24 June 2020 18:33
Today the Pokémon company announced, in collaboration with Tencent, a new MOBA-inspired game called Pokémon Unite. The game will be free-to-play and cross-platform across Nintendo Switch and mobile devices. It's a five-on-five competitive multiplayer experience that features many familiar genre elements. The symmetrical arena is set up with five goal zones in each half, and dotted with bushes and grass that hides players. Teams score by controlling the zones for a time, and each player levels up by defeating wild Pokémon: as the characters level, different abilities can be unlocked.
Here's a trailer: Though the obvious first thought is something along the lines of League of Pokémon, the game shown on the livestream reminded me more of Blizzard's Heroes of the Storm. Pokémon Unite is bright, easy to read, and most of all, the length of each match is short; this example lasted around four minutes with all scoring being doubled in the final two. No release date or further details on the business model were provided but, given the obvious inspirations, looks like we'll all be buying Pikachu hats pretty soon. Tencent studio TiMi is working on a free-to-play Pokémon MOBA named Pokémon Unite. A five-versus-five team battler, it sees squads of players with their own Pokémon battling it out in an arena dotted with control points on various lanes.
The Pokémon Company isn't sitting on its laurels after the successful reception of its trailer for New Pokémon Snap - it's followed up with another Pokémon Presents video, this time dedicated entirely to its new online arena battler, Pokémon Unite. The game uses the classic MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) template set up by giants of the genre like League of Legends and DOTA 2, but puts a clear Pokémon twist on things. Players choose iconic Pokémon to control, from across the games' generations, and over the course of a match get the opportunity to level up and evolve into more powerful forms, choosing new powers to suit their playstyle and the match's situation. Players will battle on symmetrical maps, banking points as they fight and catch wild Pokémon around the map, and indeed eliminate each other, before banking those points at strategic "goal" points in the opposition's territory. As the game timer counts down, these scores can be multiplied to add to the tension.
The game will be playable on both mobile platforms and the Switch, with crossplay enabled, and that mobile focus is explained by the involvement of the increasingly massive Tencent Games, which The Pokémon Company's partnered with on the title. There's no release date yet, but the game will be "free to start", suggesting that there will be unlocks and more tied to in-game purchases down the line. I just wish they would wait with making all these random games until they have at least released all parts of Sword and Shields DLC. That game needs more work before they take focus away from it to work on other games. It still doesn't feel like a high quality Switch game to me. All the horrible pop-in and extreme weather changes from walking a small distance in the wild area should be tweaked. And I would really like an actual cave instead of a single pathway through the mountains. I miss caves like the Seafoam Islands cave and I miss exploring places like Mt. Coronet. Old ruins where also one of my favorite things to explore in older Pokemon games. And the puzzles were really fun! I just miss the exploration. There's not really any exploration in the new games. It just feels like there is this single road that the game forces you to go on as soon as you start the game, and if you try to go the opposite way it will keep reminding you that you are not supposed to go there now. It feels like beyond handholding at this point. It's more like I'm being dragged around in a baby cart so that the game can show me the story instead of letting me just play the game. Also, why make it impossible to catch higher level pokemon?! Just use the old system where pokemon that are too high level will simply disobey you until you get enough badges! At least I get a little more to "explore" now that the first part of the DLC is released...