We were pretty high on Pokémon UNITE when we finally got a chance to play it last week, and that didn't change over the weekend. In that time, we've been able to pick up on a lot of the nuances of this Pokémon-themed MOBA and share it with everyone who is deciding to pick it up on mobile, too.
Read on below for some insight on how to improve your game from the perspective of a beginner.
Finding your Pokémon
As with any skills-based multiplayer game, Pokémon UNITE is something you'll likely need to play a lot to get good at, and you'll get better at a faster rate if you choose one or a handful of Pokémon to play as instead of trying to become an expert in all of them.
When you're just starting out in the game, try out all of the monsters that are available and see which ones you like based on their stats and abilities. Whatever you tend to find success or fun with should be what you prioritize for honing your skills. Ignore tier lists or in-depth guides on mechanics or item builds for now. Just play random unranked games and reflect back on each one until you've found a particular Pokémon, role, or both that stands out as a clear preference.
How each role works
Each Pokémon in UNITE falls into one of four categories: Defender, Attacker, All-Arounder, Supporter, or Speedster. Read on below about the essential characteristics and playstyles of each one:
- Defenders are beefy and slow Pokémon, like Snorlax and Blastoise. Relatively speaking, they don't do a whole ton of damage, but they can absorb a lot of punishment and have a lot of abilities that are good for disrupting enemies while they try to score. Defenders tend to excel in the top lane, where there isn't a ton of ground to cover and they can pair up with Attackers to act as the front line of defense.
- Attackers are monsters with high damage output, like Pikachu and Alolan Ninetails. Their role is primarily to kill stuff. Whether it is opposing players, wild Pokémon, or special objectives like Rotom or Zapdos, Attackers are probably the most capable units of defeating all of these things the fastest. The tradeoff is that these Pokémon aren't particularly resilient, so it's advised to stay close to Defender Pokémon in the top lane to have some protection throughout matches.
- All-Arounders are a little bit of a misnomer. While it is true they are pretty good at everything, they tend to start out pretty weak in matches and scale into late-game powerhouses. Characters like Charizard and Garchomp require some patience and support, which is why they are best suited to play in the bottom lane, where wild Pokémon are plentiful and a Supporter teammate is likely to be. Once fully evolved, these are some of the most powerful characters in all of Pokémon UNITE.
- Supporters essentially exist to help All-Arounders stay alive in the early game as they power up. These Pokémon don't do much damage, but have a lot of useful abilities for protecting and healing allies, which is why you often find Eldegoss and Mr. Mime players in the bottom lane.
- Speedsters are the most mobile characters in Pokémon UNITE, both in terms of movement speed and character abilities. Because monsters like Absol and Talonflame are so mobile, they excel playing in the center of the map, where they can farm tons of wild Pokémon, ambush enemies from the bushes, and rotate between the top and bottom lanes of the map to secure kills and objectives as needed.
Map awareness is key
Although each Pokémon has its own general playstyle and map region they work best in, it's super important to maintain awareness of what is happening all over the map at all times. As a team-based game, you want to be in the best position possible to help or save allies as they push to take objectives, score goals, or kill enemy teammates.
Blindly playing your role isn't entirely unhelpful, but it's not a good look to be busy farming a wild Pokémon while your teammate dies contesting Rotom or the entire enemy team decides to push the other lane. Keeping an eye on the map lets you know how and when to break away to make plays or prevent goals, and if you can do that successfully once or twice a game, you can give your team a leg up on pulling out a victory.
When in doubt, farm
If checking out the map doesn't entirely clue you in to something you should be doing, you can almost never go wrong simply finding wild Pokémon to kill. Killing wild Pokémon gives you experience and fills your score meter, allowing you to be a more formidable fighting force as the game progresses, and a valuable contributor to your overall point total should you find yourself in scoring position.
Ideally when hunting wild Pokémon to kill, try to see if you can prioritize hitting targets on the opposing side of the map first. Doing this denies easy experience and point gains from your opponents, which can further push a match to your favor. Just be careful to only invade enemy territory when it's safe, because you don't want to become an easy target for an enemy kill.
Play to win
At the end of the day, Pokémon UNITE is a game about scoring more points than your opponent. No one will care if you are super good at killing the enemy team or capturing objectives if that isn't followed up with some actual scoring or score defense. Focus less on kills, sniping enemies, or chasing low-health enemies halfway across the map and more on protecting your rings and destroying opposing ones.
Obviously winning sub-objectives and team fights opens up more opportunities to score, so they are important, but try to do them at the ideal times for the sake of your team. This is to say you should do things like disrupt the enemy trying to score instead of chasing down its weakened partner to score a kill, or move back toward your goal points if your team is overextended to prevent backdoor scores, even if it means missing out on some exciting fights.
As for scoring itself, you kind of have to feel out opportunities and situations for scoring for each individual match. Some games might be defensive struggles while others can turn into offensive shootouts. The more you play, the more quickly you'll be able to get a feel for the team dynamics and know when to score. For the most part, though, the important thing to know is that you don't have to worry too much about rushing in to score until you have reached your max score potential, and even then it's far better to win a team fight or secure an objective to help you score faster and safer.