Remember Pokemon Go? At one point in time, everyone walked around in circles trying to catch ‘em all. And though it’s no longer the worldwide phenomenon it was during its release four years ago, it’s still an important part of video game history.
Now, the same creators of the hit game just released a new mobile game using the same schtick except―wait for it―it’s taking place in the Harry Potter universe.
The premise of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite expands on J.K. Rowling’s universe: an event dubbed the “Calamity” has caused the Wizarding World to leak objects and people into the real world. Since non-wizards a.k.a. Muggles can’t find out about this little world of magic, the game’s mission is to retrieve these items, called Foundables.
The way it works is like Pokemon Go, more or less. Using Google mapping, the real world is rendered into a map that adjusts to our position and movement. When we move in the real world, we move in the map too. You interact with your phone in taps and swipes, like any mobile game. Much like Pokemon Go, Wizards Unite is a game about collecting stuff.
But that’s where the similarities with Pokemon Go stops. The main differences, as Kotaku notes, are two-fold: you interact with things in the game differently, and your location isn’t a hindrance for you to enjoy the game. In Pokemon Go, the closer you are to urban areas the more things you can interact with. In Wizards Unite, you don’t need to worry if you’re not in an urban area – items can be found anywhere you are.
Pokemon Go popularized the use of augmented reality (AR) in mobile games. While it was criticized for its lack of depth in content early on, Wizards Unite seems to have foregone these growing pains and appears more polished from the get-go. Several features are already present such as a level-up system akin to a role-playing game skill tree, and a multiplayer mode called “Wizarding Challenges” found in places called Fortresses.
Right now the big question is: when will the game be available to us? Wizards Unite is allegedly already available for iOS and Android devices around the world, but we can’t see it in the App Store at the moment – at least from where we are in Asia. We’re hoping it’ll be here very soon.