06 Sep 2021 5:55 PM +00:00

Pokémon Unite Physical vs Special Attacks

What's going on with the Pokémon Unite Physical vs Special attack split? This brand-new take on Pokémon doesn't handle it the same as the main series games: and that can get confusing. If you're not intimately knowledgeable about both, you'll likely be left asking questions about how some of its more intricate mechanics work. There's a lot of conflicting information given by the game, so we're going to help set it right.

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Have more burning Pokémon Unite questions? We've been answering a bunch both before and after the game's launch. You can read up on what those Pokémon Unite medals mean after a match, how to get 60fps in handheld mode, how to view the Pokémon Unite statistics screen, and even learn the differences between Held Items and Battle Items. Those last two are exactly why you'll want to understand what we're about to cover.

Pokémon Unite Physical vs Special - What's the Difference?

In Pokémon Unite, you'll have noticed items that say they increase a Pokémon's Attack or Sp. Atk stat or some moves that decrease stats Defense and Sp. Def. These stats have a direct influence over how much damage your attacks deal. Knowing how Pokémon Unite physical vs special attacks are calculated will help you deal and resist more damage. Here's how it works:

  • The higher your Attack stat and the lower the Defence stat of your target, the more damage your Physical Pokémon will deal.
  • The higher your Sp. Atk stat and the lower the Sp. Def stat of your target, the more damage your Special Pokémon will deal.
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This is all relatively simple stuff: especially for long-time Pokémon fans. But what isn't clear is exactly which attacks fit into that Pokémon Unite Physical vs Special categorization.

In other Pokémon games, physical vs special attacks have two different symbols: a comic book style impact graphic for Physical, and a ripple graphic for Special. With that alone, you know exactly which type of damage a particular move deals and which stats are used in damage calculation.

You'll notice similar symbols by each move's button in the middle of a match. These don't relate to whether a move in Pokémon Unite is Physical or Special, though: they relate to whether a move is a melee, ranged, area, or hindrance-style attack. The symbols denote their effective range or effect, not the type of damage they deal.

A visual representation of a Pokémon in Pokémon Unite choosing its next move, demonstrating how the icons don't represent the Pokémon Unite physical vs special attack divide.
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Which Pokémon Do Physical or Special Damage in Pokémon Unite?

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The method of differentiating Pokémon Unite Physical vs Special moves is more simple than the game would have you believe. It's not mentioned on any screen detailing a Pokémon's moves.

Even though a move like Razor Leaf has historically been listed as a Physical Attack in most modern Pokémon games, it's a Special Attack in Pokémon Unite: that's because unlike other Pokémon games, the Physical vs Special attack divide isn't decided on a per-move basis in Pokémon Unite, but on a per-Pokémon basis instead.

Regardless of the moves you choose for your Pokémon, the type of damage they deal is purely dependant on their species. A Venusaur will only ever deal Special damage, whereas Charizard can only deal Physical damage. This is paramount to deciding which Held Items and Battle Items to equip in battle. Boosting the Sp. Atk stat of Charizard won't do anything to increase its damage as it doesn't use Special attacks at all.

Here's how each Pokémon fits into the Pokémon Unite Physical vs Special attack categories:

Pokémon Attack Type Stat Weight
AbsolPhysicalAttack / Defence
Alolan NinetailsSpecialSp. Atk / Sp. Def
CharizardPhysicalAttack / Defence
CinderacePhysicalAttack / Defence
CrustlePhysicalAttack / Defence
CramorantSpecialSp. Atk / Sp. Def
EldegossSpecialSp. Atk / Sp. Def
GarchompPhysicalAttack / Defence
GardevoirSpecialSp. Atk / Sp. Def
GengarSpecialSp. Atk / Sp. Def
GreninjaPhysicalAttack / Defence
LucarioPhysicalAttack / Defence
MachampPhysicalAttack / Defence
Mr. MimeSpecialSp. Atk / Sp. Def
PikachuSpecialSp. Atk / Sp. Def
SlowbroSpecialSp. Atk / Sp. Def
SnorlaxPhysicalAttack / Defence
TalonflamePhysicalAttack / Defence
VenusaurSpecialSp. Atk / Sp. Def
WigglytuffSpecialSp. Atk / Sp. Def
ZeraoraPhysicalAttack / Defence

We hope that helps clear things up in terms of how Pokémon Unite Physical vs Special attacks are handled. It's not enough to assume a move deals physical damage purely because it uses a physical object per say.

Though it worked in a similar context-based way with the original Pokémon games, that's not how the Pokémon Unite Physical vs Special attack divide is handled.

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Can You Change A Pokémon's Attack Type in Pokémon Unite?

No, you can't change a Pokémon's attack type in Pokémon Unite. It's decided at a Pokémon level. You'll never be able to have a physical Pokémon like Garchomp use the Sp. Atk stat in-game. This means that no matter what, a Held Item that awards Sp. Atk stats will have practically no effect on the damage output of a physical-class Pokémon as they use the Attack stat in damage calculation.

Whether you use a move that's classified as Physical or Special in mainline Pokémon games, that stat is used in Pokémon Unite will always be based on whether the Pokémon using it is Physical or Special. This cannot change.