Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is unsurprisingly shutting down very soon

It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise by now that Niantic Labs may or may not push through with games other than Pokemon GO. While that mobile AR title continues to bring in users and profits, other excursions have failed to take root and see the same success. That includes not only its original title, Ingress, but also a game that didn’t even fully launch. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite has apparently lost the fight, as well, and will be going dark in about three months.

To be honest, it’s a bit of a miracle that the game lasted this long, having launched back in mid-2019. The Harry Potter property is gigantic, of course, and a great cash cow for those who can successfully milk it. It wasn’t always the case for many such products, however, especially games that failed to capture and deliver the same magical experience as the books, the films, and some toys.

That, unfortunately, happened to Niantic Labs’ version of the game, perhaps to very few people’s surprise. Wizards Unite was primarily criticized for being a reskinned Pokemon GO, reusing mostly the same mechanics except for the variety in gestures for casting spells. The timing of its launch, just months before the pandemic exploded, didn’t give it as much to evolve and break free from that mold.

Then there was also the problem of narrative. Unlike Pokemon GO, which is based on an open-ended lore, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite revolved around a specific event and stories around that event. One can only stretch that story so long, definitely not beyond two years.

And so Niantic Labs is finally announcing that Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is closing on January 31, 2022, giving players plenty of time to enjoy the final moments of the game and, more importantly, use the remaining in-game currencies they have. The latter is important since they won’t be offering refunds anyway. Niantic will also be removing the game from app stores on December 6, 2021, so make sure you don’t accidentally uninstall the game after that date, or you won’t be able to reinstall it anymore.

The announcement comes on the heels of the launch of Pikmin Bloom, another AR game from Nintendo’s IP. There is also a Transformers game in the works, but the shutdown of Wizards Unite might not inspire much confidence in investing time, emotion, and money on titles that may be gone in a year or two.

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‘Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’ is shutting down on January 31st, 2022

Niantic is ending support for . The studio it will shutter the AR game on January 31st, 2022. Ahead of the sunset, it plans to delist the title from the App Store, Google Play and Galaxy Store on December 6th. That same day, it will also remove all in-app purchases from the experience.

Niantic first launched Wizards Unite back in . And in many ways, it never replicated the . “Not all games are meant to last forever,” the company said of the decision to stop working on the title. “Our goal with Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was to bring the magic of the wizarding world to life for millions of players as they stepped outside and explored their neighborhoods. We accomplished that together, delivering a two-year narrative story arc that will soon complete.”

For Niantic, this is the second game it has decided to shut down in less than two months. In September, it announced it was discontinuing development on  before the game was even widely available outside of a few select markets. Then, as now, Niantic says it will take what it learned from the experience and apply it to future projects.

Presumably that includes , which recently launched in Singapore and Australia, as well as the upcoming . In total, the studio says it’s working on nine games and apps, some of which will soft-launch next year.

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Pokemon Unite Bug Accidentally Wrecks Gengar’s Best Attack

Arriving with Pokémon Unite‘s first major balance patch is a truly unfortunate Gengar bug. The bug prevents Gengar’s move Hex from dealing damage about half of the times it’s used, according to Dot Esports.

Hex still allows Gengar to teleport to its target, but upon arriving, it sometimes deals no damage. Hex also occasionally doesn’t receive its cooldown reduction from attacking a Pokémon with a status condition. The bug was confirmed by the official Pokémon Unite Twitter account, and an in-game message given to all users on login states that the development team is very sorry for the bug and that they’re working on a fix.

The following bugs have been confirmed in the current version of the game.

– Gengar: Hex

We deeply apologize for any inconvenience this may be causing and hope to have all issues fixed soon.

— Pokémon UNITE (@PokemonUnite) August 4, 2021

Gengar’s Sludge Bomb/Hex combo was one of the most powerful solo Pokémon combos at the game’s launch. Sludge Bomb gives the opposing Pokémon a status condition, while Hex chases a Pokémon and deals extra damage if the opposing Pokémon has a status condition. Used together, these two moves could weaken, chase, and defeat an opposing Pokémon in seconds.

Even without Sludge Bomb, Hex was so powerful on launch that the development team nerfed it in patch, decreasing its damage and shortening its window of invulnerability. Unfortunately, the nerf also came with the unintended bug, making Gengar too unstable for any sort of play, be it high-level competitive or regular random matches.

While players have determined what the bug is on their own, Nintendo and TiMi have not confirmed any information other than acknowledging that an issue with Gengar exists and that they “hope to have all issues fixed soon.”

Pokemon Unite is available now on Nintendo Switch and will release on mobile devices in September.

Editors’ Choice

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Pokemon Unite review: Big fun, big concerns

If you thought that Pokemon Unite would be a lackluster attempt at a Pokemon-themed MOBA, you definitely aren’t alone. Pre-release trailers didn’t do the game any favors, but now that it’s here, the people who gave it a chance are finding that it’s actually a lot of fun to play. Not only that, but Pokemon Unite could potentially serve as a good introduction for MOBA newcomers, turning an entirely new generation of people onto a genre that often feels like it’s winding down.

