What if, instead of catching Weedles, wandering around in Pokémon Go got you the chance to save Harry Potter from being nibbled on by a Dementor? That’s basically what Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is.
Announced by Niantic back in 2017 when Pokémon Go was still near its apex—not to say that it’s not popular anymore, but remember back when we were being encouraged by Pokémon to go to the polls and people were getting leg cramps for the chance to nab a Pidgey?—Wizards Unite has finally been shown off to the press two years later. It’s a showing which reveals that, well, it’s exactly what you’d expect the people behind Pokémon Go to do with a Harry Potter version.
Your Gyms and Pokéstops in the real world are now, according to Variety, magical fortresses, forests, and inns, and instead of catching wild monsters you’ll face random encounters ranging from Death Eater attacks—where you actually have to trace runes on the screen of your phone to cast spells and defend yourself—to actually getting the chance to save Harry himself from danger.
Replacing the monster-capture mechanic that defines Go will be finding random items in the world to craft potions and other items, as well as magical portals that can be opened via portkey, letting you get an augmented-reality-enhanced peek into the Harry Potter locations ostensibly secretly hidden just out of your average muggle’s sight.
It’s an interesting spin on what Pokémon Go has eventually evolved into (it only relatively recently added a Trainer Battle system, as well as an AR system to let you snap pictures of your captured Poképals) but it’ll be interesting to see just how much the Harry Potter world can enmesh itself with that idea, or if it can be big enough to really draw a similar level of intrigue.
Sure, Potter is a huge franchise—even if current general interest seems to have taken a bit of a knock after Fantastic Beasts 2—but part of what made Go explode was the wish-fulfillment dream of being out in the world finding and capturing wild Pokémon. Can you really swap that out for collecting magical odds-and-ends in the chance you might cross paths with a Death Eater?
We’ll have to wait and see. No release date for Wizards Unite was included as part of this event, but if it’s being shown off, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see it arrive sometime this year.