Pokemon fans already have a lot of intense emotions when it comes to Pokemon Unite, but now they’re really getting a chance to play the game.
Pokemon MOBA created by the parent company of League of Legends has officially launched on the Nintendo eShop and it looks like it will be as good as fans could hope. At least, for the most part.
Pokemon Unite’s core game experience is generally strong, but there are a few annoying elements that detract from the experience. And for better or worse, it also has a very similar monetization system to its sister MOBA, LoL.
Pokemon Unite is good, but rough around the edges
The actual gameplay of Pokemon Unite is solid. The game features the Dota 2 and LoL five-versus-five arena format but instead of knocking down towers, the game features teams competing to catch as many Pokemon as possible within the time limit.
Wild Pokemon roam around the map and have varying score values. Players can defeat Pokemon, collect points, and send them into an enemy-controlled “target” area to protect them. If a player is defeated by an opposing player or wild Pokemon before they preserve their points, the opposing team can steal them.
This Electric Mythical Pokémon is lightning fast, capturing opponents and dealing massive damage in an instant.
– Pokémon UNITE (@PokemonUnite) July 15, 2021
As with any other MOBA, the learning curve for Pokemon Unite is steep. There are many Pokemon to choose from, each with its own set of moves that the player can change as the game progresses, and items that can be equipped in the pre-game menu with various effects.
Each Pokemon has one basic attack, two special attacks, and the ultimate “Unite Move”. Special attacks are replaced by more powerful ones as the game progresses. For example, Slowpoke starts with the Water Gun at level one. At level four, the Water Gun can be upgraded to a Scald or a long-range AOE-attacking Surf, allowing the Pokemon to ride the wave forward dealing damage and making it more mobile. Knowing how to upgrade one’s own Pokemon is a challenge in itself, never mind knowing how to best approach the entire opposing team.
The Held Item System allows Pokémon to improve their stats during the Battle of Unity! With the ability to hold up to three items, you can create combinations that complement your playstyle and strengths! #PokemonUNITE pic.twitter.com/FcBRkFgl8k
– Pokémon UNITE (@PokemonUnite) July 19, 2021
Nintendo Switch players will be pleased to know that Pokemon Unite runs smoothly for the most part. The actual game runs smoothly at a steady 60fps. For whatever reason, the menus are where the game struggles the most with noticeable input lag and even an issue where the screen would flicker black when selecting different Pokemon. Strangely this will be resolved in the coming days with patches, but it’s still very annoying.
The controls are pretty intuitive but it’s a bit awkward when it comes to targeting attacks and knowing which targets to hit when there’s more than one target in range. While this is not a bug or UI issue, the player’s movement speed is effectively halved in the enemy “lane” area halfway down the map. This is amazing and while it can be done because of balance issues, it is something that should be removed as soon as possible for the sake of sanity.
Pokemon Unite has League of Legends Pokemon unlocking system
Pokemon Unite was created by the parent company of League of Legends, and that’s most obvious when looking at how the game is monetized. The character and cosmetic unlocking system is a streamlined version of the system seen in the top game in the genre. Meanwhile, Dota 2 players will be frustrated by the various loops that need to be jumped through to play as the new Pokemon.
There is a long list of currencies in Pokemon Unite. The most commonly used ones are Aeos coins obtained by playing games and completing quests. Aeos Gems are purchased for cash. There are also Aeos Tickets that can be earned by playing and Holowear Tickets to be purchased.
Each currency can be used to obtain different types of items, including new playable Pokemon, cosmetic items for both Pokemon and player characters, and items held with effects different in battle.
Players can get some of these coins and various rewards through daily, weekly, seasonal, and event-based challenges.
Is Pokemon Unite worth playing?
Pokemon Unite is definitely worth a try for basically anyone. Pokemon Unite offers a strong entry into the MOBA genre for those who have been threatened by League of Legends and Dota 2. This is also an interesting, new game worth exploring.
The game is free to play and doesn’t require much space on the Nintendo Switch, so the stakes are very low if someone doesn’t like it. While the sheer number of micro-reaction options is out of the question, the core gameplay is strong enough to make up for it.
Whether Pokemon Unite becomes a joke for a few hours or a daily thing will vary from player to player. However, there is no reason not to try this one.
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