Unfortunately, the realization that Pokemon Unite is actually a fun game comes with some other, less wonderful revelations. While Pokemon Unite offers a good time, it has some clear issues with balance. Those balance issues can be fixed through player feedback and patching, though. What’s particularly concerning about this game is the sheer number of currencies – both paid and free – that it offers, and the fact that those who are willing to pay can get gameplay advantages over those who are not.

MOBA-lite or something greater?

On balance, it’s tricky to write a review of a game like Pokemon Unite. First of all, we have the fact that what I’m reviewing today probably won’t be the game that people are playing in a couple of months thanks to changes in the meta, the introduction of new Pokemon, and even the possibility of new mechanics being added. More concerning to me, though, is the tricky dichotomy between the fact that the game really is a lot of fun and the fact that TiMi Studio Group (the game’s developer and a subsidiary of Tencent) and The Pokemon Company have no issue with putting pay-to-win mechanics in a game that’s not only competitive but also one that children are sure to play.

Gameplay in Pokemon Unite can be best summed up as “MOBA-lite.” As in more complex MOBAs like League of Legends, Dota 2, and Heroes of the Storm, Pokemon Unite pits two teams of five players against one another. Pokemon Unite‘s map has two lanes with four scoring zones – two for each team – along with a fifth scoring zone for each team, located where the two lanes meet in front of each team’s base.

The goal is to defeat wild Pokemon dotted around the map, and the Pokemon on the opposing team, to collect energy, which you then take to one of the opposing team’s goal zones to score. When you die, you’ll be taken out of the game for a set amount of time that gets longer as the game goes on, making late-game deaths much more severe than those early on. You’ll also drop a portion of the energy you were carrying, allowing other players to potentially pick it up and add it to their own score.

As you play through a match and defeat opposing and wild Pokemon, your own character will level up, gaining more health and attack damage along with new and upgraded abilities at certain levels. Each Pokemon has a basic attack, two regular abilities on short cooldown timers, and an ultimate ability on a long cooldown timer. Using these abilities at the right time is often key to winning fights, and dodging skillshots from your opponents can be the difference between winning a fight and losing one.

Pokemon Unite streamlines a lot of the MOBA experience. Matches are only 10 minutes long, and no minion waves are marching down lanes at regular intervals like they do in pretty much every other MOBA under the sun. Goal zones replace towers and, while they give defensive bonuses to their team’s players and are destroyed after the enemy team scores 100 points at them, they don’t fire at enemies like traditional MOBA towers do.

While there are items that give stat boosts, they’re part of an account inventory and are equipped before a match even begins rather than purchased during a match. Instead of having players buy items during a match to upgrade their characters, abilities are upgraded automatically at certain levels, becoming stronger or, in some cases, changing entirely. Players are even given a choice between upgrading into two different skills at certain tiers, which gives each Pokemon some build variety and the ability to switch it up between matches.

I quite like the leveling system Pokemon Unite has to offer. I’m a bit of a casual MOBA player as I’m coming from Heroes of the Storm, so I’m not used to buying items throughout the course of a match anyway. However, Pokemon Unite‘s changing abilities are somewhat reminiscent of Heroes‘ talents, so I feel right at home.

The gameplay in Pokemon Unite is fast-paced and unexpectedly addictive. There’s less focus on macro play, but knowing when to rotate in-between lanes to keep the pressure on the enemy team can certainly help. While it’s tempting to just run down a lane and fight the opposing players as often as possible, defeating wild Pokemon is how you’ll get a level lead in the early game, and a level lead then can help your team snowball to a victory.

Teamfights in Pokemon Unite are often a dazzling display of abilities. Pokemon are split into five different types: Defender, Supporter, Attacker, All-Rounder, and Speedster. Defenders are the tanks of Pokemon Unite; they have a lot of HP to soak damage and often have some type of crowd control that can help damage dealers line up kills. Attackers are pretty self-explanatory, as they’re squishy characters who die quickly when they’re out of position, but they can really pile on the damage with their ranged attacks.

Supporters can heal or buff teammates, hinder opponents, or perform some mix of both. Speedsters are the junglers of Pokemon Unite, and they excel at clearing the wild Pokemon from the middle of the map before rotating into lanes at the right time to help their teammates secure kills. Finally, we have All-Rounders, who are the Pokemon that don’t seem to fit into any other group particularly well. These Pokemon are typically the melee damage dealers, and they tend to have more health than their ranged Attacker counterparts.

While MOBAs typically want you to have a balanced team, you can often get away with playing the role you want in Pokemonm Unite, at least in lower levels. Of course, at higher levels of organized play, you’ll benefit by having a Defender, Supporter, and Speedster on your team, but I’ve won plenty of matches where most of my team was comprised of Attackers, All-Rounders, and a single Supporter or Speedster.

