Unless you’ve been using your Time-Turner to relive the same days over and over, the wait is finally over for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (Free). Conjured by Niantic, the company behind Pokemon GO, a branch of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment dedicated specifically to making games about a certain Wizarding World, it’s an idea so full of potential that the only surprise is that it didn’t happen earlier: the Potterverse meets augmented reality.
Set after the main Harry Potter book/movies series, Wizards Unite enlists players to assist the Statue of Secrecy Task Force, a group of wizards and witches trying to prevent the Wizarding World from being revealed en masse to the world at large. You know, in case the many events that have already happened up to his point didn’t clue the muggles in already.
Necessitating all of this is something called the Calamity, which has made some prominent magic-users disappear and entangled characters, items and even memories from throughout the Wizarding World. Part of your job as a Wizards Unite player is to combat the spells (called Confoundables) protecting these things (called Foundables, and you can blame Hermione Granger herself if you think the terminology is silly) and restore them to what’s essentially some kind of giant magic scrapbook.
Since nearly every person on Earth has some familiarity with Pokemon GO, many aspects of the game will likewise feel as though you’ve seen them before, but there’s also a lot more going on here than when Niantic’s last big title launched. Hence, our Harry Potter: Wizards Unite guide, which is designed to make sure beginners can get up to speed fast — and for free. Grab your wand and let’s go.
How to Discover Foundables and Cast Spells
The very essence of Wizards Unite is to get out into the world and discover as many Foundables as possible. You can find them spawning just about anywhere, but the clues or traces that will pop up on the game map tend to appear closer to significant game locations: Inns, Greenhouses and Fortresses. There are also area marked by signposts called Landmarks on the game map where traces of specific types are more likely to spawn.
In all, there are 10 Families of Foundables, each with their own distinct logo:
- Care of Magical Creatures
- Dark Arts
- Hogwarts School
- Legends of Hogwarts
- Ministry of Magic
- Magical Games and Sports
- Mysterious Artifacts
- Wonders of the Wizarding World
Regardless of which type of trace you spot, you can begin an encounter with the Confoundable simply by tapping on the logo. Every Confoundable has a specific type of spell you have to cast to defeat it. And let me guess, you didn’t study any of your spell books, did you …
That’s just fine, actually, because casting spells simply means tracing the specific glyph (a fancy word for pattern) that appears on the screen. The idea is to replicate the glyph with your finger as accurately as quickly as possible. The closer to perfect and faster you cast, the more powerful your spell will be, increasing the chances of success.
Should your spell work, the Foundable will be freed, and you’ll earn XP and rewards. Some Foundables will be able to be added to your registry right away, while the majority will only give you one or more shards, and you won’t be able to put them in your registry until you’ve rounded up the appropriate amount of shards. Either way, adding Foundable images to your registry gets you closer to the next rank in that category, earning you increasingly better rewards as you step up in rank.
Bonus tip 1: Prior to tackling any Confoundable, a meter will appear on the screen and tell you about its relative threat level. Most Confoundables you run into early on will be the low to medium range, and you should be able to defeat them simply by getting good or great casts. However, Confoundables can whisk Foundables away if your spells fail several times in a row.
Bonus tip 2: In contrast to Pokemon GO, leveling up in Wizards Unite makes your magic more powerful and Confoundables proportionately easier to overcome. If you run into an encounter that is proving too difficult, you can tap on the potion bottle icon at the bottom of the screen and consume a potion to boost your spells. What you want here are Exstimulo Potions, which come in regular Strong and Potent varieties. Each potion grants its boost for several casts, so don’t dismay if your first cast after downing a potion still fails.
Every time you cast a spell, it uses up Spell Energy, which does not regenerate on its own as you might expect. That means you’re going to need to find more to keep on doing that magic you do, and you’ll want to do it without spending money. Let’s talk about how to make that happen.
How to Get Free Spell Energy
You might not be surprised to learn that you can spell Gold, the in-game currency, to refill your Spell Energy. But your Gold is precious and can be put to better uses (though increasing your max Spell Energy might be one of those), so getting more for free is definitely preferable.
- Visit an Inn – Inns look like little brown buildings on your game map, and can be found scattered around towns, malls, public parks, and pretty much anywhere except very rural areas. You’ll need to walk fairly close to an Inn to take advantage of it, but once you’re within range, you can simply tap on the Inn and trace a very simple glyph to randomly dine upon some delicious food from the Wizarding World that will restore some of your Spell Energy. Inns have a five-minute cooldown before you can dine there again, but if you’ve got one nearby, it’s possible to completely refill in just a few visits.
