areas of the map, as if you're going to the Dojo.

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All you need to do with Galarian Moltres is get in its way. Sometimes we find it helps to whistle or ring your bike bell at it too. It'll keep flying, but if you get in its way, it'll attack and kick off an encounter. 

Some other things to keep in mind:

  • Galarian Moltres is shiny locked, so you can't get a shiny one in this encounter. 
  • Galarian Moltres is a Dark / Flying type, removing the iconic fire typing from the Kanto original.
  • Galarian Moltres has the Berserk ability, which boosts its Sp. Atk stat when it takes a hit that lowers it to below half HP.
  • The battle encounter is at level 70 - expect it to be a difficult, long catch battle that uses a lot of Pokeballs.
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