March 12, 2019
‘Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’ Gameplay Details Reveal ‘Pokémon Go’-Style Elements, But Plenty of New Stuff, Too
The mobile game Pokémon Go reignited the spark for capturing weird little monsters and making them fight each other. But Pokémon as a property isn’t for everyone. That’s why game developer Niantic Inc. is teaming up with Warner Bros. Games to bring a similar style of game play to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is a forthcoming augmented reality game that we’ve highlighted before. But official details on the gameplay haven’t been available until today. Thankfully, Niantic and WB have revealed what fans can expect from this foray into the magical world, and it will combine content and characters from both the original Harry Potter franchise and the new Fantastic Beasts series. Find out more about the Harry Potter Wizards Unite game below.
The creators of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite want the game to feel like it actually takes place in a universe where the Wizarding World really is parallel to ours, so the story behind the game follows a calamity that has befallen the Wizarding World. It’s caused artifacts creatures, people, and even memories to mysteriously appear in the Muggle world. Your task, as a new recruit of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force (a new arm of the Ministry of Magic and the International Confederation of Wizards), is to overcome the confounding magic surrounding these items called “Foundables” and keep them shielded from the Muggles.
Much like Pokémon Go, you’ll have to actually go explore the world around you to find a variety of these Foundables. There will be traces of magic that lead you to them, and a higher concentration and variety will be found at various landmarks, such as parks, banks, municipal buildings, college campuses, libraries, monuments, zoos, art galleries, and more. Pokémon Go has famously used churches as well, and while they’re not mentioned in the press released, that could make for an interesting confrontation at churches who are staunchly against any association with witchcraft.
There are a variety of spells you’ll have to use in order to keep Foundables from being discovered by Muggles, including moments where you might have to help Harry Potter ward off a Dementor, as seen above (via Variety). In order to cast them, you’ll have to keep replenishing your Spell Energy at various Inns around the real world. These are the Wizarding World equivalent of Pokémon Go stops that dish out Pokéballs, potions, and other helpful items. In Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, in addition to Spell Energy, you’ll also get a variety of ingredients that can be used to make Potions that help in your journey. These items will vary depending on the environment, weather, time of day, and more.
One of the more enticing elements of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite that helps it stand out from Pokémon Go is the presence of Portmanteaus, something that can be unlocked to reveal portkeys that will take you to iconic Wizarding World locations like Ollivander’s Wand Shop. It’s not clear what you’ll be able to do at those locations, but it will feature a 360-degree Advanced AR immersive experience.
But there are still other familiar gameplay elements for those who have played Pokémon Go before. For example, Fortresses will be locations that host Wizarding Challenges, where multiple players can team up to take down dangerous foes like Death Eaters. You’ll encounter them around the world too (as seen above), but there will likely be more powerful ones inside these Fortresses. There will also be more rare Foundables within their walls.
However, it sounds like beyond these familiar elements, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite might get a little too complicated for the more casual mobile gamers and Harry Potter fans to really take full advantage of. Elements like choosing a “profession” (such as Aurors, Magizoologists, or Professors) and learning new abilities sound like they add some meat to the gameplay, but also could be intimidating to less dedicated players.
The Verge was able to check out the game in advance recently, and had this to say:
“Players who just want to dabble in an AR Harry Potter world may find themselves intimidated by the class system and skill trees. And the more complicated turn-based combat system that takes over when you engage in the team-based challenges is surprisingly difficult, forcing you to head into battle only after you’ve crafted some much-needed health and stat-boosting potions and carefully considered your class abilities.”
This sounds a lot like the more complicated mechanics of Ghostbusters World, the AR game which has players capturing ghosts, but also features a much more complex system for leveling up, a story mode, and lots of extra details that make it a little more difficult to casually play the game.
Even so, for the Harry Potter fans out there, this could be a great way to tap into the Wizarding World wherever you happen to be. If you have no interest in Pokémon Go, the simple fact that this movie takes place in the Harry Potter universe might be enough for you to spend time playing. If you’ve already been capturing Pokémon, or playing similar games like Jurassic World Alive or Ghostbusters World, it sounds like this will only add to your screentime with your phone.
There’s still no official release date for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, but it will arrive sometime this year. You can sign up at the Harry Potter: Wizards Unite website to be notified when the game is available for download.
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