Upcoming MOBA Pokémon Unite is set to launch on the Nintendo Switch on July 21. It’s an exciting new experiment for the Pokémon franchise — and one that could prove to be wildly popular.
While it may not end up reaching the feverish heights of titles like League of Legends or Dota 2, there’s plenty of reasons to be excited about the launch of Unite and what it could do for the MOBA genre.
Here’s everything we know about the game so far.
This article has been updated since its original publication.
What is Pokémon Unite?
Pokémon Unite is an upcoming multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game where teams of 5 players will face off in explosive Pokémon-led battles. As in other MOBA titles, you’ll be controlling an individual Pokémon, gaining strategic advantages by defeating NPC pocket monsters or player-controlled Pokemon.
Defeating either gives you a small amount of Aeos energy, which can be claimed by ‘dunking’ it in another team’s goal — part capture the flag, part basketball. Each goal can only store a certain amount of energy before disappearing, and one of the ways you can win is to get rid of all the enemy team’s goals. Alternatively, you can win by having deposited the most energy before the time runs out.
It’s set to be a crossplay title and will allow mobile and Switch users to face off against each other.
It’s a simple spin on MOBA mechanics, but one that is highly competitive, according to Mike Fahey. A lot of Pokemon mechanics don’t appear in Pokemon Unite: there’s no elemental advantages or types in Unite, although your Pokemon will automatically evolve as you gain levels through gameplay.
Pokémon Unite: Release Date
Currently, Pokémon Unite is set to launch on Wednesday, July 21 2021 for Nintendo Switch and September 2021 for mobile devices.
???? #PokemonUNITE on Nintendo Switch
????️ July 21
⚡️ Get Zeraora just for logging in before August 31!
— Pokémon UNITE (@PokemonUnite) July 15, 2021
The game will support crossplay between mobiles and the Switch, and game data will be transferrable if you login using your Pokemon Trainer Club or Nintendo Account when playing.
When is Pokémon Unite launching in Australia?
The next chance you’ll have to play the game is when it finally launches in July 21, 2021 for Switch. For now, it does appear this release is worldwide.
A specific ‘Aussie’ date has not been announced, but given language options on launch will include English, Korean, Japanese, Traditional Chinese, and Simplified Chinese, we can assume this is a global launch until we hear otherwise.
Expect it to go live either mid-afternoon or early evening, as per global time zones.
What Pokémon can you use?
So far, a number of Pokémon have been officially confirmed to appear in the game. You’ve got your usual icons like Pikachu, Venusaur and Charizard included, but there’s also some wilder choices too.
Here’s every major Pokémon confirmed to appear in the game at launch:
- Alolan Ninetails
- Mr. Mime
There have been some additional Pokémon spotted in early trailers and leaks like Blastoise, Bouffalant, Toxicroak and Bewear, but these are not officially announced or expected to drop on launch. Instead, we can expect rolling updates to the Pokémon roster (or potentially more microtransactions to unlock them later down the track).
You’ll also see above that Pokemon are split into different categories, like “Defender”, “Attacker”, “All-Rounders” and so on. These are general roles to categorise different Pokemon’s capabilities, much like roles in Overwatch or Valorant. Defenders, like Snorlax and Slowbro, are good at tanking and supporting teammates with buffs. The Supporter class, meanwhile, includes characters like Mr Mime, who can project a shield barrier to protect allies while they try to dunk into a goal.
You’ll be able to dress up your Pokémon with skins
While skins haven’t been officially ‘shown off’ by Nintendo yet, gameplay leaks from Centro Pokémon (which leaked the existence of the Pokémon Diamond and Pearl remakes in early 2021) indicate you’ll be able to dress your chosen Pokémon team up in a number of funky outfits.
Leaked images showed off Cinderace in a pirate outfit, Greninja in a superhero suit, Machamp wearing a floral lei and Garchomp wearing a snorkel — and it’s likely there’ll be plenty more options besides.
Reveladas las primeras skins de Pokémon UNITE. pic.twitter.com/AuvFgor470
— Centro Pokemon (@CentroPokemon) January 15, 2021
The nature of MOBAs (particularly free-to-play titles) means skins and other microtransactions will be important to keeping the game running on a day-to-day basis — so expect more skins and accessories as the game progresses.
How microtransactions will work
According to the Nintendo hub, there’ll be three types of currency in Pokémon Unite: Aeos gems, Aeos coins and Aeos tickets.
Tickets and coins can be earned by playing the game, but Aeos gems will be paid for with real-life currency.
You’ll be able to spend Coins or Gems to “obtain Unite Licenses” which allow players to take Pokémon into Unite Battles — or you can spend them on goods like held items or “Trainer fashion items” (which can also be purchased using tickets).
Gems can also be used to obtain ‘Holowear’, also known as Pokémon skins (as seen above). From the description it appears these skins will only be purchasable using Aeos gems, which require players to spend real-life money.
Exact pricing for this currency hasn’t been made available yet, but it’s important to know Pokémon skins are tied directly to real life currency, and it appears you won’t be able to earn it in-game.
As we get closer to launch, expect more news on this front.
Stay tuned to Kotaku Australia for more on the launch of Pokémon Unite and other video gaming goodies.