All I know about Harry Potter comes from theme parks. Yeah, I know, everybody loves the books, and the movies apparently get pretty good around the third one. Yes, I realize this is the most important piece of pop culture for everybody under the age of 30, a bigger, more British Star Wars that somehow revived the Satanic panic of the ‘80s for a brief spell. I’m missing out, no doubt, and obviously I’m very old if I haven’t let the magic of Harry Potter into my life by this point. Sorry, folks!
I know the theme parks. They’re great. Universal did a fantastic with them. And now I also know Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, the latest augmented reality game from Niantic, the people behind Pokémon Go. The biggest gaming craze of 2016 has been reborn under the aegis of the most popular books of the last 30 or so years, and it’s safe to assume it’ll be huge. You can download Wizards Unite for your iOS or Android device right now, and get to slinging spells all throughout your neighborhood.
If you’re overwhelmed by the options, or just unsure where to start uniting with them wizards, let me give you a hand. Here are some basic tips to get you started in Wizards Unite and drain as much magic out of it as possible.
These AR games will make your phone’s power supply disappear, like they’re some kind of magician that uses mobile phone power in their act instead of rabbits. To minimize how much juice it’ll suck up, you can take a few basic steps that’ll save you a lot of time in the end. First off make sure you turn on your phone’s battery saver; you can find that in the settings menu, and it’ll lessen the amount of power that your phone eats up while it’s running. You should also select the in-game option to download all of Wizards Unite’s assets. You’ll find that in the in-game settings menu, but make sure you’re on a good wi-fi signal before activating it. This’ll prevent your phone from regularly downloading game files on the fly. Another way you can save battery life is turning off the game’s AR; will have a big impact on how the game looks on your phone, though, ruining that Potter-y immersion, so you may not want to do it. If getting far in this game as quickly as possible while sparing your phone’s battery is a priority, you might want to kill that AR.
The Wizarding World runs on spells, and spells run on spell energy. You’ll use a little bit of it up every time you cast a spell—one unit, to be exact—and when you’re out of it, you’re basically as helpless as any muggle. There are two ways to restore spell energy, but we only recommend one of them. Whenever you visit an inn (which appear as purple buildings on the game’s map) you’ll regenerate one unit of spell energy (sometimes two, depending on how well you draw the spell necessary to get it). Each inn effectively has a five-minute cooldown when it’s been used; you won’t be able to get more spell energy from there until five minutes have passed. You can also spend gold to restore energy, but since the best way to get gold is to spend real-life money, I’d stick to the inns, if I was you.
Okay, they aren’t technically chores. Like many mobile games, Wizards Unite has regular daily tasks that can earn you small amounts of gold and other useful treats. It might seem like busy work, but they usually don’t take a lot of time or effort, and you’ll want to get all the free perks you can get in this game.
Wizards Unite has a job tool. You can pick from three classes, which are called Professions in the game, once you hit level 6. It’s typical stuff you’d expect from a videogame—every profession has something it’s really good at and something it’s not that great at, and you have to keep that in mind during your play sessions. For instance, the Auror class is strong against the Dark Forces enemy type but weak against Beasts. The Magizoologist can whip Beasts right quick but struggles with Curiosities. The Professor, anecdotally the best profession at this point, can take down Curiosities faster than the other jobs, but wilts in the face of Dark Forces. Each profession has other special abilities that can be unlocked and a lengthy skill tree. You don’t have to stick to just one—you can change between ‘em at any point—but it’s probably best to pick a job and power it up with XP as quickly as you can, instead of acting like a dilettante and bouncing from thing to thing.
Wizards Unite doesn’t just want to get you active. It wants you to play with friends, too, or even make new ones. As such there are some socially-minded challenges that will net you more XP than usual if you complete them with friends. Make the most of those opportunities and you’ll excel at the most important game of all: friendship.
Spells are cast by tracing a symbol on the screen with your finger or a stylus. The power of a spell is influenced by how closely you trace that symbol, and also by how much time it takes you to do so. It’s important to be accurate, but it’s better to be fast. So if you find yourself being too careful and taking too much to draw that symbol, try to speed it up a bit, even if it means your finger might stray a little. Ideally you’d cast these spells with both speed and accuracy, but if you can only manage one, speed’s the better play.
The secret of the portkeys is that they whisk you away to locations from the Potter universe. They do that through something called “portmanteaus,” which can only be opened by the portkeys. You can collect portkeys simply by walking—you can get gold keys after 2 and 5 kilometers, and silver keys after 10. Use them to open a portmanteau and start your journey into the Potterverse, which will usually net you some new items to use back in the regular game. Yep, this basically works just like Pokémon Go’s eggs. It’s also a good way to get some in-game action when you’re not able to walk around, so use those portkeys wisely.
Potions are a relatively common reward in Wizards Unite, but you’ll still need to make some, too. You’ll collect ingredients throughout your travels, so make sure you’re keeping an eye on what you have in your bag and what potions they can be turned into. Also note that different potion ingredients can be found at different times, or when the weather forecast changes, or even based on the phases of the moon. Potions will help in various ways, and can be crucial when it comes to beating fortresses and certain stronger enemies, so try not to use them in just any old fight.