Before Wizards Unite there was…
Let’s take a moment to remember the summer of 2016; Niantic, Inc. released a mobile game that made people all over the globe, young and old, ignore reality and became completely consumed in a world full of color, fun, and, of course, Pokémon. Pokémon GO created a craze that no one saw coming. Mobs formed in New York City to catch an Aerodactyl and kids were trespassing on private government property to catch a Pikachu. It was complete and utter chaos, but man was it a blast running around completing the life long dream of being a Pokémontrainer.
But now, in summer ‘19, Niantic, Inc. has made another life long dream come true with the release of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Finally! The day we’ve been waiting for since we were 11 years old, out Hogwarts letter has arrived and we’re now part of the wizarding world. June 25th, 2019 was the set release date but the owls were ahead of schedule and the app was available to download a day early. Everyone is officially welcome to partake in spellcasting, selecting a magical profession, and choosing your Hogwarts house. And if you are an over-dedicated Harry Potter fan like us, this comes as a huge relief since you’ve probably have been sorted into a Hogwarts house about 100 times.
I solemnly swear that I’m just playing Wizards Unite.
Just like Pokémon GO, this game takes your actual surroundings and turns them into a wizard-themed mobile map. The main objective of this game is to save the wizarding world by finding ‘Foundables’, which will appear randomly on the map along with ingredients you’ll need to brew potions, and cast a spell to send them back to where they rightfully belong.
The map reflects the real streets you are walking on. Greenhouses and Inns show up in place of buildings or notable objects of the real world that you can interact with on your phone. By clicking on them you receive a chance to get random potion ingredients or more ‘spell energy’ which you need to cast any sort of spell. Towers are also part of the map, where you and your friends team up and cast spells on rare ‘Foundables’ that aren’t easy to come across during your daily wizarding adventures.
The gameplay is rather simple, but involves the player a lot more than most mobile games. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite gives you the chance to level up, advance in a magical profession, brew potions, unlock portkeys by walking, and endlessly casting spells on ‘Foundables’. With so much going on in the game, it appears less friendly to people who aren’t fans of the franchise, more so than Pokémon GO does. But don’t let that stop you from playing if you aren’t a Harry Potter fan, a whole new story exists for this game that is easy to follow if you are unfamiliar with the original story. Fans will recognize familiar faces while playing the game, but you won’t be lost even for a second if you haven’t spent your days reading the books and watching movie marathons.
You’re just a flick and swish away from starting your wizarding adventure!
One of the major differences and upsets is the lack of interacting with your friends in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Although you can add friends in the game, you are currently unable to send them gifts or interact in with them in any way. It is also upsetting that they didn’t start out with a feature like ‘adventure sync,’ which allows you to get benefits in Pokémon GO without having the app open constantly. It helps keep the game in the back of your mind even when you are running around. However, if you’re like me, you won’t need gifts from a friend to start playing the newest game from Niantic, Inc. obsessively and let’s face it, anywhere we walk we’re going to have the Harry Potter: Wizards Unite open.
We haven’t been part of any mobs to return a ‘Foundable’ and we’ve only been involved in light trespassing to fill up our spell energy (just kidding) but it’s only a matter of time before we find myself going out of the way to make sure all Hippogriffs are safe and sound. The game has only been out for a few days and so far our only complaints are that there isn’t an inn close to our house – We get it, we can’t save the Wizarding World from the comfort of our couch. Other than that, we think the game is immersive, a lot of fun, and the closest we’re going to get to living in the magical world J.K. Rowling created all those years ago.
Words: Anna Grillo | Photos: Niantic, Inc.