Back in 1996, the original Pokemon Red and Blue took one of gaming’s most inscrutable genres, the Japanese role-playing game, and somehow turned it into a childhood phenomenon. All it takes to get kids to care about turn-based battles and party stats is to make those characters adorable monsters instead of generic fantasy guys.
Pokemon Unite hopes to pull off a similar trick by applying the Pokemon brand to another inscrutable genre. This free-to-play Nintendo Switch game (coming soon to Android and iOS) is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, or MOBA. Thanks to Dota 2 and League of Legends, the MOBA genre is incredibly popular. Still, Pokemon Unite may hook a new generation on this peculiar blend of real-time strategy and esports.
Pokemon Unite is a simpler, accessible take on the MOBA genre, similar to Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm. However, a simple MOBA still requires explanation. So, if Pokemon Unite has piqued your curiosity, check out these tips and tricks to become the top Pokemon MOBA player.
1. Pick the Perfect Partners
Pokemon Unite is a 5v5, team-based game, just like Dota 2 and League of Legends. You control your individual Pokemon while your teammates control theirs. Like any proper Pokemon game, Pokemon Unite tasks you with selecting the ideal companion. At launch, the game offers more than 20 Pokemon, each with their own specialties. Snorlax is a melee defender that’s perfect for beginners, while Greninja is a ranged attacker geared towards expert players Not only should your partner Pokemon suit your personal playstyle, but you should also pay attention to team composition and ensure your party is balanced.
2. Strike Quickly and Carefully
Once an enemy is within range, hit the attack button. This causes your Pokemon to move toward the foe and automatically attack without you needing to hammer the button. You can also aim your attack with the right analog stick to attack even more effectively—perfect for a tactical retreat.
3. Hunt Wild Pokemon
Unlike other MOBAs, Pokemon Unite lacks the traditonal “creeps,” endlessly respawning enemy minions you farm for experience. Instead, wild Pokemon spawn on the field that anyone can attack to level up. Defeating stronger wild Pokemon, such as Dreadnaw or the legendary Zapdos, grants your team a powerful buff.
4. Take it to the Hole
In Pokemon Unite, you want to score more points than the opposing team. When you defeat Pokemon, either wild Pokemon or the enemy team’s Pokemon, you acquire energy. To earn points, you deposit that energy in an enemy’s goal zone via a flashy slam dunk. Unlike traditional MOBA towers, goals don’t attack you, but you will destroy them after depositing enough energy. As a result, you must mix up your targets to keep scoring. If you die, you forfeit most of your stored energy. Balancing these strategic factors makes up the heart of Pokemon Unite’s gameplay.
5. Evolution Revolution
Your Pokemon partner evolves into a stronger form after defeating enough enemies. For example, Charmander becomes Charmeleon becomes Charizard. The benefit? Cool new forms, improved stats, and superior cooldown special moves, including the ultimate Unite attack. You choose your Pokemon’s moves, so pick the skills that work best with your playstyle.
6. Improve Your Movement
Pokemon Unite’s maps consist of three walkable lanes, but there are better ways to get around than merely strolling from place to place. Near the map’s center, you’ll find berries that give you a speed boost. Deep into enemy territory, Speed Flux zones slow your movement, but you can erase those zones by destroying enemy goals. During the second half of the match, use the Super Jump pad to quickly launch yourself from your base to anywhere on your half of the map.
7. Equip the Right Items
Give your Pokemon an edge by equipping the right items. Battle Items, like the health-restoring potion, operate on a cooldown. You can also equip your Pokemon with a Held Item to give them a specific buff. With the Aeos Cookie, health increases every time you score a goal. As you play, you can upgrade items and unlock more item slots.