I was completely caught off guard by how fun Pokemon Unite is. I went in expecting very little, but Pokemon Unite managed to impress. I wonder about Pokemon Unite‘s longevity considering its more streamlined matches, but for now, at least, I’m having a ton of fun with this game.

Everybody focus the bird

That said, there is one glaring issue with how Pokemon Unite matches often play out. While most wild Pokemon in the game don’t do anything outside of awarding experience and points when they’re defeated, some wild Pokemon grant major bonuses. These buffs can range from strong to outright game-changing, but there’s one boss Pokemon that I have issues with specifically: Zapdos.

Zapdos spawns in the middle of the map when there are two minutes left in a match. When defeated, Zapdos gives the player who performed the last hit 30 points and everyone else on that player’s team 20 points. Zapdos also gives the team that defeated it an instant score buff that lasts for 30 seconds, meaning the team with that buff can just walk into their opponent’s goal zone and score by pressing the X button. There’s no wind-up necessary, so once they’re in the goal zone, there’s no realistic chance of stopping them from scoring.

This is problematic for a couple of reasons. For starters, in the last two minutes of the game, all scoring is doubled: the team that kills Zapdos can swing the score heavily in their favor in a span of seconds. I don’t have a problem with comeback mechanics, but as the meta becomes more defined in the coming weeks, you’re going to see most games revolve around the last two minutes of play and that Zapdos buff.

I like the idea of upping the stakes in the final minutes of the game and giving the losing team a chance to come back because it’s never fun to be on the losing end of a blowout. The problem is that having Zapdos award 110 points to the team that beat it and leaving all enemy goal zones defenseless during the last two minutes of the game where all goals are doubled is too much. If Zapdos is going to be that game-changing, it really feels like scoring should not double in the last two minutes of a match.

I also really hate the last hit mechanics for wild boss Pokemon. I understand that last hitting is a core mechanic in MOBAs, and I think it works for other wild Pokemon, but for boss Pokemon, the buffs that the game is doling out are too powerful to be determined by last hits.

Personally, I’d far prefer it if boss Pokemon created a capture point that needs to be occupied by only one team for a few seconds before they’re granted the buffs and bonuses. This way, you still encourage fights over the boss Pokemon, and one team still has a chance to steal those boss buffs, but they have to commit to a proper team fight to do it rather than sending in a rogue ranged attacker to land the final hit and run away (or indeed die).

The currency and pay-to-win problem

So the gameplay is fun, but there are some major balance concerns with the structure of matches and the fact that Zapdos is so powerful. That stuff can all be fixed in patches if TiMi Studio decides that matches are too frequently being decided in the last two minutes, so I’m not as concerned about those. However, I am concerned about this game’s free-to-play structure because it’s downright appalling for a game that’s primarily targeted at children.

Depending on how you want to classify currencies, Pokemon Unite has no less than five of them. Only one of these currencies – Gems – can be purchased directly with real money. You’ll use these currencies to buy pretty much everything in the game, from cosmetic items to new Pokemon (you’ll need to purchase a Pokemon’s Unite License before you can use it in matches) to entire outfits for both your trainer avatar and your Pokemon.

There are four other currencies that you’ll get as you play the game: Aeos Coins, Aeos Tickets, Fashion Tickets, and Holowear Tickets. In the beginning, it’s pretty easy to rack up decent stockpiles of each currency, as the current launch promotions tend to send a lot your way. You’ll also get new items and currencies by increasing your trainer level, which happens naturally through playing the game, or by leveling up your Battle Pass, which has both a free and a paid version that can be purchased using Gems.

Once these launch promotions and the trainer level track end, though, it seems that the rate at which you earn currencies will slow to a crawl. The hope is that TiMi Studio will keep the events rolling after we get past all of these launch promotions because otherwise it seems like the flow of currencies is going to slow dramatically for free-to-play players – and that’s especially true when you consider that you’re limited to earning a max of 2,100 Aeos Coins per week from battles, which considerably slows the rate at which you can obtain new Pokemon if you aren’t going to pay for them with Gems.

Then we have the pay-to-win elephant in the room. There has been much debate over whether Pokemon Unite is pay-to-win, and we’re going to settle that now. As far as I’m concerned, this game does have pay-to-win mechanics, and that’s a big shame considering that kids are probably going to flock to this game en masse.

The problem stems from held items and how they’re upgraded. Every held item grants Pokemon stats and special perks. Those stat bonuses increase as you level up those held items, which can only be done using Item Enhancers. The game gives you a decent amount of Item Enhancers by leveling the battle pass, working your way through the trainer level track, and completing event challenges, but not enough to upgrade all of the held items you’ll probably want to upgrade. When you run out of the free Item Enhancers, you can purchase more from the in-game shop using Aeos Tickets.

