Not the game we wanted, but the game we deserve

Anything associated with the Harry Potter franchise has a lot to live up to. Its fanbase is one that can rival most other franchises, with a fervency matching that of the infamous BTS ARMY.

Most recently, we’re especially uncertain about Niantic and WB Games' new Harry Potter-themed augmented reality mobile game Wizards Unite, which launched in Singapore just a few weeks ago on Jun 21. Its name alone already reminds us of an inferior, off-brand, early noughties video game, despite it being a fully-licensed, bona fide creation inspired by the novel series.

The first thing players will notice are the obvious similarities between Wizards Unite and Pokemon-inspired AR mobile game Pokemon Go, especially with its Points of Interest feature. This is justifiable nonetheless (albeit lazy), as Niantic is the same company behind both games. And the biggest thing missing from Pokemon Go is actually present in Wizards Unite—a storyline. That's a plus.


The visual similarities are obvious

Unlike Pokemon Go which simply has you collecting Pokemons and training them, in Wizards Unite, you’re sent on missions, assigned daily tasks and given opportunities to battle foes in Fortresses. Not only do these add to the plotline, they also provide experience points, which allow for level-ups. Main characters of the novel series also pop in and out to tickle your interest, while delivering mission briefs.

The main aim of the game is to collect and return Foundables—artefacts of the Wizarding World—to their respective owners. Claiming the artefacts require the defeat of evil sources hoarding the Foundables, that are in turn confusingly-named Confoundables. Both these terms are not found in the main storybooks, so they’re likely to have been invented for the game.

Defeating Confoundables and the forces of evil at Fortresses are all done at the expense of your spell energy, and topping up your depleted energy is how the game attempts to make money; no magic there. You’ll run out of it frequently, and will be prompted to make purchases in order to play on; though you’ll always have the option of simply “dining” at nearby Inns to replenish your spell energy for free. This is a much slower process than forking out real-world moolah, of course.

Meanwhile, features like customising your wands and brewing potions keep things interesting.

A multi-dimensional and complex game, Wizards Unite is both likeable and exhausting in equal measure. This makes the initial tutorial bit crucial for understanding the game. It’ll be unwise to skip the introductory process thinking you’ll learn along the way, as you might have with Pokemon Go.

And while leaving the comfort of your home to explore the outside is part of the allure of the game, let it be known that a more fantastic mix of Foundables can be found at Orchard Gateway and other areas in town, unlike in Pokemon Go where the heartlands were equally exciting.

Since its debut in Singapore on Jun 21, Wizards Unite has had a rather underwhelming reception, compared to the launch day of Pokemon Go here which received immediate, widespread attention. Afterall, it’s a game that requires more effort and only warms up over time. 

But good news lie ahead. There was a recent announcement of a Wizards Unite Community Day come Jul 20. We're not sure what to expect yet, but if it's anything like its Pokemon counterpart, we’ll be expecting hours of fun with fellow fans, possibly resulting in plenty of in-game bonuses, new spell moves, and more interesting missions.