Pokemon Sun & Moon Starters Guide: How to choose the best starter for you

As Pokemon Sun and Moon begin to roll out around the world, some of us have still yet to decide on who to begin our new adventure with.

It's never an easy choice! Whoever you choose, they will very likely become the main staple of your team for the whole game... so you have to choose wisely.

Which is the best starting Pokemon in Sun & Moon? Let's take a closer look.

A trainer's first Pokemon can determine which areas of the game they'll struggle with or breeze through, and ultimately what their end game roster looks like. Whether you’re pondering LittenRowlet, or Popplio, we’ve got you covered in this break down.

Want more Pokemon Sun & Moon help? Check out the rest of our guide pages via our guide hub.

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Rowlet - The Grass Quill Pokemon
Rowlet is Generation 7's grass/flying starter. Pokemon Sun and Moon's Pokedex describes Rowlet as a wary little bird. It uses photosynthesis to store energy all day, then becomes more active at night. When debating on Rowlet, consider this:

  • Rowlet's third evolution is Decidueye, a grass/ghost-type. This typing combo isn't exactly desirable for defense, as the roster of Pokemon that can really hurt is a long one.
  • Rowlet is truly the rounded Pokemon of the lot in all forms. It makes for the obvious choice if just beating the game is your concern, but may require some some more resourceful approaches from competitive Pokemon players.
  • Choice Scarf should be a solid solution to Decidueye's less than desirable speed, covering some of its weaknesses.
  • Long Reach is Rowlet's new ability, which allows it to use moves without actually coming into contact with the target. Rough Skin, Poison Touch, Flame Body, or any of those infuriating contact moves are no big deal for this Pokemon.
  • Spirit Shackle has some nasty potential for opponents of Decidueye. Targets are unable to flee from battle or switch out with an ally. 
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Litten - The Fire Cat Pokemon
Litten is Generation 7’s fire starter. According to the Pokedex in Sun, Litten builds up fur inside of its stomach to later weaponize into fiery attacks, changing depending on how it coughs. Pokemon Moon describes it as a stoic creature, preferring solitude over all else. When considering Litten, there are a few things to remember:

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  • Litten will evolve into the Fire/Dark-type Pokemon, Incineroar. So, it will ultimately gain some useful resistances, but nothing to write home about. Mostly, fans are just relieved this isn't another fire/fighting generation.
  • Litten may not be the best choice for the mid-game, take heed if speeding to the end game is your biggest concern.
  • Litten’s starting speed stats make it seem like an obvious choice, but ultimately it will lose that edge when it becomes Incineroar.
  • Inceneroar’s physical attacks hit hard with a base of 115, making up ground for some of that lost speed.
  • Even if you don’t choose Litten, watch out leech life on it. After six generations, the move has gotten a hefty buff and seems to be a serious contender for its final skill set. 
  • Inceneroar maybe a solid choice if you’re willing to play the sustain/tank game, its HP is higher than both Primarina and Decidueye. Its defense is also comfortably stacked. Couple this with leech life, and trainers maybe able to survive what would usually be a fatal hit
  • Incineroar boasts Darkest Lariat, ignoring the stat changes of enemy Pokemon to deal damage. So if someone thinks they'll be stacking defense against Incineroar, it's over for them.
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Popplio - The Sea Lion Pokemon
Popplio is Generation 7's water starter. According to the Pokedex in Pokemon Sun and Moon, Popplio is a hardworker that controls water bubbles from its nose. It practices learning to make bigger bubbles, which it uses to smash into its foes. Before making your selection, consider this about Popplio:

  • Eventually, Popplio will become Primarina for its third evolution, which is a water/fairy-type Pokemon. Fairy has gotten a ton of flack for its powerful resistance and immunity combo, but you won't care much about that when it's playing to your team's strengths. Its resistance coverage is pretty stacked, just be wary of poison later on.
  • Popplio, like Litten, may have a few difficulties with the island challenges in the beginning and mid-game.
  • Popplio's third evolution has the highest special attack out of the three at 126, coupled with the highest speed also.
  • Primarina may not be the well-rounded tank Incineroar is, but it excels in its special defense. Against most special focused opponents, choose Popplio over Litten.
  • Liquid Voice is Popplio's new ability, turning all sound-based moves into water-type moves.
  • Sparkling Aria is Primarina's water-type move, which gives it the ability to cure the burn status affliction and deal damage.

Want more Pokemon Sun & Moon help? Check out the rest of our guide pages via our guide hub.

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