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Pokemon Unite - What We Know So Far

The Pokemon Company has announced the release of Pokemon Unite, a real-time, team-based strategy game that'll be "free-to-start." Think of it as a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game, much like League of Legends, only with the cute Pocket Monsters you've come to know and love.


The new mobile game is being developed by Tencent's TiMi studios, which is responsible for Honor of Kings (Arena of Valor in the U.S.) and Call of Duty: Mobile, so it will likely have some similarities to these games. 

For some reason, Pokemon Unite was announced separately from the June 17 presentation that revealed New Pokemon Snap, Pokemon Cafe Mix, and Pokemon Smile. However, The Pokemon Company president and CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara did tease another game release during that event. The rumors that followed speculated about everything from a Pokemon Gold and Silver release to a new mainline game, which has led to some fans grumbling that the actual announcement is a bit disappointing.

When will Pokemon Unite release, and what gameplay and characters will it feature? Find out here.


Does Pokemon Unite have a release date?

You can expect to be able to play Pokemon Unite across mobile devices (Android and iOS) and on Nintendo Switch. Since it's free-to-start, you will have to pay for some in-app purchases (perhaps including certain Pokemon) as you get further into the game. The Pokemon Company has yet to share when the title will release. According to the end of the reveal trailer, Pokemon Unite is "now in development."


If you don't recognize the name of The Pokemon Company's partner in this particular venture, you should know that Tencent is one of the world's highest valued companies. It's involved in several industries, especially in China, including social networking (QQ.com), music (Tencent Music Entertainment), internet services, payment systems (WeChat), smartphones, and gaming. When it comes to game revenues, Tencent reportedly makes more money than Sony, Microsoft, Apple, or Nintendo.

Tencent's involvement in Pokemon Unite may be controversial because of its ties to the Chinese government — Chinese games do not generally do very well in Western markets, and Chinese politics do not play well among certain gaming audiences. So, whenever Pokemon Unite is released, it may see an uphill battle for acceptance in certain markets based on this association.


Does Pokemon Unite have a trailer?

Commenters seem to be underwhelmed by the content of the one-minute-long trailer, which spent more than half its runtime looking back at nostalgic Pokemon scenes. In fact, at the time of this writing, there are more "thumbs down" reactions than likes. This may be because people feel misled about the scope of the project and how big a deal it was.


Basically, it appears this is not the announcement Pokemon fans wanted. That disappointment might be filtering down to create negative perceptions of the game based not on what's there, but because Pokemon Unite isn't something people were actively wishing for.

A MOBA release is a definite surprise, and Pokemon fans are definitely skeptical of a "Pokemon League of Legends," as it's being called already in much of the commentary.

What is the gameplay like in Pokemon Unite?

Prospective players did get a look at some of the gameplay expected in Pokemon Unite, and it looks exactly like what you might expect from a MOBA game, down to the multi-lane map. It'll feature live teams of five battling one another and completing objectives to level up their individual characters. This type of game naturally requires teamwork and planning.


Players and their teammates will cooperate to capture wild Pokemon, which can help make their own Pokemon stronger, while taking out enemies and capturing strategic points. Pokemon are expected to have several signature moves as well as a "Unite Move," but will not feature advantages based on type. This helps keep the focus on tactics.

Pokemon Unite will be cross-platform for mobile and Switch users. It might also pave the way for more multiplayer experiences within the Pokemon universe, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Which characters will appear in Pokemon Unite?

Confirmed playable Pokemon in Pokemon Unite include Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle, Clefairy, Haunter, Machop, Riolu, Snorlax, and Talonflame. Pokemon will be able to evolve during the game, so expect the evolved (and less-evolved) forms of all these Pokemon as well, including Blastoise, Charizard, Gengar, Fletchling, and Munchlax.


The already-announced Pokemon seem to be drawn heavily from the first generation, although Talonflame and Riolu represent more recent generations. Hopefully players will see more of their favorite Pokemon from newer games.

It's unclear how many Pokemon will ultimately be included. At this point there are almost 900 Pokemon spread out over eight generations, so the developers have plenty to choose from that could subtly alter the dynamics of this upcoming MOBA.