Since Thursday, I’ve been religiously tracing and tapping my way through Wizards Unite and have barely come up for air.
In fact, the addiction is so strong that I’ve started calling Pokémon Go the ‘other game’ and have hardly turned it on since. Oh, dear…
To be completely transparent, I’ve long said that Pokémon Go is limited. Once you hit 40, there’s not a whole lot of substance there. It’s a game where you make a lot of your own fun. Sex Dex, Lucky Dex, Gold Gyms, etc.
While I’m nowhere near Level 60 on Wizards Unite – and therefore can’t be completely sure of what I’m about to say – I feel that this is a game that offers a lot more and is rife with potential for expansion in the future.
After blasting through the first fifteen levels, I think I’ve become a Wizards Unite convert and this is why…
Obviously, there are major similarities between the two games. And you could argue that if you played Pokémon Go for years, you’ll have a little bit of a headstart diving into Wizards Unite. But there are massive differences that make it suitably Potter.
For starters, you’re no longer just straight or curve throwing a ball to catch creatures in the wild. This time, you’re hunting down Confoundables by tracing various different spells to return them to their rightful place.
These confoundables are shown as different symbols in the wild, like the Platform 9 3/4 symbol or a golden Snitch to represent different categories like Magical Games and Sports and Hogwarts School.
Interestingly as well, you don’t always know what you’re about to click on. In PoGo, you see a creature in the wild and you know what it’s going to be. In WU, by clicking on a Snitch you might encounter the Nimbus 2000 or the Quidditch World Cup Trophy in a precarious position.
Once collected, each confoundable will give you a fragment which can then be used to fill up your in-game registry complete with infamous characters, objects, and items from the Wizarding World. The aim is to Prestige each page and build up your rank in that category.
By building up your rank, you’ll gain additional XP, treasure, new runestones, and will even see more of the same type of confoundables appear in the wild.
On top of that, the game has a Challenge Registry with lots of books and joke artefacts, a ‘Mysteries’ tab which progresses the in-game story that’s split into chapters, and finally an Events tab for when there’s something special happening in the game.
There’s a lot to unpack there. Firstly, the idea of ‘Prestiging’ is very Call of Duty in its approach, but it does incentivise the player to keep catching the same type of Confoundable so they can get maximum rank in a category and catch all fragments needed to fully complete each page.
Then there’s the idea that you’re never quite sure what Confoundable you’re going to press on, so it encourages you to actually tap on everything you see on your screen, rather than ignore the same Pokémon you’ve seen a hundred times in the same day.
As for XP, that opens up the game in a whole other way. Because as you level you’re also adding to your profession, placing skill points in the talent tree by learning lessons and building up your rank in that particular class.
There’s Auror, Magizoologist and Professor to choose from currently, and in those talent trees are branches for things like stamina, power, and defence, but also class-specific traits like healing charms and impairment curses.
Also worth noting, each class is effective against different types of enemies but weaker against others. This plays into the games duelling system … which, yes, is much more elaborate and skill-based than PoGo’s PVP.
Battles are turn-based and you’ll need to drag your finger towards one of the enemies weak points, holding it there for a few seconds so you can cast your spell. Miss your opportunity and you miss your turn. The aim is to take all of your enemies stamina down before they take yours.
But if an Auror is fighting against a Death Eater, categorised under Dark Forces, he or she will be more effective in battle than, say, if they chose to play as a Magizoologist against them. And here’s the kicker, not every confoundable you encounter will be catchable with a spell. There are some you have to duel against.
But Wizards Unite goes one step further with its Fortresses which have basically replaced PoGo’s gyms. Here, you and a group of up to four others will fight a series of enemies of increasing difficulty – dependent on the Ruin Challenge you decide to take on. Think of it a bit like Mortal Kombat’s towers of time.
Beat these enemies and you earn unique Confoundables only found in Fortresses, as well as gain scrolls to help you level up and earn additional XP. The type of Confoundable you could earn is determined by the Runestone you take into the Fortress with you.
Oh, and if you really fancy a challenge, you can take a higher level Rune into the fortress than your buddies and earn some of the rarer rewards. Each player will need to decide which enemy to fight but you can’t both fight the same enemy at the same time.
It’s a bit more tactical than fighting a Raid Boss in PoGo as you’re never quite sure what you’ll be up against when in the Fortress. Whereas in PoGo, if you’ve got your teams set up beforehand and know what the raid boss is weak against, you’ve got a good chance of taking it down quickly and easily.
Throughout the first ten levels, Wizards Unite kept giving me new information, story, and finding things for me to do. I haven’t even mentioned the Portkeys which have replaced eggs and give you an AR world to explore, or brewing potions, daily rewards, and growing things in greenhouses.
Basically, this is PoGO for RPG enthusiasts. It’s not just a game about walking anymore or being lucky enough to catch a Shiny. You’ll spend as much time in the menus, figuring out what to level and how to brew as you will walking around and tapping things on your screen.
And best of all, there are clear ways for Niantic to keep evolving and expanding the game in new, interesting ways. This one seems like it’s here for the long-term.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s far from perfect. There’s the usual launch hitches and glitches, like signal problems, erratic lag, being logged out, things disappearing on your screen as well as certain things staying on the screen.
A big change is also the controversial reliance on wait timers which can be accelerated by using in-game currency, the rapid loss of spell energy which basically forces you to visit inns – that can be an issue if you’re living remotely – and there have been some issues with adding and connecting with friends.
Though, at least for now, it seems to be an almost redundant feature. I’m sure that will change.
But Wizards Unite has exceeded my expectations in almost every way. It’s enjoyable, varied, and actually seems to have a very bright future ahead. Niantic have certainly a conjured up a winning combination with Portkey Games.
What do you think of Wizards Unite? Shout out below.