Pokémon’s debut as a MOBA is finally complete, with Pokémon Unite on the Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android. 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.
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: Switch, Mobile Australian Release Date
Pokemon Unite is currently live on Switch, iOS and Android in Australia right now, with the Switch version having launched earlier in July.
#PokemonUNITE is coming to mobile on September 22!
Pre-register for special rewards! pic.twitter.com/r671Bs31el
— Pokémon UNITE (@PokemonUnite) August 18, 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.
You can preregister for Pokemon Unite — which basically just means you’ll get a notification as soon as it’s available for download, since there’s no beta announced — on Android here and iOS here. All your existing progression and cosmetic items will carry over from the Switch, provided you’ve logged into your Nintendo account on both platforms.
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.
- 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.
This article has been updated since its original publication and the release of Pokemon Unite on iOS and Android.