So far, this is fine because Aeos Tickets are a free-to-play currency that you can’t buy. However, once you run out of Aeos Tickets, the game reveals that you can purchase more Item Enhancers using Gems, the only currency you can buy with money. That means those willing to pay their way can upgrade held items much faster than free-to-play players, giving them a larger advantage in-game.

This is a pay-to-win mechanic, full stop. I’ve seen arguments that claim this isn’t truly pay-to-win because free-to-play players will still be able to max out items, albeit on a longer timeline, but frankly, that’s nonsense. The timeline for a free-to-play player to max out items is quite possibly months-long, but at the very least, it’s far longer than someone willing to pay to upgrade all their items now. I define pay-to-win as a mechanic that gives paying players an advantage over free-to-play players, and that’s precisely what this does.

I’ve also seen arguments that claim the stat boosts from items are not that significant, but in a MOBA like this, a few percentage points can make a huge difference between equally matched players. Let’s look at the Muscle Band, a held item that most Pokemon who do physical damage will want to equip.

The Muscle Band grants Pokemon a flat attack boost and a percentage boost to basic attack speed. At level 0, the flat attack boost is +1, while at max level (which is level 30 and takes a huge number of Item Enhancers to reach), it’s +15. That’s not very big in the grand scheme of things, but the real kicker comes in with the attack speed boost. At level 0, the Muscle Band doesn’t grant an attack speed boost at all, but at max level, it increases basic attack speed by 7.5%.

Anyone who has played a MOBA before will tell you that a permanent 7.5% attack speed boost is a big difference-maker, particularly between even-keeled players. It may not make a huge difference when you’re in a lopsided game, but in the close games where every stat boost and percentage point counts, it could absolutely be the deciding factor in a head-to-head fight. I am incredibly disappointed to see this kind of pay-to-win mechanic in a game like Pokemon Unite, and the fact that Tencent and The Pokemon Company seemingly tried to hide it makes things even worse.

Pokemon Unite Verdict

This is a tough game to judge. I really enjoy playing Pokemon Unite and, were I judging the gameplay alone, it would get a solid 8 or maybe even a 9. It’s a ton of fun to play, and each Pokemon feels unique. So far, I haven’t had a bad time playing, even when I’m losing a match, and there’s a part of me that’s very excited to see what kind of Pokemon get added in the future and how they shake up the meta. I am completely astounded by how much I enjoy playing, frankly, because I was ready to write off Pokemon Unite before release.

However, I can’t in good conscience give Pokemon Unite that high of a rating when it has so many problems outside of the game (and even a few inside it). Furthermore, there is no excuse to put the kind of pay-to-win mechanic I described above in a game that will be marketed to, and played by, children. Attaching such a mechanic to a children’s brand is gross, and Nintendo and The Pokemon Company should be embarrassed that they allowed a franchise as popular as Pokemon to be associated with tactics such as this.

Even if there weren’t a pay-to-win mechanic hidden away in the depths of Pokemon Unite, the fact remains that there are too many currencies in this game. I understand that a free-to-play game needs to have some way to make money, but we honestly should just have one paid currency and one free-to-play currency – Gems and Aeos Coins. There is no reason to have one paid currency and four free-to-play currencies unless the goal is to confuse players to the point where it’s easier just to bust out a credit card and buy what you want directly (which I suspect it is).

It really is a shame that Pokemon Unite has been monetized to hell and back because it’s so much fun otherwise. I really hope that The Pokemon Company reconsiders what kind of game it has its name attached to here and prompts some kind of change – I’m guessing that TiMi Studio isn’t going to do it on its own. Until that happens, though, I can only give a tepid recommendation to adults who understand what they’re getting themselves into.

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Pokémon Unite: Cross-Play and Cross-Progression Explained

Pokémon Unite recently launched on Nintendo Switch, and it has already become one of the most popular games of 2021. A mobile launch is also planned for both iOS and Android in September, although we still don’t have a solid release date.

When it does eventually arrive on mobile, however, you won’t have to worry about the community becoming fragmented — here’s what we know about cross-play and cross-progression in Pokémon Unite.

Further reading

Does Pokémon Unite support cross-play?

Pokémon Unite will support cross-play when the mobile versions launch in September. In fact, The Pokémon Company is selling cross-play and cross-platform support as one of Pokémon Unite‘s main features.

“The mobile version is scheduled to be available for download starting in September,” the team announced. “Cross-platform play between Nintendo Switch and mobile devices is planned, which will allow players to battle together and against one another.”

Does Pokémon Unite support cross-progression?

In short — yes. If you log into the game using either your Nintendo Account or Pokémon Trainer Club account, you’ll be able to play with your same account on any platform. The Pokémon Company says it hopes this feature makes it easy to “enjoy playing at home on your TV screen using the Nintendo Switch version, as well as easily play on the go using the mobile version.”

We’ll have to wait until the iOS and Android launch to see how well it works, but it sounds like the developer is keen to ensure a smooth gameplay experience regardless of where you choose to play the MOBA. Being able to take Pokémon Unite on the road with you and then picking up the same account later that night on the big screen is a huge perk — and one missing from most other games in the genre.

