I recently played Pokémon Unite which is free on the Switch. The game was released on July 21, 2021. I’m going to breakdown the game and give you my opinion and review the game. So lets get to it and start with the gameplay.
Pokémon Unite gameplay is short and straight forward compared to other games in this genre. It has a similar concept to League of Legends but is far less complex. Straight off the start you can customize your trainer and create a username. You then must choose a Pokémon license (each license is a Pokémon you can bring into battle). You can pick the one Pokémon you want to license which can be your favorite or just one that sounds cool. This first license is free, so pick carefully as you will have to grind it out for the rest.
Once you pick the Pokémon you want to bring into battle you can add an item to them. I enjoy the potion item as it gives a health boost when things get intense. This is a very common item among the lower levels as it is the first to unlock. Each player can use any held item or battle item to boost their Pokémon so they can have an edge in matches. Held items can be upgraded and provide a passive action while playing (more crit damage, health, speed, etc). You start with only one spot open for held items but as you progress you will eventually have three spots opened to them. They start as a level one item and can be upgraded to level 30.
Speaking of leveling up, there’s three types of game modes you can dive into but you have to level up if you want to unlocked the Ranked Game mode and Quick Game mode. In Standard and Ranked gameplay there’s two lanes which are the top and bottom. The big difference in similar titles is Pokémon Unite has no middle lane, instead it’s just a massive jungle. If you go straight into the jungle you will encounter wild Pokémon ranging from weak to strong. The strong one’s give you a temporary buff while fighting which is shown by a colored ring around the Pokémon. The jungle player should be going for these buffs to help equip the team to win the fights. The Pokémon you kill will rack up points which you then need to score. Even the stronger Pokémon in the jungle are not usually a challenge in early game. A single player should be able to take one on and defeat it right off the start.
As the game goes on, stronger Pokémon are added into the game which give a huge buff to the team that can defeat it. These are not so easy and take team work to bring down. But if you do manage to take it down you will have a lead that can flip a game. The scoring system is not complicated, as you collect points by defeating Pokémon you must bring those to a goal and score. The more points you have the longer it takes to score, which can be interrupted by an opposing player. If you are killed with points the enemy team has the chance to collect some of those for themselves.
When playing Pokémon Unite each Pokémon has a specified role that the game recommends you use them in. The roles are Attacker, All-Rounder, Defender, Speedsters, and Supporter. When playing online I get a mix of teammates who pick a Pokémon and are not committed to their role and scramble all over the arena. For example, in an online match one of my teammates was Eldegoss, and instead of being a supporter they were playing an attacker role. I find this really frustrating when players do not look at the role the character should be played in. This is something the game will need to figure out as it grows and players become more familiar with the style of game. Pokémon advertises to a younger audience sometimes and these players haven’t encountered this sort of game and strategy before and are trying to figure it out. Hopefully as time goes on people will begin to understand the mechanics better.
I like the concept of how everyone starts off in their first evolution stage then level up to by defeating Pokémon. The attacks for each Pokémon are easy to pick up as well. You have your basic attacks then throughout the game you have new moves which replace the basic moves as you level up and evolve. I really thinks its a good play style mechanic and doesn’t make things to complicated.
Venusaur is one of the Pokémon I main. I like the feeling of the sludge bomb attack which I can use to stop my opponents when they try and retreat. Many Pokémon have good abilities to trap and slow enemies to allow the other attackers to finish them off. Like many of Pokémon’s well known games, you are able to learn new move sets mid battle and adjust your playstyle by choosing different moves. This allows you to pick what’s needed in the moment and what can best assist your team.
Overall, The downside of Pokémon Unite at the moment is the pay to win concept. You can spend $100 in real life currency to buff up your Pokémon using maxed out held items and jump into a regular match and easily take the win as most players in lower levels will be grinding for these and not be anywhere close to those item levels. This has been brought up by the player base and is a concern. while eventually the hope is that players will progress enough to naturally unlock those items, it’s something that will still take awhile and is not a fair match up. It is something new players will always struggle against if other new players can just buy what’s needed for an easy win.
The other is matching up with teammates or opponents who probably skip the tutorial and have no idea what they’re even doing. It would be great if the game would require new players to complete tutorials before competition.
The upside of Pokémon Unite is the customization of your trainers, buffing the Pokémon that you unlocked, playing different Pokémon that are free for the week, and how straightforward the objective the game is. On top of all that it’s a free game! On July 28, 2021 Pokémon Unite Posted on twitter that, Gardevoir arrives to Aeos Island and along with her release they will be addressing a few bugs including an issue with the Muscle Band not acting as intended when equipped by Charizard. I would say that the pros for the game outweigh the cons and it is definitely a fun game. As any new game it will have to go through growing pains and figure it’s self out, but I think it’s off to a decent start.