A weekend of exploring Wizards Unite, the new AR Mobile Game set in the Potterverse
We have been waiting for another Augmented Reality (AR) game to challenge Pokémon Go for the throne and Niantic, the makers of Pokémon Go, created their own competition set in the more popular Harry Potter universe with a bit more depth than the Pokémon game. I have sampled the new Wizards Unite game through its opening weekend but I wanted to get the perspective of my friend Randi Clark who went all out on the launch and stayed up late seeking out mystical Inns and whatnot and saw more of the games initial offering and here are her thoughts.
The last thing I needed was to find another mobile game to get addicted to. But, it’s Harry Potter, so I had to download Wizards Unite and give it a shot. And now three days later, I’m fully addicted...like driving around in my PJs at 2am looking for fortresses and more collectible “foundables”.
The basics of game itself are fairly easy to get a grasp on (especially if you’ve played Pokémon Go): walk around finding foundables (lost items) that are being trapped by confoundables, cast spells to free them and return it to its home. You’ll also encounter oddities to duel (pixies, vampires, and centaurs to name a few) and discover fortresses where you team up with friends to defeat foes and climb up the fortress towers by leveling up. You can pick up items while you walk around, grow and harvest ingredients in public greenhouses, brew potions to use in battle, and find portkeys to take you to different countries.
When you hit level 6, you get to choose your profession (Auror, Professor, or Magizoologist) and work on lessons to level up your profession which helps you in wizard challenges in the fortresses. Choose carefully as each profession has a different set of skills and weaknesses they bring into battle and teaming up with friends who have different professions makes challenges in the fortresses easier.
To recharge your spell power, you visit local inns where you’ll get a random amount of spell charge. The inns reopen every 5 minutes and are usually densely populated so it’s not too difficult to recharge. There is no regeneration for spell charge, which makes sense since this game is all about walking and exploring and not staying at home on the couch and playing. If you live in a highly populated area, you should have no problem finding inns, fortresses, and foundables. Major shopping malls, strip malls, Targets, parks, and churches have mostly been found to be our hot spots (even the Disney and Universal parks).
We’ve noticed a few bugs and since the game was just released that’s to be expected. The location accuracy can be buggy. You can be standing outside an inn, enter it, swipe for spell charge and then the game tells you that the inn is out of range, even though it let you enter. There’s also been a few freezing and crashing issues, but they are becoming less and less the more we play. There are also yet to be released features and right now the only advantage to having friends in the game is if they are local and you go together to fortresses to team up for wizarding challenges. Rumors are there will be more to come with the friends feature (as well as more events) in the near future.
Overall, it’s a fun game, easy to level up, plenty going on to keep you busy, and it’s great to see our beloved Harry Potter characters that pop up through the game. (Editor’s Note - The game also has references to the Fantastic Beasts series which shouldn’t be held against it too hard)
I can vouch for the glitches, I have had to force close the game on multiple occasions. The map can completely disappear in a moment and frequently freezes in place. The paywall on the game is very clear, as the game has you bump into inventory caps and the like with even a little casual play and the energy can be harder to get currently than it is in Pokemon to get balls. And like in Pokemon as they built it on the same maps if you live in a rural area you have nothing to do and no way to earn energy. Having said all of that, the variance in the spell casting is more interesting than throwing a pokeball, and the collectibles are more varied and dynamic than catching your 800th Ratata in Pokemon Go. You also have much more personalization as you pick a custom image for your wizard, their house, wand, profession, etc which is worlds more than in Pokemon GO’s boy or girl. So I recommend getting out and casting some spells, brewing some potions, and giving AR games another chance, or perhaps taking your first foray into the world of AR gaming.