Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
June 21, 2019 7:42 AM   Subscribe

The newest game from Niantic hit phones yesterday: Harry Potter Wizards Unite. Like Pokemon Go, you walk around and interact with icons on your phone, but Wizards Unite improves on what makes Pokemon Go great. Have questions? There's a lot of options, but there's also an FAQ.
posted by dinty_moore (49 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Fanfare talk thread
posted by dinty_moore at 7:43 AM on June 21, 2019

Installing immediately, thank you!!
posted by DTMFA at 7:49 AM on June 21, 2019

So far:
The terminology in this is weird enough that I keep on defaulting to the Pokemon Go equivalents - walking portmankeys is somehow much weirder than walking eggs.

There's a lot more to do than I remember in Pokemon Go and it's a lot at first. I got through it yesterday by ignoring 3/4 of what was happening on the screen, and have sort of randomly been clicking and finding new things (you can guess recipes to make your potions brew faster! and also you have potions you can brew!)

I wish the complex wizard duel icon was a little more differentiated from the normal foundable/pokemon icons, because I accidentally clicked on that while walking to my bus yesterday and didn't have time to actually fight them. The actual fight was fun, though - kind of similar to a pokemon gym fight.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:58 AM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

I was all exited.... then..... not available in my country :-(
posted by Pendragon at 8:06 AM on June 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

Waiting for the first negative stories: people mugged going after Foundables, playing in inappropriate areas, etc.
posted by doctornemo at 8:08 AM on June 21, 2019

I was all exited.... then..... not available in my country :-(

Ah, sorry! I noticed it was available in the US and the UK and assumed it was worldwide. It looks like Niantic is rolling it out on a country-by-country basis, but I can't find a schedule. Apparently Australia and New Zealand has had access to the beta version for a few weeks.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:11 AM on June 21, 2019

Oh, I'm sure it's coming... BUT I WANT TO PLAY NOW!!! :-)
posted by Pendragon at 8:12 AM on June 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

Minecraft Earth is also releasing soon, though I could be wrong, I swear I saw a 2019 date at E3. It's going to be a really busy summer with all kinds of adventures as we stare through our phones and venture into another universe.
posted by Fizz at 8:17 AM on June 21, 2019

Pokémon Go was an advertising tool to get people physically into retail locations. Starbucks etc. paid for being a location in the “game.” It was a scheme to manipulate people’s behavior. Is this any different?
posted by njohnson23 at 8:41 AM on June 21, 2019

Kinda seems like maybe we need an IRB for games now.
posted by aramaic at 8:46 AM on June 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

Pokémon Go was an advertising tool to get people physically into retail locations. Starbucks etc. paid for being a location in the “game.”

That has not been my experience at all after playing PoGO since the beginning.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:52 AM on June 21, 2019 [30 favorites]

Pokémon Go was an advertising tool to get people physically into retail locations. Starbucks etc. paid for being a location in the “game.” It was a scheme to manipulate people’s behavior.

So, kind of? But it ended up not working out that well for the retail locations.

When Pokemon Go started, Niantic took the pokestop/gym locations from Ingress, which had crowdsourced their users to take pictures of cool things/places in their neighborhoods. Statues, dedication plates, murals, that one weird looking building - there's a reason why there were a lot of pokestops in parks.

This has its own issues, because sometimes the pokestops weren't in places that were easy for the public to get to, not evenly distributed, ect. Eventually Niantic figured out that it could partner with stores and get them to give Niantic money in exchange for their location becoming a pokestop - but by the time they implemented it, the Pokemon Go craze was mostly over. Plus, nothing really made you go into the location, unless you wanted to grab a coffee and wait for hours in a starbucks to collect as many pokeballs as you could in five minute intervals - not exactly the sort of customer Starbucks really wants taking up space.

For what it's worth, the special locations for this game don't seem to have changed - the ones near my house are an elementary school, the old location of a baseball field, and a cool mural. I passed some of them that were stores, but not many.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:54 AM on June 21, 2019 [9 favorites]

Pokémon Go was an advertising tool to get people physically into retail locations. Starbucks etc. paid for being a location in the “game.” It was a scheme to manipulate people’s behavior. Is this any different?

