The Harry Potter books and movies have been a worldwide phenomenon since the day the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The movies just made the Harry Potter universe come to life, and while the Crimes of Grindelwald has left hardcore fans aghast with horror, there’s something new on the cards, which could provide some solace.
Niantic, whose Pokemon Go became a viral hit, has partnered up with Warner Brothers to release an augmented reality (AR) based game set in the same magical world, dubbed ‘Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’. The game takes up a lot of popular features from Pokemon Go. We were able to test out the game for some time since its release on Android, and here’s what we thought so far.
‘Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’: The promising features
There’s no doubt ‘Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’ is trying to recreate what Pokemon Go did and requires that you are outside. Considering the popularity of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, this game is expected to be much more popular and get considerably more people walking and living a healthy lifestyle.
A feature will appeal to most players is that they get to see and interact with most of the characters seen in the movies like Harry Potter, Hermione, Hagrid and more. The game also introduces new characters like Constance Pickering, thus adding to the lore. Moreover, the game has one of the movie soundtracks being constantly played in the background.
Just like the Pokemon Go Eggs, the company has added Portkeys to the game. To add another level of interactiveness and unlike the Eggs, you don’t just have to travel a specific distance to unlock them, you also need to find keys that go along with the Portkeys to unlock them. I liked this feature as it doesn’t provide you with a collectable, instead it opens a portal that can transport the player to a magical location within the Wizarding World.
A feature that I feel will appeal to all of the Harry Potter fans is the ability to put a wizard dress-up filter on their profile images. With this feature, players can take multiple photos and try on different wizard looks on them, without the need to dress up in robes and putting on glasses and Harry Potter makeup. This along with some other features like choosing your House or deciding on a profession make the game feel highly customisable with you in control.
‘Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’ has a good storyline focused on explaining the Foundables element and sidelining the Voldemort storyline of the movies. However, at the same time, it is also able to interlink the stories so that the characters, artefacts and elements from the original series fit perfectly into it.
Niantic has worked quite hard on this game as it is beautifully designed and has amazing graphics. All the characters look very similar to how they looked in the movies and the artefacts consist of intricate details. Overall, the game is able to maintain the aesthetic of the magical world we got to see come to life in the movies.
Graphics is an area, where Niantic seems to have improved a lot. Pokemon Go was a game based on cartoons, so it made sense for the game to have cartoonish graphics. However, that is not the case for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. This game is required to have realistic graphics, which it does in some areas, but misses the mark in some.
Some characters and objects do have a cartoonish look, but that’s not bad considering it gives the game the Nintendo vibe. Even though some characters might look cartoonish, the game doesn’t have choppy graphics and gives players a perfect animated gameplay experience.
Coming to the AR features, where the game’s USP lies in. Just like Pokemon Go, whenever you interact with an object or a character, the game brings up an AR window for players to interact with. Though this is a nice gimmick, as in you have to rotate your phone to find the character and cast a spell that looks amazing, I found myself getting bored of it very soon. I simply turned off the AR capabilities and this brought the character/object right in front of me to interact with it.
During the time, I played the game I did not experience any major connectivity issues. There were times I lost connection to the game and it needed to be restarted, but those weren’t server issues. They were network issues thanks to Vodafone.
But the biggest issue I faced while playing the game was the spell casting element. It is just too cumbersome and irritating to perform. I personally preferred the Pokeball element of Pokemon Go, which was a bit rudimentary, but easy enough for everyone to grasp. This is a place where I feel that the Harry Potter: Wizards Unite game can improve on and provide players with a swoosh feature, which will allow them to use their phones as a wand rather than tracing their fingers on the screen.
Another issue that has also plagued Pokemon Go is the issue of geography. While playing the game you will find a number of areas that will have a number of collectables and portals at every step. However, you will also find areas that are completely barren and do not consist of anything for a number of kilometres. A point that feels bothersome is the fact that the game keeps on trying to get you to spend your coins and then buy more.
Overall, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is an interesting game, bringing the world of magic to us in a way. It is a game that will appeal to the Harry Potter fans by reminding them of the characters and elements they loved in the book. But right now the game needs a lot more polishing if it wants to be a worthy sequel to the madness that was Pokemon Go.