Only a few years after the nostalgia-driven AR frenzy that was Pokemon Go, Niantic has cast an incendio charm on the world again with the augmented reality (AR) Harry Potter game called Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.
As you can imagine, there's a lot of excitement around Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and we could even see Pokemon Go-levels of hype as people get their hands on it – especially in the UK, where people could play the game in the locations it took place.
We've put together this handy guide to everything you need to know about Wizards Unite, to prepare you for your gaming, walking, and spell-casting.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A mobile AR Harry Potter game in the vein of Pokemon Go
- When can I play it? It's out now!
- What can I play it on? Android and iOS
Harry Potter Wizards Unite release date
Harry Potter Wizards Unite will launched in the UK and the US on June 20, 2019. Just in time for the muggle children's summer holidays – what a coincidence!
Niantic originally planned to make the game available on June 21, but users in the UK found themselves able to download it early, perhaps due to time differences between countries.
The worldwide launch of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite begins this Friday, June 21! Keep your eyes peeled and wand ready for more information as the game goes live in your region soon. #WizardsUnite pic.twitter.com/ckk4s4mi8aJune 19, 2019
How to play Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
When you open the app, you're prompted to create a profile for yourself before you start playing – it doesn't take long, and you'll be playing the game before you know it.
You can fill in most of your information at any time, including adding a picture and your Hogwarts house, but if you just want to play, the game will run you through a quick tutorial before letting you loose in your neighbourhood.
Sprawled across the map you can see floating badges, flags, inns, greenhouses, fortresses and more – let's run through what those mean
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite locations
The floating badges are called 'Confoundables' in the game, and they work similar to the Pokemon in Pokemon Go, as they're what you're trying to collect.
When you select a Confoundable, you're taken to the AR camera and you have to cast a spell on it, by swiping over a pattern that appears on screen. Sometimes you have to do this once, other times you need to cast the spell a few times to finish the task. Then you'll collect the Confoundable, and add it to your 'Registry', which is rather like a sticker collection.
Collecting these help you level up, and rank up in certain categories like Care of Magical Creatures and Dark Arts.
The flags that you might see dotted the map indicate areas where there will be a high intensity of Confoundables, so if you're looking to collect as many as possible, these areas will be the best places to look. Just tap the flat to indicate the area they cover.
Inns and Greenhouses
Inns 'serve' a variety of cuisine (both magical and British), with each plate giving you more spell energy to use for combat. Some plates give more energy than others, so you are presented with several covered serving dishes and asked to pick one at random.
It’s down to luck of the draw and you have to wait another five minutes before you can pick another - but don’t worry, the world is littered with inns to gather energy from.
Alongside inns, the other notable buildings dotted across the map are greenhouses. Greenhouses reward you with ingredients, used for potion brewing, but much like inns what you get is the luck of the draw.
You are presented with five plants and asked to pull up one to reveal your ingredient prize, again waiting five minutes before you can pick again. These ingredients are then used for potion brewing necessities such as health potions (there will be 10 potions available at launch), with skills such as brewing time, yield and quantity being able to be upgraded as you progress.
Much like Pokémon Go’s raids, Fortresses are battles which offer more powerful items but required you to team up with others. At present, you can take on a Fortress with up to four others (making a total of five). However, to take part in these you need to use rune stones (which you obtain from the Confoundables and treasure chests) .
However, unlike Pokémon Go raids, there are extra layers to Wizards Unite fortresses. The first is that Fortresses have 10 levels, as you beat each one you progress to the next, more challenging, level.
While adventuring you will come across beasties and wizards in the world that are protecting the 'foundable items' (that's what Niantic is calling them) you’re trying to track down.
It’s your job to dispel the confounding magic being used on the foundable so you can return it or defeat the witch or wizard that’s causing you grief. Before you begin the battle you can assess the threat level of your enemy to decide if it’s worth the risk.
This is done by tracing the spell symbol shown on your screen, including swiping then urged to defend. Your success is based on the accuracy and speed of your trace (and luck).
Some battles are landmark events, which feed into the game’s main story and often see you revisiting a classic event from the Wizarding World franchise - such as saving a Quidditch-clad Harry from a fatal Dementor’s Kiss.
All victorious battles reward you with experience, contributing to your overall level, however landmark events are the key ones to keep an eye out for. According to Niantic, there will be over 100 AR events at launch.
Yes, you will be able to pay real-world money for spell energy and other items, but Niantic insists this doesn’t affect progression and merely reduces waiting times...
Wizards Unite lets you choose from three professions: Auror, Magizoologist and Professor. As you gain experience and gain items, you can invest into progressing in your chosen field. Each of these professions has its own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to battle so, when you take on a Fortress, you should be a bit strategic about how you approach the battle and who takes on which enemy.
Except, at present, it doesn’t seem to have a huge impact (from what we experienced). Fortunately, if you change your mind about your profession, you can change your choice at no cost, while keeping the progress you made in that profession.
You first create your Ministry of Magic ID by taking a selfie you can then customize through AR: including adding hats, wigs, glasses etc. You can later choose your specific Hogwarts house and wand for that extra personal feel.
Niantic’s real world platform means Wizard’s Unite map is rendered much like Pokémon Go’s. However, despite being built on the same AR software, the similarities become more distinct as you play.
The Wizards Unite world is a living and breathing map, complete with owls swooping overhead, spell remnants from other players and ingredients to scoop up on your journey. This dynamic map means that a variety of aspects influence the creatures, events and ingredients you come across, including moon phase, weather and time.
Set in the present day, Wizards Unite sees the Wizarding World facing an existential crisis which is threatening to explore the magical world to muggles. This "calamity", as Niantic calls it, sees beasts, people and artifacts from the Harry Potter franchise being scattered across the world and it’s up to players to contain it.
The Ministry of Magic is calling for wizards (aka players) to join a task force in an effort to locate these magical items, dispel the confounding magic surrounding them and return them before muggles catch sight.
We haven’t been told the exact nature of this calamity, and that’s purposely done. Niantic’s aim is for players to gradually pick up pieces of the story as they progress, discussing it with one another and creating a discussion around the game. However JK Rowling isn’t involved with Wizards Unite’s story, so how canon the plot is is arguable.
"Your forever Harry Potter game"
Niantic has promised this will be a long-haul game much like Pokémon Go - they even have post-launch content planned.
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Vic is TechRadar Gaming's Associate Editor. An award-winning games journalist, Vic brings experience from IGN, Eurogamer and more to the TechRadar table. You may have even heard her on the radio or speaking on a panel. Not only is Vic passionate about games, but she's also an avid mental health advocate who has appeared on both panels and podcasts to discuss mental health awareness. Make sure to follow her on Twitter for more.