Pokémon we want to see added as playable characters in Pokémon UNITE

Between fan-favorites and strange choices, UNITE's future roster can't be easily predicted.

Screengrab via The Pokemon Company

The world of Pokémon spin-off titles is still growing, and this time, it’s taken a different path from exploring dungeons and donning a Ranger outfit. Pokémon UNITE, the series’ first take on a MOBA, brings many of the 898 Pokémon together in a new way—forgoing the traditional trainer battles for five-vs-five team battles centered around scoring goals.

UNITE’s current cast connects Pokémon from across all of the series’ eight main regions to compete in high-stakes Unite Battles. The game, of course, features popular Pokémon like Pikachu, Charizard, and Greninja but also includes more unusual choices like Crustle, Cramorant, and Eldegoss, making the future of UNITE’s growing roster unpredictable.

While it’s clear that not all 898 Pokémon will be available to be played in UNITE, after the inclusion of Gardevoir, Blastoise, and Blissey, what additional Pokémon will join the game is a complete toss-up. The Dot Esports Pokémon team came together to compile a list of Pokémon we’d like to see join UNITE, as well as conceptualize how they’d fit into the game with their unique abilities.

Aegislash

Image via The Pokémon Company

Aegislash, the Royal Sword Pokémon, was first introduced to players in Pokémon X and Y, where this Pokémon’s capability to become both a sword and shield fit in with the thematic of the French-inspired Kalos region. Eight years after its debut, Aegislash and its pre-evolved forms Honedge and Doublade have become some of the most popular Pokémon in the franchise thanks to their unique design and usefulness in battle.

If Aegislash was added to the cast of Pokémon UNITE, it could easily be the first Pokémon on Aeos Island capable of form changes. Aegislash’s ability, Stance Change, allows it to freely switch between its Blade Forme and Shield Forme depending on the type of move it uses, whether that be defensive or offensive. When it changes forms, its stats undergo a massive overhaul to better suit the new form taken, thus taking up the niche of both a Pokémon that can dish out massive damage while also sustaining damage with the press of a move.

Stance Change could be a staple part of Aegislash’s play in UNITE, allowing players to switch between forms depending on their current situation. One of Aegislash’s move slots can be filled with the option of King’s Shield or Wide Guard to always give Aegislash the option of its Shield Forme. The other move slot can give players the option of Sacred Sword or Iron Head, two of the most powerful moves that Aegislash can learn that transform it into its Blade Forme.

While implementing form changes with Aegislash wouldn’t be an easy task with how often action happens in Unite Battles, it’d be a good starting point for more Pokémon with form changes to be introduced to UNITE in the future.

Zoroark

Image via The Pokémon Company

Zoroark was one of the first Pokémon from generation five’s Pokémon Black and White to be revealed—even starring in its own move: Pokémon: Zoroark, Master of Illusions. The Illusion Pokémon and its pre-evolution, Zorua, have maintained their popularity among fans despite their relegation from a more elusive Pokémon to a simple wild Pokémon.

This Pokémon’s Illusion ability allows it to transform into the last Pokémon in the player’s party, making it difficult for players to decipher if that’s Zoroark disguised or another Pokémon entirely. But if Zoroark is damaged, it loses the effects of Illusion. It’s also easy to tell that the disguised Pokémon is Zoroark thanks to the moves it uses.

If incorporated into Pokémon UNITE, Zoroark could use its Illusion ability to become an even trickier Pokémon than Gengar. But Illusion would have to undergo significant changes to function and remain balanced in a game where players only control one Pokémon each. Unlike League of Legends’ Neeko, who can take the appearance of a select ally of the player’s choosing on a cooldown, Zoroark’s Illusion in UNITE would likely select an ally to disguise itself as randomly on a cooldown. This would allow Zoroark to make game-defining plays, though at the cost of its Illusion breaking should it take damage.

Zoroark is known to have a powerful arsenal of moves at its disposal that makes it one of the strongest Dark-type Pokémon to date. Its signature move, Night Daze, could easily be incorporated into one of its attacks alongside an option like Night Slash. For its other move slot, Zoroark could get the option of Hone Claws for an offensive boost or Agility for a dash, allowing this Pokémon to strike even harder.

Scizor

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Right now, the Johto region is sitting at zero representatives in Pokémon UNITE. With Blissey on the horizon, it will finally have one—but no more are known after that. Therefore, a Pokémon like Scizor, one of the region’s most recognizable faces, could easily fit that niche.

