Grab your wands, because yer a wizard, Reader! The Harry Potter mobile AR game that we’ve all been waiting on for years has finally released! Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was soft-launched on Thursday, June 20, 2019 and officially launched on Friday the 21st.
The game is built on the Niantic platform developed with the Ingress mobile game starting in 2013, which allowed players to submit, review, and interact with geo-located portals based on real world landmarks. The immense geolocation data from those early years has since been used to create the popular Pokemon GO game in partnership with Nintendo. Wizards Unite is the latest iteration of the AR (augmented reality) mobile platform, developed in partnership with WB Games and the Harry Potter franchise. Players of Pokemon GO and Ingress will find a lot of similarities in gameplay, but Wizards Unite is a unique and complex new beast with lots to explore.
First, our review! Or scroll to the bottom for Tips and Tricks we’ve learned in the first five days of gameplay.
- Spellcasting is fun and challenging, and varied enough that I haven’t gotten tired of it yet.
- The animations are fantastic. The first time I came across a baby unicorn, I think I audibly squeaked at how cute it was. Alternately, the first time I came across a hag, I almost threw my phone across the street.
- I really enjoy how immersive it is. The AR really is fantastic. During combat, the background blurs a bit so you can see your surroundings without being distracting.
- The attention to detail is impressive, such as inns being found at hotels and restaurants, or the fact that there was an accurate gibbous moon in the sky at night.
- The Wizards Unite professions system allows for more strategy and cooperation between players during combat. It has similarities to Pokemon GO raids, but with skill trees. Really competitive players could min-max their characters and teams to get to the higher levels in fortresses.
- I can’t wait to see what kind of worldwide events they roll out!
- The story is nothing to write home about, but it’s good enough that I understand why I have to go hunt Foundables. Sometimes the dialogue gets lost because I just want to click through it to go back to what I was doing. It would be nice if the dialogue was available to revisit after you unlock it. I do want to solve the mystery, just not when there are Foundables right next to me!
- Spell energy can only be obtained from inns and greenhouses. Even if it was one energy every ten minutes, self-generating energy would make the game more accessible.
- The combat tutorial is confusing and took me a few tries to get the hang of it. (See below in Tips and Tricks for a tutorial.)
- You can’t see your friends’ profile photos or set nicknames, so I’ve already forgotten who half my friends are based on screen names. I’m hoping they roll out a fix soon.
- The profile photo creator is buggy and requires some patience. It seems like a device/game memory issue. Try switching back and forth between Camera and Last Portrait a couple times to get your accessories to show up properly.
Tips and Tricks
- Combat: If the combat tutorial wasn’t enough, or if you haven’t gotten to the tutorial yet, here’s how you cast attack spells. This is assuming your AR is off, which you can set before combat starts. When you begin, you’ll see a blue star in a circle on your enemy. Drag your finger around on your screen and you’ll see a gray star. Move your finger until the gray star matches the star on your enemy. You’ll have to hold it there and wait for the circle to fill up (it takes less than a second) then the game will prompt you to cast a combat spell using the same tracing technique you use for Foundables.
- Vault storage: Periodically go into your Vault and delete the ingredients and seed packets you don’t need right away. It really sucks when you find a rare ingredient and your vault is full!
- Ingredients: That said, do pick up every ingredient you find. There are achievements related to how many things you’ve gathered.
- Friends: You can copy+paste an entire status into the Friend Finder and the app will automatically filter out the code for you. For example, “Let’s be Friends in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite! My Friend Code is: 1234 5678 9101” becomes “1234 5678 9101”. It saves you the trouble of having to manually type codes!
- Spell-casting quality: The quality of your casting is based on both speed and accuracy. Sometimes a really fast cast can make up for a bad trace, and vice versa! I always try to go as fast as possible for best results, even if it means my lines aren’t perfect.
- Potions: Save your Exstimulo Potions and Dawdle Drafts for higher-value Foundables! I’m at level 12 and I’m already finding that I can’t make potions fast enough. Also pay attention to the risk wheel when you’re choosing your Exstimulo strength. The meter will show you how much effect a potion will have. Sometimes the basic one gives you enough of an edge.
- Registry Prestige: Once you’ve filled a registry page, you can Prestige it by tapping the little star in the upper right corner of the page. The frame will update to gold, the stickers will be removed, and you can fill up the page again for even more points!
- Landmarks: Inns, greenhouses, and fortresses tend to correspond to real landmarks. Inns are more likely to be hotels and restaurants while greenhouses are often found in parks or public art. It’s not an exact science, but the developers did try to emulate the real world. Fortresses are usually in the same spot as Pokemon GO gyms, but not always.
- Inn energy: You can exit out of an inn after you’ve swiped for your reward. You don’t have to wait for the animation to finish. You’ll still get your energy!
- Professions: You can switch freely between professions as often as you like, but your skill resources like scrolls and books are limited, so you can only use them once! Maybe you want to specialize and fill up one tree as much as possible, or maybe you’d rather have some points in all three professions for more flexibility.
- Running away: You can usually leave an encounter with a Foundable and come back to it. Do this if you need to run to an inn for more spell energy. It will eventually disappear though, so be careful.
- Settings: Get to your settings by opening your Suitcase and then clicking the gears in the top left of the screen. Change whatever else you like, but we specifically recommend turning off the Opening Sequence, turning on Battery Saver, and turning off Map Camera Idle. The last one is just because it’s kind of annoying that the map swivels towards the direction your facing, even if you were trying to look at something behind you.
So get out there and live your wizard and witch dreams! Let us know in the comments if you have any more helpful hacks to add to the list. Wizards, unite!