- Visit a Greenhouse – Similar to but not exactly the same as Inns, Greenhouses appear as small blue buildings on your map. While their main use is as a location to grow and cultivate ingredients for potions, you can also select from one of three plants during each visit, which will yield ingredients and sometimes Spell Energy too. These also have five-minute cooldown timers.
- Finish Your Daily Assignments – In the bottom-right corner of the main game screen, you’ll see a checklist icon. Tapping on it will take you to a list of Daily Assignments from the Ministry of Magic, which are tasks that reset each day. One of them is always something that will give you extra Spell Energy, so keep that in mind a a way to grab a partial refill in a pinch.
How to Get Free Gold — and Why You Need It
Money doesn’t really make the world go ’round in the Harry Potter movies, but you do need Gold to get some things done in Wizards Unite. Buying it is an option, but there are ways to get it for free during the course of normal gameplay.
(And as an aside, there are more different ways to earn it than in Pokemon GO, which is nice.)
Here’s where to find some free Gold:
- Daily Rewards – You’ll get some loot every time you simply log in to Wizards Unite for the first time each day, and some of it will be Gold. There were six different days that awarded Gold during the game’s launch month, though you need to keep logging in daily to be eligible for the higher amounts later in the month. Let’s face it, though, you’ll probably be doing that anyway if you plan on playing regularly.
- Level Up – Every time you reach the next level as a wizard or witch, you’ll receive a handful of helpful items — including Gold. It takes more XP to reach every subsequent level, but that’s not unusual for a game of this type.
- Finish Your Daily Assignments – We discussed these earlier, but in addition to Spell Energy, you’ll sometimes find Gold as a reward for these too. On top of that, there’s guaranteed Gold if you knock out all Daily Assignments in any given day.
- Complete Achievements or SOS Tasks – That same Daily Assignments icon also takes you to a menu where you’ll find Achievements and SOS tabs on the bottom nav bar. You’ll want to check these out for Gold-yielding opportunities as well. SOS tasks also advance the story of the game, if you’re playing to see that unfold.
- Random Foundable Rewards – Yep, just defeating everyday, run of the mill Confoundables and freeing the Foundables they guard can sometimes get you some Gold. It doesn’t happen often, nor does it get you much Gold, but it’s nice that it does happen on occasion.
So now that you’ve got some Gold, what in the name of Hagrid do you do with it? Perhaps the most important use for Gold is for shopping in Diagon Alley. You remember that place, right? The in-game version is a little lighter on character but arguably a lot more practical, seeing as you can buy a variety of items that you’ll find useful. Head there by tapping on the shopping basket icon in the upper-right corner of the main game screen.
Bonus tip: There’s almost no chance you’ll play Wizards Unite for any length of time without bumping up against the maximum number of items you can hold in your Vault, or inventory. Happily, you’ll find extensions for sale for just about anything you might want to hold or do more of at once, including potions, seeds and ingredients.
We haven’t discussed them in detail yet, but potions are also an area in which you might want to invest some Gold. Specifically, Gold can be used to buy missing potion ingredients in a pinch. As you might guess, this probably isn’t the most efficient use of your Gold, but it’s available to you if you need it.
How to Brew Potions, and Where to Find Ingredients
Though there are plenty of nifty items in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, none are as utilitarian as the potion. From buffing your spell power while confronting particularly tricky Confoundables to healing you in the middle of Wizard Challenges, potions are essential to your success. And even better, they’re practically plentiful, as you can earn them as rewards and brew them yourself.
It’s the latter that we want to quickly discuss here. To access your potion brewing interface, you need to tap on the briefcase icon at the bottom of the main game screen, then tap the ‘POTIONS’ icon that looks like a kettle. The next screen looks like this:
If you have the proper ingredients, you can queue up potions in your cauldron simply by tapping on the next available block underneath where it says ‘BREW NOW.’ That will pop up a list of all the potions you can make, and if you have the right ingredients, give you a button to tap to start a-brewing. As discussed earlier, you can instantly buy any missing ingredients with Gold — the more stuff that’s missing, the higher the cost. If you simply want to view the list of all potential potion recipes, just tap on the ‘RECIPES’ icon at the bottom.
Potion ingredients will enter your life in a variety of ways. Because there is apparently no magical trash service in the Wizarding World, you’ll often find them just lying around as you move about the map. You can earn more as rewards for various things as well.
