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Pokemon Unite has everything it needs to be great, it just needs work

There has been a lot of buzz today about Pokemon Unite. Some people are going to be quick to judge its terrible monetization and some are going to rush in to say its actually pretty good. From my experience playing for the past few hours, both of these are half correct.

If there was one word I could use to describe this game, it would be annoying. The first time you open the game, you are forced into a tutorial stage that is the most tedious tutorial I have ever witnessed. It sets you up in a standard 5v5 match with 9 CPUs all set on easy so you can get a feel for the controls, except every time a new mechanic is brought up for the first time, the game pauses and you are interrupted by dialog telling you what is happening while the game. For every. single. mechanic. By the time this match was over I was practically screaming at my TV to just shut up and let me play the damn game. The menus were no better once the tutorial ended either. There are so many menus and submenus attached to this game that its honestly ridiculous. And all of them are piss slow to navigate through as this is essentially a mobile game that they grafted button controls on top of.

The monetization feels like it is going to be very annoying, but definitely isnt as bad as people make it out to be. There is a battle pass that will cost you roughly $20 (outside of deals or promotions), but it doesnt really feel necessary to enjoy the game and only unlocks cosmetics. There are weekly missions that are available to everyone for free and seem to get you much more worth-while rewards. There is a gacha system, but at least at the moment only seems to net you trainer clothing, which shows up on the title screen and actually nowhere else, making them kinda useless. The game uses three currency systems, which is probably the most annoying part. But again, as much as it is monetized, its all for things that can easily be looked past and will not hinder your enjoyment of the game. New pokemon can be unlocked just through playing the game and earning in-game currency. It will definitely be a slow grind, but the starting roster seems pretty fine and wont feel that limiting for most. I'm also not that far in and have unlocked 2 or 3 more, so take that as you will.

The battles themselves are pretty fun at their best and mildly frustrating at their worst. The battle mechanics feel solid and the method of scoring points against the other teams is a lot of fun. My only complaint is that it feels a little slow. Between most of the playable pokemon being slow as snails already, and there being constant speed traps set around the main pathways you are supposed to take, it feels like it can take ages to get anywhere around the map unless you are using a speedy character. Later into the match, a quick jump is added to the respawn point, but it doesnt even take you further than your first line of checkpoints. As your pokemon levels up, the cooldowns for your special moves start to feel more hindering than balanced.

Speaking of balancing, this game sure needs it. I have had maybe one match so far that didn't end completely one-sided. Not even halfway through the match warnings would flare telling you that your team is super far ahead, or basically already lost. And at that point it is ridiculously hard to turn the game around. I couldn't even pinpoint exactly what needs to be balanced, but it certainly doesnt feel like this was the intention. Of all the pokemon Ive seen, the only ones I would call broken are Crustle and Eldegoss. Crustle is able to body opponents and stun them for a good few seconds while it takes out about half your health, and thats just on its own. Eldegoss is a healer that is able to heal itself and others at the same time, usually at the same rate everyone takes damage. All the reset feel decently balanced and have situations where they would be good or bad, which is how a pokemon game is generally supposed to feel.

So yeah, there is some good, there is some bad. Don't rush to hate it just because of Tencent and microtransactions. Try it for yourself and see if you like it. I give it a 6/10. Would be a 7 if menus were better and trainer customization meant anything


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