The pretrial always serves the same purposes - to see if a case is ready to be heard and to see if the case can be settled before trial or hearing.
Some cases cannot be settled because the issues are too big or the parties are too far apart. But those types of cases are rare. And in truth going to a trial or hearing is expensive and risky. There is no such thing as a sure winner and the vast majority of cases should be settled.
At a pretrial there will be a judge or someone acting for a judge who will review the case and any material filed before the pretrial. The judge who hears a pretrial, in general, cannot hear the trial of there is no settlement. The idea is to allow people to speak freely at the pretrial.
The judge will begin by confirming the trial date and make any orders needed for the trial - say for interpreters or video monitors in the courtroom. The judge will then turn to settlement. Often the judge will be very blunt and will say "I think you should all settle for XYZ". The judge, of course, hasn't heard all the evidence and may be wrong on their assessment of the case, but it is worth considering whatever the judge says very closely.