Harry Potter: Wizards Unite may not be the wizarding world game of my dreams (hopefully that leaked Harry Potter RPG trailer is more than a concept) but I’m pleasantly surprised with how much I’m enjoying Niantic’s latest augmented reality “walking RPG.”
This followup to the phenomenally successful Pokemon GO does a lot of heavy lifting to justify its storyline that makes the actual idea behind it a little wonky, but the many, many layers of exploration and collection it encourages have kept me engaged on a daily basis… so far.Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is, in a nutshell, Pokemon GO but with wizard tchotchkes instead of collectable pocket monsters.
The longer version of the description reads a bit more like a J.K. Rowling lore tweet: in the quiet, post-Deathly Hallows epilogue lives of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, a great calamity has hit the wizarding world and threatens to tear down the wall between muggles and magic. You and wizards around the world are enlisted to help uphold the Statute of Secrecy and eventually solve this Calamity.
It’s a silly but not uninteresting hook for me as a Harry Potter fan, and it’s given me an excuse to interact with a number of famous items, people, and creatures from the wizarding world. And also…Daily Prophet newsstands. The story is doled out in very small doses, though, as it’s meant to be explored over the months to come, so you get a lot of text, with some VO, to comb through with some cute character moments from new characters, a surprisingly spot-on Daniel Radcliffe impression, and expectedly unconvincing impressions of Emma Watson and Maggie Smith.
For anyone who’s played Pokemon GO, Wizards Unite’s format proves instantly familiar, and still works as a great foundation for a mobile game. Exploring the real world with an augmented overlay — this time, the prettier, more colorful storybook aesthetic of Wizards Unite’s map – you hunt around for an assortment of items, known here as Foundables. Or, Confoundables. Well, actually, the confoundable is the thing holding the Foundable out of its place in space and time, and you have to free the Foundable from the confoundable…