Pokemon UNITE Review - A hooking fusion of basketball and MOBA

From trading Pokemon cards in school to playing Pikachu games on the desktop, Pokemon has been a friend for a very long time. Pokemon not only manages to keep the crazy fandom intact for two decades but also brings new audiences with its new-age games and merchandise. To give us a new hobby, The Pokemon Company in collaboration with Tencent Games’ TiMi Studios now brings another genre to the pokemon family with the release of Pokemon Unite.

Pokemon joins the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre, commonly referred to as “MOBA”. It has a gentle learning curve that requires no prior expertise of MOBA or mainline pokemon games. Video game franchises that have been going on for a long time are often extremely daunting to approach as a new user. But Pokemon Unite keeps things beginner-friendly, encouraging first-time players to give it a try. If you started it as a 15-minute work break, warning beforehand - you’re not going anywhere for the next few hours. It’s highly addicting. 

Unite offers an easy-to-understand practice session. A long tutorial in which an expert gradually takes you through the basics and then your first battle giving tips and guidelines throughout. One can go back to the tutorial whenever a player feels out of practice. It is a remarkably simple and hassle-free game with the visuals and gameplay of complex legendary games. 

The amazing graphics take you back to The Capitol, a technologically advanced utopian city in The Hunger Games. The Grand Arena, modern attires, training stadiums all add the desirable intricacies to make the game appealing. It offers a great level of customization for the player. In Pokemon Unite, the players are called trainers each with their unique name and attire. 

Unite introduces a hybrid MOBA and basketball gameplay. The premise of Unite has two teams of 5 players each, two symmetric lanes with three-goal posts each, and random enemies roaming around the centre-ground and the edges. 

The game starts with matching teammates and assigning opponents. Each trainer selects their pokemon prior to the match. You have a great collection of 21 different pokemon with unique powers to choose from. As the trainer enters the Arena, they have to kill wild Pokemon, enemy Pokemon, and Zapdos in the end. Targeting the wild Pokemon roaming around the paths gains you Aeos Energy. This energy enables trainers to score the opponent’s hoops. Killing the opponent Pokemon gives the trainer map control and limits the movement of the rival team. Zapdos, a powerful wild Pokemon appears at the centre of the arena at the match’s final minutes. Landing Zapdos gives enormous energy and an edge of quick scoring. 

As you progress through the battle, your energy and experience increase. The Aeos energy lets you dunk a goal into the opponent's hoop equal to the amount of energy you hold. The goal dunking gives a supernatural show, with the cool moves and golden ball of energy. At times an opposing wartortle is defending a goal zone, pokemon defeats the opponent to score. The experience levels up the pokemon from Charizard to Chameleon and gradually evolve to an even higher level. When in a pinch, you can recover HP from your team’s goal zone. 

Since Pokemon Unite is a team battle, strategizing, working together, and team balance makes a whole lot of difference. The team that scores the most points before the 10 minutes run out, wins the game. When a team wins, the trainer gets a level up and receives a license. 

The Pokemons can be grouped into five groups - Speedsters (strong mobility), Attackers(cause damage from a distance), Defenders(protects team), Healers (heal and control crowd), all-rounders ( attack and defend moderately well at all distances). Unite also offers two basic attack types being melee and ranged. Defeating wild Pokemons give different amounts of energy varying with their difficulty levels. 

Drawbacks of Pokemon Unite 

Now to address the elephant in the room, a confusing mess of multiple currencies and in-app purchases. Any free-to-play game has to walk a fine line of compelling enough perks paywalled yet not blatantly paying to win. Paying to unlock cosmetics and additional features is fine. The problematic economy of microtransactions in Pokemon Unite gives noobs a chance to outplay experts just by paying. Cosmetics and game enhancers can be accessed through a vigorous grind of hours and hours or simply paying to get aeos currency required to buy it all. 

This kind of monetization is unethical and unfair. The currencies are in absolute chaos. This game offers around five currencies, only three of which can be earned by playing. 

Suggested Improvements for Pokemon Unite

First and foremost the developers need to fix this aforementioned niche by forming a game balance and eliminating the “pay to win” aspects. They need to work out a way to give compelling features through in-app purchases that glorify the game but don’t impact the game itself.

Another great addition could be adding new gaming arenas since there is only one available. This causes a repetitive feeling as if playing the same match over and over. New maps and paths would make the game further interesting. 

At times the screen hangs and there is a lag between instruction and its implementation. Particularly if you quit a battle mid-way, the whole system hangs causing a black screen for a few seconds. This should be fixed to provide a smoother experience.  

Nonetheless, Pokemon Unite gets all the credit for taking on the inscrutable genre of MOBA and launching it in a simple yet addictive gameplay loop. One doesn’t need the Nintendo Switch online service since it gives all the features in its mobile app. It offers great things for longtime franchise fans and MOBA enthusiasts.

Another great feature of Pokemon Unite is its quick response to feedback. They keep evolving their range of Pokemons and address the issues in the new updates. 

Ratings: 3.9/5         


  • Easy-to-understand tutorial
  • Remarkably simple
  • Amazing graphics
  • Great level of customization


  • A confusing mess of multiple currencies
  • In-app purchases


Recommended Requirements: 

CPU: Snapdragon 429 Quad Core 1.8 GHz or equivalent

GPU: Adreno 504 or equivalent


Storage: 614MB

OS: iOS 9/Android 5.0

Please Note:

Your phone should have these or equivalent specs to run the app smoothly.

Requirements are predicted and could be bound to change as more data becomes available.

You are encouraged to express your feedback below. 

Please use our resource only as a guideline and if you spot any errors let us know.

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