Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Isn’t the Next Pokémon Go. Good

WIRED | 6/25/2019 | Brian Barrett
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When developer Niantic launched Pokémon Go in the summer of 2016, it did so at maximum velocity. The game’s blend of simple mechanics and next-level augmented reality sparked a months-long stretch of virality, followed by years of low-key dominance. The studio’s follow-up, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, debuted Thursday on iOS and Android. And while it checks many of the same boxes—source material with a rabid fanbase, innovative AR—it’s decidedly its own experience. That’s no small praise.

It must have been tempting to turn Wizards Unite into Pokémon 2.0. Just sub in fantastic beasts for pocket monsters, wizards for trainers, and ride the fan service all the way to Gringotts. But while there are some inevitable parallels—mostly a function of using the same real-world infrastructure that dates back to Ingress, Niantic’s original AR exploration—Wizards Unite mostly resists repetition. That’s better in some ways, and worse in others, but mostly it’s just more.

Level - Wizards - Unite - Resemblance - Pokécessor

Again, at the most basic level Wizards Unite bears a resemblance to its Pokécessor: You walk around the real world, and take occasional breaks to interact with AR elements. You swipe, you collect. But this is like drawing similarities between Fox in Socks and Pale Fire. They both feature words written on pages, and rhyming couplets, but you’d never confuse the two.

I don’t necessarily mean this as a compliment. The Wizards Unite on-boarding process, in particular, feels like a detour into some backwater Pottermore forum. I admit that I still haven’t fully grasped the contours of the game’s plot, but it goes something like this, as handed down to you through dozens of expository dialogue panes. An event known as the Calamity has resulted in many items of value—known as Foundables—gone missing. You find Foundables by looking for Traces, a rough equivalent of a Pokéstop, where so-called Confoundables guard them until...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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