Switch users at the ready; Pokémon UNITE is almost here. This July, prepare to play another spin-off from the acclaimed franchise in the form of a fast-paced, free-to-play MOBA! Mobile users can join the fun in September. Furthermore, the game will support crossplay on both platforms.
Pokémon UNITE’s announcement this time last year seemed a natural fit with one of “the biggest names in MOBAs”, TiMi Studios, being behind Unite’s development. Both mobile and Switch releases, with cross-platform capabilities and Pokémon’s highly recognized image, should fuse well with the western audience.
Choose from a diverse roster of recognizable friends, such as Pikachu, Greninja, Charizard, and many more, battling across different arenas to score points in their opponent’s goal zones. Each Pokémon is selected from a battle type; Attacker, Speedster, All-rounder, Defender, and support. You might have an idea of the type that suits you best if you are a MOBA regular, or perhaps you’re here for the Pokémon! That’s fine too – select from your favourites and see where you end up!
For those less initiated, a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Area) typically consists of three lanes in which players face off using a selection of heroes to push towards the opponent’s base. You often begin by attacking smaller automated units to gather experience to level up and in-game currency to purchase items that will buff or support your character. Lethal towers will block your path and must be broken down to proceed. Pokémon UNITE has some similarities to this but omits the towers and throws in its own unique flavour.
Pre-battle preparation involves selecting the moves you want your Pokémon to use as well as starting items. Then, the battle commences! While the lanes are present, teams must obtain Aoes energy by defeating other Pokémon and, after accumulating enough, dunk this Aoes energy into opponents’ hoops to score points. A rather interesting mix-up to the genre.
BATTLE TYPES – PIKACHU ISN’T A SPEEDSTER?!
While some of us may be familiar with the ins and outs of the Pokémon battle system, type advantages and stats from the franchise don’t translate verbatim here. What TiMi Studios have done is focus on reskinning a MOBA for accessibility. Pikachu is not a Speedster. Gengar and Absol have superior base mobility stats, for example, and fire will not be super effective against grass – nor will it be weaker against water. But, this is a smart move as the balancing of these types of games is often difficult to get right. This would be especially so if the roster increases closer to the enormous Pokédex we have today. It’s a great angle and a great way to usher in an immediate large player base, including those who know and love Pokémon.
Additionally, recognizable moves from the franchise are definitely a drop of nostalgia amongst the manic MOBA madness.
There’s far more than just nostalgia as Pokémon’s held items and battles items fit comfortably in the typical MOBA system. Give your Pokémon up to three held items at a time to compliment their moves and battle style or aid them in the heat of the encounter using battle items.
Keep your eyes peeled for exact dates in July and September, and let us know if you’ll be jumping into Pokémon UNITE in the comments below!