Does Pokémon Unite on mobile include controller support?

Since you’ll be able to jump into lobbies with iOS, Android, and Switch players, one of the biggest questions about Pokémon Unite‘s cross-play capabilities revolves around controller support. If iOS and Android don’t let you connect a Bluetooth controller, some fans think they’ll be at a disadvantage compared to their console counterparts.

As it stands, Pokémon Unite still hasn’t confirmed controller support on mobile. Controller support wasn’t available during the Canadian beta earlier this year — but that doesn’t mean it won’t be added in the future. Seeing as the game already has a controller layout mapped for Switch, it’s not too big of a stretch to imagine it coming to iOS and Android. With Pokémon Unite requiring precise movements and plenty of button mashing, it would make sense to see the feature brought over to mobile platforms.

For now, we’ll just have to cross our fingers and hope the feature is added before the MOBA arrives on smartphones.

Editors’ Choice

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Pokemon Unite Could Really Use These 5 Features

Two weeks after its release, Pokémon Unite is still going strong. Nintendo and TiMi’s new Pokémon-themed multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) debuted two weeks ago on the Switch, and it’s already received its first balance patch. (Charizard got a buff, thank goodness.)

Though it’s a fun game at its core and the gameplay is solid, this Pokémon adventure is marred with a lot of junk and missing some important features. As a free-to-start game, Unite is extremely likely to continue receiving new content and gameplay updates in the future, particularly with a mobile launch on the way in September. With that in mind, here are five things that we really want to see in future updates.

Expanded in-game information

One of Unite‘s most baffling omissions is the lack of information presented on the screen during a match. While the game was undoubtedly designed to be played on smaller screens and the developers likely didn’t want to crowd the player’s view with too much information, they erred on the side of too little.

Besides the remaining match time, players should be able to see what the current score is for both teams. The fact that this information is hidden until the match is over and only limited score information is given to players during the match (for example, you might get a pop-up speech bubble that says “We have a huge lead!”) is frankly ridiculous. My guess is that Nintendo and TiMi were hoping to discourage players from dropping out early if their team started to fall behind in numbers, but all hiding the score does is make matches an exercise in guesswork.

In the same vein, I hope the developers add a way for players to see basic move descriptions in matches. To figure out what each move does, players have to navigate to the Pokémon menu outside of battle and pick a particular creature to see its move choices. The existing descriptions are far too long to be included in battle, but condensing them down into one or two sentences would allow players to quickly gauge which move would be better based on their current match situation. As it stands now, players have to memorize what each move does to ensure that they make the best choices in battle. While this will come naturally with time and practice, the likely addition of new Pokémon and moves in the future means that it will always be useful to have a little more information mid-battle.

More Pokémon

This one is pretty obvious: Give us more Pokémon! The existing roster does a great job of featuring some of the greats from Pokémon history, from oldies-but-goodies like Pikachu and Charizard to newer friends like Eldegoss. Last week, the development team released Gardevoir, a new ranged attacker, so we know that the roster is far from complete. Everyone has their favorite ‘mons that they want to see, but we certainly won’t get every single one of the 800+ Pokémon in existence. How, then, do you choose who makes the cut?

Alolan Nintetails in the Pokemon select screen.

I would love to see more support/healing Pokémon outside of Eldegoss, Mr. Mime, and Wigglytuff. The support role is often the role with the most varied abilities in MOBAs, as there is a myriad of different ways you can support, heal, and buff your teammates. Making attackers and all-rounders have less in the way of self-heal and shielding abilities and giving enemy debuffing abilities to supporters would give the role a little more depth. I could see Milotic or Chansey functioning well as supports (though Milotic’s strange movement style means that it’s unlikely we’ll see it in the game).

Outside of playable characters, more and varied legendary Pokémon would be great additions. Nintendo and TiMi are likely saving these Pokémon for events, which makes me genuinely excited to see whether Articuno pops up during winter in the northern hemisphere, and so on.

Additional communication options

We knew what we were getting into with this one. Nintendo’s communication options for both text and voice are famously obtuse and geared towards kids, making it difficult for anyone who wants to play in a competitive manner to communicate with their teammates. The game does allow for voice chat, but only within matches, not in menus, making it hard to decide who’s going to play what Pokémon and argue with your teammate when they keep auto-locking Gengar.

The text chat system is woefully inadequate, allowing for a handful of greetings and phrases designed to tell the team your rotation or scoring plans. (Also, why does “cancel” equate to “retreat”? I just want to get out of the menu!) While the game isn’t that deep, there’s enough strategy involved that being able to use a more robust text chat system or voice chat across menus would be extremely helpful.

The game's very minimal ping wheel.

The friend system is also fairly archaic. Players can add friends by sharing their Trainer ID, a unique string of letters and numbers, with others. It’s another twist on the friend code system that Nintendo has been using since the DS, and it’s extremely outdated. If you run into a friend in real life and you want to add each other, but you don’t have your Switch with you, it becomes all the more complicated to remember or even find their friend code.

