Pokemon Masters has been out for awhile, I've played it for a bit and here are my thoughts on the game! The special thing about this article is that I’ll be having 2 other guests here to show their views on the game. There would be an Expert's point of view, and someone who quit the game’s point of view. So hopefully with 3 different varied and opposing perspectives on the game, this article will tell if the game’s for you.
However for this article, since its the pilot for this series, I haven’t really found someone who quit Pokemon Masters after playing it for awhile. Moving forward, I’ll try my best to get the needed perspectives! If you’re willing to help, please join my Discord channel here!
I'm not going to be too in depth in this article and I'll be focusing more on explaining my own thoughts about the game, rather than going through the different mechanics in the game. If you're looking for more technical Pokemon Masters articles, head on over to these!
Introducing the expert guest judge! Emma from the Gamepress team. Here’s a bit about herself.
Hi, I’m Emma, I’ve played Pokémon Masters since the 25th July release, First thing I did was purchase gems and roll the Gacha, so to answer you how much I've played this game, I might be one of the very first person to ever do a purchase in the game.
I currently run a server, where I try to help, and guide all users. Let it be guides, resources, questions or just merely gameplay. It’s also the place where I share my recent Pokémon Masters Articles as I’m working for GamePress. So if you always wanna be in the loop of Pokémon Masters, I’m your gal Here is the invite to the server - If you do need me, just ping, I love pings.
Pokemon Masters has a pretty unique combat system. No it's not like the norm Pokemon combat system you're thinking of. Instead, it's similar to the 3DS game Yokai Watch, or a more familiar ground would be something like Elune's combat system + Clash Royale. This article goes through the combat system more thoroughly.
This combat system tries to capture the essence of the mainline Pokemon series, while trying to engage the player more with real time combat. Pokemons having only 1 weakness type also helps the game in being more general-friendly, though I can see purists hating this aspect.
The Co-Op in the game works well too, I feel like it's arguably one of the strongest parts of the game, and a huge reason of if I will continue to play this game. It's really fun to be able to work together with people from all over the world to complete stages together, especially if everyone knows their role in the fight. There are meta teams defined in harder stages (EX Very Hard Stages), these fights are very reminiscent of boss fights in MMORPGs, where each player has a certain rotation of moves they'll have to do at certain points in the fight. Of course you'll need a lot of cooperation with your teammates, and it'll be very unlikely for a bunch of randoms to complete these stages together without communication whatsoever.
If you're a big fan of how MMORPGs fights go, and trying to look for that same level of cooperation and gameplay, Pokemon Masters might be up your alley.
The combat. Pokémon Masters is a “Real-Time Turn Based Game”. The way it works is that, the game is Real Time, so if you afk/idle, you will be ignored and they will proceed to battle without you. Now for the combat mechanic. Pokémon Masters is 3v3, it is possible to have multiple Pokémons but as a maximum in play, there can max be 3 on each side, this means that in total, there are actually 6 Players which means 6 inputs can be done at once. Though at the moment there’s only a max of 3 players that can play together.
As mentioned above each sync pair has 2x Pokémon Moves and 2x Trainer moves as well as your support units which are tanky will definitely be the targets. So when you play Solo, you want to attack with your DPS Pokemon, while using your support units to buff the DPS. The enemy AI naturally focuses on the tankiest Pokemon. There are status effects like Poison, Freeze, Confuse, Flinch. A flaw in this system is for an example let’s say Poison. Each time you use a move. Your Pokemon takes poison damage. BUT, if you use your Trainer Moves. Like Rosa & Serperior, using “Energize” support move. It’s Rosa “taking a turn”. not Serperior. Which means that the Poisoned Serperior doesn’t take damage. Because the Pokémon never “acted”. Apparently all buffs in this game are done by trainers. Thus rendering all status effects pretty useless. And all your tankier Pokemons are just there to soak damage because of their low offensive stats, it’ll never be a good idea to rely on using their offensive moves. So they are actually dummies, if you played MMORPG games like WoW and ever did target practice on a Dummy, then yes this is exactly it.
