With the release of the widely popular Pokémon Sword and Shield games on the Nintendo Switch in late 2019, hardcore Pokémon fans and gamers alike were eagerly awaiting additional content for the titles. In June 2020, The Pokémon Company delivered with the release of the massive Expansion Pass DLC, which introduced two major new areas to explore – The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra.
According to data from Nintendo, over 24 million copies of Pokémon Sword and Shield have been sold worldwide as of March 2021, making it one of the highest-selling Switch titles. It‘s clear there is huge demand among fans to experience everything these new Pokémon RPGs have to offer. However, as you may know, the Expansion Pass does not come free with the base games. So is there any way for a Pokémon trainer on a budget to explore these expansive new lands? Let‘s take a deeper look.
Overview – What Exactly is the Expansion Pass?
For those unfamiliar, the Expansion Pass is premium downloadable content (DLC) that adds a tremendous amount of new content and gameplay to Pokémon Sword and Shield. Specifically, the $29.99 Expansion Pass includes:
The Isle of Armor – A new island area to explore, featuring open wilderness, beaches, and dojos. It was the first expansion released in June 2020.
The Crown Tundra – A snowy tundra environment unlocked in October 2020. It introduces a brand new story arc and legendary Pokémon.
Over 200 additions to the Pokédex – The new areas add Pokémon from past generations back into Sword and Shield, including many fan favorites.
NewRegional Forms – Unique regional variant versions of existing Pokémon adapted to the Galar region, like Galarian Slowpoke.
New Characters & Story Content – Fresh storylines, rivals like Klara, new clothing/character customization options, and more.
New Features & Modes – Such as Dynamax Adventures in the Crown Tundra and Cram-o-matic recipe mixing in the Isle of Armor.
As you can see, the Expansion Pass adds an enormous amount of gameplay value and content. But can this hefty DLC really be obtained for free? Let‘s dig in.
Is the Expansion Pass Free with Nintendo Switch Online?
This is a common question among Nintendo Switch owners. However, unfortunately, a membership to Nintendo Switch Online does NOT include or unlock the Pokémon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass for free.
While a Nintendo Switch Online membership provides various benefits like online multiplayer gaming, access to classic NES and SNES titles, and cloud save data backup, it does not grant access to any premium DLC or new first-party releases like the Pokémon Expansion Pass.
Switch Online starts at $3.99 monthly or $19.99 annually. The Expansion Pass needs to be purchased separately for $29.99 via the Nintendo eShop. So having an active Switch Online membership does not substitute for buying the Pass.
Third-Party Sites Claiming to Offer it Free
A quick Google search may lead you to some shady third-party sites claiming to offer Pokémon Sword and Shield download codes for the Expansion Pass for free. These could be online code generators, giveaways, surveys, app downloads, or other offers.
It is crucial to steer clear of all these sites, as they are illicit scam operations. Not only do they not provide working DLC codes, but they seek to phish personal data and spread viruses or malware. Sticking to legitimate first-party stores like the Nintendo eShop is always safest for purchases.
Legal Methods to Get it at a Discount
While the Expansion Pass cannot be obtained fully free of charge, there are legitimate ways to buy it at a discounted price. Here are some tips and tricks to save money when purchasing:
Wait for a sale: Nintendo periodically runs eShop sales that discount DLC by 30-50%. Watch for seasonal sales.
Buy a physical copy: Physical game cards with a download code often get discounted 10-20% at retailers.
Use eShop gift cards: Find discounted or secondhand eShop cards to use dollar-for-dollar.
Buy a bundle deal: Look for special console or game bundles that may include the Pass.
Share with a family member: Purchase one Pass to share across multiple accounts and Switch consoles.
Trade loyalty points: Cash in gaming loyalty points from retailers like GameStop or BestBuy.
Following these methods can potentially save you $5-15 off the Expansion Pass. While not free, saving 25-50% is still a bargain.
Should You Pay Full Price for the Expansion Pass?
For diehard Pokémon fans invested in Sword and Shield, paying the full $29.99 asking price for the Expansion Pass is likely worthwhile to access all the new content. Here is a deeper look at exactly what you get for your money:
Hundreds of hours of fresh gameplay
Between the Isle of Armor, Crown Tundra, Dynamax Adventures, and Pokédex completion, the Pass adds over 100 hours of brand new story content, quests, exploration, battles, and training.
Play with returning classic Pokémon
Over 200 fan favorite Pokémon from past generations like Squirtle, Sandshrew, and Mudkip return in the expansions. This expands the Switch titles‘ Pokédex significantly.
Exciting new features and modes
Unique additions like the Cram-o-matic, Max Soup, Restricted Sparring, and Dynamax Adventures provide fresh ways to play and power up your Pokémon.
New stories, rivals, and lands to discover
The island dojos, frozen tundra, and expanded legendaries and storylines allow you to extend your Galar adventure.
Well worth the price for hardcore fans
Considering the breadth and quality of content added, the $30 Pass costs approximately $0.30 per hour of playtime – excellent value compared to other entertainment options.
As you can see, while the upfront cost may feel steep, you truly get your money‘s worth with the Expansion Pass if you are invested in the Pokémon Sword and Shield world.
Key Takeaways: How to Get the Expansion Pass for Free
The Pokémon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass costs $29.99 and contains The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra DLC expansions.
There is no legitimate way to obtain the Pass for free. Membership to Nintendo Switch Online does not include or unlock it.
Illegal code generator sites should always be avoided, as they spread malware and cannot deliver working codes.
It is possible to buy the Pass at a discount during sales or by trading loyalty points. But patience and luck are required.
For devoted Pokémon fans, the value provided by hundreds of hours of content makes the Pass well worth purchasing at full retail price.
So while getting the Expansion Pass for absolutely zero dollars is likely impossible, a Trainer can still catch the new content for cheaper if they are savvy. But complete your Galar Pokédex however fits your budget – the mysteries of the Isle of Armor and Crown Tundra await! Just don‘t trust any shady salesmen claiming they have free download codes to give out.