'Harry Potter: Wizards Unite': what you should know about your kid's fave new game
We answer six FAQs about the magical game from the creator of 'Pokèmon Go'
Three years ago this week, hordes of geeks crawled out of their mothers' basements and took to the streets, phones in hands, to catch themselves a Pokèmon. Now Pokèmon Go creator Niantic hopes to trap the same $2bn (R28bn) lightning in a different bottle by arming kids with wands.
After years of rumours, you can finally be the wizard you always wanted to be with Niantic's new game, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.
We answer some frequently asked questions about it:
1. WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The secret world crafted by JK Rowling, which runs parallel to our own, is beset by evil spells called "confoundables". The Ministry of Magic needs you to free creatures and objects from the confoundables' grasp and find where these evil spells are coming from.
Armed with a game download and your finger (aka wand), you can sign up to the "Statute of Secrecy Task Force" for free.
2. IS IT BASICALLY THE SAME AS POKÉMON GO?
This is not just a Harry Pottered version of Pokèmon Go. Though you do find yourself, a generic-looking wizard, interacting with a map based on your real-world location thanks to GPS, and can see the magical creatures in your immediate space thanks to the Augmented Reality mode on your camera, that is where the similarities end.
The biggest change is that the game is more complex and there is a vast story attached to your every action. Wizards Unite involves quests given to you through interactions with Harry Potter and other ministry members. Each confoundable has different spells (that you cast by running your finger in a timed manner over a rune) that you use on creatures, objects and wizards. There are duals and portkeys (teleportation shoes), potions to make, things you can grow in greenhouses and fortresses to battle.
3. IS IT SAFE?
Yes and no.
Unlike Pokèmon Go, where you have to trek great distances (and sometimes go to other countries) to find specific special creatures, Wizards Unite doesn't need you to go to any specific spots, in sometimes less-than-desirable areas, to get an advantage.
As with anything that has kids walking around with their faces attached to a screen, accidents can happen
Walking does indeed unlock portkeys and it will help to find inns, greenhouses and fortresses, but this time any old fortress will do. You can happily walk around your preferred safe park, mall or gym and not lose out on the experience.
As with anything that has kids walking around with their faces attached to a screen, accidents can happen. They must be aware of their surroundings, should not go gallivanting by themselves (there is an advantage to battling fortresses with friends anyway), and, as the game says in the opening credits, no trespassing.
4. THE BIG QUESTION: HOW MUCH?
It's free to download. They get you in the elective purchases, when you get suckered into paying for a special outfit pledging allegiance to your preferred Hogwarts house, but it has no direct effect on the game play.
The game can also suck up your battery, so make sure to tag the battery-saver button in your settings.
5. IS IT ONLY FOR KIDS?
It's one of the few games that's fun for the whole family. Not only is it more fun when more people play, but it can be a bonding experience. The game can be complex for the younger of your brood. Knowing what you are talking about when you help may give your kid the advantage.
Come on, who doesn't secretly want to be a wizard?