Pokémon UNITE Early Impression

Slowbro!

What is This All About?

A few weeks back (or maybe a couple of  months) I saw news that one Pokémon game that is on Nintendo Switch will be coming to other mobile platforms, Android and iOS. I’m like.. WHAT? 

I was interested at first but sceptical later as I found out about the genre of the game, Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA). Don’t get me wrong. There are many great MOBA games out there. Plus its great communities and support from the developer/publisher. But also I’m sick of every IP holder out there seems to want to dive into this MOBA space to get some opportunities (*ehem* money).

So, finding out more about this game — Pokémon UNITE, it turned out to be interesting. Not just a generic 5v5, LOL with Pokémon skin. But Pokémon UNITE has its own mechanics that makes it worth playing from my perspective.

Hello MOBA Pokémon

Here comes the wait. But actually I don’t really know if it is the day (to be precise 22nd September) that the game will be releasing on Android and iOS. I was just watching this Pokémon video on YouTube, talking about an artist who draws a realistic version of Pokémon . Then came the ads about Pokémon  UNITE, here I remembered there will be a smartphone version of this game.

Okay let’s get back to the game. I installed the game. It was pretty small for a modern mobile game. Only about 500MB, not even touching the 1GB mark. 

I was testing the game with Samsung Galaxy A50 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage version. Running Exynos 9610, Octa-core (4×2.3 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.7 GHz Cortex-A53),  Mali-G72 MP3, with Android 11 – One UI 3.0. For a more detailed specs see these links: Samsung and GSMArena

The Game

On the menu, I already think this game code is optimised for smartphones. I didn’t get any lags or a feeling that the graphics are too heavy for my phone. My Galaxy A50 is not too slow but not that powerful. Maybe a little restricted as the resolution is FHD+ (1080 x 2340) for a phone that has a limited CPU/GPU performance.

After creating the character trainer, I moved on to the tutorial kind of match. Here I also noticed a fairly smooth gameplay. Whether on the limited space, the kind that we use on the tutorial alone. Or the regular arena that we use in a real match. Maybe there were some stutters but it was okay, again considering the device I used. 

Game Settings

For the test, I didn’t change the graphics setting. So, it was running default since its first install. High on the graphics setting and low on the framerate. For the graphics setting, I believe you already know what it means — the quality of the visuals rendered. For the framerate, low is for the 30FPS as it was shown while me playing on the tutorial match. I believe the med. is for 60FPS and high for 90FPS. But don’t quote me on this, I have never tested so far.

There is one more interesting element. When we first open up a game, we are popped out by terms of service and privacy policy right? And on this one there’s that too. But you actually need to read those to check on the box that you agree. I think it is a good approach to make people understand what they agree on. But on the other hand, you can just tap the button to read and just go back without really reading it to the finish.

The Infamous RTO

Unfortunately when I tried to play in a real match with real people. The loading time took ages. When I joined the match, it had already started. Frustrating but I could still enjoy the games. Maybe just because others just started playing too. So, I didn’t join an esports level match.

From what I can see, it was because of the Internet connection I have. I can connect to the Internet, have the bandwidth that I need, but the jitter seems off. That makes me get many Request Timeout responses most of the time I use the Internet. 

I have indihome as my ISP. There was an outage on Sunday, like a big one. About half of the country, Indonesia had it. Now they are still working to fix those cables deep in the ocean. Don;t worry, it will “only” take one month to fix.

Gameplay

Gameplay oh gameplay. It is a MOBA, right? You only need to do some leveling, hitting creeps and do some jungling. When you think you are strong enough and have teammates to support, annihilating enemy’s towers, buildings, etc. while eliminating some of the enemies is your job. Well almost right.

Add an element of basketball to the game and now we’re talking. So, you dunk the enemy’s “tower” to score some. Until the required number is met, then the tower will be destroyed. Then just do that two more times. You will win the game. Or just hold on to a higher score before the time is up. Also will make your team win.

Another thing to mention is that when we haven’t destroyed the outer one, the movement of the Pokémon will be slower in the lane from that outer one to the next. Not sure the explanation about this from a story/background stand point. But looking at the balance of the game, it is reasonable to do that. Giving some chance to the losing team while the winning team is still enjoying their stance.

How the Game is Optimised: Nintendo Switch and Tencent

I already mentioned how the game is optimised. Maybe not perfect like a much slower basic type of smartphone will struggle too. But hey my device is at 10-20FPS playing another Pokémon  game, Pokémon  Masters EX. This one really puts some stress on my device. Though from what I see, the graphics should not really be that far from Pokémon  UNITE. Yes I know this is a different type of a game. But I just can’t stop comparing these two Pokémon  games.

My educated guess (I hope) is that the how the Pokémon UNITE was developed in the first place. It was for the Switch first then Nintendo brought it to our phone. Most Switch games are optimised to the max, especially the inhouse ones. It has to be easier for most smartphones (and many smart devices out there too) to run the game. Switch’s Tegra X1 runs arm architecture, the same as our devices. I know there will be little differences too, like on Switch the developer can access low level APIs to the SOC. Meanwhile on smartphones, there are Android and iOS on top of them. 

The second thing I’d like to mention is Tencent involvement in the game. Not sure whether they are co-developing or just helping with the distribution. But the fact that Nintendo has a Chinese with them. A giant which has enormous experience in mobile game, surely help them too.

Let’s Wrap It Up

Hello good looking Pokémon that I first know just in this game

That’s that, the game is fun. Optimised for a device with a weak powered SOC. It is good for now and surely there will be much more fun the developer will bring. Let’s see if it will be a long lived free game as a service or a typical money sucker pay to win mobile game one. So far it isn’t and I think it won’t since it will just make the original community, the Switch users, full of rage.

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