Hoopa Unbound in Pokémon GO PvP and PvE

Under The Lights

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“Sub-creatures! Hoopa the Gozerian, Hoopa the Destructor, Volguus Zildrohar, the Traveler has come! Choose and perish! Choose the form of the Destructor!”

Hey, with Ghostbusters: Afterlife bringing back a nearly 40 year old franchise from… well, from the dead, that header seemed very appropriate as we discuss HOOPA‘s long-awaited form change into its massive (and very weird, that don’t look good) Unbound version.

Afterlife has delivered for most old-school Ghostbusters fans out there after a largely disappointing long gap. After Hoopa Confined was mostly a dud in its heralded arrival into the game, could this new form bring it a similar resurrection? Let’s find out as we put Hoopa Unbound… under the lights.

Hoopa (Unbound) PsychicDark

Hoopa (Unbound) Stats

Ultra League Stats

Attack Defense HP
202 (199 High Stat Product) 129 (132 High Stat Product) 118 (119 High Stat Product)

(Highest Stat Product IVs: 13-15-14, 2496 CP, Level 22)

Master League Stats

Attack Defense HP
258 (274 High Stat Product) 163 (173 High Stat Product) 148 (157 High Stat Product)

(Assuming 15-15-15 IVs, CP 4006 at Level 40, CP 4530 at Level 50)

As with Hoopa Confined, I’ve got good news… and I’ve got bad news. The good news is that Hoopa Unbound actually has higher Attack than Mewtwo, and even a hair more (as they scale together) than Gengar. It has the same stats as Alakazam in Ultra League, depending on IVs. In other words, it packs a wallop and a half. The bad news is… things with Attack that high rarely succeed in PvP because their bulk is thinner than my ageing-father-of-three-children hairline.

Stuff like Gengar works because it has spammy moves to compensate, and Mewtwo works because of its wide variety of moves and the speed in which it can reach them thanks to Psycho Cut. On the flipside, Alakazam largely flops in PvP despite having a great array of similarly fast and impactful moves of its own. They offer enticing awards but carry a very high risk of blowing up in your face.

Thankfully Unbound has a pretty nice typing that can somewhat help offset its poor bulk. Hoopa Confined was a Psychic/Ghost, and while that negates the standard Psychic weakness to Bug and gives it a TRIPLE resistance to Fighting, a double resistance to Normal, and resistances to Poison and Psychic damage, Hoopa Confined is left with TWO devastating double weaknesses: Dark and Ghost.

Hoopa Unbound is also left with two vulnerabilities, but only one double, and it’s to Bug… far less common than Ghost or Psychic, especially in Master League. The other (single) weakness is to Fairy, which you can expect to contend with at all levels, but at least everything else deals no worse than neutral damage… and Psychic damage is now triple resisted, so that’s nice!

Is that enough to save it, though? Well, just as with other glass cannons, that answer lies more in the moves…

Fast Moves

  • ConfusionPsychic type, 4.0 DPT, 3.0 EPT, 2.0 CoolDown
  • AstonishGhost type, 1.67 DPT, 3.0 EPT, 1.5 CD

Just as with Confined, this isn’t the best start. Things like Gengar and Mewtwo (and even Alakazam) work because they have high-energy-generating fast moves (Shadow Claw with 4.0 EPT or Psycho Cut with 4.5 EPT). Hoopa only has… Confusion. Yes, it’s a really good PvP move, dealing BIG damage on its own (especially on something like Hoopa!), but its energy generation is exactly average. Without low cost moves like Gengar’s 35 energy Shadow Punch or Mewtwo’s 45 energy Psystrike, this combined with Hoopa’s glassiness doesn’t seem a great recipe for success except against things weak to Psychic damage.

Oh, Astonish, you ask? It STILL remains astonishingly awful, also having average EPT and terrible damage per turn. (And unlike Confined, Unbound doesn’t even get STAB damage with it!) Seriously, Niantic… Astonish buff when?!

