Now, you know I’ve enjoyed playing with PokemonGo (and I still am), but just over a week ago Wizards Unite was released by Niantic (the same people as make PokemonGo), based upon Harry Potter. When PokemonGo was released 3 years ago, we all said if they released a Harry Potter version we’d all been there. That game has been released, it seems with a lot less fuss from the press (because it’s not the first, is it?), but a lot of my friends (many of whom are still playing PokemonGo, or they did) are experimenting with it, so we’ll see how long this lasts. I got stuck on this screen the first day (day 1 download pressure), although rebooting my phone seemed to sort that out:
I’ve been experimenting with it for the past week, although at present PokemonGo is still winning out for it’s simplicity at getting me out of the door every day (I only need to ‘spin’ one Pokestop, and ‘catch’ one Pokemon)… but I always like to see what is possible! I only played with PokemonGo for one week originally, learning how it affected churches, before I gave up – then a friend persuaded me back into it, and I’ve just kept going since then (missing 4 days since I was first diagnosed with cancer in August 2017).
Once I finally got in, I received a welcome, and a range of introductions to the game, as we looked at how the mapping worked (looks very familiar)
I was back home by the time I got the software to work, and almost immediately Hagrid appeared ‘within my kitchen’:
He was trapped in a spider’s web:
Once I had lined my stars up with Hagrid’s stars, he was released:
Every ‘foundable’ that you release gets returned to the Registry, some of which you only need to catch one of, some of which (as you can see here), you need to catch 4 to return the item fully to the Registry. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you will recognise most of the items:
The map then came up, and I could see where the targets to aim for (most of them in the same place as Pokestops, as they’re using the same mapping software) – but I can see there’s a variety of types (we’ll come back to that):
*Note that the birds, etc flying around in the background are just ‘art’ and don’t have a function! They’re not there to be caught!
I then get notified that something else has been caught, and I’m going to have to ‘cast a spell’ to release the unicorn from the snake (tracing the shape given on the screen … the more accurate, the higher the score on the bar at the top, and the more likely you are to be successful):
Looking something like this:
If you don’t line up well with the spell:
I didn’t realise (until I ran out of it), that I’m using ‘spell energy’ for each spell that I’m casting – and you start with 75 ‘spell energy’, and you’ll be picking this up elsewhere.
Shortly after this point, I work out how to turn off the AR (I’m convinced this saves a tonne of battery life!), and just use the images within game (rather than the ‘real world’ images around me).
As you are walking along, a range of these (related to the boards that you’re trying to fill) will appear. Click on the item to open the ‘challenge’:
Something will appear for you to cast your spell, and hopefully release items to be added to your boards:
Sometimes the spell is not strong enough, and you may get another go or it may just disappear:
There are also ‘ingredients’ to collect:
The ‘Refuelling Stops’
Whereas in PokemonGo there are Pokestops (spin, and collect items) or PokeGyms (fight other Pokemon, having built the strength of your Pokemon). Wizards Unite have a range of stops (and yes, most churches again, and lots of artwork – you really can see the world in a slightly different way through stops):
These are the ‘biggest’ stops, and closest equivalent to Pokestops. When you click on these buildings (when you are nearby), then you get the option to complete a ‘challenge’, which will earn you coins/spell energy, etc.
Within the challenge, pick your level (having completed previous levels, the next time you can repeat the ‘easy’ level, or try a more difficult level). You are given a limited amount of time to fight something(s), and start with a certain amount of spell power. I completely failed the first one as I took a while to work out that I needed to line up with the star, wait for it to complete the circle, and then a ‘spell’ to be traced is provided:
Roughly alternate goes, whatever you are fighting will cast a spell back at you, but you are given the option to trace an arrow which provides the ‘Protego’ protection spell. I still seemed to lose about 10 off my ‘power bar’, but when I didn’t activate it, I lost a lot more!
Once you’ve defeated everything, that’s your challenge complete. I have found that if you start a challenge and walk away, you can finish the challenge on that level (whereas PokemonGo, if you’re ‘fighting’ and you walk away, the fight stops).
