As a gaming enthusiast, you may be wondering, "Is Pokémon Unite really free to play?" This wildly popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game has attracted millions of players to its 5v5 Pokémon battles. But with in-app purchases and premium currencies, you might be questioning just how "free" the experience is.
I‘ve played over 200 hours of Pokémon Unite as a free player, so I‘ll provide my insider perspective. In this article, I‘ll analyze what content you can access for free, where you‘ll need to pay, strategies to optimize your experience as a free player, and whether competitive success is possible without spending money.
What Gameplay Content Can You Enjoy for Free?
The core Pokémon Unite experience – participating in 5v5 team battles – is 100% free. You can join matches against real opponents immediately after the tutorial without paying anything.
In addition to gameplay, there are a variety of Pokémon and items you can obtain for free:
Starting Roster: You can choose one of 5 unlocked Pokémon to start: Pikachu, Charizard, Snorlax, Eldegoss, or Talonflame. This gives you a strong option to learn the game with.
Free Weekly Rotation: There are always 14 additional Pokémon on free rotation that you can play for that week. The selection changes every 2 weeks.
Earning 2 Extra Starters: By reaching Trainer Level 5, you unlock Venusaur. At Level 10, you get Gardevoir.
Obtaining Held Items: You earn currencies to unlock stat-boosting held items for your Pokémon just by playing matches daily and completing quests.
So in summary, you can play Pokémon Unite extensively, access 20+ Pokémon options each week, and equip items to strengthen your Mons, all without spending money.
Where Does Pokémon Unite Require Payment?
While you get considerable free content, there are some aspects of Pokémon Unite locked behind payments or premium currencies:
Pokémon Licenses: To permanently unlock Pokémon beyond the starting 5, you need to purchase licenses with Aeos Gems (paid currency) or Aeos Coins (earned freely). Licenses cost from 5,000 to 10,000 coins each.
Aeos Gems: These can be bought with real money and used to unlock content without earning coins. 100 Gems costs $1 USD.
Battle Pass: For $7.99 USD you get access to exclusive missions and cosmetic rewards. Requires real money purchase.
Cosmetics: Holowear outfits, poses, frames, stickers, and more require premium currencies or real money to obtain most of them.
Level 30 Item Upgrades: To upgrade held items past level 20 requires spending coins or purchasing item enhancers with Gems.
So in summary, you can play and compete for free but won‘t have full access to every Pokémon, cosmetics, or high-level upgrades without spending.
Can You Reasonably Earn Currencies as a Free Player?
Pokémon Unite offers players two free currencies that are earned through regular play:
Aeos Coins – The main currency used to unlock Pokémon, items, and upgrades. The primary free currency.
Aeos Tickets – A secondary currency for purchasing items like enhancers, energy rewards, and Holowear cosmetics.
As a free player, I‘ve found earning a reasonable amount of both currencies is achievable with consistent play:
Complete Daily and Weekly Missions – These provide 200-400 Coins and some Tickets per day.
Maximize Match Rewards – Play at least 5 matches daily to get all Coin rewards. Prioritize performance points.
Participate in Events – Timed events will give boosts to Coins, Tickets, and occasionally free unlocks.
Season Rewards – Coins are given based on highest rank achieved when the season ends. I earned 4200 for reaching Veteran.
Watch Videos – You can earn a small number of Tickets daily by watching promotional videos in the shop.
By following these tips, I earn 6-10k Coins per week, enough to unlock a new 10k Pokémon every 2-3 weeks. It takes time and dedication, but reaching goals is feasible as a free player.
Smart Strategies for Free Player Success
As a free player, you have to be strategic about allocating your limited currencies. Follow these tips to optimize your experience:
Unlock Versatile Pokemon First: Starter all-rounders like Charizard and Snorlax can fit many team comps and roles. Low-cost options like Venusaur and Cramorant are also good.
Balance Item Levels: Get all items to level 20 first before upgrading any further. This gives you well-rounded boosts.
Upgrade Held Items for Mains: Use your item enhancers to get items to 30 for the Pokémon you play most often to specialize.
Save Up for 10,000 Mon: Be patient accumulating for pricier mons like Mew, Dragonite, or Tsareena instead of impulse buying cheaper ones.