If Hoopa had a higher energy fast move like, say, Shadow Claw, now we’d be getting somewhere, but alas, the only other GO fast move it learns in MLG is Zen Headbutt, so no salvation coming here. Ugh.

Charge Moves

  • Dark PulseDark type, 80 damage, 50 energy
  • PsychicPsychic type, 90 damage, 55 energy, 10% Chance to Decrease Opponent Defense -1 Stage
  • Shadow BallGhost type, 100 damage, 55 energy

So just one change between the Confined and Unbound versions, but at least it’s a positive one. Both forms share 55-energy moves Psychic and Shadow Ball, but Confined is also left with the pretty awful Psybeam (only 70 damage for 60 energy 🤢) as its (unusable) third move option, while Unbound instead has Dark Pulse, giving it not just a STAB Dark move, but a pretty good one at that, one that’s cheaper than any other move that either Hoopa has to offer. That’s potentially promising, right? Right?

Hoopa Unbound in PvP

Well, ah… unfortunately not. Even with a rather favorable typing (nothing in Master League is going to be able to exploit its typing except Charmers) and more relative speed than Confined, there is nothing to really tout here. Yes, it does a bit more than the really awful Hoopa Confined, but that is the lowest of a low bar. It beats exactly what you might expect a Psychic/Dark-type to beat (Machamp, Mewtwo, Snorlax, and the Hero Duo Zacian and Zamazenta.

But it can’t even beat Lugia or Metagross or the Giratinas or other things you’d hope for its Dark and/or Psychic sides to be able to deal with. (And no, it’s no better in Ultra League, though at least it can pick off Shadow Nidoqueen, so there’s that.) If the question being asked to Hoopa is “are you a god?”, the answer is rather clearly “no”. It’s just too slow to crush things before its own frailty betrays it.

It takes Hoopa Unbound just as long to reach its cheapest charge move (Dark Pulse) as it does for Azumarill to reach Hydro Pump, for Metagross to reach Earthquake, for Kingdra to reach Outrage, for Dialga to reach Thunder… and for something like Swampert, Politoed, and Abomasnow to reach TWO Hydro Cannons/Weather Balls (or for Gengar to reach two Shadow Punches), for just a few examples.

In fairness… it doesn’t have much else to work within MLG in terms of better moves. By levelling up, these fast and charge moves are about all it can learn among moves ported over to Pokémon GO. Well, aside from its unique moves Hyperspace Hole (signature Psychic move of Confined) and Hyperspace Fury (signature Dark move of Unbound), which have been added — in pieces — to GO but unfortunately are not live, nor their stats revealed. I delayed my analysis on Unbound in hopes that we’d have these moves come with it, but alas, here we are. But more on them later…

First, there ARE a couple moves it can learn in MLG via TM or tutoring that MAY offer more promise. One of them is Psyshock, which checks in at just 45 energy to deal 70 damage. And yes, it’s better, but not that much, allowing now that potential win over Metagross, as well as Rhyperior and Excadrill… if the baits all work out properly. Still not that hot.

Now while it can also learn the Elemental Punches (Fire, Ice, Thunder) via tutoring, those only take it so far. A TRUE bait move that it can learn in Generation 6 is Power-Up Punch, and that has some promise, but again is only to a limited degree.

Like I said, there’s really not much it learns in MLG that could help its PvP performance in GO… except maybe, perhaps, if we’re lucky, those Hyperspace moves.

We don’t know the stats in GO, but we DO know that in MLG games, Hyperspace Hole deals 80 Psychic-type damage and basically always hits, through Protect, shields, blocks, and even a Substitute, and Hyperspace Fury hits for 100 Dark-type damage, is similarly sure to basically always connect with the opponent’s face, and comes with a guaranteed Defense debuff to the target as well.

So let’s make some likely best case assumptions about these moves and how they MIGHT appear in GO, and see if those help Hoopa out!

