Pokémon Unite: Your First MOBA – Nintendo Switch Review

After first being announced over a year ago at the Pokémon Presents presentation 2020, Pokémon Unite has finally landed on the Nintendo Switch eShop. As someone who could never get into League of Legends, Pokémon Unite is the perfect introduction to MOBAs for beginners.

Pokémon Unite is a simple game, and it won’t take you long before you know the arena inside and out. For those who are Pokémon fans and haven’t played a MOBA, this is vastly different from your usual Pokémon experience. In a standard match, players will compete in 5v5 matches that last just 10 mins. Teams will work together to destroy the opposing team’s goals, while simultaneously protecting their own. There are two lanes of scorable goals and a central lane, similar to the League of Legends‘ Jungle area. From here, players must collect Aeos Energy and deposit it in the goal zones. The energy can be acquired from defeating wild Pokémon or making the enemy team faint.

Pokémon Unite Screenshot
Pokémon Unite In-game Screenshot (Undocked)

Every playable Pokémon in Pokémon Unite feels good. Of course, some are better than others, but none of them feels like a chore. Especially with an incredibly powerful auto-aim feature. This makes all skill shots that little bit easier. However, for some reason, auto-aim seems to favour the enemy team over the wild Pokémon. So, if an enemy runs past while you’re attacking a Rotom, chances are, auto-aim will forget they exist and lock you straight onto the opponent. Even if Rotom is one shot away from fainting. This isn’t a huge problem, but it can sometimes cause you to run out of health.

“The biggest problem I have with each match is the length.”

Ranked, which should come as no surprise what this mode is, and Quick Battle are the other two modes available at the moment. Quick Battle is an alternative game mode that has rotating maps with different player counts. One day it will be 3v3, the next, 4v4. The maps also change each day, along with the objective. In one map, you will only have one zone to score that is situated where the energy spawns, and in another, you will have two shared zones where you can freely score in any zone. The Quick Battle mode is a great idea if you want to test out a new Pokémon but don’t want to let the team down. If there is one thing missing, I’d say it would be a longer, more drawn-out mode.

Pokémon Unite Screenshot
Pokémon Unite In-game Screenshot (Undocked)

The biggest problem I have with each match is the length. Each game goes for just 10 mins, which isn’t even long for key gameplay elements to trigger. I have had games where Zapdos, the Pokémon equivalent to Barren, hasn’t even been fainted. This also plays into the fact that some games end in a draw. If the time allocated to each game was increased, I feel the game would be more a lot more enjoyable.

Although, that’s not to say Pokémon Unite is unenjoyable, it’s far from it. Since downloading the game on Thursday afternoon (Australian time), I haven’t been able to put it down. Each game I play, I slowly get pulled into Pokémon’s addictive nature and unique sprites. On every kill, a splash of ecstasy runs through my veins, and all I want is more. While this feeling might not be forever, it makes sense why the expected time to find a match is less than one second, even in Australia.

“Pokémon Unite does offer various pay-to-win features.”

Pokémon Unite is entirely free to play. This is both a good and bad thing. From adding colours and stickers to your trainer card to changing your Pokémon’s stylish outfit, you can customise a lot. Unfortunately, this welcomes the need for microtransactions. You can buy outfits for your character, which are purchasable with premium currency and in-game currency. The shop also contains Pokemon skins, which don’t offer a competitive advantage, and new held items. Sadly, there does seem to be a workaround to give you a competitive advantage.

Pokémon Unite In-game Screenshot (Undocked)
Pokémon Unite In-game Screenshot (Undocked)

Pokémon Unite does offer various pay-to-win features. However, it’s not openly clear about it from the get-go. Once you reach level 9, you unlock the ability to level up your Held Items. Every level you increase will boost your in-game stats. Unfortunately, you can also obtain tokens to increase your item level from gems, which is the in-game currency, obtainable with real money. While this doesn’t give you an enormous boost, it does give you a decent advantage.

Overall, I am excited to see how Pokémon Unite evolves over time. There are over 800 different Pokémon, so there is plenty of room for future playable Pokémon. If Eldegoss and Cramorant can be turned into potential picks, then I’m sure even Trubbish could be transformed into a great asset.

If you haven’t checked out Pokémon Unite yet, I highly recommend you check it out. It’s free, so there is no harm in giving it a go. Additionally, if you download it before the end of August, you will receive a free Zeraora license.

Pokémon Unite Key Art
Pokémon Unite
Summary
Pokémon Unite is a great introduction to the MOBA genre. While the match length is a little short, the game is incredibly fun. However, there is slight pay-to-win mechanics, which, for some, can be a deal-breaker.
Pros
Free to Play
Every Pokémon Feels Good
Very Fun
Cons
Match Length is Short
Pay to Win
Not Enough Pokémon
8