Pokémon Unite surprised both MOBA and Pokémon fans by being both funny and knowledgeable. But a highly competitive game based on a popular trait creates an interesting puzzle: will you choose the best Pokémon for your team or the one you’ve loved since you were seven?
Unite Pokémon did a great job adding a variety of popular Pokémon and making them all look like you would expect. Charizard flies and breathes fire as you’d expect. And Gastly uses his massive tongue to pull enemies. As someone who has played Pokémon for most of his life and MOBAs for nearly a decade, it is a treat to see the way Unite
But my desire to play Greninja – because it’s cool – often clashes with my desire to win. On a team already full of attacking Pokémon, my team could really use a Crustle tank or some Eldegoss support. But what the hell are some of these Pokémon anyway? Why should I play a crab that’s also a rock when I can play fireball soccer with Cinderace?
It is the classic MOBA problem that is chosen until 11. Many MOBA players start their journey just to cause harm, and transitioning to more supportive roles is pretty easy for them League of Legends, where the characters are all original – making the leap from the pirate man who cosplayed Gambit from the X-Men to a big bear out of lightning doesn’t require many long-cherished personal feelings. But when you mix in Pokémon nostalgia, it’s harder to be selfless.
The use of licensed characters creates a strange phenomenon on both sides of the MOBA aisle. For players who love Pokémon like Slowbro and Snorlax but hate Gasoline, they will have a rude awakening to the realization that these two characters excel. On the flip side, players who have spent their entire lives despising Venusaurs but love playing ranged characters will be disappointed when the two cross.
Outside of UniteAs a ranked player, it’s hard to put together a balanced team rather than one with popular Pokémon. Maybe that would have been a topic in the Lord of the Rings MOBA, Guardian of Middle-earth, it would have achieved the same success as Unite Pokémon.
Unite‘s character list and role allocation is another important lesson for new MOBA fans. The wellbeing of the team must outweigh your personal affinity for Absol or Garchomp. The other Pokémon will still be there the next time your team needs a more damage-focused character.
The real secret of Unite, and part of what makes it such a great little MOBA is that all of its characters feel as good as your favorite childhood kid. After putting aside my need to play a character I knew, I found some great Pokémon hiding in them Unite‘s roster.