“Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” is out and the experience can be overwhelming for newcomers. (Niantic/TNS)

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” is out and the experience can be overwhelming for newcomers. Between the Portkeys and Confoundables, players will have to digest a lot of information as they enter a new type of wizarding world.

For “Pokémon Go” and “Ingress” fans, the experience will be familiar but different. The maps and the overworld will look similar because Niantic shares information across all three titles. Portals and Pokestops have a direct counterpart to inns and greenhouses in “Wizards Unite.” Along with that, Niantic brings some common gameplay elements to the “Harry Potter” title.

Those who are familiar with “Pokémon Go” should know that interacting with inns and greenhouses are essential to gameplay. Inns generate spell energy that is used to interact with the world. Think of this as the Poke Balls of “Wizards Unite.” Without them, players can’t interact with Confoundables, Fortresses or Oddities. They need the energy to use magic and overpower Confoundables, which is the core gameplay loop. Defeating these phenomena release Foundable Fragments, which are the equivalent of Pokémon that are added to a Registry (aka Pokedex). The big difference when confronting the Confoundables is that instead of throwing balls on the screen players cast magic by tracing glyphs on the screen. The strength of the spell is determined by how quickly and accurately they can trace a spell.

Other elements borrowed from “Pokémon Go” are the Portkeys and the Fortresses. With Portkeys, players unlock the artifact using a golden key, which has unlimited uses or a silver key, which is a consummable. The keys are essentially incubators and Portkeys house portals that will take players to Foundables that they can’t get in the wild. Players need to walk certain distances to unlock them. Meanwhile, Fortresses are the “Wizards Unite” equivalent to “Pokémon Go” gyms. This is where players can team up to battle enemies. These are essentially raids that show off a better combat system than “Pokémon Go.”

Although it borrows elements from both Niantic games, “Wizards Unite” does have some original gameplay concepts such as the inclusion of potions. These become essential when battling powerful Confoundables. Potions can heal players and they can boost their spell power. This limited consumables can be purchased or they can be crafted using ingredients players find in the wild. There’s a section in the game where they can brew the power-up, but it again takes time to create it though Niantic does offer a way to speed up the process with gold. These little microtransactions are found all throughout the game.

The bigger change to the Niantic formula is the introduction of Professions that players can choose once they hit level 6. They appear to have different roles in a group and specialize in different types of enemies. Aurors deal extra damage against Dark Forces and take extra damage from Beasts. In a group, it sounds like they do the most damage. Magizoologist deal extra damage to beasts while being vulnerable to Curiosities. In a group, it sounds like they are the healers. Professors are experts at dealing with Curiosities while being vulnerable to Dark Forces. In a group, it sounds as though Professors are a support class. Each profession has its own skill tree and boosts to player stats. What’s great is that players can switch professions at any time, so there’s no need to agonize over the choice.

With that general overview, here are some basic tips to get the most out of “Wizards Unite” from a “Pokémon Go” player.

1. Go into settings and download all the assets and turn on battery saver. Location-based games use a lot of battery and if you want to keep exploring and playing, you’ll need the juice. Downloading the assets at a hefty 3.3 GBs will be worth it to speed up parts of the game.

2. Turn off the augmented reality. The technology is nice the first few times, but after seeing the same Confoundables a few times in a row, it’s best to quickly overpower them and move on. The novelty wears out and getting the AR to work just takes up time.

3. If you’re going out exploring for an extended period of time, buy an external battery pack. Again, “Wizards Unite” will probably suck up a lot of power, and you can’t play it if your smartphone is dead. The upside of having a battery pack with a cord sticking out of your pocket is that it’s easy to identify other players around you.

4. Don’t spend all your gold and items immediately. Hoard them for as long as you can. No one knows what potions are the most valuable or what kind of Foundables or relics players can find in Portkeys. Let those details filter out before committing those valuable power-ups.

5. Find a local “Wizards Unite” Discord and follow the subreddit. Discord is essentially a big chat room, where players get together and organize and share information. With “Pokémon Go,” it has become an essential tool to coordinate raids and meet friends. Meanwhile, Reddit has a treasure trove of information about the game that’s constantly being updated, but it’s best to narrow that fire hydrant of information into a subreddit. The top two appear to be Wizards Unite and Harry Potter WU.

Most of all, I suggest you enjoy the game and explore the world. The game appears to do a better job with combat and role-playing elements. It’s more complicated than “Pokémon Go” and the need to constantly gather spell energy is annoying, but “Wizards Unite” will change over time as the community builds around Niantic’s latest title.


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