Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is the latest AR game from Niantic capturing mobile gaming audiences worldwide. We thought any interest in adventure AR apps fizzled out with Pokémon Go, but this game is proving us wrong. In 15 hours it became the No. 1 free download from the U.S. Apple App Store, and in 24 hours it racked up 400,000 players, according to SensorTower.
As a Harry Potter fan AND former Pokémon Go-er, I was stoked for the chance to play during work hours. After one day of spellcasting in New York City’s Midtown area, I not only got a hang of the game, but made some observations that make for more successful experience, too. These are some things I wish I knew before I started playing.
First things first, this isn’t Pokémon Go
Sure, the basics are the same as Pokémon Go — You have an avatar that exists in your exact GPS location, except with added map features that replace real-world infrastructure. You’re on a mission to collect objects, but you’ll need to walk around and change location to gather the resources to retrieve them. Oh, and AR technology uses your smartphone camera to make the objects seemingly appear in your environment.
Harry Potter is way more complex than Pokémon Go, though. The developers introduced a unique storyline set in the post Battle of Hogwarts era, where your enemy is a dark force called the Calamity. The Calamity displaced and hexed magical beings and objects at the risk of exposing the Wizarding World. You’re given an extensive catalog of silhouettes to fill and the only way to retrieve all the objects is to locate them, then cast spells on the confoundables trapping them. The game prompts you with what spell to cast depending on what’s holding the foundable hostage, and foundables with higher threats of exposing Wizards are more difficult to free.
There’s a LOT going on
As you level up from returning foundables and achieving basic milestones, complexities and features pile onto the game. You can compete in Wizarding Challenges at fortresses, pick a profession, and solve the mystery behind the Calamity -- and that hardly unpacks the expanse of game features.
IMHO, the in-game guide, Constance Pickering, doesn’t teach you enough to make the most of time spent playing. When there’s so many spells and so little time, you’ll want to know these gameplay tips whether you just downloaded the app or have been navigating it for a few days. Without further ado, here’s a list of tips I complied after one day of being a Wizard.
Tips for retrieving foundables
- Speed is slightly more important than accuracy when casting spells, so be ready to put your fruit ninja skills to work. “Good,” “Great,” and “Masterful” make the difference in collecting foundables. Practice casting all the foundable spells on this nifty website.
- Don’t waste your spell energy on high-threat foundables, especially when you’re still a single-digit level Wizard. The game prohibits you from successfully retrieving them, even though they pop up on your map and entice you to spoil your resources on them.
- Similarly, don’t waste your potions. You only get them when you level up or brew them (see below), which both take time. You’ll be disappointed when they vanish out of thin air like half the population in Avengers: Infinity War. *snap*
- Pay attention to the flags on the map. They indicate sections with higher amounts of corresponding traces. (I happen to work in a Dark Arts area, yippee.)
- Highlighted traces (ones with colored beams coming out the top) indicate rarer foundables. Watch out for them.
Tips for Wizarding Challenges
- Collect plenty of spell energy before entering a challenge in a fortress. You’ll need to cast 5-10 spells to defeat enemies, and you use 1 unit of energy for every spell. If you run out of spell energy, you’ll need to retreat and forfeit the runestone you used.
- Match the level runestone to the level challenge you’re playing.
- The faster you cast, the more likely you’ll inflict a critical hit. Critical hits may give you the chance to strike back-to-back, so be quick.
- If you’re ever itching for a challenge, visit an AT&T store. They’re all fortresses, and some locations are even hosting promotional events for the game this summer.
Tips for brewing potions
- Save time on brewing potions with Master Notes. Click on the cauldron and perform a series of glyphs to reduce brewing times by 15%. This feature airs on pointless, so save your time trying to guess the motions and use this guide.
- While you’re in map mode, you’ll see ingredients littered on the ground. Gather them, but keep an eye on your vault’s capacity. This method of collecting ingredients fills your item maximum fast.
- Plant your excess seeds to grow the ingredients you’re missing in a local greenhouse.
Tips for portkeys and portmanteaus
- Portmanteaus will appear on your map randomly like ingredients. Don’t walk past them.
- Save your infinite-use gold key for 2km portmanteaus so you can use it more often.
- Engage portkeys when you’re in a private, large space, like at home. They require more movement than appropriate for the city streets.
General experience tips
- Use this Harry Potter name generator to create your code name. May as well get into character.
- The AR feature is overrated. Turn it off to save battery and speed up gameplay during battle. Turn ON the battery saver mode to keep collecting kms, or consider buying a battery pack.
- Urban areas, like in Pokémon Go, are ideal spots to play. I didn’t need to get up from my desk in my New York City office for the first two hours of wizarding.
- With that said, if you’re going to venture outdoors to play, don’t stop short in front of walking pedestrians to cast spells. Manners, people.
- Only use Brain Elixir when you know you’re playing for 20-30 minutes straight to get maximum use out of it. The elixir elevates the value from portmanteaus, too.