How does the real world impact gameplay in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite?

Now that Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is available to more people across the world, we have been able to glean a lot of information from what we have played and the Reddit thread. It really feels that Niantic has taken what it learned in Pokémon Go and turned it up to 11.

For example; Wizards Unite uses a lot of the same real-world features as Pokémon Go — Location based spawns, weather effects, and Points of Interests (POI) — but they have added more in a way that makes total sense in a Harry Potter Game.

I want to say a big thank you to the guys over at Wizards Unite World for helping us out with screenshots from sunny New Zealand.

What are Points of Interest (POI)?

POI are the real-world places that Niantic uses to create the in-game areas you battle and collect items — called Fortresses and Inns respectively — and they are scattered throughout the world. Originally the data for these POI came from Niantic's first game, Ingress, where the players would create portals from landmarks.

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These then became the Pokéstops of the biggest real-world game around and are now being used for the Inns and Fortresses in Unite. I am hoping that Niantic allows people to start adding POI again at some point, as rural areas can be severely lacking in this regard. Unless you play in heavily populated cities POI may be light on the ground.

A blue flag appears, you tap on it and it tells you "More Magizoology traces can be found here."

Both Inns and Fortresses seem to be plentiful as I have been playing the game, especially in highly populated areas. I live in a rural area and although there aren't a lot of POI there enough for me to be able to play the game successfully. A quick note on inns; if you see the screenshot above you'll see you get to inscribe spells to gain access to your food. Food reenergizes you so you can do more spells. It's essentially your Pokéball mechanic. I'm glad they thought about it a little more than the food just appearing. I want to casts spells!

Location-based spawns

Called Landmarks in Wizards Unite, location-based spawning means you will get different ingredients, Foundables, and Confoundables depending on what type of environment you are in. Do you live near the coast? maybe you will see more Gillyweed, or will you see more giant spiders in the forest? These are the kind of things we are likely to see over the coming months.

Of course, Niantic has been known to migrate other collectibles to different locations. This makes a lot of sense, after all, if you can't travel far to change landmarks, then you may never get the things you need to survive.

One way Niantic has made landmarks more interesting is by adding extra flags in the surrounding area. These flags denote special areas where specific Foundables can be located in more abundance. For example, a blue flag appears, you tap on it and it tells you "More Magizoology traces can be found here." Once you have tapped the flag more of the traces that become Foundables will be Magizoology related — so beasts and monsters and the like — so you will be able to focus on the things you need most.

Weather effects

I think we can all agree that the splash screens for the weather conditions on Wizards Unite are brilliant. Each one plays into the wizarding world style of the entire game and every little nuance makes me very happy.

The effects, much like the location-based spawns, will alter what items can be found in-game. This can be used to your advantage, of course, all you need to do is wait for a windy day to pick up a lot of one type of ingredient. Stockpiling may be the way to go in Wizards Unite, especially if you need a lot of a specific potion or item.

We have yet to see if there are any other specific traits that come from the weather, though someone on the Wizards Unite Reddit did mention the severe weather warnings. In the game, there is a splash screen that tells you that there will be fewer traces when a severe weather warning is in effect.

This kind of thing is off-putting. I live in the desert of southern California, so from May to September, my Pokémon Go game tells me a severe weather warning is in effect. I mean, it's only 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38c) most days, and I can still go and play. I won't bother if they are going to make the game less populated though. I live in a rural area, so there is barely any game to play as it is.

Moon phases and time of day

Of course, time of day has always been important in Pokémon Go, you can't catch many ghost types in the daytime after all. In Wizards Unite it will be even more important. With the introduction of ingredients as well as monsters to fight, there are even more reasons to play after dark and the addition of moon phases makes the time of day even more fun.

As you can imagine, if you want to fight a werewolf — one of the bigger baddies in Wizards Unite it seems — then you are going to have to wait for a werewolf to be around. Now maybe there could be werewolves when there isn't a full moon, but you can be darn sure that one will be around at night on a full moon.

This opens up the premise of specifically hunting at certain times. You will have bands of raiding wizards going out on certain days of the month just to get some werewolves. I really hope we see more condition-specific events like this, as it adds a layer of complexity these games sorely need.

What don't we know?

There are a lot of really great mechanics in Wizards Unite, some taken from other games like Pokémon Go, but also some excellent new ones. It makes me wonder what other mysteries we might see when we get to dive deeply into the world of Harry Potter.

Harry Potter themed power bank ($15 at Amazon)

This may not be the most powerful power bank ever but it should give your iPhone enough extra juice to get you through a Fortress or two. And it has the Hogwarts symbol on! That's worth the price right there.

Hogwarts phone case ($10 at Amazon)

Show your love of the Potterverse, and protect your phone with this beautiful faux-leather case. The Hogwarts crest burns bright on the front with plenty of room inside for some cash and cards too.

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