Like the limited text and voice chat system, this is a hallmark of Nintendo’s dedication to kids’ safety first and foremost. It’s nice to know that the company is looking out for its littlest fans, but they need to remember to appease adult fans who want the fleshed-out communication systems present on Xbox, PlayStation, and PC.

More wearables and cosmetics

Like some of the more recent main series Pokémon games, Unite allows players to purchase outfits and other cosmetics to dress up their Trainer avatar – just with the help of real money this time around instead of only in-game currency. When I first started playing the game at launch, I’ll admit that I was a little excited to see the clothes I could buy. I was disappointed to see that there wasn’t much at all.

The game's very cute Snorlax jacket.

Certain items are available through the battle pass, but the clothes section of the in-game shop is more than a little empty at the moment. Hopefully, this is something that will come with time — the developers almost certainly have plans to release additional clothes as the game moves away from its Switch launch and into more seasons of battle passes. Only time will tell if they release anything as cute as the Snorlax outfit.

More depth

This is probably the longest shot of anything on this list. Unite was designed to be easy to pick up and play. If you’re looking for serious depth and strategy in your MOBA, you’re better off playing something like DOTA 2 or League of Legends. However, that’s not to say that I don’t think the game could be a little deeper. As it stands right now, the game lacks some of the battle mechanics from both mainline Pokémon titles and other MOBAs.

My team jumps into a team fight with one second left on the clock.

Once players have had a few weeks to get the basic game down, it would be great to see a future update introduce type advantage mechanics, new categories of Pokémon, or new moves for existing Pokémon. Imagine if Charizard players got a small stacking damage bonus for attacking Alolan Ninetails, an ice-type, with fire-based abilities. Perhaps it wouldn’t work exactly like that, but something similar that uses some of the tips and tricks Pokémon players already know would be great for fleshing things out a little bit.

There’s a lot on this list that will likely come true — event legendary Pokémon, new outfits and cosmetics, and new playable Pokémon — but in truth, I’m more excited about some of the pie-in-the-sky items, like better communication options and type advantage mechanics. The developers won’t be able to add everything that players want, but Nintendo does listen to its fans, so hopefully, some of our biggest concerns will be addressed over the next few months of the game’s life. Unite is likely to experience a pretty big user boost when it releases on mobile in September, and perhaps the expanded player base will encourage Nintendo and TiMi to try something a little more out of the box. (Like making a Pokémon Ranger sequel. Anyone? Just me? Okay.)

Pokemon Unite is available now on Nintendo Switch and releases on mobile devices in September.

Editors’ Choice

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Pokemon Unite balance patch incoming this week: All the big changes

Pokemon Unite has been out for a little while, and now that the meta has become more defined, it looks like it’s time for the game’s first balance patch. Tencent and The Pokemon Company have actually published the patch notes for this update well ahead of its arrival – while the update won’t be landing until tomorrow, we’ve got a list of all the changes right now.

As you might imagine, there are some Pokemon that are getting changed with this update. In addition to nondescript bug fixes and text fixes, there are 11 Pokemon that are being tweaked in one way or another, with a further three that are receiving bug fixes. The update will also add a proper spectator mode, which will make it a lot easier to live stream matches and perhaps pave the way for organized tournaments.

While today’s patch notes aren’t quite as detailed as we’d like them to be, they still give us a good enough idea of how Pokemon are changing. Many of Charizards skills – Flamethrower, Fire Punch, and Fire Blast – have had their effects on opposing Pokemon strengthened, while Flamethrower and Fire Blast have had their cooldowns reduced. On the other hand, Talonflame’s Acrobatics, Aerial Ace, Aerial Ace+, and Fly moves have all had their damage against opposing Pokemon increased.

Venusaur’s Sludge Bomb, Petal Dance, Solar Beam, and Unite Move have all received buffs as well, so you Bulbasaur fans might actually have a viable Pokemon to take into matches. Absol’s Night Slash and Sucker Punch are getting increased damage, while there have been some bug fixes centered around its basic attack. In addition, not only have Wigglytuff’s Double Slap and Sing been buffed, but we’ll also see the Pokemon itself get stat boosts to Defense, Special Defense, and HP.

Now we come to the nerfs – or at least the Pokemon who are being nerfed in some way. Eldegoss’s Cotton Guard and Unite Move have been nerfed (they’ll heal for less now), while Cotton Spore has been buffed to make it a more attractive pick. Likewise, Cinderace’s basic attack damage and Blaze Kick have been nerfed, while Feint has been downgraded in a way that’s not clear. By contrast, Pyro Ball will see a damage increase, so perhaps start considering that move when playing as Cinderace.