I mean, they partnered with Starbucks and Sprint(? Maybe T-mobile) for a time. But you could literally hit the pokestop while walking past the store, and it didn't add anything new to the game, other than guaranteeing an egg for a limited time.

The thing it did more than get people into retail locations was get people outside, going to parks, etc. So I guess it manipulated people into meeting other people and seeing things they wouldn't normally? (and yeah, some dumb people did dumb things like tresspass and litter, but Niantic had pretty good responses to that to help improve those things to the best of their ability.)
posted by Twain Device at 8:55 AM on June 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

Pokémon Go was used as an advertising tool by a few corporations to get people physically intonear retail locations.

Fixed that for you. Pokemon Go was another in a long line of Nintendo Pokemon products designed to get people up out of chairs and walking around and interacting with people. Starbucks, Verizon, and a couple of other corps helped this by becoming standard Pokestops, which could be interacted with without ever stepping foot inside their retail locations.
posted by hanov3r at 8:56 AM on June 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

Players can choose to make an account through Facebook or Google."

Guess I will not be playing wizards then...
posted by metahacker at 9:36 AM on June 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

I just took a look at the Play store, and apparently it won't run on my Nexus 5x? It's not THAT old!
posted by tavella at 9:40 AM on June 21, 2019

I can’t. I’m still playing Pokémon Go daily, and then I added Jurassic World too (which is a mess of a game). Not another addiction!
posted by gladly at 9:41 AM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yeah, my two-year-old Moto G5+ is apparently too ancient for this, too.

Oh well.
posted by phatkitten at 9:42 AM on June 21, 2019

I wouldn't mind trying this with my son, but I'm not sure I want to bother. Pokemon Go was a big nope for us because we don't live in a dense metro part of town, so there were virtually no pokestops and my map was a big blank. If this is built on the same Ingress data then it won't work for us.
posted by Fleebnork at 9:55 AM on June 21, 2019

Fleebnork, while I work in a reasonably dense area, there's about twice as many locations near me in WU as there were in PG. Also, one of the links above mentions that if you open the game and stay in one location for a while, things tend to show up near you.
posted by telophase at 10:08 AM on June 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

For anyone else that had as much trouble as I did turning the music off: access the settings by tapping the suitcase icon at the bottom of the screen, then tapping the gears in the upper left corner.
posted by telophase at 10:10 AM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Re: Login issues: If you say your birthday is young enough, it'll let you create a Niantic Kids account.
posted by persona at 10:44 AM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

I think I'm just gonna call it "Harry Potter Go" - Wizards Unite has a lot of associations I don't really wanna deal with right now lol
posted by yueliang at 11:22 AM on June 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

Pokémon Go was an advertising tool to get people physically into retail locations. Starbucks etc. paid for being a location in the “game.”

I toyed with it a little bit though I didn't get seriously into it, and I think the extent to which this is true depends a lot on where you're located geographically? Around where I actually live, it felt like all the locations were either churches or Starbucks, aside from the couple at the library. But around where I work, in midtown Omaha, there was a lot more stuff and a lot of it was actually closer together and more walkable. I think these games aren't just more viable but are actually likely to be a lot more fun for people in more urban areas than in the suburbs.
posted by Sequence at 12:11 PM on June 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Wizard U-NIT
posted by fizban at 12:19 PM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Ingress was used for advertising. You could get codes from Hint water bottle caps that got you Ingress items. Jamba Juice had a tie in, though it may have just been locations, but hey walking around is thirsty work especially when the weather is warm., and you were a little more likely to stop by Jamba Juice.

Anyway my friends seem to be into it, so maybe I'll try it for a bit. Peer pressure is the ultimate advertising.
posted by gryftir at 6:10 PM on June 21, 2019

If Pokemon Go had been for advertising, they would have coordinated with the rise of poke restaurants, but I don't think I saw any poke-puns.

