Harry Potter Wizards Unite: Everything You Need to Know

After breaking the internet with its release of 2016’s Pokemon Go, augmented reality mobile game company Niantic has announced that it is working on another scavenger hunt-style title based on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

We’ve now had our first look at the PoGO follow-up — and we think it’s safe to say the magic is back.

Trading Pokemon-collecting for “Foundables”-gathering, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite puts players in charge of reversing the fallout from The Calamity, a mysterious event that’s pushed items, people and creatures from the secrecy of the magical world into the Muggle world.

Though the process of using AR to track down these Foundables in the real world — and then cast some spells to capture them — will make Pokemon Go fans feel at home, HP: WU has a lot more complexities to it than its forebearer AR games.

Here’s everything we know so far about Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

What is the Harry Potter: Wizards Unite game about?

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite takes place after the events of the Harry Potter books and movies. The Calamity has cast magical things like Hippogriffs and Golden Snitches into the non-magical world. Players take on the roles of new Statute Of Secrecy witches and wizards recruited to the find and return these magical relics (called Foundables) to the wizarding world before the secrecy of the realm is exposed to all of  humankind.

Of course, finding a Foundable is only half of the game, since each one is guarded by a different “Complication” that needs to be defeated with spellcasting. We’re talking about warding off things like giant spiders and even Dementors.

Every Foundable that’s successfully fought for and collected gets added to a player’s Registry, with the main object of the game being to pack your Registry as full as you can.

What is the release date for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite? And which phones is it coming to?

Niantic’s early tease of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite didn’t come with an official release date, though TechCrunch is reporting that the company is promising “sometime in 2019” and that “before summer” would be a good guess.

The game will launch in 17 different languages for Android and iPhone, with pre-registration is available right now for Android through Google Play.

How does the augmented reality gameplay work?

Like Pokemon Go, HP: WU gameplay is mainly split between a map view that tells you where to go to collect items and a first-person AR view when you get there. In this game, magic “Traces” on the map give away where Foundables are located —  the same kind of “real-world locations” Pokemon Go relied on, “including parks, banks, municipal buildings, college campuses, libraries, monuments, zoos, art galleries, and more,” Niantic says.

Once you’re face-to-face with a magic Foundable and the Complication that’s guarding it, you enter the AR minigame mode where you hold your phone camera at the Complication and cast a spell by tracing an on-screen gesture. The folks at TechCrunch got a chance to try an early version of the game and said spellcasting in AR is pretty much like tossing a Pokeball in Pokemon Go.

Of course, casting spells to free up Foundables takes Spell Energy. To make sure you’re at full strength, you will have to regularly stop at Inns (found on the game map) for food and drinks. You can also track down potions that unlock different things in the game.

Are there Gyms like in Pokemon Go?

The Wizards Unite version of Pokemon Go Gyms are called Fortresses. In Fortresses, players can team up (as many as five at a time) to battle different monsters (werewolves, vampires, Death Eaters) and earn items for your Registry.

Credit: Niantic

(Image credit: Niantic)

Battling here is basically the same gameplay as casting spells against Complications, with the difference being that you can get hit back. IGN’s hands-on with the game points out that the potions you collect throughout the game can help with healing during Fortress battles.

Shouldn’t there be some kind of smartphone-connected wand controller players can cast spells with?

Niantic told TechCrunch there is not a wand accessory yet.

Does Wizards Unite bring any new AR experiences?

A new wrinkle for HP: WU is the implementation of Portkeys, which let players walk into a portal with AR that leads to a 360-degree experience of a Harry Potter scene. Olivander’s wand shop and Dumbledore’s office were examples given by IGN and TechCrunch. While exploring these environments, players can collect special items and encounter different characters.

Will you be able to turn off AR like in Pokemon Go?

Niantic has told IGN that HP: WU will have an option to play without the augmented reality.

“Niantic did say they’re cognizant of the wide range of devices people play on, and AR won’t be required to play, but, given battery life issues, I worry how exciting the experience may be in the long run without employing the AR all the time,” IGN wrote.

Tell me more about the Harry Potter characters that are going to be in the game!

Though Niantic has said Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is essentially set in modern day, since The Calamity has cut through all of time and memory to pull Foundables, fans of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchises will find all kinds of familiar faces and objects in the game. One Complication gameplay example by Niantic showed a young Harry in need of saving from a Dementor, while Ron was trapped by a giant spider on roller skates.

“Conveniently, the event snatched these things and people from all throughout history and the world, laying them down willy-nilly — so you’re just as likely to find Fleur Delacoeur as Hermione Granger, or a young Dumbledore as an old one,” TechCrunch explains.

This game will be free to play, right?

Wizards Unite will be a free app that offers in-app purchases. It’s unclear what those in-app purchases might be, but it’s safe to assume things like the aforementioned potions and other upgrades to make the game easier will be available.

Daniel Bean is a freelance writer with years of experience whose articles have appeared in Tom's Guide. He has previously worked for LinkedIn, Yahoo News, and the Observer, as well as TripleByte, Circa, Inverse, CBS, and ABC. Currently, he is full-time content lead for Mixpanel's blog, The Signal, writing about innovators and analytics.