We can make Pokémon Unite even better!

Pokemon Unite is a game we recently enthused about here on Rice Digital, and in that piece, we talked about how the game is genuinely quite fun despite being a MOBA — historically, one of the most toxic genres of games. It’s been a little while since the game was released, and we’ve had some time to think about it and understand the game for what it is. 

So with that in mind, I want to go over some of the changes I would like to see come to the game — both mechanics and features. The game is fun, and I know it’s meant to be a simple variation on the genre, but we can always hope for something even better!

We Can Make Pokemon Unite Even Better!

The Pokémon

The issue that almost every single player will notice before they even get into a game, is the rather interesting choice of playable Pokémon in the game. I get that we can’t just have a game that consists entirely of generation 1 Pokémon, despite their popularity, especially when the pool of Pokémon is somewhere nearing the 1000’s

However, it’s odd when you see both Venusaur and Charizard in the game, but no Blastoise. Or the fact that Blissey, a character added after the initial release, is the only playable Pokémon from the Gold and Silver games — that game has Typhlosion, Feraligatr, Tyranitar, and the legendary dogs, for crying out loud! 

This is something I can somewhat deal with though, as all of these Pokémon could be added later into the game during its lifespan. There is even some benefit to withholding some of the more popular Pokémon until later, as those subsequent additions may just reignite some hype for the game and bring some players back to try out the latest playable characters.

The bigger issue is the severely underwhelming number of playable Pokémon that are actually in the game right now. As of writing this piece, there are 22 Pokémon to choose from — assuming you have bought all of the Pokémon, as you don’t start with all of them. When we look at other MOBA titles, such as League of Legends or Dota 2, these games have massive character pools numbering somewhere above 100 different possibilities. 

All of the characters in those MOBAs have been designed specifically for these games, meanwhile 800+ Pokémon already exist and are just ready and waiting to be thrown into Unite! Usually, multiplayer games may have a slightly smaller character pool so that players don’t feel immediately overwhelmed having to learn tons of different characters and matchups, but Pokémon Unite isn’t like this. It’s a fairly simple game with each character only having 3 skills, so having more characters at launch would have only made the game even more fun as opposed to intimating. 

Pokémon Unite

Zapdos – The Final Stretch

For the benefit of those who haven’t played yet, the format for Pokémon Unite is as follows: the game begins and two players will travel down to the bottom lane, two players go to the top lane, and one player will go to the jungle — this formation means that experience is shared efficiently to everyone.

Players will then proceed to knock out NPC Pokémon as well as enemy players in order to collect Pokéballs that can then be stored in the enemy’s control points. Scoring 80 points in any control point will remove that control point from the map, which means that your team will essentially have more map control — these points scored also determine the winner at the end of the game.

Games last 10 minutes and for eight of those minutes the game plays in a fairly normal MOBA-like way, but then… Zapdos spawns and the Final Stretch begins. What is the final stretch you ask? Well, for the final two minutes of the game, any points scored in control points are doubled, meaning that comebacks are a very real possibility. 

That’s all good — comebacks can be a fun feature that create some of the most exciting moments in games, especially multiplayer ones. The main issue with this is when it’s combined with the rewards that knocking out Zapdos grants you — that being +20 Pokéballs to every player on the team, and the ability to score those points instantly. Normally, the more Pokéballs you’re carrying, the longer the “channelling” time to score those points — and should you be hit by an enemy Pokémon while trying to score, you will be interrupted. 

Zapdos and the Final Stretch means that for 80% of the game being in the lead potentially means nothing, because the enemy team can always mount a comeback through Zapdos and the points he offers — along with the fact that interrupting the scoring of these points is impossible. 

All I ask is that these “comeback” mechanics are tweaked just a little bit. Maybe only the main control point right outside the team’s spawn offers the double points during the Final Stretch. Even having a one-second channel time on scoring instead of instant, uninterruptible scoring, would allow for great defensive plays. Or maybe reduce the number of Pokéballs that Zapdos rewards.

Pokémon Unite is really fun, but when every single game tends to conclude the same way, it has the potential to become dull and push players away from continuing to enjoy it.

How have you been getting along with Pokémon Unite? Be sure to let us know in the comments, or pen us a letter for the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page if there’s more you want to say!

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Conor Evans
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