Then we come to Zeraora and Gengar, two Pokemon who have dominated the game since it came out. Gengar’s basic attack will receive some bug fixes, while Shadow Ball will do more damage and Dream Eater will be upgraded, again in unclear ways. Hex is being downgraded as well, so perhaps pick that less often. Zeraora’s Wild Charge has seen some buffs, such as a damage increase and cooldown reduction, while its Unite Move will do less damage to opposing Pokemon.

Cramorant’s Whirlpool has been nerfed to do less damage, but following this patch, Dive will actually do more damage, perhaps making it a more suitable alternative to Surf. Machamp’s Cross Chop has been nerfed while Close Combat has received a damage buff, so prepare to see some punches from opposing Machamps in the future. Finally, Lucario, Geninja, and Alolan Ninetales will all be getting some bug fixes for their attacks and moves. You can read the full patch notes over on the Pokemon Unite website, but otherwise, look for this patch to drop on August 4th at 12 AM PDT.

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‘Pokémon Unite’ update levels the playing field ahead of mobile release

Pokémon Unite is getting an update just over a month after it landed on the Switch. The free-to-play battle arena game pits two teams of five players against each other in ten-minute brawls. Ahead of its arrival on mobiles in September, the Unite update is aimed at adjusting the balance of battles. 

As a result, over a dozen Pokémon are getting tweaks to their stats that reduce things like attack damage and HP restoration and fix bugs. They include Charizard, Talonflame, Venusaur, Absol, Wigglytuff, Eldegoss, Cinderace, Gengar, Zeraora, Cramorant, Machamp, Lucario, Greninja and Alolan Ninetails.

The update lands August 4th at 3AM ET. You can also expect a special spectate feature test release as well as text fixes. Check out the full patch notes via the link above. Of course, players also have the mobile release to look forward to next month, with plans for cross-platform play between the Switch and smartphones. Those who log in to a Nintendo Account or Pokémon Trainer Club account will also be able to cross save their game data and progress on any device.

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Pokémon Unite: All Maps and Battle Arenas

While Pokémon Unite‘s beta showed off multiple maps, only a few are playable at launch — and most are locked behind different game types and level requirements. Each one brings something new to the table, offering a unique twist on the typical MOBA formula.

Whether you’re fighting Drednaw on Remoat Island or playing a quick match in Auroma Park, coming out victorious means you’ll need to know the battlefield like the back of your hand. Here’s a look at every map we’ve seen in Pokémon Unite.

Further reading

Pokémon Unite map overview

Before taking a look at specific maps, it’s important to understand the standard features you’ll see regardless of where your match is taking place. Learning these basics is the key to victory in Pokémon Unite — even if you aren’t sure how a specific map works, anyone with knowledge of these areas can still contribute to the success of their team.

  • Base: This is where you’ll start each match and where you’ll be sent to respawn if you get knocked out. Your Base is located on one side of the map, with your opponent’s at the other.
  • Goal Zones: Bring your Aeos energy to these locations to score points.
  • Wild Pokémon: Located at various points on the map, Wild Pokémon grant you XP to level up and Aeos points that can be brought to Goal Zones.
  • Berries: These on-field items are automatically used when picked up, granting a variety of effects — such as health or movement speed boosts.
  • Tall Grass: Players can hide in tall grass to become invisible to enemy players. Use this to your advantage to ambush groups, but make sure the same doesn’t happen to you!

Remoat Island

Among the largest maps in Pokémon Unite, Remoat Island gives you plenty of room to spread out and find a spot all your own. All the action will eventually converge at the center, where you’ll find the Legendary Pit — which spawns Zapdos when two minutes remain in the match.

If you’d rather not mess with Zapdos, you can always head down to the southern portion of the map and battle Drednaw on the Beach. This is currently the standard map you’ll play in Ranked, so take your time to become familiar with its sprawling lanes, available berries, and various chokepoints.

  • Match size: 5v5
  • Match type: Ranked, Standard
  • Goal zones: Five per team
  • Beach area: Located at the southern tip of the map, the Beach Area is where you’ll find Drednaw — a powerful Pokémon that grants loads of Exp. Points and grants shields to your entire team when defeated.
  • Legendary Wild Pokémon: When two minutes are left on the timer, Zapdos will spawn in the center of the map. If your team manages to bring him down, you’ll gain 20 points, and enemy Goal Zones will be up for grabs.

Auroma Park

Auroma Park overview in Pokemon Unite.

Currently restricted to quick matches, Auroma Park is a smaller map built for short battles. You’ll find two Goal Zones — neither of which are assigned to a team — and you’re free to use either one to score points. You’ll also find some conveyor belts scattered across the map to speed up your travels. Understanding how to use these properly is the key to winning a round.

  • Match size: 3v3
  • Match type: Quick Match
  • Goal zones: Two total
  • Conveyor belts: Jump on these to quickly move across the map. You can also try pushing your opponents onto them to mess up their strategy.

Shivre City

Shivre City overview in Pokemon Unite.

