A calamity has befallen the wizarding world, causing Foundables—magical artifacts, creatures, people, and even memories—to mysteriously appear in the Muggle world. As a new recruit of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force, you’ll work with witches and wizards from across the globe to solve the mystery of The Calamity and keep magic safe from Muggle eyes. — Niantic
Pokémon GO creator Niantic threw fans for a loop when they released the free-to-play U.S. and U.K. versions Harry Potter: Wizards Unite for iOS and Android on Thursday, June 20 — a day earlier than they said they would.
Pokémon GO was an instant hit when it came out in the summer of 2016, sending millions of players scouting their real-life surroundings for augmented-reality monsters they could catch and train. The game was imperfect when it launched, but the promise of spotting, catching, and then fighting with actual Pokémon at work, in bed, or while running errands was just too enticing to ignore.
Now, Wizards Unite apparently builds on similar augmented-reality principles; players are tasked with patrolling the “muggle” world to eradicate stray traces of magic and return them to the Harry Potter universe. The gameplay is much more engaging and fleshed-out than Pokémon GO‘s was, according to Forbes, because Wizards Unite offers players a brand-new cast of original characters alongside classic ones and instructs players to cast efficient spells at spontaneous intervals.
Wizards Unite places players at the center of the story — you are acting as an agent of The Ministry of Magic to reclaim the odds and ends of magical paraphernalia. Along the way, battling Death Eaters and perfecting tough spells will help you raise your stats faster and eventually allow your character to specialize in a career as an Auror, Magizoologist, or Professor, according to Mashable. But the day-to-day drama of fighting old enemies and remembering game-specific spells makes for somewhat administrative work rather than high-tech entertainment.
The story is familiar but the execution is experimental. Wizards Unite won’t be able to idly mine location data from players once they’ve closed out of the app, according GameSpot. Whereas Pokémon GO players can keep their phones sheathed while they wait for their Pokémon to hatch, Wizards Unite requires players to actually keep the game open on their phones to make use of its most impressive AR features.
For many gamers, and fans, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite for iOS and Android could either mean a disappointing detour down a battery-draining road or a bold first attempt at introducing the wizarding world to the virtual world.
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Featured Image Via Niantic/Forbes.