If you’ve been using Pokémon Sword and Shield’s surprise trade — which allows you to exchange your Pokémon for a random Pokémon owned by a random trainer in the world — feature as of late, you, like multiple Reddit users, may have noticed something vaguely unusual: the Generation 7 starter, Litten.
Despite the Fire-type starter being omitted from the game via what players call Dexit — named for Sword and Shield's UK-inspired design and their woefully small Pokédex — the fire cat was being unexpectantly sent to the trainers across the Galar region way before they were legally in the game via Pokémon Home.
How were trainers getting this cat ahead of time? And is it still possible without using Pokémon Home?
Can you get Litten in Pokémon Sword and Shield right now?
If you’re lucky with your surprise trades, yes. However, there's not a reproducible method beyond using Pokémon Home to transfer one from Pokémon Sun and Moon. On the plus side, you don't need Pokémon Bank to do that.
Are any other Dexit Pokémon available prior to Pokemon Home’s release?
There was a short list of Pokémon available via surprise trade ahead of Pokémon Home's launch. It should be possible to organize a trade with somebody that owns the Dexited Pokémon via a message board as well.
A Reddit user, NewBacon, supposedly encountered Solgaleo in a raid during early February. This sort of tipped fans off as to which Pokémon would be added to the Pokédex ahead of Pokémon Home’s launch.
Which Pokémon were available through this method?
Here's every Pokémon added to the Pokédex:
How did these Pokémon get into the game early?
Being collections of data, these Pokémon were added in via hackers who presumably found a way to enter data into the game, but in retrospect it seems likely that the data for these Pokémon was added to Sword and Shield well in advance of Pokémon Home's launch. The Pokémon dev, Game Freak, probably lifted the ban on trading these ‘mons in preparation for Pokémon Home’s release.
That going theory was totally accurate.
Is there anything "illegal" about using these weird methods to get the Pokémon?
Morally, this method may have been questionable before the launch of Pokémon Home. Unlike with standard hacked Pokémon, which are barred from most activities like trading and breeding, there are few limitations on these new critters. Users have found they can’t participate in online battles using the prematurely added Litten and co., but they can be chosen for every other function. Many started breeding these Pokémon immediately to further spread their proliferation throughout the community.
Despite the supposedly "legal" nature, certain forums have banned users from trading or discussing the trading of the aforementioned Pokémon ahead of their official release in the games. We can probably expect this to be the case for all future expansions as well as the Pokédex gradually grows with upcoming DLCs. As such, it might be a good idea to consistently conduct some Wonder Trades moving forward. You never know what mysterious new Pokémon might emerge.
Pokémon Sword and Shield are currently available for the Nintendo Switch.