Pokémon Go is the older sibling of Wizards Unite, having been released three years ago in 2016. This has given Pokémon Go a lot of time to improve since its initial release. But more importantly, it gave Wizards Unite, which was also developed by Niantic, a lot to build off.
Pokémon Go was a massive success upon its release, having been downloaded by millions of players. This served to introduce many to the new, interactive AR system of gaming. Seeing the success of Go, it’s no wonder Niantic soon began working on another game.
Niantic chose another popular world to bring to life in its next game, basing it off the Harry Potter universe. With such a history of success and popularity, Wizards Unite was an excellent choice. Wizards Unite was largely based off Pokémon Go, however, there are a few significant differences. Did Wizards Unite succeed in overcoming its predecessor, or does Pokémon Go show that changing things up isn’t always better? Continue reading to discover 5 Things Wizards Unite Does Better Than Pokémon Go (& 5 It Does Worse).
Pokémon Go has little, if any, story. The player enters the world, catches Pokémon, and occasionally assists Professor Willow with his research. That’s the extent of any story the game has. Wizards Unite changes this the moment the player opens the game. It introduces a unique story, explaining why the player is important and why they need to have an active role in the game.
Upon entering the game, the player is informed of a calamity occurring in the wizarding world. Important artifacts, creatures, and even wizards are going missing. As well as, reappearing in the non-magic world, threatening to reveal the existence of magic to the muggles. It is the player's job to save the lost items (known as Foundables) and maintain the secret of magic. Adding a story to Wizards Unite not only made it more interesting but also created a reason for people to play the game.
There are certainly times where Pokémon Go might feel a little too simplistic, but at least it’s easy to understand. That’s part of its charm: The ability to pick up the game and jump right in, fully understanding how to play and what to do. This is not the case with Wizards Unite. Upon entering the game for the first time, the player is barraged with instructions, lore, and story. Half the words they use don’t make any sense, and it gets a bit complicated a few levels into the game when even more rules and features are added. Sometimes a little simplicity is a good thing.
Wizards Unite allows the player a unique method of character customization compared to Pokémon Go. While Pokémon Go allows for editing of the player’s avatar, it doesn’t offer much in the way of true personalization. However, in Wizards Unite players can take photos of themselves donning their favorite wizarding gear for their official Ministry ID.
School houses and rivalries have been a consistent theme in the world of Harry Potter starting with the very first book. They’ve always served to spur and create competition, even in the real world. The fact that Wizards Unite chose not to make different house factions a means for friendly competition is both surprising and disappointing. Pokémon GO, on the other hand, allows players to choose a team to combat against other people in real life, despite Pokémon itself never having teams. This adds a fun sense of competition to the game, that Wizards Unite sorely lacks.
Not every game succeeds in creating an immersive experience. Yet, Wizards Unite manages to create a world the player truly feels a part of. It's the little things: Choosing your Hogwarts house, picking your profession, designing your wand, and even stirring potions. These all come together to bring the wizarding world to life. In Pokémon Go the player can choose their team - that’s about it. You don't feel like your choices and actions play a larger role in the game's overall world.
Now in general, Wizards Unite has customization pretty much handled. However, the game is dropping the ball in one major area—your avatar. In Pokémon Go, your avatar is the only source of character customization and can take on many different looks. The avatar can be seen running across the map, the player menu, and is shown to friends. The avatar in Wizards Unite in comparison is a humanoid blob bearing the color of your chosen Hogwarts house.
Being welcomed into the game by Harry and Hermione immediately brings back all the childhood nostalgia and love players felt for the Harry Potter series. It’s great to be able to interact with characters you know and love while progressing through the story and exploring the world in Wizards Unite. This aspect is completely absent in Pokémon Go, for no real reason. The team leaders easily could have been Ash, Misty, and Brock -or any other memorable character.
Collecting Foundables in Wizards Unite is interesting. It’s neat to see items and characters you recognize from the wizarding world. But that’s about it. Pokémon Go gets you invested in every catch. Every caught Pokémon gives you candies, and if you’re saving up for a big evolution this is a major deal. By the time a player has 300 hundred Magikarp candies, there’s no way they’ll miss the opportunity to catch one.
Wizards Unite introduces fortresses to take the place of gyms in Pokémon Go. Gym and raid battles (both of which take place at gym locations) are far from engaging. The player is basically left tapping at the screen until the conclusion of the battle, providing very little interactivity. Wizards Unite reinvents the idea of gyms with the creation of the fortress. Inside, each fortress are opportunities for engaging battles that can be fought alone or with friends. The game actively encourages you to respond with unique gestures when attacking and defending, making the experience much more interesting overall.
Tying back into simplicity is the difference in management between the two games. Pokémon Go is very straight forward in terms of what the player needs to manage and keep track of. The two main elements are knowing what candies you need for your Pokémon and making sure you have enough Poké balls. It’s incredibly easy. Wizards Unite has infinitely more that you must be aware of, such as items on the ground, potions, portkeys, and even your finite amount of spell energy. It’s much easier to ensure you always have Poké balls when you have no limitations, unlike capped spell energy.