Who had “Pokémon MOBA” on their list of games they thought they’d see in 2020? If you did, consider yourself a winner, as Pokémon Unite, a joint project between The Pokémon Company and Tencent Games’ TiMi Studios, is coming soon to the Switch and mobile platforms.
Described as offering “strategic team battles,” Pokémon Unite certainly looks like a MOBA, and the gameplay description sounds like many elements of the genre:
During battles, players will cooperate with teammates to catch wild Pokémon, level up and evolve their own Pokémon, and defeat opponents’ Pokémon while trying to earn more points than the opposing team within the allotted time.
“Catching wild Pokémon” sounds like jungling, while “leveling up” your Pokémon and “defeating opponents’ Pokémon” sounds like the traditional MOBA progression and battling experience. The bit about earning more points to win might at least offer something different than the traditional MOBA goal of destroying the opposing team’s Nexus.
In any case, the game seems to be struggling with initial approval. The audience crossover between fans of Pokémon and, say, League of Legends, doesn’t seem like it would be very large, and the reveal video has a nearly 10-to-1 downvote-to-upvote ratio on YouTube.
The description of the game on the Pokémon UK site bills it as “free-to-start,” which is Nintendo’s way of saying “free-to-play,” though games with that label have had varying levels of “free-ness.” We’ll have to wait for more details on exactly how the monetization for the game works, but for now, its initial reveal seems to have brought out no small number of skeptics.