Free-to-play MOBA Pokemon Unite will launch on Nintendo Switch next week on Wednesday, July 21.
Nintendo released a new trailer confirming the Switch release date earlier today after outlining a July Switch launch last month. The 5v5 arena battler was first revealed just over a year ago, and it's currently scheduled to come to mobile devices sometime in September. Pokemon Unite will support cross-play between Switch and mobile once both versions are available.
Pokemon Unite is an honest-to-god, full-fat Pokemon MOBA which still feels like a project ripped from another timeline somehow wilder than ours. Teams of five square off in a symmetrical arena split into lanes, and compete to score points by defeating wild Pokemon and then depositing energy in enemy goals dotted along the lanes. The more Pokemon you defeat, the stronger your Pokemon gets, unlocking new skills and even evolving throughout the course of a match. At higher levels, you'll unlock pinnacle ultimate abilities called Unite Moves, which aren't seen in other Pokemon games.
Pokemon Unite seems to have put some small spins on the usual formula of defeating minor enemies and taking towers, but it preserves the general flow of MOBAs. Combined with the characters and cuteness of Pokemon, that in and of itself is still kind of bonkers to look at.
This being a MOBA, there's also a pretty big focus on team fights. The map's lanes naturally create choke points, so expect to spend a good chunk of each match squaring off with the enemy team. Again, there's just something bewildering about seeing the likes of Gengar stare down Venusaur as they fight over top lane in ranked while friggin' Pikachu sneaks in for a gank.
Pokemon Unite is the result of a partnership between Nintendo and Tencent developer Timi, best known for Call of Duty: Mobile. In its reveal, The Pokemon Company CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara described it as a game "that anyone can pick up and enjoy immediately."
If you log into Pokemon Unite by August 31, you'll unlock Zeraora as a free playable character – one of 20 revealed so far, which are split between attackers, speedsters, all-rounders, defenders, and supporters.
Pokemon Unite will be free to play and supported through in-game purchases, with coins and tickets earned for free and gems purchased for real money. You can use gems to upgrade the battle pass for additional rewards, for example.
Speaking of new and ambitious Pokemon games: the Pokemon Legends: Arceus release date has been set for January 2022.