One could add an “IDLE” Effect on all pokemons. So that while you are queuing up skills, they also do have auto attacks, then more strategies could be added, imagine a Pokémon who has a 10% chance of stunning the enemy each Auto Attack. And an Auto Attack could proc, accordingly to the units Speed. The Combat system would be a bit more complex but fun, and make use of additional mechanics. Which in my honest opinion, beats playing with dummy units who just looks pathetic when all they do is take a beating while your main DPS Pokemon does all the work.
Oh boy. This is really where I feel the game drops the ball. You'll get around a fully evolved Pokemon every MONTH. To evolve your Pokemon, you'll have to buy evolution shards and stones from the Shop. 5 evolution shards for the 2nd evolution, and 3 evolution stones for the 3rd evolution. The first 2 sets of evolution shards you buy will only cost you 1,000 gold, and the first set of evolution stones will cost you 5,000 gold. HOWEVER, after you buy this "Starter" set of evolution materials. That's where you find out the true terror.
50,000 gold for a 2nd evolution, and a whopping 900,000 gold for a 3rd evolution. I've been playing for a bit and I've only earned at most 300,000 gold, which is enough only for 1/3 stones. There's also a limit of 3 evolution stones per month, which basically means you're only going to get 1 fully evolved Pokemon a month. No questions asked.
Another thing that rubs me the wrong way is that before official launch, the amount of evolution materials needed were way lesser. 1 evolution shard instead of 5, 3 evolution stones instead of 1. With the sudden change and not having server wipes before launch, it kind of makes me feel I got cheated out of a few more evolved Pokemons that people have obtained during pre-launch.
As for the other kinds of resources, such as EXP potions, skill ups, Gym Notes (Which are used for Max Level Cap) , they are easily farmable so I have no qualms about it. Only the evolution shenanigans stand out like a sore thumb.
In Pokémon Masters you do not have “AP” or “Stamina” or “Energy” whatever you are used to which limits your daily game-time. This doesn’t exist in Pokémon Masters. Instead, end game has “Supercourses” which are limited attempts daily. Where it says “3x Attempts remaining” where you can try them as many times as possible, but you can only complete them 3x times for the given duration, they have weekly schedules and you are getting 3 different Supercourses each 24 hours, except for the weekend special where you get 5 different Supercourses. The Supercourses feels like a “super” mission, hence the name, which gives you way more materials then usually.
The game can be very grindy for users, who wishes to maximize every single unit, and it is possible to reach almost max level of any sync pair within a day. Once you beat the story. And got to a point in the game, it will be possible for you to almost max any unit within 1-2 hours gameplay only. It’s the very last part of the levels which is hard to get, due to being locked away via time-gated materials that you can only obtain in either 50% drop chance of supercourses, or 10-12% from co-op spamming. And you need 3-5 of them each sync pair, depends on rarity. So as you can see, it is actually extremely easy to level up units in this game, but can feel grindy, if you attempt to level up multiple units.
The gacha rates in the game are nothing special and in fact feels worse than other games. At first glance, you'll think its really generous with it's 7% SSR rate, however, the amount of gems you'll get from the game is so little that it somewhat evens out. A single pull costs 300 gems, daily login gives 100 or 50 gems every few days, and finishing all daily missions (Which takes about 5 minutes) gives an additional 30. There's no free daily pull like other games, so unless another bug happens and they give out 6,000 gems again, it'll be highly unlikely that you're able to do more than 1-2 10x pulls a month as a F2P player. So start saving your gems for the eventual Cynthia banner!
The game is known to be one of the cheapest Gacha out there. You can buy a monthly special package, I’m from denmark, so I don’t know US prices but I know it’s cheaper. You will get 3200 or 3400 gems, which you can then use daily on a daily discount 100 paid gem for 1 pull. So basically buy once each month, and then summon once daily. Which is the best approach a person should Gacha in this game. Doing 1x or 10x pulls has no real effect, so it doesn’t really matter. Due to the nature of the game, 7% is the drop chance of the highest Rarity unlike other games like FGO which is 10 times worse. So yeah. One purchase each month, should be all the investment a person wants to do if they want to spend money, otherwise you can pretty much F2P. As everything is easy to pull.
