Harry Potter Wizards Unite Review

You may be able to tell from the fact that I have a pinterest board dedicated Harry Potter to locations you can visit that I’m a big Harry Potter fan so I was quite excited when the new Wizards Unite game came out.

What’s the plot of Wizards Unite?

You are a wizard helping the Statute of Secrecy Task Force. There’s been the “calamity” during which lots of items, aka “foundables”, have left their trace in the Muggle world so the entire Wizarding world is at risk of exposure. These foundables are protected by the “confounables” that you have to defeat in order to return them to their rightful place. You can choose your profession and take lessons to increase your skills. You’ll be battling enemies in fortresses, growing ingredients in greenhouses, brewing potions and eating at inns to gain spell energy.

What’s it like to play Wizards Unite?

If you got caught up in the Pokemon Go craze a couple of years ago (does anyone actually still play??) then it’s quite similar to that in that it’s an augmented reality game, but of course there are differences. The first thing I did when I downloaded the game was play it with my 9 year old son. Under my supervision he did the set-up and started playing the game with no problem. Let’s face it, most 9 year olds aren’t going to bother reading the instructions but the game-play is quite instinctive. There are a couple of elements that I’ve since had to go an research (like what flags are all about), but you can get started playing the game very easily.

Game play doesn’t really involve a lot of skill, even in a fortress. You simply have to trace your finger over the (gradually disappearing) lines and your spell is cast. You have no control over which spells you use. The bigger battles in Fortresses do have a bigger element of control in that you can use potions and objects to change how effective your spells are, but you still don’t get to choose them.

You can tell how hard a confounable is to defeat by the light column above of it. Tap on a trace (the rotating icons on your map) to start your battle. If you’re looking for specific type of foundable then you can tell which is which by the icon of the trace (ie a paw for care of magical creatures or the 9 3/4 icon for Hogwarts related articles)

Along the way there are mysteries, challenges, portkeys, greenhouses, inns, fortresses and wizarding challenges. You collect various items or earn them through your activities which you can then use to make potions, grow plans and use in battles. Each day you’ll be given daily assignments and, as you complete them, you’ll earn more coins, energy and other items.

How much does it cost?

The app itself is free and you can play the game without paying any money at all. You can earn or collect everything that you need to progress in the game just by playing it, but that can be a slow process. For example it’s surprising how quickly you can burn through your spell energy when you are battling, particularly in a fortress. You will earn coins during game play that will allow you to purchase items from diagon alley but if you don’t have enough coins then you can buy more with real world cash. WARNING – it takes just 3 taps to purchase something with real world money if you have a Paypal account linked to your phone. At no point was I asked if I wanted to link the account, it was automatically there and I have not found an option to disable in-app purchases. Parents / bill payers be warned!!

Is Wizards Unite safe for children?

Yes, but you do have to be cautious. It is possible to add friends, and for people to request to be your friend even if you don’t know them if they just try a random friend ID. Friends do have to be accepted and you cannot message people through the app which makes it safer than some other apps. Fortresses are where you play the main battles and these tend to be in public places such as parks. It’s likely that there will be other people also playing in these places. As with anything, as long as your children are following basic safety rules like don’t talk to strangers etc then it’s fine. Players need to remain aware of their surroundings etc and not put themselves in danger – but that’s just common sense.

One thing I do like, and I think they’ve learned a lot of lessons from Pokemon Go, is that there are warnings all over the place re your safety. If you move too quickly it pops up with a message saying you shouldn’t play whilst driving and you have to click a button to say you’re a passenger. There are also regular warnings telling you to remain aware of your surroundings and not trespass etc. Interestingly I’ve found at least greenhouse that is actually on private property and you physically cannot get close enough to activate the greenhouse without going onto the property!

Playing the game does involve a lot of stopping in the street (which will make you feel like a bit of a prat!) When you click on a trace you have to stop where you are before you can align and tap to start your battle. Once you have tapped you can carry on as normal. It’s worth bearing in mind that game play involves a lot of waving your phone around!

Where are the best places for game play?

If you live in a rural area then, sadly, there are going to be a lot less inns, fortresses, greenhouses etc for you to play in. These are a key part of the game so if you’re planning on playing mostly in rural areas then you will find things very difficult. That said, you will still find some things. The more populated an area is, the more stuff you’ll find there. For example where I live in Aylesbury there aren’t any points of interest, but I can find plenty of traces. If however I go to town, or one of the main roads / parks / real-world points of interest, then there are loads. The walk from the train station to the library alone takes you to four inns, a green house, a fortress and a flagged area!

The negatives

I have found the game to be a bit glitchy, especially at busy times. It’s really annoying when it crashes and I lost a lot of spell energy when it crashed mid fortress battle. It is also a battery and data drain. Luckily I’m with EE so all data used to play is free until September, but without that I’d be getting through my data pretty quickly.

The positives

It’s really fun to play, both for Harry Potter and non-Harry Potter fans. You don’t need to have read the books or seen the movies to know what’s going on. It’s quite easy to play, at least on a basic level. It’s also quite addictive. There’s an inn about 3 minutes walk from my office and you’ll often find me taking the detour to get more spell energy!

My review

I uninstalled Pokemon Go pretty quickly because I just didn’t enjoy the game play. I think this is a much better game and I’ve stuck with it. It feels like there is more to do within the game to keep you interested. The other thing I really like about it is that it gets people out of the house. If you have kids that are difficult to drag away from their screens then this is a great way to get them into the fresh air and moving around.