A Premium Gamer's Take on Harry Potter: Wizard's Unite

By Michael Coffer 27 Jun 2019 0

The Harry Potter universe has been gifted with a vast lore and sundry cast of characters. Its magical world is already half-ensconced in everyone’s hearts. So it comes as no surprise that such a beloved franchise would be reincarnated as a real-time, real-world global phenomenon in the form of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. I’m plainly not among its intended audience, but despite this handicap, Wizards Unite already found itself a place in my daily life, which is a tough feat.

If you want some beginner tips to get you started in Wizards Unite, check out this guide!     

For the hardcore tactical crowd, real-world Harry Potter might seem at first blush to be a hard sell, yet the game is surprisingly nuanced (though not especially complicated). Basically its interlocking system of stats and ever-revolving timers mean that success pretty much requires a strategic mindset.

harry potter gameplay 1

I won’t list ad nauseum the tips and tricks to maximize your experience churn or battle effectiveness, but I will tell you that within days I felt a pure and relentless drive to gain those competitive advantages for myself. ‘Competitive’ is a relative term, of course, because in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite everything is co-operative, with the ultimate goal being to marshal each wizard’s powers to mitigate a Calamity. Retrieving ‘Foundables’ means snatching all those precious magical characters and items and rescuing them. So the while game’s co-op, though there’s plenty to do and brag about.

It has a tasteful take on timers. Namely, perhaps the most important resource of all, spell energy, does not replenish automatically. This choice seems gross, nasty, limiting, *superficially*, but the constraint is actually brilliant. It encourages thoughtful planning and means the urge to ‘always be playing’ is a little less omnipresent. You get energy from inns and occasionally other spots, so energy is regained by going out into the world. Once more unto the breach, as it were.

And these trips are quite economically packed into an ordinary day, honestly, which is another refreshing surprise. Yes, certain thresholds ought to be reached daily (*ahem daily quests*) to get the most bang for your time investment, but even in short bursts the game just flows. Though I will say that accurate spellcasting, in which the player should rapidly and precisely trace the on-screen glyph, does not go well with even a slow amble. Better spell-sketching does appear to mean marginally better experience rewards, so it’s generally worth doing well. 

Magical Realism      

wizards unite 4There are a million small quirks and tricks like these, and the fun part is that they can be discovered organically through play. A good game teaches you how to learn its systems, and Wizards Unite does this through more than overly-chummy, voice-acted tutorials. Its interface is clearly delineated into the overworld and resource management portions, for example. A few quality-of-life tips. First, you probably want power saver mode, because this one is a battery guzzler. Secondly, in the interest of conserving data roaming and bypassing asset loading hiccups, go under options and download everything on a fast network.      

The Wizard Challenges are kinda like raids or perhaps dungeons, and they are such fun because of how easy it is for friends to just pop in and assist matters. Right now, there is a class system, ‘Professions’ that very roughly breaks down into the Holy MMO Trinity of DPS-Tank-Support, which is nice. It’s not Naxxramas but it is interactive and free-wheeling.   

There are hints of a larger mystery and story afoot, and I can’t say when I’ll pierce the veil, for it looks like this is the endgame content for maxed accounts. Most games like this strive to make the present status quo all-important through laser-like focus on factions and territory struggles. Wizards Unite wants its players to excavate the past. In a personal sense of the pure nostalgia trip, in a gamer sense of finding every last Foundable, and most curiously, in a plot sense by retracing the lives and tragedies of some new characters who created the present Calamity. This is Cool Stuff™, and I can only hope that player’s actions will guide how future story installments unfold. 

Veritaserum with a Dash of Felix Felicis

Now, it isn’t all roses. Lest this writeup seem hyperbolic by setting a low bar, do keep in mind that this game is relentless. It follows certain evergreen rules of free-to-play. There is always something valuable to do, which in a way makes the monetisation feel less predatory, but the flipside means the whole contraption risks feeling like a magical fusion of a Skinner Box and hamster wheel. I will say that its sense of place and timing is quite gracile, and that the game is relatively low-variance. Its payouts and reward systems are fair, if only when compared to hideous cousins. And I can tell already this game has legs, so early adopters will be able to cruise through any later story or content expansions. To sum it up: the game is binge-worthy but it really isn’t binge-able.

So it’s fully intended to become part of your life, and on that front there’s naturally community, social media integration and cosmetic options. Wizards have customized wands, sure, but accessorized selfies? So be it. Still, any game that encourages meeting up with others and romping around town is going to encourage some fresh air and friendly faces, guaranteeing mild exercise of body and mind. And that’s why my impressions have been peppered with uplifting phrases and themes like ‘refreshing’ and ‘tasteful’. It’s so easy to be jaded and cynical when it comes to massive launches of blue-chip IP like this. But if you take it without preconceptions, on its own terms, the results behind this game will be gratifying. I urge one and all to try to see with fresh eyes and give it a shot.

And if Harry Potter isn’t your thing, there’s always the Minecraft one due later this year-ED.  

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