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Pokémon Unite beginner’s guide

How to be the very best at this MOBA

A few monsters stand ready in Pokémon Unite Image: The Pokémon Company/Tencent Games

Pokémon Unite, which is out now on the Nintendo Switch with a mobile version coming soon, brings the world of pocket monsters to the multiplayer online battle area (MOBA) genre. Unlike other games in the Pokémon franchise, this title doesn’t rely on the strict Pokémon strength and weakness charts of every other game in its universe. Instead, Pokémon Unite follows the format of other MOBAs where timing, spacing, and second-to-second teamwork are key.

Polygon’s Pokémon Unite beginner’s guide will teach you everything you need to know to get started with this Pokémon-themed MOBA. We’ll explain why the tutorials and options menu is worth exploring, how to choose which Pokémon to unlock first, what’s the difference between classes, and why playing in the right lane is essential.

Table of contents

Don’t skip the tutorials

Resist the urge to dive into Pokémon Unite right away. Both seasoned MOBA players and beginners should take the time to check out the game’s six tutorials. The game lets you enter live matches after completing the first few, but it’s worth going through all of the lessons first.

The tutorials screen in Pokémon Unite
The tutorials will teach you basics and award you for completing them
Image: The Pokémon Company/Tencent Games

The tutorials go through very basic and advanced mechanics that you wouldn’t know about if you didn’t go through these short training exercises.

The first three tutorials teach you how to attack and score, but it’s the latter three that are the most interesting. This trio of tutorials teaches that attacking different wild Pokémon can change the dynamics of a match. For instance, some wild creatures can give you buffs, while others can help you score much faster. These tutorials teach you which wild Pokémon to look out for. Without their help, you might ignore their assistance completely.

Don’t skip the settings menu either

The settings menu isn’t the most exciting place to visit in a game, but considering the fast-paced nature of Pokémon Unite, there are some options in there worth exploring.

The settings menu in Pokémon Unite
These settings can change how you play
Image: The Pokémon Company/Tencent Games

One of the first settings to look at is Attack Controls. Switching to Advanced Control allows you to press two different buttons to attack different opposing Pokémon. Turning on this setting is important because the game defaults to an automatic basic attack mode. There will be times when you accidentally target a wild Pokémon when you are trying to hit an enemy player or vice versa. Switching to Advanced Controls helps you stay in control of where your basic attacks go.

Lock-On Icon information screen in Pokémon Unite
This helps you choose who you are hitting
Image: The Pokémon Company/Tencent Games

Lock-On Icon is another setting you may want to turn on. Enabling this setting allows you to prioritize specific Pokémon to attack. This is important in big team fights where you want to focus on taking out support Pokémon or strong, but low-health attackers — especially if a big defender Pokémon is standing in the way. Without this setting on, the game’s controls might try and target the harder-to-kill defenders before weaker characters. Being able to control which Pokémon you lock onto allows you to attack more precisely.

Which Pokémon should you unlock first?

After you play through the opening tutorials, you’ll receive a Unite License which lets you unlock a Pokémon. If you’re new to MOBAs, you might not be sure which of the creatures to select first. Each of the options you’re given is great choice for helping you learn the finer details of the game’s various classes.

A Unite License screen in Pokémon Unite
You get a Unite License at the beginning of the game
Image: The Pokémon Company/Tencent Games
  • Eldegoss is a support Pokémon. They use long-ranged attacks to hit enemies and their main focus is to restore health to their teammates. Eldegloss players should stay behind their sturdier partners as they don’t have much health. They are essential to keeping a team alive, but they will be targeted by enemy players because of their usefulness to your team. Pick Eldegloss if you want to focus on keeping your team alive.
  • Snorlax is a defender Pokemon. They are powerful melee fighters. Snorlax players shouldn’t be afraid to jump into the fray since they have a large health pool. They are key to leading the charge in team fights as they can withstand a lot of punishment, allowing their long-range attacker teammates to pelt enemies from afar. Choose Snorlax if you like being in the center of the action.
  • Pikachu is a ranged attacker. They use long-range attacks to overpower enemies and defeat them from a distance. Pikachu players should straddle the line between using their strength to play aggressively, but should also know when to back off as their low health pools allow them to get defeated easily. They are the tip of the spear and will be the most dangerous players on the team. Pick Pikachu if you want to be your team’s main damage dealer.
  • Charizard is an all-rounder. Their skills allow them to be a threat at both close and long range. Charizard players have decent damage output and health, so their play style is dependent on who is controlling them. Players can also choose different skills as they level up which radically changes how Charizard fights. Choose Charizard if you want to play as a flexible Pokémon that can stand its ground or go all out.
  • Talonflame is a speedster. Their fast speed allows them to move all over the battle arena giving them the ability to be a threat anywhere on the map. Talonflame players want to roam around the arena taking out wild Pokémon to gain experience. Then, they should pay attention to which of their teammates need help and dive in for assists and takedowns. Once they are done, they go back to roam to gain more experience and swoop in when the time is right. Pick Talonflame if you like the idea of being a mobile threat that is constantly on the move.

If you are not sure which Pokémon to choose at first, pick Charizard. They have the most flexibility out of all the choices above. They are one of the few Pokémon that have evolution transformations and the skills they unlock allow them to create two distinct builds.

How to make different builds

As you level up throughout the match, your gain the ability to learn new attacks. Over time, you learn new moves that overwrite the two starting skills you begin the match with. The choices you make determines how your Pokémon’s combat style changes throughout the match.

The new skill screen in Pokémon Unite
At Lv. 5, you can learn your first new move
Image: The Pokémon Company/Tencent Games

At level 5 and level 7, your Pokémon can learn new skills. You will always have two different choices to make at these points. Each character has different moves that support new ways to play. For instance, Charizard has two sets of moves that either allow them to deal damage over time to areas that lock them down or they can become an aggressive melee attacker. You can mix and match which new skills you take to create a unique play style.

Learn your lane

Each Pokémon excels at different areas of the map. When you are prepping for battle, the game will let you know which lane is recommended for each Pokémon.

The Battle Prep screen in Pokémon Unite
Charizard is best suited to the bottom lane
Image: The Pokémon Company/Tencent Games

When you are in the lobby selecting your Pokémon, enter the Battle Prep screen to learn which Map Path you should take. When you press the edit button, you will be shown which lane is best for your Pokémon. Defenders and some attackers are best for the top lane. Speedsters should roam around the center and all-rounders are great for the bottom.

You don’t have to stick to these recommendations, but when you’re first learning the game, it’s best to try playing in these lanes. You should move around the map to help teammates in out when the need arises, but these lane recommendations detail which part of the map each Pokémon is the most effective in.

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