Pokémon Unite is a fun entry point for those new to the MOBA genre thanks to its short games, but longtime League of Legends or DotA fans will be left unsatisfied.
The initial reaction to the announcement of Pokémon Unite in 2020 was one of general excitement — especially amongst the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) community. MOBAs are strategy games in which two teams compete on a board to destroy opposing bases. This was the first Pokémon game of its kind, one that would drop the RPG-roots of the mainline series for real-time attacks in a capture-the-flag-style competition. It would allow Switch and mobile users to compete alongside each other in a five-vs-five format, using some of the series’ most iconic characters. And it would be free-to-play.
However, that anticipation was quickly tempered by the game’s initial growing pains. In a survey released by the game’s developers, players were quick to voice their concerns about the seemingly ‘pay-to-win’ structure of Pokémon Unite. Where free-to-play games like League of Legends and Fortnite have no real advantages to be gained by microtransactions as add-ons are cosmetic, the prevalence of legal tender as a means to victory can harm the competitive efficacy of the game.