I think you’ll find that most competitive players prefer other moves to Return.
- It’s not Super Effective against anything.
- It’s resisted by two types (i.e., Steel/Rock).
- It’s ineffective against another type (i.e., Ghost).
- It doesn’t have any potential added effects.
- To get a same-type bonus (STAB) added to Return, you have to be a Normal-type Pokémon, which leaves you somewhat vulnerable, because Normal-type Pokémon don’t resist anything, but you are weak to a type of attack (i.e., Fighting.)
- And even though Ghost-type moves don’t affect Normal-type Pokémon at all, your STAB moves as a Normal-type Pokémon will also be ineffective against Ghosts. Also most Ghost-types have stuff like Will-o-Wisp, which will cripple most Normal-types.
Without buffs, you’re probably not going to knock out a Pokémon in one use of Return. You may not even be able to knock an opponent out in two hits.
With that said, I do like Return.
- It has over 100 Base Power, which is stronger than moves like Ice Beam, Flamethrower, Zen Headbutt, and even the nigh almighty Earthquake.
- It has 100 Accuracy, meaning you’ll never miss in normal (ha!) circumstances. Missing with Focus Blast (70 Accuracy) or High Jump Kick (90 Accuracy but massive recoil if you do miss) may lose a battle.
- If buffed up properly, any 100 Base Power attack can sweep a team. Due to it having so few resistances (i.e., 3), you can do some serious damage if you prepare right (and if most are honest, most sweeps require buffs, preparation, and timing anyway.)
- With STAB, you’re hitting with 150 Base Power. That’s a lot.
In terms of Pokémon that perform well in online battles for me, Lopunny with Silk Scarf and Power-Up Punch has swept teams before with Return, because:
- Lopunny gets STAB on Return.
- Return doesn’t miss without stat changes.
- Silk Scarf and STAB further boosts Fake Out
- Lopunny has 105 Base Speed, a Jolly nature, and full Speed EV investments, meaning it will outspeed just about everything.
- Lopunny has 80+ Defense, 90+ Special Defense, and one weakness, meaning it will probably survive one unboosted hit.
A STAB, Silk Scarf’d Fake Out, a Power-Up Punch to boost Attack, surviving one hit, and a STAB, Silk Scarf’d Return will threaten to knock out anything without defensive stats, defensive typing, or defensive investments.
But that’s preparation, situation, timing, and prediction. It can usually only get a Pokémon into the critical range for HP with that set, and that’s only if I’m smart and lucky.
The thing I say is that a lot of moves are useful, but the main thing is to know the game of “Pokémon.” You’ll find that many Normal-type Pokémon can use other moves to better effect than Return, and you may find that Return is a safe, competent bet for neutral coverage for Pokémon who don’t get the STAB bonus.
If you know the game, if you know other Pokémon, and if you know what sets you’re likely to see, then you can make up “counter” sets that can challenge competitive teams and even beat them using your own favorites.
As for the Friendship thing, the power does cap at 102 or 105 like Owens said.