Most content can be cleared using F2P units. I've personally have a bit of luck in the game so I haven't used many F2P units aside from Korrina & Lucario to clear Sygna Suit Brock. Though I've seen a lot of videos of people clearing content using things like Hau & Raichu. Rosa & Snivy is also one of the best supporter units, and is hailed as the first unit you should fully evolve. Thus I feel you're better off saving your pulls for someone you really like, and not trying to chase meta units.
The game starts out with 3x units, and there are 20 chapters (18 chapters and 2x Interludes) so far 19 out of the 20 episodes has given us a Free Sync Pair. And to be honest, one of the strongest Sync Pairs are here as well, so the game is extremely Free To Play. There will definitely be Gacha Units that are very impactful, like 5 star Olivia and Brendan or even Blue. But F2P wise, you are pretty much set with amazing sync pairs once you just beat the story. My recommendation is the following. Chapter 1 Rosa, Chapter 5 Skyla and Chapter 11 Hau. You will thank me later if you follow this advice.
The game's still fresh, but there is a respectable amount of things to do in the game. Aside from the main story, there's a wide variety of supercourses to do, and the supercourses rotate throughout the days! Multiple events to grind for at the same time, Co-Op battles to do, there's a decent amount of things to do, so I'm not going to fault them for anything in this department. Though I could see the game getting repetitive if you play too long, considering there's no stamina system in the game.
It is hard to talk about Content, when we actually have yet to receive any actual content, so far the current game has only been doing bug fixes, in the entire pre-launch version, we had datamined upcoming 4x event banners which included
Week 1, Blue & Pidgeot
Week 2 Olivia & Lycanroc
Week 3 Lyra & Meganium
Week 4 Hilbert & Oshawott
Where they have increased drop chances and an event where you can get some materials. So I know that these has been progressively been released, but calling it “content” is a big fat lie, as they have been in the game since the very beginning. Constantly there has been complaints of dry game, and boring gameplay, due to how little there is to it. Like soon we will even get EX Flannery, so Yeah, it’s not “new content” but more “time-gated” content.
This means that once Hilbert & Oshawott, week is over, DeNA or TPC should finally get out there and tell us what their entire idea of the game is, and whatever they release at this point. Will be the very first time we get “actual content to look forward too”.
So in a sense, this game has yet to release content, in pre-launch solo mattered more, whilst in actual release Co-Op mattered more, who knows what the future might hold. But saying that we got “Content” so far is a big fat lie. I have high hopes for this game, because ever since 25 July, they have been slowing working on content. So i’m very hyped to see what they have in store for us. And my honest opinion of everything will be that even if TPC can be greedy, they still want to succeed, so I'm actually expecting content. And this is my honest opinion of the matter as a long time player.
Pokemon Masters is a good game to play on the side. Considering there's no stamina system in the game so you'll be compelled to keep playing. And for harder Co-Op battles, you wouldn't be able to speed up the fights and also playing on auto would be a detriment. Coupled with the fact that not being able to play on emulators means you'll have to keep your phone on at all times, even when you just want to farm lower level stages for materials. I personally wouldn't recommend playing this as your main game as you'll probably get burnout really quickly, but would be something I'll login to do dailies, and run a few runs of event stages every so often.
Overall, the game is fast, easy, doesn’t take much time except if you really wanna grind those high levels on multiple units then it can take time, but at the same time once you have grinded, then you are “free” from additional grind. I currently have unlocked all sync pairs, and all Damage dealers have been maxed out, at the highest possible level. There are currently 28 Dps Units.I can’t say that the game is good or bad yet, as I still need to try it out, as in. I really need DeNA to release actual Content to say if this game is worth it or not. Until then we still sadly have to wait.