I’ve been playing MOBAs for about six years now, mainly League of Legends, but also Smite for a bit, and I can strongly say MOBAs aren’t for everyone. It can be difficult, boring or toxic for players, however this hasn’t stopped them from being played, leading them to be some of the most popular free games out there. It’s daunting and they aren’t as player friendly as some may think, running people away with the learning curve. However, I can say, being a casual player that does dabble in ranked matches but isn’t in the heavily competitive scene, Pokémon Unite is a great introduction to the MOBA genre. 

Pokémon Unite has simplified gameplay and a common goal: To collect points and score them in the enemy’s goal zone, treat to destroy them and get to their base before time is up – whatever team gets the most points wins. With a time limit of ten minutes, Pokémon Unite has a perfect dynamic of fast-paced gameplay and does not feel drawn out and boring. 

For people who have played MOBAs before, obviously you understand team composition and how you should rotate, but the great thing about Unite is that objectives are visible to everyone with little flashes on the map, telling people what they should be doing at what times. Team composition is something that can sound scary but to be honest, it’s a concept that’s in a lot of other games. Much like Overwatch, Genshin Impact or any RPG, five players should cover the roles of support, tank, DPS/damage, and flex (or all-rounder in Unite) unit who’s good anywhere. That’s the main type of roles a character can be and usually, depending on who is being played, you can substitute the last player to cover anything lacking on your team, like a ranged attacker or crowd control.

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The huge lead that won the game due to Zapdos’ buff.

The biggest issue with the Pokémon Unite, in my personal opinion, is the balancing and the landslide gameplay in some games. At times, you will be levels above, probably evolved, on your opponents, and they will just auto-path, much like a bot game. I don’t know if this is just possibly a younger player not knowing how to play or just a bot trying to fill a team in. It doesn’t seem right and kind of makes you feel bad beating them and doesn’t feel deserving. However, there are times where you’ll be facing a team that has the best cooperation ever seen, like it’s a bunch of people on Discord working perfectly together and your team has no chance. 

Zapdos appears around the last two minutes of the game, whoever beats the legendary grants the team points and instant cast for 30 seconds on the enemy’s goals. Additionally, any points scored in those 30 seconds are doubled as well. This objection can single-handedly change the game because of the buff and is really what you are playing for the whole eight minutes beforehand. It can either be really awesome to get or even steal it, but it’s also really painful losing it and it can be the only reason why you lose.

The Pokémon Unite is free-to-play, with bits of transactions sprinkled throughout, but it’s not necessary to play the game. There’s honestly too many types of currencies but none of them make the game unfair, play to win or broken. The only premium is the Aeons gems, which are used to buy cosmetics for your Pokémon, the battle pass and other items. Everything but the cosmetics can be obtained by the other currency and doesn’t change the game, just the rate you get the item or Pokémon. Much like League, characters can be bought however you want, when you want, and it’s the same with the items (runes pages for League’s sake). Eventually, as long as you play, you can get everyone so it’s not really pay-to-win and doesn’t really affect players for too long. 

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League of Legends’ Sett and Pokémon’s Machoke, side by side, both in matching beach skins.

It’s enjoyable knowing there’s this simple game with characters from a franchise everyone knows and loves, friends can all play because it’s easy and free, and it’s perfect on the Switch. The Pokémon have two moves and an ultimate ability, nothing too hard and it’s simple on the joy-cons or controller. Pokémon Unite benefits from this because it doesn’t overwhelm new players and it’s nice for both Mobile and Switch players. 

Pokémon Unite can be difficult since people will always want to play who they want and not what the team needs, or you’ll get four people on top and no one on bottom. People are stubborn and will make you feel like you’re playing with someone trying to for the other team. The team balance can be unfair like I said before, but it’s not always the issue. I think they need to add something that other MOBAs do and have a position queue. This way, everyone knows where they are needed and it doesn’t leave everyone on top and no one in the center or bottom areas. Communication isn’t necessary, which is nice because it means no toxic behavior to or from your own team or your opponents. The ping auto messages are straight forward and leave more time to focus on playing than being AFK. However, that can lead to people leaving goals open or an odd amount of players in the three zones.

The other modes are very similar but just with different player sizes and rotating maps, which I think is ideal, giving variety to the players. Games that do that can be enjoyable because it’s still that same game while giving little changes so you’re not tired of the same thing. Riot’s Legend of Leagues has recently stepped away from this, giving three different modes, with a fourth if it’s a special event. Since they are moving to focusing on more competitive gameplay, it can be tiring to someone who wants to play the game but not the same thing. With Unite, there are different maps with even rewards for playing the other modes, encouraging someone to try the various things offered. As someone who often plays, almost every day for both games, it’s welcoming having the slightest difference. I highly recommend playing Pokémon Unite with a group of friends for a bunch of laughs and more of a fun time. MOBA have a tendency to make you frustrated or toxic, but with friends, it feels more light-hearted and a reminder that it’s just a game that’s only ten minutes long.

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