If you’ve ever wished that massively popular team strategy games like DOTA 2 or League of Legends could have a little more Pokemon flair, then today is your extremely specific day. The Pokémon Company has announced Pokémon UNITE, a new MOBA game coming to Switch, iOS, and Android. Players control the iconic monsters in the familiar top-down hero format.
For the uninitiated, “MOBA” is a relatively new genre, based on old user mods of real-time PC strategy games. Two small teams fight for control over a huge map, with each player controlling a “hero” with unique strategic abilities. Ground is won and lost as key points are controlled, and players upgrade their abilities as the long online sessions go on. DOTA 2, League of Legends, and Heroes of the Storm are the most popular entries, all free-to-play and supported by microtransactions.
Pokémon UNITE only has a brief trailer available so far, but it looks like a fairly shameless clone of the typical MOBA format, right down to the symmetrical map. Players will choose a single popular Pokemon to control, like Pikachu or Charmander, and coordinate with their team to beat the competition and command the most territory. Pokemon can level up and evolve as the battle progresses. It’s safe to assume that monster types, the strategic foundation of the main series, will play a part in the overall strategy.
The game comes from a partnership with Chinese mega-publisher Tencent, and will be “free to try” on all platforms. Cross-play between iOS, Android, and Switch players will be enabled. At the time of writing there’s no indication of when Pokémon UNITE will be released, but later this year or early next seems likely.