Things Pokémon UNITE needs to improve to keep players coming back

It's no secret that Pokémon UNITE has its issues, but with some changes the game could entice players to stick with it.

Screengrab via The Pokemon Company

The Pokémon Company recently launched their free-to-play entry in the MOBA genre, Pokémon UNITE. With a cast of familiar characters for fans of the franchise and a new genre that many Pokémon fans haven’t experienced before, there’s a lot to like about UNITE–but it’s far from perfect.

At the time of writing, there are 20 Pokémon to use and plenty of cosmetic upgrades to acquire. For UNITE to excel, it will need to keep players returning to the game consistently. Right now, TPC and the developers at TiMi Studio have a lot of changes, both drastic and minor, that could help achieve that. 

With how popular the game has already become and a mobile version to come in September, there is plenty of time to try some small changes and get UNITE into top shape. The devs have even put out a survey for players to give early feedback, which could lead to some of these concerns being taken care of in the coming weeks and months. 

But until TiMi updates the game, here are some of the biggest issues with the current version of UNITE that could deter players from picking the game back up in the future. 

In-Game Currency

Screengrab via The Pokemon Company

Pay-To-Win

TiMi need to address the Held Items upgrading system.

As it stands, players who invest real currency into the game to upgrade their items to the max level have an undeniable advantage.

The idea of spending actual money to upgrade in-game items isn’t new and doesn’t even need to be removed entirely. The reason it has caused such an uproar here is that it would take a player who chooses not to invest that capital ages to reach the same item levels. This has already caused issues in matches, especially in ranked, where players at the highest skill level need to have max-level items to compete.

Instead of removing the upgrades entirely, this issue could be resolved by increasing the player’s ability to gather the necessary Item Enhancers by simply playing the game.

Remove the Aeos Coin limit

Another in-game currency problem plaguing the game is the fact that there is a limit on how many Aeos Coins players can earn from competing each week. This currency is used to unlock some of the most important in-game items and can be earned through completing missions, challenges, and just playing games.

Not only is having a limit on this unnecessary, but there is nearly no incentive to purchase the game’s Aeos Coin Booster Cards. Players are still capped, despite having spent in-game currency to receive the boost.

Gameplay

Image via Nintendo

Nerf Zapdos

Zapdos’ effect is too powerful within UNITE, and can completely swing a game in a team’s favor even when significantly behind.

This seems to be a fairly common gripe within the community right now. Many players have shared their experience of taking a loss to a team able to secure Zapdos, despite dominating a game leading up to it.

When defeated, the legendary electric-type Pokémon provides the team with 110 Aeos Energy, leaves the opposing team’s goal defenseless, and zaps and stuns every opponent. Given the numerous advantages taking this buff grants, it wouldn’t hurt the game by having it drop less Aeos Energy and would force players to perform well throughout the game instead of relying on Zapdos.

Pokémon Balancing Changes

There are plenty of balancing changes that need to, and likely will take place. Here are some of the most obvious.

Nerfs

  • Zeraora: Arguably the most broken Pokémon in the game right now, Zeraora needs a nerf. Right now, its early game is too powerful and the ability to snowball quickly gets out of control if it can capitalize on that advantage.
  • Gengar: While it may start slow, Gengar is too powerful towards the later stages of the game. It may be connected to the many resets at its disposal, so toning them down might be enough to bring some balance. 
  • Speedsters: While the two previously mentioned Pokémon are the worst offenders, all the Speedsters within UNITE need slight nerfs. With their mobility and burst damage, it’s quite a task to compete against them playing other roles right now.

Buffs

  • Venusaur: Venusaur is desperately in need of a buff. Aside from the high range damage of Solar Beam, there isn’t much use to the Pokémon’s kit and it truly does struggle against the rest of the roster.
  • Slowbro / Crustle: Both these two defenders could use a boost to bring them on par with Snorlax and make defenders a more viable option. There isn’t anything that makes them unusable, but both can fall behind other Pokémon quickly.
  • Charizard: While a popular choice, Charizard isn’t quite as powerful as many of the other All-Rounders within the game, let alone the speedsters it is quite often matched against. Just some slight changes to make it easier to build up Charmander early could do a lot for the Fire/Flying-type. 

Game Mechanics

Image via The Pokémon Company

Role Selection

Since everyone is still experimenting and learning how to play the game, having role selection isn’t a priority. But when it comes to ranked play, this is something integral.

Despite the balancing issues causing players to solely select the strongest Pokémon, having the right roles on your team can make a big difference. If ranked introduces a role selection system, properly constructed team compositions will likely increase the overall strategy and synergy during ranked play.

Banning Phase

Once the game’s roster expands, the inclusion of bans will make for a much more enjoyable ranked experience, stopping players from instantly locking the most broken species over and over.

With just 20 Pokémon available for the time being, this feature isn’t necessary right now. Most players lack the amount necessary for ranked, even without taking into consideration potential bans.

Revised Pinging System

One of the biggest features that UNITE lacks is a robust in-game pinging system that would allow players to point out enemies or specific locations on the map during a game. This is especially important given the power that taking an objective like Zapdos has on influencing a game.

While there is a pinging system, it needs a rework or an option for players to freely ping around the map at will. With its addition, this would also increase the strategy and communication within ranked.

Open Communication with the players

Screengrab via The Pokemon Company

The biggest thing that will influence Pokémon UNITE’s longevity is going to be how dedicated the team is to listening to its players and optimizing the game to provide them the best experience.

If open communication is upheld and there are consistent updates to the game, there is no reason why the many issues on this list cannot be resolved. With Pokémon fans still anticipating the next installment in the franchise, UNITE could be the perfect substitute to tide them over and keep them coming back for more.