Another outlet recently published an article on how Pokemon Unite players don’t like to give up and then proceeded to say they should surrender more with basically no reason other than “it hurts.” And I took that personally. It’s not as if other MOBA communities also hate to surrender, but Pokemon Unite is especially generous at welcoming in new MOBA players by having several areas where teams can make a solid comeback in levels and points. Matches can literally last only 10 minutes max, except quickplay, which is limited to 5.
It’s a team-based game that’s generated tons of articles arguing against one of its biggest, end-of-match catch-up mechanics, but I can’t wrap my head around the idea of encouraging the playerbase to surrender early on. It’s sad that players who get tilted so easily can cost a group of people a game – and it’s unnecessary! So today, I’d like to give eight tips on how to make a comeback in the game. Don’t worry, none of them is “git gud” or “stop getting tilted.” Again, this game’s very user-friendly and easy to enjoy – and as long as you can keep a cool head, you can make a comeback.
I want you to take a look at the above graph and remember that most games end with loss differences of hundreds of points, not one. Notice how my team was winning almost the whole time, and by a good amount, for more than half the game, and won Zapdos, a catchup mechanic we’ll discuss more later. This is usually the point in a match when most teams throw in the towel.
But wait: Notice how even with all our victories, we still lost, and by just one point. That’s because the other team didn’t surrender. In fact, even though we wiped them, they were able to respawn and get back to us shortly after our victory, knocking us out and taking our Zapdos loot points to use them against us or prevent us from turning them in. These guys deserved their win because no matter how much they got beat up early on, they still pushed through.
Now here’s the kicker: This is just one such match that happened this week. I’ve had several of these since the day of the “you should surrender” article. After each round (both wins and losses), I kept thinking, “Man, I should have taken a screenshot in case I do that article.” And sure enough, while I was getting screenshots, this match happened just by chance.
While most PU losses are big, close games like this are not uncommon, and I tend to play for an hour or so during primetime. Comebacks aren’t flukes, but if you surrender within minutes, you’ll never even get to this point. There are very few objective reasons to surrender a match beyond impatience, which will likely result in further losses for you and the very real people playing with you.
If you can’t keep it together for 10 minutes, maybe try playing the 5-minute Quick Play matches. I don’t say this to be cruel; there are just very few team games I know of that are as forgiving as Pokemon Unite. If you want to play a team-based lobby PvP game that wants to keep you engaged for a whole 10 minutes, this is 100% the game for you.
But if you’re so devastated by early defeats that you lose sight of multiple comeback opportunities built into the game to keep you engaged, then you may want to try playing something else – for your own enjoyment and those you’re automatically grouped with.
Watch for Drednaw
So, what are these comeback opportunities? I’ve mentioned Drednaw before, and while I still see people prioritize Rotom, I’m here to tell you to get down to that bottom lane when you see the countdown. Rotom can wait. It doesn’t matter if you’re locked in combat or think you can take another objective; especially if you’re losing, you need to go down and get this objective as soon as you see the countdown.
While Drednaw’s shield is kind of nice, the main reason to snatch this big turtle up is for the team-wide XP reward, which is enough to nearly grant a full level. Having that extra firepower and health means it’s a little easier for you to attack the other team, but it’s also easier for you to survive them. I believe you can see that on the previous graph at the 5- and 7-minute marks, as we had players trying to focus on Rotom instead, and while we were winning, the players who didn’t help with Drednaw were a big part of our downfall.
In general, you have only two chances to do this, especially if your team isn’t doing well. While it respawns 2 minutes after its defeat, Drednaw and Rotom will both despawn when the final comeback mechanics lands at the 8-minute mark. Because team fights often occur, this usually pushes Drednaw’s spawn down to overlap with Zapdos, making any effort towards defeating Dredy wasted if you’re unable to finish before the thunderbird’s arrival.
Watch for Zapdos
Yes, this is the big bad many hardcores cry about because good opponents can make wild comebacks or big wins bigger. It’s not untrue, but while I’m sure it’s different for high-end players, I’m writing this article more for casual and PUG players. For us, Zapdos keeps the game interesting throughout the match. No resting on your laurels, not before the spawn and not even after you win. Keep your head in the game from start to finish. Remember, it’s only a 10-minute match max. While some people may be good enough to AFK until Zappy (and probably lose Fair Play points, banishing them from various game modes until they re-earn them), I’m assuming most people aren’t that good/selfish.
Much as with Drednaw, if you are losing, you need to drop everything to get to Zapdos before it spawns. Players will gather up, and whoever has more people there will often be able to wipe the other team and Zapdos quite quickly, which is how you could lose.
