Fans have spent decades asking Nintendo to make a Pokémon MMO, and it looks like the company misheard them: instead it’s unveiled a Pokémon MOBA, in Pokémon Unite.
Unveiled during the latest Pokémon Presents stream, Unite is a 5v5 online multiplayer game, made in partnership with Chinese giant Tencent Games, that falls squarely into the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) genre, still dominated by the likes of League of Legends and Dota 2.
Players will form up into two teams of five, each picking a Pokémon to play as, from a launch lineup that includes fan-favourites like Pikachu, Snorlax, Lucario, and more. Players have to catch wild Pokémon in the arena and deliver them to one of five scoring areas on the opposing team’s side of the arena to score points.
Defeating opposing players and wild Pokémon will help your Pokémon level up, unlocking new moves and even evolutions. You’ll get some choice in the moves you pick as you evolve, letting you tailor your playstyle, and at high levels will also unlock new Unite moves – big super attacks that could turn the tide of the fight.
Other wrinkles include a doubling of points in the final two minutes of the game, the ability to destroy scoring areas to prevent the opposing team from healing at them, and of course knocked out Pokémon will return to the fight after a short while.
There’s no launch date for Pokémon Unite yet, but the game will arrive on Switch, Android, and iOS – with cross-play support – and you should probably expect it some time this year. It’ll be free-to-start, so expect to have to pay for new Pokémon, though Nintendo hasn’t yet confirmed specific details of the business model for the game.
Unite follows the announcement of a new Pokémon Snap game for the Nintendo Switch, along with the release of Isle of Armor, the first DLC for last year’s Pokémon Sword and Shield.