Pokémon Unite: Pokémon Enters MOBA Gaming with Potential Handheld eSport Title

An on-the-go Pokémon lane game is on the horizon.

Having delved into the Isle of Armor DLC for Pokémon Sword and Shield as well as announce Pokémon Smile, a new Pokémon Snap, and Pokémon Café Mix, the final announcement of last week’s Pokémon video was that another was on the way.

In a Pokémon presentation yesterday, the president and CEO of the Pokémon Company, Tsunekazu Ishihara, unveiled the brand new project, Pokémon Unite.

Not only was there an announcement trailer, but there was also ample gameplay footage which showcased the competitive capabilities of the upcoming, free-to-play Pokémon MOBA.

Here’s what you need to know about Pokémon Unite.

Pokémon’s take on League of Legends

It was heavily touted that Pokémon Unite is going to be the franchise’s first foray into the strategic team-based battle game genre.

Anyone who has played MOBA titles like League of Legends will have instantly recognised the angle that Pokémon Unite is going for, with its three-lane map, bases, and use of two teams attacking from either side.

This isn’t a mere re-skin of the famed eSports title, however, with the game invoking some distinctly-Pokémon gameplay elements.

On the map are wild Pokémon, which you and your teammates need to defeat to level-up and catch to bring to set areas to score points. Each battle is timed, which helps to force players into action.

As you level-up in a match, your Pokémon of choice – effectively, your champion – unlocks new attacks that can be applied to your load-out, and you can evolve with certain Pokémon.

Each Pokémon also has a unique ‘Unite Move’ which is incredibly powerful and will play a key part in the combat.

Which playable Pokémon are in Pokémon Unite?

As you can see above, the playable Pokémon shown to be in Pokémon Unite are:

  • Charizard
  • Blastoise
  • Venusaur
  • Machamp
  • Gengar
  • Lucario
  • Snorlax
  • Pikachu
  • Clefable
  • Tallowflame

The likes of Charizard and Machamp begin matches in their earlier evolution forms, Charmander and Machop.

The type weaknesses aspects don’t feature in Pokémon Unite, but there’s said to be a tremendous amount of depth when it comes to the choice of abilities and attacks available to each Pokémon. The focus is on choosing from close combat and long-range attacks.

What platforms will Pokémon Unite launch on?

The Pokémon Company teamed up with titanic Chinese company Tencent to create this new type of Pokémon game, with Tencent Games subsidiary TiMi Studios working on the development side.

TiMi Studios are most notably the team behind the absurdly popular Call of Duty: Mobile which launched last year.

Being a Nintendo-based franchise, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Pokemon Unite will launch on the Nintendo Switch.

What may surprise those not familiar with Tencent Games is that the new title will also be available on iOS and Android smartphones, with cross-play enabled across all three platforms.

It’s a free-to-start game on the Switch, Android, and iOS platforms, which is Nintendo’s way of saying that there will be in-app purchases.

The monetisation aspects will possibly come in the form of new champions (new playable Pokémon) or a season pass of sorts which cost real money to unlock.

Will Pokémon Unite become a mobile eSport title?

Showcasing the gameplay with ten players, the potential of Pokémon Unite to become a big mobile eSport title was perfectly demonstrated.

The action was exciting, and clearly elements of skill, decision-making, and teamwork will be vital; the commentary also helped to give it the feel of a proper mobile eSports experience.

With double points in the final couple of minutes, the opportunity to interrupt scoring, and respawning after being defeated, there are many intricate aspects which make the game exciting throughout its run time.  

Whether or not Tencent and The Pokémon Company pursue this route is yet to be confirmed, but it seems very likely based on the way in which Pokémon Unite was showcased.

For a full look at the Pokémon Unite reveal, check out the presentation below:

Ben Chopping

Will give almost any game a chance, particularly those that include wildlife, monsters, or prehistoric creatures of any kind.