Two weeks after its release, Pokémon Unite is still going strong. Nintendo and TiMi’s new Pokémon-themed multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) debuted two weeks ago on the Switch, and it’s already received its first balance patch. (Charizard got a buff, thank goodness.)
Though it’s a fun game at its core and the gameplay is solid, this Pokémon adventure is marred with a lot of junk and missing some important features. As a free-to-start game, Unite is extremely likely to continue receiving new content and gameplay updates in the future, particularly with a mobile launch on the way in September. With that in mind, here are five things that we really want to see in future updates.
One of Unite‘s most baffling omissions is the lack of information presented on the screen during a match. While the game was undoubtedly designed to be played on smaller screens and the developers likely didn’t want to crowd the player’s view with too much information, they erred on the side of too little.
Besides the remaining match time, players should be able to see what the current score is for both teams. The fact that this information is hidden until the match is over and only limited score information is given to players during the match (for example, you might get a pop-up speech bubble that says “We have a huge lead!”) is frankly ridiculous. My guess is that Nintendo and TiMi were hoping to discourage players from dropping out early if their team started to fall behind in numbers, but all hiding the score does is make matches an exercise in guesswork.
In the same vein, I hope the developers add a way for players to see basic move descriptions in matches. To figure out what each move does, players have to navigate to the Pokémon menu outside of battle and pick a particular creature to see its move choices. The existing descriptions are far too long to be included in battle, but condensing them down into one or two sentences would allow players to quickly gauge which move would be better based on their current match situation. As it stands now, players have to memorize what each move does to ensure that they make the best choices in battle. While this will come naturally with time and practice, the likely addition of new Pokémon and moves in the future means that it will always be useful to have a little more information mid-battle.
This one is pretty obvious: Give us more Pokémon! The existing roster does a great job of featuring some of the greats from Pokémon history, from oldies-but-goodies like Pikachu and Charizard to newer friends like Eldegoss. Last week, the development team released Gardevoir, a new ranged attacker, so we know that the roster is far from complete. Everyone has their favorite ‘mons that they want to see, but we certainly won’t get every single one of the 800+ Pokémon in existence. How, then, do you choose who makes the cut?
I would love to see more support/healing Pokémon outside of Eldegoss, Mr. Mime, and Wigglytuff. The support role is often the role with the most varied abilities in MOBAs, as there is a myriad of different ways you can support, heal, and buff your teammates. Making attackers and all-rounders have less in the way of self-heal and shielding abilities and giving enemy debuffing abilities to supporters would give the role a little more depth. I could see Milotic or Chansey functioning well as supports (though Milotic’s strange movement style means that it’s unlikely we’ll see it in the game).
Outside of playable characters, more and varied legendary Pokémon would be great additions. Nintendo and TiMi are likely saving these Pokémon for events, which makes me genuinely excited to see whether Articuno pops up during winter in the northern hemisphere, and so on.
We knew what we were getting into with this one. Nintendo’s communication options for both text and voice are famously obtuse and geared towards kids, making it difficult for anyone who wants to play in a competitive manner to communicate with their teammates. The game does allow for voice chat, but only within matches, not in menus, making it hard to decide who’s going to play what Pokémon and argue with your teammate when they keep auto-locking Gengar.
The text chat system is woefully inadequate, allowing for a handful of greetings and phrases designed to tell the team your rotation or scoring plans. (Also, why does “cancel” equate to “retreat”? I just want to get out of the menu!) While the game isn’t that deep, there’s enough strategy involved that being able to use a more robust text chat system or voice chat across menus would be extremely helpful.
The friend system is also fairly archaic. Players can add friends by sharing their Trainer ID, a unique string of letters and numbers, with others. It’s another twist on the friend code system that Nintendo has been using since the DS, and it’s extremely outdated. If you run into a friend in real life and you want to add each other, but you don’t have your Switch with you, it becomes all the more complicated to remember or even find their friend code.
Like the limited text and voice chat system, this is a hallmark of Nintendo’s dedication to kids’ safety first and foremost. It’s nice to know that the company is looking out for its littlest fans, but they need to remember to appease adult fans who want the fleshed-out communication systems present on Xbox, PlayStation, and PC.
Like some of the more recent main series Pokémon games, Unite allows players to purchase outfits and other cosmetics to dress up their Trainer avatar – just with the help of real money this time around instead of only in-game currency. When I first started playing the game at launch, I’ll admit that I was a little excited to see the clothes I could buy. I was disappointed to see that there wasn’t much at all.
Certain items are available through the battle pass, but the clothes section of the in-game shop is more than a little empty at the moment. Hopefully, this is something that will come with time — the developers almost certainly have plans to release additional clothes as the game moves away from its Switch launch and into more seasons of battle passes. Only time will tell if they release anything as cute as the Snorlax outfit.
This is probably the longest shot of anything on this list. Unite was designed to be easy to pick up and play. If you’re looking for serious depth and strategy in your MOBA, you’re better off playing something like DOTA 2 or League of Legends. However, that’s not to say that I don’t think the game could be a little deeper. As it stands right now, the game lacks some of the battle mechanics from both mainline Pokémon titles and other MOBAs.
Once players have had a few weeks to get the basic game down, it would be great to see a future update introduce type advantage mechanics, new categories of Pokémon, or new moves for existing Pokémon. Imagine if Charizard players got a small stacking damage bonus for attacking Alolan Ninetails, an ice-type, with fire-based abilities. Perhaps it wouldn’t work exactly like that, but something similar that uses some of the tips and tricks Pokémon players already know would be great for fleshing things out a little bit.
There’s a lot on this list that will likely come true — event legendary Pokémon, new outfits and cosmetics, and new playable Pokémon — but in truth, I’m more excited about some of the pie-in-the-sky items, like better communication options and type advantage mechanics. The developers won’t be able to add everything that players want, but Nintendo does listen to its fans, so hopefully, some of our biggest concerns will be addressed over the next few months of the game’s life. Unite is likely to experience a pretty big user boost when it releases on mobile in September, and perhaps the expanded player base will encourage Nintendo and TiMi to try something a little more out of the box. (Like making a Pokémon Ranger sequel. Anyone? Just me? Okay.)
Pokemon Unite is available now on Nintendo Switch and releases on mobile devices in September.
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