It’s a tiny playing field, but it’ll be jam-packed with action during your 4v4 matches. This quick match map features one goal zone on either side, a few lanes with Wild Pokémon, and not much else. The biggest twist is that knocking out enemy Pokémon will actually increase your goal-scoring speed — turning Shivre City into a map where it’s often wise to ignore Wild Pokémon and go directly to your enemies.

According to the developer, this map will have you constantly “battling the enemy for control of the map and to score points.” With nowhere to escape, it’s hard to avoid the four enemy Pokémon wandering the cold streets of Shivre City.

  • Match size: 4v4
  • Match type: Quick Match
  • Goal zones: One per team
  • Wild Pokémon: Defeat Avalugg at the center of the map to create a barrier around your team’s Goal Zone.

Mer Stadium

Mer Stadium Pokemon Unite.

Mer Stadium is practically the same as Remoat Island, except it’s built for 4v4 matches. It’s a fairly low-frills battlefield, without many twists and turns to worry about. Just plug straight ahead through your lane, and coordinate with your team to rack up the points.

  • Match size: 4v4
  • Match type: Quick Match
  • Goal zones: Three per team
  • Legendary Wild Pokémon: No surprise here, but Zapdos is the Legendary Pokémon you’ll be facing off against. Defend them to earn bonus points and lower the defenses of your opponent’s Goal Zones.

Editors’ Choice

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Pokémon Unite Pay-to-Win Exploit Will Kill the Game

I would hazard a guess that most of us have utilized an exploit or two in our gaming careers. Perhaps you’ve cheesed a Dark Souls boss fight or taken advantage of an infinite money glitch in your favorite RPG. It is okay to admit that — sometimes they can make a game more fun. However, exploits or cheats in single-player games do not hold the same weight compared to ones in multiplayer games. Usually, players gain an unfair advantage over another person, which can completely hinder their enjoyment of the game. But what do we do when an exploit is working exactly as intended?

Last week, Pokémon Unite, a MOBA game set in the Pokémon world, went live for Nintendo Switch players. The game is free-to-play with an option to use real-world money for cosmetics and item upgrades. The latter part is the important part here. In the game, players can equip up to three items onto their Pokémon that can grant bonuses such as extra health or cooldown reduction. Players can use the Item Enhancer currency to boost these items to increase their stats.

The unfortunate wrinkle in this is that Item Enhancers can be purchased with real money.

These items, even fully upgraded, do not make a player automatically win. It’s not like unlocking the Pokémon equivalent of Exodia with a Shell Bell and Wise Glasses. However, these fully upgraded items can give players a huge advantage over their opponents.

Take the Shell Bell as an example. At a base level, the item grants a Pokémon 1.6 special attack, 0% cooldown reduction, and a small heal every time they hit an enemy with an ability. Now, let’s crank that all the way to the max level of 30. Now it’ll give players 24 extra special attack, a 4.5% cooldown, and up to 75 health per special attack. Those might still sound small for many people, but as someone who has been playing MOBAs for ten years, I can assure you that this is a huge buff. Many MOBA characters live or die on their abilities and their cooldowns. This item can rocket Pokémon to higher levels of play.

A couple of days ago, Twitch streamer MoistCr1TiKaL decided to test out the extent of a fully upgraded item set in Pokémon Unite. By spending over $100 in real money, he had three fully upgraded items and practically destroyed his opponents. In one ranked match while playing Gengar, he managed to get 49 kills against the other player without ever dying or even returning to base to heal. While the conversation about the pay-to-win aspect of Pokémon Unite has been going on since its launch, MoistCr1TiKaL’s stream really brought this discussion out in the open.

Twitch streamer MoistCr1TiKaL upgrading items in Pokémon Unite

Can Unite survive like this? This is not the wavedashing-like “exploit” found in the Super Smash Bros. Melee, or even like Pokémon cloning tricks that are rampant in the series. MoistCr1TiKaL and anyone who has a credit card are technically not exploiting the game; it is working as intended. It gives those that spend real money for item upgrades a considerable advantage, and this can destroy a game’s community. What incentive do new players have to keep playing when they won’t even make a dent in the matches compared to the pay-to-win players? Eventually, they can upgrade all of their items without spending real money, but at an incredibly slow pace. Should they endure and inch closer to the mountain top while the ones already there are just pelting them with rocks?

This is somewhat new territory for Nintendo, as this might be the first game under its wheelhouse with such a blatant pay-to-win model. Much like with everything Nintendo does, it feels like it is a couple of years behind the current curve. Most games nowadays allow microtransactions for solely cosmetic purposes. Pokémon Unite’s currency model feels like a game out of 2016, and not in a good way.

If this isn’t addressed soon, we might see the death of a blossoming community. Pokémon Unite has the bones of a solid MOBA that is easily approachable to new and interested players. However, when a game allows pay-to-win systems to exist, it gives the people who are willing to spend money an exploit-level advantage against those who don’t.

The future of this game will not be determined by what Pokémon or what new game modes are added, it will be determined by how Nintendo handles this situation.

Editors’ Choice

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