Pokemon Unite is the new kid on the block, offering exciting new gameplay for free on Nintendo Switch, and it’s coming out on mobile later this year. It is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena that most people will be able to access, without needing a Nintendo Switch Online membership. After playing for a while, let’s look into how it compares to some of the most popular MOBAs on the market. What similarities do they have, if any, and is it a vastly different game to what is already on the market?
Pokemon Unite is set on Aeos Island, where you will encounter the Unite Battle Committee, which is responsible for running the Unite Tournaments. Players can expect to see some of their favorites on the battlefield: Pikachu, Charmander, Metagross, Zeraora, and Alolan Ninetales to name a few. The matches go on for 10 minutes, with a “quick” match being unlocked later down the line, where the matches are five minutes long instead. It’s a 5v5 battle, and the premise of the game is to level up and store as much Aeos energy as you can before going to the enemy side of the battlefield and scoring a goal.
Pokemon Unite vs League of Legends: Wild Rift
Pokemon Unite is very much trying to be a mobile MOBA, as it will be releasing on mobile later this year, but for now it is on Nintendo Switch exclusively. It’s important to compare it to one of the most popular mobile MOBAs today: League of Legends: Wild Rift. Wild Rift is based off one of the most popular MOBAs on PC, League of Legends. The layout of the screen on Pokemon Unite is very minimalist in comparison to Wild Rift. In League of Legends, there are seven main buttons that you need to press, and in Wild Rift they are all cramped in the bottom right of the screen. In Pokemon Unite, they are a lot smaller and take up less room on the screen, allowing the player to see more of the battlefield.
Pokemon Unite is also different in the sense that there are no item builds that the player will have to worry about. In Pokemon Unite, it’s a different ball game; instead, you level up your Pokemon where, depending on the type of the Pokemon, they may evolve, which makes them more powerful.
Pokemon Unite Meets Heroes of the Storm
Surprisingly, Pokemon Unite has a couple of similarities with Heroes of the Storm, a MOBA that is significantly less popular than others on the market, such as Smite and Dota 2. In Heroes of the Storm, scattered across the map there are mobs which you can kill or bribe in order to gain XP and help on the battlefield. Oftentimes, this allows your hero to level up, where you then choose the ability best suited for the fight — which is exactly what you do in Pokemon Unite!
Instead of bribing or killing them so that they join you in the fight, they give you XP and Aeos energy, which you then use to score a goal in the game, instead of destroying towers and the like. Not only are there small singular Pokemon that walk around the map, allowing you to easily kill them without too much hassle, there are bigger packs, as seen in the screenshot below. These are harder to kill, and can end up contested by the other team, so watch out!
Locked In with Smite
Smite is one of the very few MOBAs currently out on Switch, making it one of the biggest competitors against Pokemon Unite currently. One of the biggest differences between Smite and Pokemon Unite is the camera. With Smite, you are essentially in a third-person-shooter-style camera, where you see behind the character with minimal visibility across the map.. Although there is a map visible showing where all of the characters are at all times, it is still relatively easy to get flanked, which is mildly similar to Pokemon Unite. When I tested it out earlier, we found that despite the map being on the top left, it was still very easy to not see Pokemon coming at you, and them just appearing suddenly on screen.
Pokemon Unite is Very Different from Dota 2
The biggest difference between Dota 2 and Pokemon Unite is the complexity between the games. They both have starkly different audiences, with Dota 2 being aimed at the esports scene, even being nominated for multiple awards in that space since 2014. However, Pokemon Unite is aimed at all ages, with it seemingly to be a MOBA just for fun. However, the first ranked season of the game has already begun. Pokemon Unite’s simple and clean interface works on Switch, and you rarely have to worry about builds, which is essential in Dota 2. Dota 2 is a game focused on strategy, builds, and how to make your character as powerful as possible. Pokemon Unite is about fun, simplicity, and overall just having a good time and trying to score some goals!
Microtransactions Across the Board
As we know, all MOBAs have microtransactions to some degree. For example, League of Legends is all about skins and battle passes. Smite is a game where you can buy champions, battle passes, and cosmetics. Dota 2 has the most different microtransactions out of the biggest MOBAs. This is because they allow you to buy announcer voice packs, cosmetics, battle passes, equipment, and more.
However, for a seemingly simple and fun game on the Nintendo Switch, Pokemon Unite incorporates so many different microtransactions across the board. They have everything from gacha to pay to win. You can use in-game currency to roll different Pokemon licenses, so you can use them in your next battle. Using real-life money, you can buy the in-game currency, which then allows you to buy stat boosts for your Pokemon. It’s a slippery slope for sure. Below is just one of the examples of the shops they have in game.
Who is Pokemon Unite For?
Overall, the MOBAs share some similarities, such as microtransactions, map styles, and minion battles. Pokemon Unite takes a lot of cues from other MOBAs, tweaking them to work with its already well-established brand. It shares the most similarities surprisingly with Heroes of the Storm, and it’s vastly different from Dota 2. It is fascinating to see the similarities and differences between all the MOBAs, and it will be exciting to see how far Pokemon Unite goes in popularity.
Let us know what MOBA you think Pokemon Unite is the most like in the comments below!