In Pokemon Sword and Shield, a hidden stat called Friendship boosts Pokemon with a high friendship level. Additionally, some Pokemon require a high friendship level to evolve.
Raising Pokemon’s Friendship levels boosts Pokemon like higher chances to evade, higher opportunities to land critical hits, opportunity to cure status conditions dealt with them, chance to endure hits and leave 1 HP, and 20% extra experience boosts. These boosts serve as an incentive to treat your Pokemon better. Also, it gives players a better immersion into the world of Pokemon because of the Friendship stat. In a way, the Friendship stat can decide the outcome of battles. It would seem like the Pokemon will reciprocate your kindness to them.
Also, as mentioned above, there are some Pokemon that only evolve if their Friendship stat is high, like Azurill, Budew, Cleffa, Eevee (if you want it to evolve to Espeon, Sylveon, or Umbreon), Alolan Meowth, Munchlax, Pichu, Riolu, Snom, Togepi, Type: Null, and Woobat.
The Friendship stat has been around even in previous Pokemon games. It was called Happiness and Loyalty in previous games, and the Friendship stat is like Pokemon X and Y’s hidden stat Affection combined with Pokemon Sun and Moon’s Pokemon Refresh.
Check Your Friendship!
As previously mentioned, the Friendship stat is a hidden stat and can be checked through the Friendship Checker.
The Friendship Checker can be found in the first house to the right of the central Pokemon Center in Hammerlocke. Inside the house on the right is a little boy, the Friendship Checker. Talk to him, and he will tell you phrases that depend on how high your Pokemon’s Friendship stat is. At the highest Friendship level, the Friendship Checker will say, “You’re best buddies! I can tell you’re so happy to be together!”.
Talking to the older woman on the couch in the same house will tell you how close you are to maxing your Friendship level with your Pokemon.
Additionally, a more visual way of knowing your Pokemon’s Friendship stat is by setting up your Pokemon Camp, calling the Pokemon you want to check the Friendship level on, and speaking to them by pressing A once they are near you. After pressing A, hearts will appear above your Pokemon’s head, indicating your Friendship level, with one heart being the lowest and five hearts the highest. If your Pokemon has two hearts, it will gain 20% extra experience, and flavor text will start to appear in battle; if your Pokemon has three hearts, it will then gain a chance to endure hits and stay in battle with 1 HP left and more flavor text; at four hearts, your Pokemon will have higher chances to evade and cure status conditions dealt with them; and, finally, at five hearts, your Pokemon will have higher chances to deal critical hits.
Now that you know how to check your Pokemon’s Friendship level, time for some ways to increase them:
The best way to raise Friendship quickly is to do everything related to Pokemon Camp. Playing and chatting with your Pokemon can increase your Pokemon’s Friendship level.
Make the most of your time camping by playing and chatting with your Pokemon and making them Curry. Not only will the Curry heal your Pokemon without the need for potions or a Pokemon Center, but it will also increase their Friendship Level. It is also worth noting that the better the Curry you make for your Pokemon, the better the boost in Friendship stat. Check out this guide on making great Curries.
In Pokemon Sword and Shield, a hold item can increase the Pokemon’s friendliness called Soothe Bell. The Soothe Bell can be obtained in the same house as the Friendship Checker (the house on the right of the central Pokemon Center in Hammerlocke) by talking to the blonde girl playing with the Chewtle.
Berries are consumable items with varying effects. They can be used outside of battle (by using them from the Bag) or in battle (by letting Pokemon hold the Berry). Pokemon can even use certain Berries during battle when certain conditions in battle are met.
You can also feed your Pokemon Berries to make them more friendly, like the Pomeg Berry, Kelpsy Berry, Qualot Berry, Tamato Berry, Grepa Berry, and Hondew Berry. It is important to note, however, that using these Berries on Pokemon makes them more friendly but also reduces a certain Effort Value: Pomeg Berry reduces HP Effort Value, Kelpsy Berry reduces attack Effort Values, Qualot Berry reduces Defense Effort Values, Tamato Berry reduces Speed Effort Value, Grepa Berry reduces Sp. Def Effort Value and Hondew Berry reduces Sp. Atk Effort Value.
Party and Battle
Your Pokemon can also increase their Friendship level whenever you keep them in your Party and choose them in Pokemon Battles. Though it increases the Friendship stat very slowly, it still makes sense that your Pokemon will be more friendly with you the more you “spend time” with them.
However, it is important to note that Pokemon fainting in battle will cause it to lower its Friendship stat. With this in mind, do not choose your Pokemon in battle if it is clear that Pokemon will not survive the battle. If your Pokemon took a heavy beating and faints in battle, you can easily recover the lost Friendship by setting up camp, playing with it, and making it Curry. Just, you know, do not let it faint all the time (that poor guy).
Special Poke Balls
You can catch Pokemon with certain Poke balls to make them more friendly towards you: the Friend Ball, which makes wild Pokemon caught with it to be more friendly immediately, and Luxury Ball, which makes a wild Pokemon grow friendlier quickly after being caught.
A Friend Ball can be obtained from the Ball Guy in Turfield Stadium or, if you are lucky, from the Ball Guy in Wyndon Stadium for winning the Champion Cup Tournament. Additionally, if you have the Isle of Armor DLC, you have a 1% chance to make Friend Balls with the Cram-o-Matic using four Green Apricorns. You also have a 1% chance for the Cram-o-Matic to produce five Poké Balls instead of only one.
As for the Luxury Balls, which are easier to find, can be bought from the central Pokemon Center of Wyndon. They can also be bought from Watt Traders in the Wild Area. However, they do not always sell Luxury Balls, so be sure to check with them every day. Additionally, if you have the Isle of Armor DLC, you have a 24.7% chance to make Luxury Balls with the Cram-o-Matic using four Black Apricorns.
If you plan to max out your Pokemon’s Friendship level, you should refrain from trading them with other people then trading them back. This is a common strategy to help other players complete their Pokedex. However, trading your Pokemon will cause the Pokemon’s Friendship level to reset back to 0 and would put all your hard work in maxing out your Friendship level in vain. Why would anyone do this?
Pokemon can be cured with useful items, but those items come at the expense of Friendship. These are bitter items like Energy Roots, Revival Herbs, Heal Powders, and Energy Powders. It is best to avoid these items and make Curry heal your Pokemon instead, as it will increase your Pokemon’s Friendship levels.
These bitter items that decrease Friendship are not to be confused with Bitter Curry as there are certain Natures of Pokemon that prefer bitter-tasting Curry and will still increase their Friendship level.