By Teeds, Contributing Writer
The second year of Pokémon UNITE begins with a huge bang! With many exciting new Pokémon joining the roster—plus new features and ways to battle—there are plenty of great changes to talk about. Perhaps the biggest change is the brand-new map, Theia Sky Ruins!
Remoat Stadium may be gone, but we’re saying good-bye to much more than just a map. Zapdos, Drednaw, Rotom, and many wild Pokémon will be taking a rest, creating an entirely different metagame.
But not everything has changed. There are still many things you may find familiar in Theia Sky Ruins. You’ll form a team of five players, choose your Pokémon, and go head-to-head against five opposing players. The map still has top and bottom paths, and it also still has a central area, although now it’s bigger.
Let’s jump into what has changed and the strategies and tactics you can use.
Theia Sky Ruins Gameplay
One of the most important things to note about Theia Sky Ruins is you can no longer always see the health of important “objectives”—that is, the key Pokémon your team will target during battle (in Remoat Stadium, these objectives were Rotom, Drednaw, and Zapdos). Now, in Theia Sky Ruins, objectives’ health will only display if you or an ally is close enough. This means you can no longer plan attacks from a distance, which changes how fights can look. Stealing objectives from a distance is a lot harder now, but in turn, it encourages team fights. General gameplay is much more aggressive, making matches feel more action-packed than before!
A great way to help secure objectives is to use the tall grass, which will initially make you invisible to your opponents. If your opponents are taking down an objective, you can try to get close enough to see the objective’s health while you wait for your team to arrive and help you steal it. Or, if you’re feeling brave, you can still try to steal it on your own.
Additionally, all objectives’ health now resets more easily if no one is close enough. The objective will return to its original position and quickly recover HP.
These changes make cooperating and coordinating with your team more important than ever, so make sure to use chat commands—or better yet, in-game voice chat—to help your team get ahead.
Now let’s talk about the new objectives.
Theia Sky Ruins Introduces the Legendary Giants!
On the top path, Rotom has been replaced by the Legendary Pokémon Regieleki, who will first appear at the seven-minute mark and will respawn every two minutes after it’s defeated. Be careful when taking on Regieleki alone. This Pokémon packs a punch!
Once defeated, Regieleki will move toward the opposing team’s goal zone. Upon reaching the goal zone, it’ll render it defenseless for 24 seconds and score 20 points for the team that defeated it. If a goal zone is defenseless, players can score in that goal zone instantly without interruption.
Additionally, a defenseless goal zone will not grant HP recovery and shields. This will give your team a huge advantage if you manage to push Regieleki into one of the opposing team’s goal zones. Not only will it grant your team instant scoring—it’ll also allow your team to take on your opponents on their turf! With no healing and no shields, they’ll definitely be vulnerable.
Regieleki can be a powerful ally, and having it push through the top path puts a ton of pressure on the opponent. This can be extremely advantageous at certain points in the match. The best time to have Regieleki push through the top path is when Rayquaza spawns on the map at the two-minute mark, forcing your opponents to make the difficult decision of who to defeat—Regieleki or Rayquaza. We’ll look at Rayquaza in more detail later.
Registeel, Regirock, and Regice
On the bottom path, we see a very unique twist! Three different Legendary giants—Registeel, Regirock, and Regice—will have the possibility of appearing where Drednaw once spawned. Each will grant the team that defeats it a unique buff that lasts 90 seconds—as well as a small shield—but only one of these three giants will spawn at a time. The first will spawn at the seven-minute mark, and two minutes after it’s defeated, a new, random one will spawn. This pattern will continue whenever one is defeated, so waiting for a specific spawn time is no longer an option. Overall, this is very different from Drednaw, who gave teams a substantial amount of Exp. Points and a shield.
Here’s what each Legendary giant does:
Registeel increases your team’s Attack and Sp. Atk, meaning your team will deal increased damage. This is one buff I’m happy to see, as it helps you take down opponents more quickly.
Regirock increases your team’s Defense and Sp. Def. This is especially great for Pokémon who already have high defensive stats or who generally have better survivability through health and defenses.
Regice increases your team’s HP recovery speed, meaning you’ll heal a small amount over time for 90 seconds, no matter where you are on the map.
These buffs will give teams advantages in different ways, so be sure you know which your team secures—and which your opponent secures.
Identifying Nearby Legendary Giants
Sometimes your team may lose the objective or just not in time before the opponent defeats it. Even though you can’t see objectives’ health anymore unless close enough, you can still see which Legendary giant has spawned at the bottom of the map by manually panning the camera down to it.
You also may not arrive in time to see which Legendary giant your opponent just defeated, but fortunately, whenever one is defeated, a battle message will appear that states which was defeated and by whom. Alternatively, you can tell which was defeated by paying attention to the color of the buff it granted. Each Legendary giant’s buff has a uniquely colored aura: Registeel’s is red, Regirock’s is orange, and Regice’s is yellow.
Pokémon UNITE Rayquaza Strategies
There are several massive changes to the central area that have greatly affected the metagame. Perhaps most notably, the Legendary Pokémon Rayquaza has joined, replacing Remoat Stadium’s iconic Zapdos at the center of the battlefield! These two Pokémon are similar in some ways but very different in others.
Zapdos played a huge role in Remoat Stadium, being the most important objective and usually drawing the biggest fights! At the two-minute mark, it would all come down to Zapdos, and a single mistake could be costly. Zapdos rendered all of the opposing team’s goal zones defenseless, meaning the team that defeated it could score instantly. Zapdos could easily bring victory to a team that struggled the whole match, making fights for it very intense!
