A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is a free-to-play, location-based role-playing game, available for download on Android and iOS mobile devices. Players join the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, exploring the real world around them to capture and contain threats to the secrecy of the magical realm. The game does feature some mild magical combat in the form of spells cast to disarms traps, free hostages, or defeat enemies, but there's no blood or graphic violence. While the game is free-to-play, there are various boosts, items, and other extras that can be purchased with real money via the in-game shop. Parents should make sure kids understand the need to be aware of their surroundings outside of the game while playing, as it’s easy to be distracted and stumble into places they’re not allowed or into potentially dangerous hazards. Parents should also know that the game requires a link to either a Facebook or Google account to play, which could raise some privacy concerns.
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What's it about?
It’s time to break out your wand and brush up on your Defence Against the Dark Arts, as you enter the Wizarding World in HARRY POTTER: WIZARDS UNITE. A sinister series of events has befallen the realm of magic, a calamity which is causing creatures, artifacts, people, and even memories from the Wizarding World to disappear. Making matters worse, many of these have somehow begun to manifest in the Muggle world, threatening to expose that world to the power of magic. As a new recruit to the Statute of Secrecy Task Force, your job is to explore the Muggle world for these anomalies and send them back before they’re discovered. You’ll need to hone your wizarding skills and team up with other magic users to uncover the source of the calamity and find a way to defeat it before it’s too late. Do you have what it takes to drive back the darkness that threatens both worlds?
Is it any good?
There are those that say the world around us is full of magic, if only you know where to look. In Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, that magic is everywhere and it’s up to you to send it back where it came from. The game’s location-based system is similar to Pokémon GO, which should come as no surprise as both come from the same developer, Niantic, Inc. But Wizards Unite vastly expands on the gameplay, offering players a wealth of options and activities that improves on Pokémon GO in nearly every way. Walking around the outside world doesn’t just uncover “Confoundables” to dispel and materials to collect, but players can also find greenhouses to plant and grow seeds in, Inns to grab a quick bite at (recovering some magic energy in the process), and huge towers to explore by teaming with others and clearing dungeon-like Wizarding Challenges. There’s almost as much content and lore to explore in the game as there are Confoundables to defeat in the world.
Much like a pack of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, though, Wizards Unite may be a generally tasty treat, but it still has a couple of issues that might leave a bad taste in players’ mouths. For starters, with so much to do in the game, it’s easy to quickly run out of energy and there’s no timer in place to earn more. Unfortunately, unless you’re physically near one of the virtual inns, getting more likely means you’ll need to spend some real-world money on the game before long. Also, much like Pokémon GO before it, while it encourages players to get out and explore the world around them, it also relies on them paying more attention to their mobile devices while doing so. This makes it far too easy to stumble into places a person might not belong without ever even noticing. Left unchecked, these Dementors can suck some of the joy out of Wizards Unite, but a little moderation and extra awareness can keep them from rearing their hooded heads. Ultimately, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite brings Harry Potter fans together for a genuine magical adventure that couldn’t be more inviting if it was delivered by an owl.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about commercialism in games. What are some of the ways that games are used to promote other media properties? Do games based on movies, TV, books, etc. encourage players to watch, read, collect more from those properties?
What are some ways that games are encouraging players to interact with the real world? How can games help to keep players more active? What are some of the risks involved with Augmented Reality “AR” games?
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free
- Release date: June 21, 2019
- Category: Role-Playing Games
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Size: 175.80 MB
- Publisher: Niantic, Inc.
- Version: 2.0.1
- Minimum software requirements: Requires iOS 10.0 or higher; Android 5.0 and up
- Last updated: November 27, 2019
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