There are blue roofed and green roofed inns:
After following the spell line, one of these platters will open to provide you with a selection of something (I noted Honeydukes chocolate on the platter) which will help you catch more ‘Foundables’ and give energy to fight:
Like in Pokemon, wait 5 minutes, and you can re-collect more from the particular stop. The chimney smoke seems to indicate that the stop is unavailable for now.
Greenhouses I am still getting my head round, but they look like this:
Within the Greenhouse, you collect one item by swiping up (we’ve no idea what ‘plant’ this is, but it’s to help us with our ‘potion making’):
We can also contribute some of our spell energy to helping something grow (faster, or does it mean I collect the item later?):
I think I need to work out how to do more, because this seems to appear very fast (from collecting as walking along). Yes – it wants money (collected by completing challenges or paid for with ‘real’ money):
Whilst out walking, or from inns, you can collect items that can help make your potions (I’m still trying to work out which are the equivalent of the basic Pidgey in PokemonGo):
Once a potion is brewing, which takes a couple of hours or longer, you’ll see that you can PAY (again) to collect missing ingredients, or to speed up the potion making. If you have the ingredients, you can ‘brew’ up to 4 potions at once:
These potions then be used when trying to cast spells and collect ‘Foundables’, to make your spell stronger, and more likely to ‘catch’ or ‘release’. I’ve run out of space to collect more of these too… these can be managed within your ‘vaults’ (I’ve not really worked out what they all do yet though):
So, if you play PokemonGo, these are the equivalent of ‘hatching eggs’ – there are 2k, 5k and 10km portkeys. You collect ‘keys’ as you’re out participating, and then can ‘open’ the portkey (in Harry Potter books, these transport you to ‘another location’ and can be an old boot or coat hanger, whatever)
I really struggled to work out what to do with this once I completed my first PortKey, it said you ‘need a lot of space’, so trying to activate it in a shop was not really going to work:
I ended up looking on YouTube for some tips (as well as a bit of Facebook input). Finally, back in my house – I pointed the phone at the window – and you have to ‘walk forward into it’ – the first couple of times I needed to fall over the sofa and through the window – but once I started further back in the kitchen and waited – pointing the phone at the sofa – the ‘magic appeared’, and I could walk into the new room, and click on 5 of these (balls of light – chemobrain – it begins with a W), which adds more items to the itinerary:
There are ‘daily challenges’ set – 7 different activities (including walking 0.25km, although my Apple ‘Health’ app will tell me I’ve walked 2km, and it’s still not registered 0.25km (PokemonGo can be a bit glitchy like this too) – I thought these were a ‘bit much’, but actually very similar to PokemonGo ‘research challenges’ which I tend not to complete every day:
There are also other challenges available, giving opportunities for a few more coins, etc.
Joining a ‘Team’
Within PokemonGo, you choose whether to join the red, blue or yellow team. Within WizardsUnite, once you get to a certain level (6), you can choose your ‘profession’ (I thought about Auror, but thought I’d go for the one I want in reality):
Along the route, we are collecting ‘scrolls’, and certain numbers of these, allow us to progress to becoming a better professor (if only it was that easy)!
Where am I now?
As with PokemonGo, there are far more options within urban areas – this is when I went into town on Monday (and we’ll see that there are purple inns are well). I’ve seen several of these areas with ‘flags’ – saying can catch more items in the related colour – but haven’t work out to activate those as none near me:
I find the game a little more complex, although even writing this out makes me realise how much knowledge I’ve transferred from PokemonGo, and actually how easy it would be to learn – but you can’t play both games at the right time, and I seem to have to ‘stop’ a lot more – which when I’m going out to try and get some steps in, doesn’t seem so helpful (although also fits with the reduced energy/mobility).
I friended a lot of my friends via Facebook, a feature available from the beginning (whereas it was added to Pokemon a year or so ago), although at present there’s no associated functionality (or maybe I’m not at a high enough level)… I’ve made it to:
And…. not forgetting .. safety first (even when you’re standing still sometimes):
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.