Pokemon Unite is the latest free to play Pokemon title out there. It’s loaded with all the microtransactions you want though so you can buy just about anything if you want to give some money to the gam. There was some potential to be had here for sure but ultimately I don’t think Unite quite lived up to it. The main issue with the game is how long each battle takes so I feel like you need a complete overhaul of the gameplay mechanics in order to go farther.
When you first start the game you get a pretty nice cinematic. The graphics are really on point and you can tell that you’re about to jump into the crazy world of Pokemon. I allowed my hopes to jump up as I told myself that this would be one of the greatest Pokemon spinoffs of all time. Then you’re taken to the main menu where you learn about the game. There’s a lot to the gameplay so it’s tricky to explain but here’s the basic rundown.
Unite is a 5 on 5 Pokemon battle that uses a real time overhead view. The goal is to knock out wild Pokemon or opposing team members to store up some energy. You then go to one of the opponent’s cores and use the energy to take it over. When you have accumulated enough energy to do so, you slam the energy down in a Basketball slam dunk of sorts and take over the area. Rinse and repeat until the time limit is up and the match is over.
Each match is around 10 or more minutes so that’s a lot of time to run around and explore. You will want to try and coordinate with your teammates but that isn’t easy in an online lobby. I’m not sure if you are able to connect your microphone but if you can then that is probably your best bet to get everyone on the same page. You can send generic orders using the control pad as well though.
Whether you run straight at the enemy or try and protect your own bases initially, it’s your call. There’s no best strategy I’d say, it’s really about how you execute it. Each Pokemon has their normal attack, two special moves, and a final smash. Yo want to master each ability so you’re ready for action. Of course, when the match is starting everyone has to scramble to choose which Pokemon they want to play so the odds of you getting to play the same one a lot is pretty rare. Unless you like playing as Slowbro or something since nobody seems to want to play as him.
Charizard is probably the best Pokemon from the ones that I played. Note that you start out as the Pokemon’s rookie form and gradually move up by defeating opponents. Eventually you will level up during the match and then you repeat the process for future rounds. So this all sounds pretty decent right?
Well, the gameplay is good in theory but it just didn’t really mesh with me. The time limit is too long for starters, I’d prefer a stock ruleset as opposed to time. Maybe do it by score instead but the problem with time though is that you will probably know if you are going to win or lose by the middle of the match. So you can either quit and live to fight another day or just stick it through. I’m not sure if you keep the EXP if you quit so keep that in mind. I didn’t put that to the test here.
The battles also feel repetitive very quickly. You don’t feel any real weight behind the blows. I think a 1 vs 1 battle or 2 vs 2 would have worked better than 5 v 5. This is really aiming more at the World of Warcraft/League of Legends crowd with the widespread battles. I can’t speak to those titles since I haven’t played them but for Pokemon it hasn’t yet worked. The game is a little too limiting.
So even though it’s free I don’t see you sticking with this one for very long. Ultimately it’s a fun game to bide your time with but that’s about it. Eventually you’ll be ready for the next thing. Still, I will say that the graphics are good even after the opening cinematic. The Pokemon character models are on point. Additionally, I’d say that the soundtrack is pretty solid as well. You get some classic Pokemon themes. Maybe nothing too exciting but it’s good enough as background music to keep you going.
Ultimately to move up this game just needs more content. Whether they add in a 1 vs 1 mode or maybe even a story mode, that would help immensely. You need that here to give the game an extra kick. Something to help it stand out in a crowd and give you reason to play it. Otherwise there are just too many good alternatives out there and you don’t want to miss any of those.
Overall, Pokemon Unite may not have lived up to the hype for me but it was fun to give it a shot. The game may appear very greedy with how it wants money for everything but it is still a true free to play in the sense that you don’t need to buy anything. Stick on the free path and you will still have every option available to you. Now that’s a good bargain if I’ve ever seen one right? What we need now is a free to play Pokemon runner game. Now that would have lots of potential.