Umbreon Will Shatter Pokemon Unite’s Role Archetypes

I’ve been praying to Arceus that Umbreon would one day make its way into Pokemon Unite, and those prayers have finally been answered. Prolific Unite leaker ElChicoEevee has worked his datamining magic and discovered that Umbreon has been added to the game files in the most recent Public Test Server update. It isn't complete – some art is missing, its moves are named incorrectly, and it might be borrowing some animations from Absol – but it’s real. Umbreon is coming.

My excitement was immediately tempered by the revelation that Umbreon is a Defender. It’s not totally unexpected, given Umbreon’s defense-heavy stat lines, but with Espeon, Sylveon, and Glaceon all being ranged Attackers, I just assumed all the Eeveelutions would be the same. It’s not that I don’t like Defenders, it’s just that I like to win, and Defenders don’t have as much carry potential as All-Rounders and Attackers do. I’m going to play the hell out of Umbreon no matter what, but I’m a little disappointed that I already know it won’t have the best win rate.

If you watch the leaked gameplay footage, however, it’s clear that Umbreon isn’t like other Defenders. In fact, it doesn’t quite fit into any of the role archetypes – or more accurately, it fits into all of them. Umbreon may technically be a Defender, but that doesn’t mean it has to stick on goal or follow around your more dangerous teammates. Roles have always been somewhat flexible in Unite, but Umbreon completely breaks the entire concept of an archetype.

We don’t know all the specifics about what each move does and what their effects are, but there’s a lot we can gather from the gameplay footage. At first blush, Umbreon fits the Defender archetype well. Its passive ability seems to generate a shield of dark energy around it that mitigates damage, and one of its moves is a big AoE burst, similar to Trevenant’s Curse move. But rather than specialize in area denial like Trevenant, Blastoise, and Crustle, Umbreon is a fast, in-your-face brawler that can chase enemies and lock them down so they can’t get away.

Two of its moves make Umbreon seem more like an All-Rounder than a Defender. Its most impressive is a move that could be Mean Look, which traps enemies in a circle they cannot escape. While inside the circle, it looks like all of Umbreon’s attacks become booster attacks, allowing it to quickly melt through the health bars of squishy attackers. Alternatively, it has a Pursuit-like move that gives it two dashes that stun any enemies it hits.

Both of these moves allow Umbreon to follow up with the aforementioned AoE burst for a big damage combo. Chasing and brawling are typically thought to be the tactics of All-Rounders, but the dash attack and high burst potential might also make Umbreon feel like a Speedster, especially if using held items to support that playstyle. The point is, Umbreon breaks down the barriers of role identity in a way that no other Pokemon ever has.

We have seen some cross-class Pokemon in Unite before, even within the Defender category. Greedent has a unique playstyle among Defenders as a fast and frustrating invader, for example. But Umbreon has so much cross-role utility that make the entire Defender identity moot. Its final move, which can take the place of its AoE burst, is a target heal it can apply on itself or a teammate. The move has an exceptionally low cooldown, and it may turn out that Umbreon is an even stronger healer than some Support Pokemon, like Comfey.

Roles still serve a purpose. They give new players quick reference to understand the general playstyle of every Pokemon, and they can help you find balanced team compositions while selecting characters. But over time, roles have become far less rigid than they are in other MOBAs. Umbreon will make it possible for well-rounded teams to include two, or even three Defenders. Role archetypes aren’t meaningless, but Umbreon transcends their definitions. For the best Pokemon ever, I shouldn’t be surprised.

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