I downloaded the game but I don't think I get what to do. I freed Hagrid from a net and that's it.
posted by batter_my_heart at 6:31 PM on June 21, 2019

Batter_my_heart - do you see any icons on the map? Click on them, you'll either get items or join a battle. Of you don't and you're in a suburban/rural area, it might make sense to try to play in an area where people congregate or you can walk around - parks or commercial areas work. (Private residences shouldn't be marked on the map, but often things like painted utility boxes will show up as markers).
posted by dinty_moore at 7:31 PM on June 21, 2019

The combat took me FOREVER (and a help guide) to figure out. I thought it was about tapping, but it's more about aim.

I'm kinda annoyed at how even the professions are all combat-based, because the combat is centered around being multiplayer but there's not enough players in one place at one time for this to be viable. (And I'm one of the Australian beta players that's had this for a little while.) I wish the profession trees favoured capture/rescue - for instance, making it easier for you to capture stuff.

The camera is a little buggy and sometimes it hangs. It also feels like it's trying to do too many things.

I can appreciate it, the plot is interesting, and I'm playing it a little more now, but I do wish it wasn't so much overload at once. And if this was released a couple of years later, it would have come out BEFORE JK Rowling went and alienated her fanbase.

(I hope there's a sub plot where you get to be the faction that's all Fuck The Statute of Secrecy)

My friend code is 8906 6205 8839, add me!
posted by divabat at 9:26 PM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

"this app is not supported on your device"
probably some god of productivity is trying to protect me from myself tbh
posted by taquito sunrise at 10:52 PM on June 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Wizards Unite improves on what makes Pokemon Go great.

Oh so it just injects dopamine directly into your brain? cool cool cool.
posted by GuyZero at 11:24 PM on June 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm just not seeing it on my phone's store. Is it being filtered out because my phone doesn't support it?
posted by Four Ds at 6:26 AM on June 22, 2019

Ingress had some really odd sponsors - like, I totally get Circle K, but Softbank? Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group? AXA insurance? Ito En?
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:48 AM on June 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm just not seeing it on my phone's store. Is it being filtered out because my phone doesn't support it?

Possibly - you can see a list of supported devices here.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:55 AM on June 22, 2019

Having played a little longer, the location of inns/greenhouses is slightly different than where there are pokestops, but it still follows the same pattern - locations in my residential neighborhood tend to be corner store murals, painted utility boxes, and non-residential buildings like libraries and elementary schools. The main difference I noticed is the landmarks and murals have been updated - a number of the pokestops were for corner store murals that had been painted over, or for a church that was no longer there. The greenhouses/inns look up to date. I didn't check the T-mobile store.

So if you had issues playing pokemon go because there weren't enough walkable 'landmarks' near you (even if that landmark is a utility box), my guess is that the Wizards United experience isn't going to be that much different - there's more to do during the 'downtime', but there's still the expectation that you'll eventually walk near an inn or a greenhouse.

Also, something I've noticed - I haven't been able to plant anything in a greenhouse because someone else has always gotten there first. And whenever I do plant something, it's never in a location where I'm likely to pass by in an hour or two to see what happens when the timer runs out (or am I just encouraging the greenhouse to give away that sort of plant? IDK.)
posted by dinty_moore at 10:39 AM on June 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

My friend code is 3248 5969 5965.
I have run out of spell energy and it does not seem to be slowly refilling, so I guess I need to figure that out. I like the little red circles to tell me I have something to check on, but I don't need them for every piece of portrait flair that I have unlocked.
posted by soelo at 1:25 PM on June 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

solo: go to inns, that's where you get spell energy. There's a free 50 energy special happening there too.

And omg hard agree on the portrait flair!!
posted by divabat at 3:38 PM on June 22, 2019

On locations nearby: I live in a Boston suburb, in a basement apartment on a side street a couple of blocks from any larger street in the two possible directions. If I leave the app open (or open it every hour or two), one to three things are likely to pop up near me.

A half mile walk this morning (two blocks down, back along the nearby bike path) got me two greenhouses and an inn. (One "this garden is a memorial to..." sign, one painted utility box, one sign on the bike path.) Alternate routes near me at about the same distance have about the same number in the same range, mostly. I'm curious to see what it's like at work, because I could (depending on where in the large building it thought I was) hit a Pokestop from my desk.

My biggest annoyance at the moment is that it often thinks I'm driving when the GPS misplaces me slightly (no, app, I am sitting on my bed.)

