Group chats and social media were going wild for some reason so I chimed in. They gave me a link to the latest Nintendo announcement where they revealed the latest game to enter the Pokemon franchise and that would be Pokemon Unite.
It’s a 5v5 MOBA-type game with a few unique spins of its own. And I think with the way it is right now it’s most probably going to be a winner. Here’s why:
It adopts the Capture the Flag (CTF) model
While normal MOBAs would have 3 lanes, 2 jungle areas and a bunch of towers across them with a base to destroy at each end. Pokemon Unite will only have 2 lanes and no armies regularly spawning to fight each other over towers. There’s a dynamic sense to it too as goal points scattered across them can be captured instead of destroyed.
This game adapts the model from Heroes of the Storm, where you pick ‘hero perks’ or skills instead of making some sort of complex build. This will make picking up any character or hero easy to follow as they simply have to follow the lore of each pokemon that many, many people are quite well-aware of. The lack of build variety I believe will not be an issue because…
Huge Library of Characters to make
Even with considering just the first 151 pokemon and their evolution phases, there’s at least 70 pokemon they can turn into playable characters off the bat, but what they showed on the stream was already featuring some of the latter gen pokemon so there’s a lot to go on, really.
The timer that makes things lighter
If you ever played League of Legends or Dota 2 you may have encountered a game where you did everything you could for the last 20 or so minutes and all of a sudden one of your teammates are suddenly nowhere to be seen, most likely because something in the real world has stopped them the internet connection is on the fritz again. That won’t be necessarily the case in Pokemon Unite as the game is enclosed to 10-minute rounds, meaning the time investment you have for each game is much smaller, making losses less frustrating and experiencing the high you get off wins more frequently.
There’s also the idea that it will be much easier to host as an event or an esports feature as the game will play out more consistently, unlike Dota 2 or LoL where it’s at least 30 minutes and can go for over an hour.
Partnership with Tencent guarantees good support
The reason why Smash didn’t make it into this year’s EVO is that it’s going to be played online, and if you didn’t know the netcode for Nintendo’s ultimate crossover game leaves a lot to be desired as laggy matches and constant disconnects infuriate even the most avid of fans. But now that they’ve partnered up with Tencent, which is quite well-known to be one of the bigger forces supporting Riot and by extension, League of Legends, development support specifically for its networking is pretty much guaranteed to be reliable.
Crossplay support prevents splitting the player base
Being available on both Switch and Mobile means you’re playing with anybody who’s a fan of Pokemon without necessarily having to own the Nintendo Console. The question of device accessibility is basically out of the window. It’s pretty easy to imagine your geekier elders willing to play with their kids or nephews this game as a bonding experience.
Free to Start
This rather transparent approach to the idea that they’ll be monetizing this game down the line with probably the usual set of new playable characters, skins and other cosmetics, it becomes easy to pick up and perhaps just as easy to get hooked on.
Stays true to the Pokemon theme
By making use of CTF mechanics, it makes it easy to keep it within the idea of ‘catching pokemon.’ So it doesn’t feel like a blatant reskin like how you might see on very old WarCraft 3 modded maps. It’ll still feel like it ties together with Pokemon as a whole.