A brand new Pokemon mobile game launched on Android and iOS last month. Combining the tried and true Pokemon mechanic of collection with strategic board game tactics, Pokemon Duel looks to capitalize on the success of Pokemon Go's release in 2016. But is this free-to-play game worth your time or your money? Let's dig into the pros and cons.
Gameplay is unique and strategic.
If the combat in Pokemon Go left you craving more tactical battles, Duel may be the app you're looking for. The goal in each match is to deploy your Pokemon to the game board and move them to your opponents goal on his side. However, there are limited lanes for movement, and when Pokemon run into each other, they battle. Battling is a luck-based mechanic, where both participants spin their "data disk" to see what attack they use. This may seem infuriatingly random, but as Pokemon level up you can improve and alter their disks, increasing the chances of the outcome of your choice. Additionally, Pokemon have different strengths and weaknesses to take into account when building your roster. Fast Pokemon like Shuppet and Greninja are great at scoring, where Venusaur and Feraligatr excel at defending your goal.
The single-player campaign is full of content and rewards.
Should you want a bit more practice before facing off against another human, Duel contains a robust, 100+ chapter single-player campaign. The rewards for each mission are serviceable as well, netting coins or new Pokemon figures. Additionally, there are 3 challenge objectives for each mission, adding some extra difficulty and rewards. We are nowhere close to beating the campaign after a couple of days of playing through it. There's a lot of content here.
Pokemon from all generations are available to collect.
Unlike Pokemon Go releasing new Pokemon slowly, Pokemon from all 7 generations are available from the start in Duel. Fan favorites like Lucario and Darkrai are rare, but available additions to your team.
Not paying still puts you at a large disadvantage.
Considering the game has been available in Japan since last April, it should come as no surprise that a "meta" has already formed. Researching on the internet quickly reveals the most successful strategies and figurine rosters to climb the ranks quickly. As a result, players who are willing to pay will always be able to recruit a top tier team the fastest. That being said, Duel is far from the most egregious free-to-play offerings on the app store. Normal rewards are significant from both player battles and the single-player campaign, and the general cost of packs and the in-game currency isn't too harsh.
An internet connection is always required - even for single-player.
In a frustrating move, Duel requires an internet connection to play any content, including the single player campaign. This is reportedly done to maintain the integrity of rewards and limit people from hacking any client-side files to gain collectibles without paying, but if you're a roaming player with a limited data plan, it still hurts.
The weird content sync makes re-installing a nightmare.
When you first load up Duel, you're required to download a significant amount of data separate from the initial app download. Most of your user data is stored locally on your phone, rather than using a cloud service. Because of this, uninstalling the game off your phone carries the strong chance that your data and collections will be lost upon re-installing, and you'll be forced to start fresh.
So there you have it! Pokemon Duel is an exciting, more tactical take on the franchise that has a lot of replay value. Pay-to-win mechanics and wonky internet connection decisions hold the game back from being truly outstanding, but it's still worth a shot for any fan of the franchise or strategic board games.
Pairing a love of DOTA 2 with traditional sports statistics, Bryan previously worked as a statsman for internationally renowned gaming tournaments. He then joined the Beyond the Summit crew to help design and develop several features for the game, such as Teamfight Recap. Now, he lives in Alabama with his wife and works as a freelance production assistant and writer.