Hyperspace Hole is the signature move of Confined, and while it CAN be used by Unbound, I think it’s unlikely it will be in Unbound’s movepool in GO. But since we’re just messing around anyway, let’s make it, say, a 45 energy/80 damage move, which would not only be great and appropriate stats for a signature move, but also give Hoopa the kind of cheap move it needs… basically a suped up Psyshock. Does that help? No, not really. So let’s go full-on crazy and make Hole a clone of Psystrike, the crazy good 45-energy-for-90-damage signature move of Mewtwo.

Aaaaaaaaaaand… nope, still no good. Dang. Maybe if Niantic can figure out some way to make it hit through shields, we might really be on to something. But as is, all the opponent has to do is hold onto a shield and pick Hoopa apart before it gets back around to charging up a second charge attack. Even with the favorable-while-still-realistic guesstimate of Hole dealing 80 damage for 45 energy AND stripping away shields, Hoopa is STILL just fringe.

But maybe if Hyperspace Fury is nasty enough, that could work? Let’s start strong, simming Fury as a 100 damage, 50 energy move, essentially a 100-damage Psystrike (both moves having 2.0 Damager Per Energy). Well shoot, no improvement whatsoever. How about an amazing 100 damage for only 45 energy? Slightly better, but still a no. Let’s go for broke with an insane 40 energy for 100 damage. FINALLY, then we’d have something, with wins now over even juggernauts like Kyogre, Swampert, Lugia, Ho-Oh, and Dialga. Honestly, I don’t see Niantic going THAT far, but that’s the kind of extent they’d have to go to if they want Hoopa to be viable at all in PvP. Because otherwise… it’s just not. Sorry, folks!

That would be a lousy way to end things, though. So let’s go out on a high note with something I don’t do often (but am trying to get smarter about analyzing): PvE.

HOOPA UNBOUND IN PvE

First, I would direct your attention to this great analysis from long-time reader and supporter (and obviously, a fantastic fellow analyst!) Teban54. As they note, Hoopa Unbound is a really good raider. As a Psychic damage attacker, other than a number of still-unreleased Pokémon and Megas, it falls behind only Mewtwo, making it the second best Psychic type in PvE currently available (see below). So if you really like Hoopa, yes, it makes sense to power it up for PvE purposes.

But if you do, you likely only want it as Psychic attacker. If you want to use it as a Dark type, well, things get awkward. Running with Confusion is a bad idea when you’re attacking, say, Psychic raid bosses that you’d normally want to deploy a Dark against, as they resist it. And Hoopa’s only other fast attack is Astonish, which lacks STAB on Unbound. As a result, whether running Dark Pulse or Shadow Ball, Unbound falls behind several established options… as Teban points out, including even Hoopa Confined!

So stick with it as a Psychic-damage raider and you should be happy with it there, at the very least.

But to reiterate that and the rest from above, let’s get to our…

TL;DR

  • As is, Hoopa Unbound is not really viable in PvP. Its combination of poor bulk, slow fast moves, and rather expensive charge moves means that unless it can catch the opponent with shields down, it simply can’t live long enough to take full advantage of its robust damage potential. Mewtwo has multiple moves costing less than 50 energy, and things like Gengar and even Alakazam do too. None of Hoopa Unbound’s moves cost less than 50 energy.
  • There is potential for Hyperspace Hole and/or Hyperspace Fury to change this, but they’d need to be similarly cheap. Otherwise they do nothing to really help its performance.
  • At least in PvE, Hoopa Unbound is the #2 Psychic attacker currently in the game, behind only Mewtwo. So if PvE is more your thing, this could be a good addition to your team!

And for now, that’s it! Please feel free to discuss further (or ask any burning questions about all this) in comments and I’ll engage when I can!

Until next time (likely my move rebalance analysis), you can always find me on Twitter with near-daily PvP analysis nuggets or Patreon.

Thanks for your faithful readership, Pokéfriends… I appreciate your attention and encouragement. Catch you next time, and until then, stay safe out there!

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