Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Review
The magical world of J.K. Rowling has become a bit more realistic. In Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, the wizarding world needs you to keep it a secret from the Muggle world. Niantic has taken on the task of making this augmented reality game, but the question is whether they succeeded in selling it as an authentic Harry Potter game, or just a copy-paste of Pokémon Go. Read all about it in my review.
Please note, this review provides detailed information of the game, so it can contain spoilers.
Logging in only possible with Facebook and Google account
I am a bit disappointed that you can only create an account using your Facebook or Google account. Of course, the game needs to bring in the money and this shows Niantic’s revenue model (together with the in-game purchases, of course). I know, there are plenty of games that require your Google or Facebook account to log in. However, it would have been thoughtful to give people the opportunity to create an account with only an email address and password.
First look and feel
One of the first things when you start the game is a narrative introduction to the gameplay. A few magical newspapers fly by and you are one of the wizards (or witches) to sign up to prevent exposure of the Wizarding world to Muggles. You are welcomed by Constance Pickering, from the British Department of Magic. She explains why the disastrous calamity is so ... calamitous. Upon comes * drum roll * Harry Potter himself (now working at the Ministry) to explain a bit of the gameplay. In short, you are looking for Foundables that are scattered everywhere and you need to confiscate them.
Foundables leave traces that makes you able to find them. This is the same principle as searching for Pokémon in Pokémon Go. At first the game does look like Pokémon Go, but the game has a balanced Harry Potter feeling. I have been in place for 20 minutes straight, simply to enjoy the typical music playing in the background. It felt like I was watching The Philosopher's Stone for the first time again!
The story continues at the end of the Harry Potter series. You meet new characters and old acquaintances. A very nice detail is that your profile can be designed to your own liking. Take a photo of yourself with a Hagrid beard on and put together your own wand.
During the tutorial you really have to pay attention as a whole lot of things will be explained to you. Because it can be quite overwhelming in the beginning, I have listed a few terms with a short definition to help you on your way:
- Foundables. Foundables can be people, things, memories or animals that have landed in the Muggle world.
- Confoundable. This is a chaotic form of magic, the reason why Foundables end up in the Muggle world.
- Portkey Portmanteau. You can compare these with Pokémon eggs. Teleport to a known place where you can get items and XP (tip: use a Brain potion before traveling through one of these portals).
- Inns. You can relax and get some energy to continue your hunt for Foundables. You didn't think you could use unlimited spells, did you? : P
- Potions. You will really need this. You can make them yourself at a Greenhouse or buy them at the store (read more about in-game purchases for iOS or Google).
- Vault. Here you can store your items. You have limited space in your Vault, but you can, of course, buy more storage.
- Diagon Alley. In the Diagon Alley you can buy more items and more storage (Vault extensions).
- Gold. This is the in-game currency. At Gringotts you can buy gold to your heart's content, provided you have enough credit on your Apple or Google Play account.
There are many more items and terms that you encounter in the game, but these are the most important ones that you will find in the beginning.
After only having played the beginning, I am already very positive about the game. To be honest, I was afraid it would be too much of a Potter Go game, a copy / paste of the Pokémon Go game. However, Niantic has picked it up very well. The playing method is recognizable, but still it plays completely different from Pokémon.
Niantic has very well considered the involvement of the player the minute the games starts, using a narrative tutorial and the typical music you hear playing in the background.
There are some downsides on the game, too, which I can not ignore. The beginning can be quite overwhelming. It was fairly instinctive with Pokémon Go, but you need to follow the tutorial carefully with HP: Wizards Unite and take the time to go through all the terms and things you can do. Furthermore, it is not that easy to do this literally "on the go", since you have to pause at every Foundable to catch it and swing your wand in specific directions.
Some devices are not compatible with the game, either. My colleague tried to download the game, but only got an error code.
The last thing I am dissatisfied about is the balance between events and Foundables on certain locations. It seems that more remote locations don’t have as many Inns, events and Foundables which makes is very hard to make progress in the game. I know, because I live in a really remote area.
What do you like or dislike about the game? Are you ready to make potions yourself or would you rather buy them? Share your experience with us!
Need more space in your Vault? Or Brain Potions? Buy them in-game with your Apple or Google Play credit. Click on the products below to top up your credit.