League of Legends: Wild Rift and Pokémon United are both contenders to becoming the best mobile battle royale. Wild Rift has seen a limited geographical launch, with a launch in the Americas region slated for March 29, 2021. Pokémon Unite’s first batch of closed beta seasonal content ended on March 16, 2021 and we can potentially see more regions getting access to a beta. Both games have not been released globally yet. Wild Rift vs Pokémon Unite will be a long-running debate in the future with both titles being developed on existing franchises. We want to compare the gameplay, monetization, and lore of all three characters to find out which title you should play.
Pokémon is the biggest media franchise in the world, sitting at a value of over $92 billion, while League of Legends is one of the biggest gaming franchises in existence with a fan following that has been around for over a decade. Both games have the potential to dominate the mobile gaming and esports market, so here is a look at Wild Rift vs Pokémon Unite to see how they fare against each other.
Wild Rift vs Pokémon Unite: Gameplay
Wild Rift features 5v5 gameplay where the objective is to destroy the enemy nexus. There are dozens of champions already available in the game that have unique abilities that you can master. The game offers touch controls and intuitive mechanics designed for mobile gamers. Its simplicity is what makes it click with the mobile audience.
You compete as a team of five, and the goal is to destroy the enemy Nexus. The core concept of Wild Rift and Pokémon Unite is the same as any other MOBA. Items have been streamlined in Wild Rift compared to LOL, with auto-attacks being introduced to make killing mobs easier. While the items in Riot Games’ new mobile MOBA serve the same purpose as League, what sets Wild Rift apart is that you can purchase only one enchant item. All jungle and support items have been removed, and overall, the gameplay is very fast-paced compared to traditional MOBAs.
Pokémon Unite features 5v5 gameplay similar to Wild Rift. The free-to-play title replicates other games of the genre, with players picking their Pokémon of choice to start with and leveling them up with items and evolutions. The skill trees can be customized by players and players familiar with the Pokémon RPG games will recognize the different skills available to Pokémon.
One of the highlight features of Pokémon games is that there are elemental advantages similar to how rock-paper-scissors works. Water is effective against Fire, and Fire is effective against grass, and so on. A similar concept is present in Pokémon Unite, so having the right mix of abilities and Pokémon is crucial to success. Matches take around 12-15 minutes to complete, which is around the same as what Wild Rift offers.
Verdict: Both games offer similar experiences. Pokémon Unite is slightly simpler and easier to pick up for players who are new to MOBAs. Wild Rift offers a more in-depth experience and holds the same essence as PC MOBAs with intuitive touch controls.
Wild Rift vs Pokémon Unite: In-Game Economy
Wild Rift’s monetization system is built upon champions and decorative items. While the game is free-to-play, champions can be purchased via Blue Motes, a currency earned from completing quests and winning matches. Alternatively, if you want to skip the grind, you can purchase Wild Cores, which players can buy with real money to purchase cosmetics and champions. You can also purchase skins for your champions which are sold for Wild Cores.
In addition to skins, there are other cosmetics like Champion Poses, emotes, icons, combat effects, custom recall animations, and more. Players can earn these collectables via playing the game, participating in events. They can also purchase them using Poro Coins. These Poro Coins are available from challenges across various events Wild Rift runs. There are lootboxes available as well, which include Poro Chests and the Random Skin Chests. Champions have been introduced to the game through limited-time events, and players can unlock them for free by participating in the events.
Pokémon Unite’s monetization system includes a battle pass system and cosmetics. Like other free-to-play titles, the battle pass will offer free-tier rewards for those who do not wish to invest money into the seasonal content.
In addition to the battle pass, there will also be microtransactions which include cosmetics. Similar to how players can unlock champions in Wild Rift, you can unlock Pokémon by playing the game and completing challenges. However, if you want other cosmetics for your trainer or Pokémon, you can purchase skins and other vanities.
Verdict: Both games follow very similar monetization tactics. Wild Rift, with its events, makes unlocking champions much easier, and players experience faster progression. Pokémon Unite is still in beta, and the progression systems are subject to change in the future. It remains to be seen if Unite offers similar events to allow for easy character unlocks in the future.
Wild Rift vs Pokémon Unite: Characters and Lore
The League of Legends universe has over 150 champions currently. While Wild Rift does not have all of the League Champions available in-game just yet, Riot Games is actively adding them through in-game events and content updates.
The Pokémon universe contains nearly 900 officially recognized Pokémon and even if we ignore evolutions and mega evolutions, the cast is much bigger than what Wild Rift’s Runeterra universe has to offer. However, what holds Pokémon back compared is that its characters are very similar across generations. A lot of the Pokémon have similar abilities and skills. If you move from generation to generation, there are similar Pokémon across all of them, with the Legendaries being the most distinct.
Verdict: Pokémon Unite has the potential to have a much bigger cast than Wild Rift, but Riot Games has the upper hand in terms of characters as they are distinct from one another while a lot of Pokémon can feel very similar to one another. In terms of lore and world-building, both games are massive. The Pokémon franchise has manga, comics, anime, TV shows, movies and more. The Wild Rift’s Runeterra universe on the other hand has short stories, cinematics, comics and the world is built through not just Wild Rift but all of Riot’s titles except Valorant.
Wild Rift vs Pokémon Unite: Availability
League of Legends: Wild Rift is available on Android and iOS. Not all regions have access to the game yet, as Riot Games is pushing out the game in multiple phases. The North American launch is scheduled for March 29, while some other regions already have access to the game. There is no timeline for a global release by Riot Games just yet.
Pokémon Unite is set to release on Android, iOS, and Nintendo Switch. The game is going through regional closed betas, with Canada being the newest region to get access to the game. There is no official release timeline for Unite’s global release.
Which Game Should You Play?
Wild Rift and Pokémon Unite are entering the mobile gaming and esports scene against established players like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Arena of Valor, Vainglory, and more. Both new games have the potential to be bigger than all existing mobile MOBAs because of how big each franchise is and the massive fan following they have.
League of Legends fans will feel right at home in Wild Rift with Riot Games perfectly transitioning champions, items, mechanics, and everything that makes the PC version of the game what it is into a great mobile title. Pokémon games, on the other hand, have primarily been RPGs. The Pokémon Company teamed up with TiMi Studios to create a MOBA for the first time, and the closed beta reception from critics and fans has been positive.
However, we do not have a full grasp of what monetization in Unite will be like at launch. Wild Rift is generous with its character unlocks, and regular events ensure that players have access to all the core content as much as possible. Pokémon fans should wait for an official release before deciding on which game to pick up, depending on how Tencent-owned TiMi Studios handles monetization for the game.