But the key places for ingredients are the Greenhouses you’ll see scattered around the game world. The simple use for Greenhouses is to do a quickie restock on random ingredients by tapping and dragging on one of the plants you’ll find there. The more interesting use is to use them to, you know, actually grow stuff. They are Greenhouses, after all!
To do so, you’ll need seeds and water, which you’ll accumulate as rewards and find in the game world as you do potion ingredients. Then, you can visit any Greenhouse and tap on the ‘GROWING’ tab on the bottom nav bar to access the ability to grow plants. You’ll see a list of seeds and water you have on hand to be able to start the growing process for specific ingredients, and then it’s just a matter of tapping to start and waiting.
Except that’s not quite it, because growing ingredients in a Greenhouse is also a social mechanic in Wizards Unite. Any player can contribute Spell Energy to the growing process, which can help the finished plant achieve a higher yield. You can spot Greenhouses with plants being grown pretty easily, because they glow green on the game map. Drop in and see what’s growing, and contribute Spell Energy is you think it will help bump the crop up to the next yield multiple. Once a plant is finished growing, it can be harvested by anyone (including players who did not contribute to the yield) for an hour. And no worries, collecting ingredients doesn’t affect the ability for others to to do so, so there’s no “stealing" involved. Greenhouses benefit everyone.
How to Defeat Wizarding Challenges: A (Very Brief) Overview of Fortresses
The largest buildings you’ll see noted on the in-game map are called Fortresses. They offer multiple levels of Wizarding Challenges, which Harry Potter believes are connected to the Calamity in some way — but even he isn’t sure, and if he doesn’t know, we definitely don’t.
What we can tell you is that Wizarding Challenges can be played solo or in a group of up to five players; you’ll definitely find the lower ranks solo-able but need to team up for more difficult ones. To start a Challenge, you need to be physically close to a Fortress, tap on it and then hand over a Runestone that is of the proper type for that Family of Foundable and the specific Chamber in question. Defeating a Chamber unlocks the next most difficult one above it.
Bonus tip: Where can you find Runestones? See, we’re getting good at anticipating these kinds of questions now. The game will give you some to start out, which is nice. You can find others as rewards of various kinds, but primarily from returning enough Foundables from a specific Family to rank up.
Wizarding Challenges are a meaty enough topic to be worth a guide all their own, but one of the most important things to note is that they involve actual combat, where you have to defeat foes like Death Eaters and creatures of various kinds by casting both offensive and defensive spells. The spell-casting process in combat is very similar to the magic you use to defeat Confoundables in the sense that it requires tracing a glyph on the screen, with some added time pressure as you only have brief periods to land attacks successfully or defend against incoming damage.\
By focusing on your profession, which unlocks several levels into your wizarding career, and teaming up with other players, Wizarding Challenges get a lot more manageable, but now we’re talking about intermediate and higher level play. While a beginner, you should be able to handle the first couple Chambers in any Family on your own with just your wand and maybe a potion or two.
Do You Have to Walk Around to Play Harry Potter: Wizards Unite?
See, you’ve probably been thinking the entire time since the launch of Pokemon GO that the whole “walk around to hatch eggs" thing was Nintendo’s doing, its nod to try to keep players healthy while absorbed in a game. And maybe it was, but Niantic is proving it thinks walking is a good idea too. Not only are there less ways to get things to spawn where you are (unless you live close to an Inn, Greenhouse or Landmark, then yeah, you’re golden), but there are a few ways taking the shoe leather express are built into the game.
First, one of the Daily Assignments is to walk 0.25 km. That’s a really short distance anyone should be able to knock out without even really trying.
The more involved way that walking comes into play is via the use of Portkeys, which you might know from the Potterverse as regular looking items that allow you to instantly travel somewhere else. Ah, Game of Thrones, if you had just established something like this from the beginning, you wouldn’t have had all that “Fast Travel" complaining from fans in later seasons.
I digress. Portkeys in Wizards Unite are very literally locked away in items called Portkey Portmanteaus, which you need keys to open. And guess what? The keys are magical and can only be activated by walking a certain distance — the longer the distance to activate, the better the rewards you’ll find at the end of the rainbow … er, Portkey.
There’s some good news wrapped up in this whole process. You can work on unlocking up to eight Portkey Portmanteaus at one time, which is a fair sight more generous than in PoGO. It’s also fairly easy to get keys; you always have a golden key that can be used an unlimited number of times, and you can snag one-use silver keys just by leveling up or in Diagon Alley in exchange for Gold.
That’s pretty much all you need to know to jump into Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Have fun unraveling the Calamity and helping the Ministry of Magic, and enjoy all the many, many callbacks to the source material.