I'd like to understand more about what makes the wand-movement-signals higher quality or lower (I got an error message on one saying I'd done it too slowly, and obviously how closely you follow the line matters, but I've had a couple that weren't very close that still got good or great scores...)

I had been working on gearing up to walk my neighbourhood more regularly, and this is a fine motivation.
posted by jenettsilver at 5:38 PM on June 22, 2019

Wand movement for spells is speed + accuracy. Both matter.
posted by gingerbeer at 6:29 PM on June 22, 2019

Can you change your portrait later? I don't like committing to things I can't change!

(I may have, um, brought a Pixel 3a today. In my defense, I was planning on getting one soon anyway!)
posted by tavella at 10:36 PM on June 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

There are ingress Portals that are not pokestops or gyms but are items in Harry Potter.
posted by k8t at 10:56 PM on June 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

You can change your portrait as often as you like (and new frame/etc. options open up too).
posted by jenettsilver at 4:57 AM on June 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

I really like this for a couple of reasons:

I find the gameplay smoother, in that there's more things to do right off the bat. In PoGo, I got bored with just collecting pokemon endlessly. Instead, there's different achievements you can aim for. It's a much more fleshed out game. When PoGo got more fleshed out, I had already stopped playing out of frustration.

Coming from Ingress, the 'battle spell casting' is like drawing the glyphs, which I'm used to.

I also love the aesthetics, and all of the deep, rich colors. PoGo was too neon for me.
posted by spinifex23 at 3:49 PM on June 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

So I've only been playing this for about 24 hours but I'm finding it incredibly infuriating. It takes about 30 seconds to load, which means you can't just dip in and out every few minutes to check it, and it also closes and has to reload from scratch whenever I click over to a different app, e.g. to respond to an email or check my map while walking, etc.

And when it is open, the GPS seems to freeze frequently, and sometimes the whole app freezes so you have to hard restart it. I had it open on two 15 minute walks today. The first one I had to restart it three times, and it only seems to have counted about half the time it was open, since the GPS was flaky. Also, it kept telling me not to play in a moving vehicle, even though I was walking.

The second walk it only crashed once, but also no confoundables actually showed up in the while 15 minute so either it wasn't working properly, or it is calibrated for not much to happen, which is not great for an app that only works properly when foregrounded.

My phone is less than a year old and was a flagship phone then, and the GPS was working fine on Google maps the whole time. So I don't think it's a phone problem. Are other people having this kind of issue too?
posted by lollusc at 12:42 AM on June 24, 2019

lollusc: I have a pretty new Pixel 3 and the portkey stuff makes my phone hang for ages.

I found that if you turn AR off it works much smoother. Also it means you don't have to remain in the area to rescue items.
posted by divabat at 2:38 AM on June 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

I have AR off for everything but the portkey stuff (which I only do on wifi in the comfort of my own home, so I also don't really notice/care if it takes a few more seconds to load the way I do if I have to stop walking in the middle of the sidewalk). I've got a Pixel 2, and while the app has errored out a few times, since I started playing on Thursday, I'd say it was maybe half a dozen times in total? Most of the times it's been right after I start up and am leaving the house, so I figured it was something with trying to boot and switch from wifi/data at the same time.

I wonder if it's a data/load issue.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:46 AM on June 24, 2019


I've had the game installed for a couple of days now, and I absolutely love it. It's beautiful, and fun. However, with with Battery Saver on, it just chews through my battery to the point where it's drained after a couple of hours of play.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:55 AM on June 25, 2019

It is beautiful. It seems more plot oriented than Pokemon Go. I think I'll stick with Pogo because I kind of appreciate the openness of it and the collecting aspect of it. Once you return the confoundable and register it, that's it. No such thing as hunting for a higher power or higher IV one.
posted by Salamandrous at 11:55 AM on July 2, 2019

Ok I rather like this game! I didn't play Pokemon Go because I didn't play Pokemon as a kid (though now I love the creatures while remaining ignorant of the storyline), but this game suits me well.

Time to go walk so I can unlock some portkeys!
posted by batter_my_heart at 9:41 AM on July 5, 2019

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