The upcoming Pokémon “strategic team battle game,” Pokémon UNITE, has been confirmed to release in July 2021 for the Nintendo Switch and September 2021 for mobile devices. Cross-platform play will be available as long as players link their Pokémon Trainer Club account or Nintendo Account on both devices.
Aeos Island and Unite Battles
Pokémon UNITE takes place on a place called Aeos Island, where the Unite Battle Committee (UBC) runs Unite Battle Tournaments in a special Unite Battle format, which pits two teams of 5-vs-5 against each other in a competition to defeat wild and opponent Pokémon with your own to gather Aeos energy, which must be taken to one of the enemy team’s goal zones on the map.
Before each match, all Pokémon are returned to level 1, and gain Exp. Points during each match, which allow them to unlock more powerful moves, evolve, and, when it reaches higher levels, even learn special Unite Moves. This is quite different from the traditional Pokémon games, but much more akin to MOBA [Multiplayer Online Battle Arena] style games like League of Legends.
The playable Pokémon have different roles—Attacker, Defender, Speedster, Supporter, and All-Rounder—that help determine what it should be doing in any given game if you’re playing as it. Unlike the main series and most spin-off games, type strengths and weaknesses aren’t a thing in Pokémon UNITE, so Greninja won’t be effective against Charizard on its own. Instead, some Pokémon may be better counters to others based on their moves or strategies instead, similar to how things are in Pokkén Tournament.
According to the official website, there are currently 19 playable Pokémon lines, which also generally includes the evolutionary family in its line, with a few exceptions.
The available Pokémon are (click any to open its page on the official website to learn more about them):
- Pikachu (no evolution line)
- Charizard (includes Charmander & Charmeleon)
- Snorlax (no evolution line)
- Crustle (includes Dwebble)
- Greninja (includes Froakie & Frogadier)
- Eldegoss (includes Gossifleur)
- Talonflame (includes Fletchling & Fletchinder)
- Lucario (no evolution line)
- Venusaur (includes Bulbasaur & Ivysaur)
- Mr. Mime (no evolution line)
- Slowbro (includes Slowpoke)
- Machamp (includes Machop & Machoke)
- Wigglytuff (includes Jigglypuff)
- Alolan Ninetales (includes Alolan Vulpix)
- Gengar (includes Gastly & Haunter)
- Garchomp (includes Gible & Gabite)
- Cinderace (includes Scorbunny & Raboot)
In addition to that roster, more Pokémon will be added over time, with one of the screenshots confirming that both the Blastoise line and Gardevoir line will be coming to the game sometime soon.
Free-to-Start, Battle Pass, and Shops
Pokémon UNITE claims to follow the “free-to-start” model, meaning the game is completely free to play, but the reality is that you’ll likely need to put in money into the game to stay competitive or unlock special bonuses, as is the case with a lot of “free-to-start” games.
Three types of in-game currency are used throughout the game: Aeos gems, Aeos coins, and Aeos tickets. Aeos coins and Aeos tickets are both earned through standard gameplay, while Aeos gems must be purchased using real-world money and are the premium in-game currency.
Aeos coins and gems can be used to buy Unite licenses to essentially “unlock” Pokémon to use in Unite Battles, as all will not be available by default. Coins and gems can also be used to buy held items to give Pokémon benefits in battle or “Trainer fashion items” to customize your player character. Trainer fashion items can also be purchased with Aeos tickets.
There will be seasonal Battle Passes that unlock in-game rewards, which can be earned by completing missions or by spending Aeos gems to upgrade their battle pass and earn even more rewards. As with similar Battle Pass systems in other games, these usually change on a regular basis, with the available rewards rotating as well, meaning you’ll want to focus on completing the Battle Pass each season in order to get the exclusive unlockables while they’re available.
Lastly, there are special cosmetic variants that can be unlocked for the different Pokémon called “Holowear.” These can only be purchased using the paid Aeos gems and provide no gameplay effects, but do let your Pokémon look stylish, such as putting a swim trunks and a flower lei on Machamp or goggles on Talonflame.
Here are a bunch of screenshots that were included in the Press Release showcasing various features of the game:
At launch, English, Korean, Japanese, Traditional Chinese, and Simplified Chinese language support will be available, with French, Italian, Spanish, and German support coming later in the year.