Although the Pokemon franchise has very passionate and hardcore fans, especially in Pokemon GO, the games themselves are rarely considered to be “hardcore”, at least not in the sense of action. Designed for younger audiences from the start, Pokemon’s actual turn-based battle system, unlike those in the animated shows, offers more time for thought and planning and not exactly the adrenaline-generating competition that some games have these days. The next Pokemon spin-off, however, will be turning that notion on its head and fans in Canada will be some of the first to experience whatever novelty Pokemon Unite has to offer.
Announced back in June last year, Pokemon Unite takes a page out of MOBA games, short for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, like League of Legends rather than the usual mechanics of Pokemon games. It pits two games of five players each in what is presumably a real-time skirmish to beat the other team’s Pokemon. There are still many details unknown about the game’s mechanics but the brief description still mentions the usual systems of catching wild Pokemon and leveling them up.
Although almost a year since the announcement, it is only now that it will be getting a public beta testing phase. Even then, it will be open only to players in Canada 16 years and older starting March. Although the game will eventually be launched on the Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android, the beta only applies to Android for now.
The Pokemon Company lists some requirements for participating in this beta, including the implied consent that progress will be reset after the testing period. Curiously, participants are also told not to capture or stream gameplay during the beta testing period, though they are probably not legally bound by an NDA anyway. We’ll have to see whether gameplay videos will go up next month.
Pokemon Unite’s launch could be timed for the franchise’s 25th anniversary. As our own Eric Abent explained, it is perhaps time for the games to mature, and MOBAs definitely qualify in that regard. Given the controversy the announcement kicked up, however, Pokemon Unite might not be that evolution that many fans actually want.