Buy Holowear Strategically: The $8 battle pass gives plenty of cosmetics. Otherwise carefully choose one or two favorite mon Holowears to splurge on.
Play All Free Rotation Mons: Testing out the weekly freebies allows you to identify favorites you may want to unlock permanently later.
Making intelligent use of currencies and resources will let you maximize your roster diversity and specialize your main Pokémon without breaking the bank!
Is Competing as a Free Player Feasible?
An important question for aspiring competitive players is whether staying fully free-to-play is viable for ranking up. Based on my experience climbing to top 4000 on the ranked ladder, competitive success as a free player is certainly achievable, but requires effort. Here are some key points:
Getting to Mid Ranks is Reasonable: I reached Veteran Class 4 solo queue in 3 months as a free player. Many free players climb to Expert and Veteran.
Higher Ranks Require Teamwork: To progress beyond Veteran you likely need a coordinated team to overcome item gap. Master and top 100 will be extremely difficult.
Skill Trumps Upgrades: Better game knowledge, mechanics, and teamwork can overcome item level differences. A skilled free player will outperform lesser spenders.
You Can Specialize Effectively: Careful upgrade focus lets you tailor items for mains. You won‘t have as much flexibility, but can excel on select mons.
So while competing as a free player has limitations, you can still find fun and rewarding competition in the middle ranks. Just be ready to work for it!
Evaluating the "Pay to Win" Debate
There is ongoing debate around whether unlocking content confers enough of an advantage in Pokémon Unite to consider the game "pay to win." As a free player, I believe the following nuances are important:
No Exclusive Paywall on Content: Any Pokémon or item is earnable for free, given enough time. Money only speeds up unlock progress.
Higher Tiers Need Team Coordination: A single spender won‘t dominate without the skill and teamwork to use upgrades effectively. Unlocks amplify strengths rather than conferring raw power.
Matchmaking Considers Upgrade Level: The matchmaking system accounts for player power levels. As you upgrade, you face opponents with similar item levels.
Skill Development Matters More: Player and team mechanics, game sense, and coordination outshine upgrades until very high level play. A veteran free player can demolish inexperienced spenders.
Regular Events Help Free Players: Timed events provide free players opportunities to quickly earn currencies and unlock content. This helps close the progression gap.
So while free players have an uphill battle, the core design philosophy makes Pokémon Unite an improbable candidate for "pay to win" status. Skill trumps upgrades in importance.
Is Pokémon Unite Worth Playing As a Free Player?
Given the limits on progression speed and content access, is Pokémon Unite still worth investing time in as a free player? In my opinion, absolutely. Here‘s why:
Satisfying Core Gameplay: The MOBA-style 5v5 battles offer complex and engaging Teamplay with lots of room for mastery, even with basic unlocks.
Quick Matchmaking: Large player population ensures you can get matches rapidly any time of day. The 10-minute match length promotes quick drop-in sessions.
Clear Progression System: The game clearly explains free currency systems and unlock costs. You can plan your progression strategically over time.
Doesn‘t Feel Like a Grind: Daily quests only take 30-60 minutes. You make steady progress for limited time invested compared to other MOBAs.
Encourages Grouping: Playing with even one friend mitigates the item gap compared to solo queue. Teamwork matters more than upgrades.
As long as you temper expectations around progression pace and access to every piece of content, Pokémon Unite undoubtedly offers compelling competitive free-to-play gameplay.
While paying players progress faster, I believe Pokémon Unite succeeds in providing a fair free-to-play experience. The core gameplay stays engaging and strategic regardless of unlocks. Matchmaking keeps games balanced. Events help free players catch up. And skill gains ultimately matter more than upgrades.
By playing actively, making smart unlock choices, and leveraging teamwork, you can be competitive into mid-ranks without paying. Just know that completing the Pokédex and dominating top tier matches will require either ample time or budget.
Within its reasonable free-to-play limitations, I find Pokémon Unite to be an absolute blast. The strategic battles deliver engrossing team-based competition. And without excessive grind, it respects your time while offering clear progression.
Give Pokémon Unite a shot, use your limited resources wisely, and you may just find a new favorite free-to-play experience! Let me know if you have any other questions.