Scizor’s popularity has allowed it to appear in spin-off titles like Pokkén Tournament, as well as guest star as a possible Pokéball Pokémon in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Its unique Bug/Steel-typing alongside its high speed and attack stats have also made it a long-standing viable Pokémon in the main series titles. Although its typing does leave it highly susceptible to Fire-type attacks, moves like Bullet Punch and U-Turn allow it to do what it needs to then duck for cover.

If Scizor and its pre-evolution Scyther were added to UNITE, they’d be the game’s second pair of playable Bug-type representatives, right next to Dwebble and Crustle. Their ability would likely be Swarm, which would function similarly to Scorbunny, Raboot, and Cinderace’s Blaze. They could also have the Technician ability instead, which, in the main series, substantially boosts the power of weaker moves. Since move power is rather balanced among all of a Pokémon’s possible moves in UNITE, this ability would have to be tuned to better fit the MOBA setting.

Scizor’s moveset would likely focus on its high all-in potential while equally acknowledging its frailty. One of its move slots can be filled by Iron Head or Metal Claw, two of Scizor’s most prominent Steel-type moves that both function differently and can be chosen based on the circumstance. The other move slot can be filled by a dash, such as a choice between U-Turn and Bullet Punch, which could allow Scizor to get out of sticky situations or head straight into them.

The Pincer Pokémon does have a lot of attributes that are already fulfilled by other Pokémon already in the UNITE roster. But since the Johto region is in desperate need of further representation, Scizor would be a great pick.

Lycanroc (Dusk Form)

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The Alola region introduced another set of good boys into the series in the form of Rockruff and Lycanroc. These Pokémon quickly became popular due to their unique Rock-type classification, the first dog Pokémon to fit that bill. Underneath Rockruff’s cuddly (yet rock-hard) exterior lay the potential for three different form possibilities for its evolution into Lycanroc, each with its own characteristics, movesets, and abilities.

Dusk Form Lycanroc, being first introduced in the Pokémon anime as the evolution of Ash’s Rockruff, is arguably the most popular form of the Wolf Pokémon. This form wasn’t available in the original Pokémon Sun and Moon games. Instead, it was exclusive to a launch distribution for Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Dusk Form Lycanroc combines the aggressive nature of Midnight Form Lycanroc with the speed of Midday Form Lycanroc, making it a force to be reckoned with. 

As one of the Alola region’s most memorable Pokémon, Dusk Form Lycanroc would make for a great inclusion in UNITE to accompany generation seven’s Zeraora and Alolan Ninetales. This Lycanroc is only capable of having the Tough Claws ability, which would transfer over nicely into the MOBA setting. This ability boosts the power of Lycanroc’s moves that make physical contact. So assuming Lycanroc would join UNITE as a physical attacker, it’d provide an ample buff to all of its moves. To ensure that the ability remains balanced, however, there would likely be some specifications associated with Tough Claws that ensure that Lycanroc isn’t dealing too much damage at once—or it may be implemented as is.

Due to Dusk Form Lycanroc being a combination of both its Midnight and Midday forms, it has access to moves that both can learn, as well as moves that only it can learn. For one of its move slots, players could have the choice between Accelerock and Stone Edge, two powerful Rock-type moves that represent each of its forms and their diverse movesets nicely. Should Lycanroc be introduced as an Attacker, its second move slot can be filled by its signature move Crush Claw or by a more streamlined move in Crunch.

Hariyama

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Pokémon UNITE is in desperate need of more Defenders. And who is more capable of taking hits than the Pokémon line inspired by punching bags and sumo wrestlers themselves? Makuhita and Hariyama, two Pokémon introduced in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire and the signature choices of gym leader Brawly, possess one of the highest HP stats among all Fighting-type Pokémon—though they’re not lacking in the offense department, either.

Makuhita can easily be instituted into UNITE’s early game as a smaller version of Snorlax, possessing the capability of disrupting opponents with its punching bag-like body. Then, when evolving into Hariyama, it’d be able to outclass other Defenders. Both Makuhita and Hariyama have access to the Thick Fat ability, which would be the best choice should they enter UNITE in the Defender role. In the main series, Thick Fat reduces the damage of Fire and Ice-type moves that target the user. But since UNITE doesn’t take into account the types of Pokémon or their moves, it could easily be changed into these two Pokémon taking less damage when at high or low HP.

For the first move slot, Makuhita could choose between Arm Thrust or Smelling Salts, both of which would be able to knock back opponents. For its second move slot after evolution, Hariyama could get access to the powerful-yet-situational Belly Drum and Close Combat. Both moves involve Hariyama suffering massive debuffs, though creating situations where Hariyama can easily come out on top of opponents not realizing how much damage the Arm Thrust Pokémon can do—similar to Crustle.