If you team isn’t rallying, you can still potentially steal the kill, as only the final hit decides which team is rewarded with points to turn in and making the opponent’s goals defenseless. At the time of this writing, Venusaur’s Solar Beam, Lucario’s Aura Cannon, and Cinderace’s Pyro Ball are all great ways to steal the kill when Zapdos’s health is fairly low, though any big hit can do this, especially ranged, CCs, and AOEs. These same tactics can be used on Dredmaw and the boss mobs in Quick Play as well.
Again, don’t worry if your team doesn’t kill Zapdos. As I mentioned at the start, my own team got the kill and then fell prey to the other team, fresh from respawn. And again, while this is uncommon, it’s hardly unheard of.
All that being said, you may want to call your allies to the center ahead of time so you don’t get to this point. Again, especially with PUGs, there’s no guarantee that it’ll happen, but as it’s a team-based game, you may want to at least try to get them involved in your fights, and not just for Zapdos.
Use the buddy system
Unless you’re the Jungler, try to stick with someone, especially if everyone is dying a lot. This goes double for the unevolved forms of Gengar, Garchomp, and Gardevoire, as they are notoriously weak before they can reach their final evolution.
Remember, you don’t have to leave the base the moment you spawn. For example, if you and the Pikachu in the top lane got killed a few seconds apart and there’s only one Gengar beating on both of you, go back with your pika-pal so you can 2v1 that ghost! Most of the time in solo queue, it’s better to die with a buddy who can finish the job than just to zerg rush something by yourself.
Use grass to stealth
Just because you don’t have a stealth move doesn’t mean you can’t hide in the bushes. One big trick is finding an out-of-the-way patch of grass and waiting for your right move. That may be waiting until the enemy team is very far away so you can turn in a huge point haul, jumping out to get the last hit on Zapdos, or maybe ambushing weakened Zapdos-killers halfway to your goal. Losing Zapdos in particular can be painful, but you know what hurts even more? Losing all the points you wanted to turn in for a last-minute comeback. Don’t just wait in your base to lose. Aim for a weak link and return to the battle to ambush them as best as you can.
Sometimes people forget that mobs exist after other players have continually killed them. You don’t need to immediately get revenge on someone who killed you! If you and/or your team is behind in levels or general power, you may want to kill a few mobs near an objective while guarding it, especially if you realize your jungler is focusing more on kills than earning everyone some XP.
Alternatively, you can farm the enemy’s mobs. If your opponents are mostly on your side of the map, visiting their side could be lucrative. While this is risky, it has the added bonus of denying them their usually accessible resources while potentially distracting them from grouping up and hammering your whole team.
Use the base springboard to avoid spawn camping
I know this one will be forgotten in the heat of the moment, so you may even want to write yourself a sticky note. I know seeing all those enemies right outside can be super tempting, and maybe they’re all low on health. But when you and/or your teammates solo-zerg rush them again and again, they’re only getting stronger. With each ally killed, the enemy is getting more points to score on you, right in front of you. Break the cycle of defeat so the score gap doesn’t continue to widen. Go out and pursue other objectives.
Go where the people aren’t
Now, this one you need to be very careful with. I almost left this one out because it can be an advanced tactic, but it should be mentioned so you have something to aim for. I hope other veteran readers can also leave their tips for turning around games in the comments as well, but this will be my final tip for now.
For some objectives, like Zapdos and Drednaw, you want to be there to help ensure the objective gets secured for the most part. Don’t argue this, especially as a new player in a losing game. Again, these objectives can work as comeback mechanics. Especially if you’re losing, don’t dawdle, don’t get sidetracked. Just go and help your team.
But let’s say your team keeps launching to the top lane one by one and dying. Their whole team is there killing you guys. This would be a time to not follow the crowd. This goes double if you still have a good amount of points on you, as the other team will have more ammo to use against your goal. Unless you have a very powerful Ultimate ready and know that the other team has spent its own, go elsewhere. Get into the jungle so the jungler hopefully gets triggered with your being in “his zone,” or launch toward an unguarded goal to score some points and break up the enemy’s team.
Pokemon Unite is a team game, but when everyone around you is tilted, you may need to be the cool head that helps make sure everyone else gets back into the game and makes that comeback a possibility and then a reality.
Massively OP’s Andrew Ross is an admitted Pokemon geek and expert ARG-watcher. Nobody knows Niantic and Nintendo like he does! His Massively on the Go column covers Pokemon Go as well as other mobile MMOs and augmented reality titles!