The Pokémon Company, Nintendo, and developer TiMi Studio Group have released a rather brilliant genre mashup in Pokémon Unite, a free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena game, now on Switch (free to download).

Pokémon Unite is similar to a 5v5 sporting match, or MOBA game such as League of Legends or Dota 2. Five players on each team select a Pokémon before the match from a list of favorites such as Charizard, Pikachu, Gengar, Greninja, and Lucario. Teams are then placed on either end of a circular map, with two lanes forming the top and bottom.

Each team has goals they need to defend. The object is to defeat enemy players, or neutral Pokémon, collect the dropped Aeos energy, and score it in one of the team’s opposing goal. Just as in a MOBA, teams will need to coordinate their strategies, and divide up between the lanes, as well as the neutral area in the middle.

Pokémon level up throughout a match, gaining new moves and evolving at certain stages, including eventually learning an ultimate move.

After completing the initial tutorials, players can choose from one of five starter Pokémon. They’ll also receive Slowbro as an early bonus. If you download and play before August 31, you’ll also receive a free Zeraora. In addition to Pokémon you own, a set of Pokémon will always be available as a free rotation.

Additional Pokémon, and customization options for both Pokémon and trainers can be purchased using real money currency or earned currency by completing goals and playing matches.

Pokémon Unite is available on Switch. It’s coming to mobile devices on September 2 with cross-play and cross-progression (using a linked Pokémon Trainer account). It’s rated E for Everyone.

This article was written by

Eric has been writing for over nine years with bylines at Dicebreaker, Pixelkin, Polygon, PC Gamer, Tabletop Gaming magazine, and more covering movies, TV shows, video games, tabletop games, and tech. He reviews and live streams D&D adventures every week on his YouTube channel. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla.