Watch: First look at Pokémon Sword and Shield

Pokémon fans will be getting excited for another mammoth year of gaming - not only is the upcoming live action Detective Pikachu movie coming out, but the first trailer has been released for the next generation of games.

Officially titled Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, the eighth generation of Pokémon games were announced in a livestream in the early hours of Thursday morning (NZ time).

Kiwi fans who stayed up until 3am to watch were treated with a first look at the new games and an introduction to the world they'll be playing in this time around.

With the release of the three latest starter Pokémon as well, players will also be able to start weighing up which partner 'mon they'll take on their journey.

Starters Grookey, Scorbunny and Sobble - grass, fire and water, respectively - have launched to mixed reception.

"Aight yknow what I thought about it and I luv Sobble actually and would die for him (sic)," a particularly enthusiastic Twitter user named Vincent wrote.

The new region of Galar resembles the UK, with gamers pointing out its similarity to an upside-down map of England.

Others drew comparisons to the other fictional world of Westeros, from Game of Thrones - which also drew inspiration from England.

Not much is known about the bright world, but keen Pokéfans have already spotted several gyms peeking out of the official map, signifying the game's return to its usual play style after the detour for Pokémon Sun and Moon.

However, to the disappointment of some, it lacks the overworld Pokémon which appeared in Pokémon Let's Go, the first release on the Nintendo Switch.

Another feature dropped from the Let's Go series is the catching mechanic, which operated with motion controls. Players will now have to battle wild Pokémon to weaken them as usual.

It's not known how many new Pokémon will enter the series with these games, but preview gameplay shows a number of old favourites will make a return - including, of course, Pikachu.

A screenshot from the Pokémon Sword and Shield trailer, showing Pokémon Minccino and Pikachu.
It's not a real Pokémon game until Pikachu shows up. Photo credit: Nintendo / Pokémon Company

This iteration of the Pokémon series has been hotly anticipated since the Switch's launch in 2017, when Nintendo confirmed a mainline "RPG" version of Pokémon would be coming to the console.

It was originally slated for release last year but was later bumped to 2019.

Pokémon Sword and Shield will be the first mainline Pokémon games released for a home console, rather than Nintendo's portable ones. It's understood the game will not be released on the Nintendo 3DS console.

The games are set to release in late 2019.