Pokemon GO was all the rage when it was first introduced back in 2015, and is still going strong two years later. Shortly after the release of Pokemon GO, a trailer went viral suggesting that Harry Potter would be next to receive the AR treatment, but it was widely believed to be a hoax.
Fast forward to November 2017 and Warner Bros. announced that Niantic is developing a new Harry Potter-themed AR game for mobile devices called Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Here’s everything we know so far, including a possible release date, platform speculation and what you can expect in terms of gameplay.
We've been lucky enough to get some hands-on time with the upcoming title, and for more info on gameplay, take a look at our Harry Potter: Wizards Unite hands-on preview.
When will Harry Potter: Wizards Unite be released?
While the announcement of a new Harry Potter AR game is exciting news, especially for fans of the Harry Potter series, the game’s official release date is yet to be announced: Warner Bros. has only revealed that the game is coming sometime in 2019 (a delay from the original planned 2018 launch).
The company has launched a Wizards Unite website where you can 'enlist' - probably the best way to make sure you get updates on the game and get the first chance to sign up to play it. As of April 2019, you can also pre-register on Android via Google Play.
Interestingly, the game is set to be an EE exclusive when it launches in the UK. While we've seen hardware partnerships before - games coming to specific devices before others - it's the first time we've seen a network partnership. We imagine it's a bit of marketing to highlight EE's 5G network, due to launch on 30 May 2019, although there's no word on when the game will be released, or how long EE will have exclusivity for.
We speculate that Harry Potter: Wizards Unite AR will become available in Summer 2019, much like with Pokemon GO and its July 2015 release. Why Summer? It’s the best time of year for most of us to go out and explore – no one wants to go and hunt mystical creatures in the cold darkness of winter, after all!
If you’re after something to play in the meantime, take a look at our roundup of the best Android games of all time.
Latest Harry Potter: Wizards Unite trailer
Warner Bros. announced the 2019 release date with the first official trailer for the game - though be warned, it doesn't feature any actual gameplay footage, so don't expect to get any better an idea of what the game will consist of.
So, which platforms will the upcoming Harry Potter-themed AR game be available for? While the platforms are yet to be confirmed, we imagine that Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will be made available for iOS and Android, much like with Pokémon GO.
It’s the easiest and most accessible way to introduce an AR game at the moment, especially with ARKit and ARCore available to use, but there is another option: the Nintendo Switch. Although the Nintendo Switch didn’t get any Pokémon GO love, its rear-facing camera and touchscreen could provide a more high-end gaming experience than that provided by mobile devices.
It’s a long shot, admittedly, but it’s an option for Niantic.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite gameplay
The biggest question of all revolves around gameplay – what exactly will you be able to do in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite? Warner Bros has confirmed that Niantic, the developers behind the hugely successful Pokémon GO are developing the game, leading us to believe that it’ll share similarities with the hit AR game.
This was somewhat confirmed by the announcement on the Pottermore website, which claims that the game will ‘encourage you’ to step outside with your smartphone and explore your local surroundings. Sound familiar?
There is a difference though: you won’t be finding Pokémon, oh no. Instead, you’ll be exploring your local area to find magical creatures and characters from the HP universe while taking part in a series of adventures. You’ll be able to learn and cast spells, hunt down magical creatures and discover hidden artefacts from the Harry Potter universe.
Following a hands-on session, we now know more about what the game will offer; the premise is that a Calamity has caused magical people, beasts and artefacts to be scattered around the world and exposed to Muggles, and it's down to you to help save the Wizarding World.
It's built upon Niantic's real-world engine, which explains why Wizards Unite's map and features share some similarities with the hugely popular Pokemon GO. It's more than just a reskin though; the new title has a dark, gritty feel that fits the Wizarding World perfectly, and you'll spot little items like owls and memos flying overhead that remind you of the magic around you.
You'll experience AR-powered encounters with realistically rendered 3D models of artefacts, people and magical creatures. This isn't anything new for Niantic, but what is unique is that you'll be able to walk around the item for a full 360-degree view - something not possible with PoGo. Instead of throwing Pokeballs, you have to cast spells (which cost energy) to dispel the Confounding Magic and return the item to its rightful place in the Wizarding World.
Once you're out of energy, you'll have to head to an Inn to eat a tasty energy-giving meal and, once there, you can enable Dark Detectors to cause more 'Traces' to appear nearby. If it sounds familar, it should; it's the same concept as Poke-stops in Pokemon GO.
There's way more on offer than what we've mentioned; take a look at our Harry Potter: Wizards Unite hands-on for more detailed gameplay information.