Rayquaza works similarly, but the tactics around it are different. Rayquaza, like Zapdos, spawns at the two-minute mark. But upon defeat, instead of affecting goal zones, it increases the scoring speed of the team that defeated it and grants each of its members a shield. This shield works similarly to the item Score Shield—while it’s active, you can’t be interrupted while scoring.
Another interesting feature of the new map is the air currents that spawn with Rayquaza. You can find these currents in fixed locations across the map, and if you enter an air current, it’ll increase your movement speed for a short time. This can help
Compared to Zapdos, Rayquaza has a lot more , making the final minutes even more dependent on quick thinking. The shield Rayquaza grants can be broken with enough damage, and if it is, scoring will no longer be uninterruptible.
When Your Team Defeats Rayquaza
If your team defeats Rayquaza, pathing will be very important. Pokémon who are low in health or who have lower defenses or lower max HP should score in the goal zones, which are safer. The base goal zone is much more dangerous, and ideally Pokémon with more survivability, such as Defenders, should score there.
When the Opposing Team Defeats Rayquaza
If the opposing team defeats Rayquaza, I find it best to focus on opponents who have less health and defense, which usually are Attackers or Speedsters. Their shields granted by Rayquaza are much easier to take down than Defenders, who can take more damage with ease. The more shields you break, the harder it is for your opponents to reap the benefits from Rayquaza. Certain Pokémon can also interrupt scoring despite the buff from Rayquaza, such as Snorlax, whose move Block can push players off a goal zone. Once a player is off a goal zone, their scoring will immediately stop.
Another way to counter a team that’s been buffed by Rayquaza is to counter-score. If possible, focus on easy targets in the central area and prevent them from scoring, and from there, counter-score in the opposing team’s goal zones.
Other Rayquaza Strategies
There’s yet another way to play around Rayquaza. Instead of focusing on it right away, some players prefer to score in the opposing team’s goal zones or to keep scoring while the opposing team is distracted. This can work, but it requires good coordination and communication. You can have some teammates defend Rayquaza against the opposing team to buy some time for those who are scoring, or you can have your whole team focus on scoring.
Yet another strategy is to break the opposing team’s goal zones on the top path and play around Regieleki. If your team manages to break the opposing team’s goal zones, try to defeat Regieleki close to the two-minute mark and then push it into the opposing team’s base! It will essentially have the same effect as Zapdos, and you can instantly score in the opposing team’s base goal zone.
Rayquaza is a great addition to Pokémon UNITE and introduces so many different strategies and counters that make every second of every battle count. More than ever, the current metagame depends on how your team plays throughout an entire match rather than just its final minutes.
Theia Sky Ruins Central Area Strategies
Let’s talk about the central area and its major changes.
Bouffalant and Ludicolo, Pokémon that provided two major buffs when defeated in Remoat Stadium, have been replaced with Accelgor and Escavalier. Previously, Bouffalant granted a buff to players who defeated it, causing those players’ attacks to slow enemies they hit. Ludicolo granted a buff that helped players deal increased damage to wild Pokémon with low health.
Now, Accelgor grants reduced cooldowns to players who defeat it, which is indicated by a purple aura. This is a powerful buff, and on some Pokémon, it can be devastating against the opposing team!
Escavalier’s buff makes the player’s basic attacks decrease opponents’ movement speed for a short time. This buff is indicated by an orange aura.
Pokémon who head toward the central area at the beginning of the match usually access these buffs first. Later on in the match, depending on which Pokémon my allies and I are playing as, I prefer to leave the Accelgor buff for a Pokémon who can better utilize the reduced cooldowns. But for other players, this choice may depend on who’s on their team and who can potentially make a big difference in team fights.
New Wild Pokémon
Along with the new map come many different wild Pokémon. They’re here to give you Exp. Points and to help you level up so you’re ready for battle! For the most part, the wild Pokémon haven’t tactically changed much from those in Remoat Stadium—they’re just different. For example, instead of Vespiquen and Combee spawning in the middle of paths, now there’s Altaria and Swablu.
A big change in Theia Sky Ruins is the middle of the central area, where Rayquaza will spawn. There are a ton of wild Pokémon here, which can give you a massive lead in Exp. Points. Swablu and Altaria spawn in the center of the map at the eight-minute mark and will respawn every 90 seconds. This is usually a contested area, so be prepared to fight here throughout the match to get an edge.
Theia Sky Ruins Environment and Layout
Now that we’ve touched on major changes to both objectives and wild Pokémon, the last thing to note is the central area, which has undergone big changes.
Theia Sky Ruins is overall larger than Remoat Stadium, meaning wider paths and more space for Pokémon to maneuver. This could give long-range attackers clearer line-of-sight and allow speedy Pokémon more room to run. But the ever-changing metagame is certain to swiftly find counters.
In Remoat Stadium, there was an entry point between the central area and the Zapdos pit, which was often used as a choke point. A common strategy was to have Defenders or Pokémon good at zoning block opponents from entering, allowing their team to defeat Zapdos. Generally, players would try to get around this by reaching that point early, by positioning themselves well for the fight ahead, or simply by going around.
However, in Theia Sky Ruins, that choke point is replaced by a wall. Now there are two entry points instead, giving both teams a way to reach and fight for Rayquaza, meaning new strategies will be formed and fights will seldom be the same.
Overall, these map changes create many new ways the game can be played. The new features and mechanics feel fresh and exciting, and I’m most looking forward to how the metagame will evolve and how competitors will utilize these changes. Pokémon UNITE feels more strategic than ever, and I can’t wait to see what tactics players come up with!
For more Pokémon UNITE strategy and analysis, be sure to check out Pokemon.com/Strategy.