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Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Celebrates First Community Day on July 20

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Mobile AR game Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is getting its first Community Day this Saturday, July 20. Pokémon GO players know that Community Days are special events designed to get everyone playing the game together with extra boosts and goodies scattered around the world.

The July 20 Wizards Unite Community Day will feature the following bonuses:

  • Foundables appear more frequently.
  • The Diagon Alley store will feature a free pack that includes spell energy.
  • The experience-boosting potion Baruffio Brain Elixir will grant three times the XP boost.
  • Dark Detectors, which can be placed at Inns to generate more Foundables in the area, will last twice as long.

The Community Day Event doesn’t actually last all day. The specific time it’s active for the United States is 11 am Pacific/2 pm Eastern to 2 pm Pacific/5 pm Eastern.

The event comes in the midst of the special Brilliant event, Potter’s Calamity. The event, which began on July 16 and runs through August 6, features its own Registry Pages, Brilliant Foundables, and Special Assignments. Rewards include uncovering Restricted Section Books and earning exclusive cosmetic items for your Ministry ID portrait. The event is divided into two weeks, with each week having different tasks and pages to complete.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is available to download for free on iOS and Android mobile devices.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is a Smart Evolution of Pokémon GO

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No one was prepared for the popularity of Pokémon GO when it launched in the summer of 2016. Least of all mobile developer Niantic Inc. Explosive would be an understatement. The augmented reality mobile game was uniquely poised to combine a well-known, beloved brand with meta-social real world gameplay. The result was a cultural phenomenon that lasted months as we ran around our towns and cities trying to catch ’em all.

Three years and many content-rich updates later, Niantic has returned with an all new AR game with Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. The similarities between Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and Pokémon GO are impossible to ignore. Both are based on beloved and popular children’s franchises, and both are AR games that require physically moving around to collect resources. Wizards Unite has the benefit of learning from Pokémon GO’s limits and early stutters, resulting in an enjoyable and worthy followup.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite takes place after the timeline of the original books and movies. You play as a wizarding member of the Statue of Secrecy Task Force. Player customization is a delight as it uses my phone camera to snap a selfie pic. I can then dress up in suitable Harry Potter accessories, like round glasses, scarves, and witch hats. I can also select which Hogwarts House I prefer and my style of wand, though all appear to be purely aesthetic choices.

The choice of profession is an important one, however. After gaining experience I can choose from three different classes, Auror, Magizoologist, and Professor. Each has its own skill tree when taking on wizard challenges, and provide helpful skills and increased defensive and offensive power. I can freely switch between them to explore different skill sets, or to fit the needs of those around me.

The goal is to dispel, rescue, or collect “foundables,” various magical creatures, implements, and curiosities that have begun leaking into the real world. They appear on the GPS map similar to Pokémon in Pokémon GO, and come in several different categories such as Magical Games and Sports, Ministry of Magic, Dark Arts, and Legends of Hogwarts.

Instead of throwing Pokéballs, I trace spell patterns with my finger. It’s immediately more engaging and interesting than throwing my hundredth Pokéball at the screen. More difficult foundables limit my time and demand more perfect tracing. I can also drink potions to help increase my spell potency.

harry potter: wizards unite map

Ingredients for potions are found on the map alongside foundables. Potions take time to brew and come in several flavors, from increasing my experience gain for a time to healing me in the middle of a wizarding challenge.

Casting spells costs spell power, the primary limited resource in Wizards Unite. Spell power can be gained from finding Inns scattered around the world in similar gathering places as PokéStops, such as churches and parks. Sadly the same limitations are found here as in Pokémon GO, leaving more rural gamers with much more limited options for finding Inns, Greenhouses (for gathering large chunks of ingredients), and Wizarding Challenges.

A wizarding challenge is Wizards Unite’s version of a co-op raid battle, as multiple players can jump into a series of battles together. Instead of the mass chaos of everyone furiously tapping their screen in a Pokémon Raid, Wizards Unite offers a series of more strategic battles. Certain professions will do better against certain enemies in a Rock-Paper-Scissors format, so having a diverse group of friends and nearby wizards can help. Players choose a difficulty level and everyone antes up a runestone, which are gained from filling out our registries, leveling up, and opening Portkeys (Wizards Unite’s version of Pokémon Eggs, which present fun treasure-filled AR rooms to explore).

Players in a Wizarding Challenge are presented with a room full of enemies to battle. Everyone gets their own one-on-one battles, but players can affect each other. A Magizoologist, for example, can heal another wizard using their Charm ability.

Battling enemies still requires spell tracing, though now players have to watch their hit points, and protect themselves from counterattacks with the Protego spell. The Raid battles in Pokémon Go can be exciting thanks to their limited timed availability, but Wizarding Challenges are much easier to jump into, and the multiple difficulty levels ensures everyone can participate regardless of their level.

Surviving wizarding challenges can be a drain on spellpower. Aside from the aforementioned Inns, Wizards Unite also offers Daily Assignments. These goals help provide motivation toward achieving certain goals, such as picking up an ingredient, dinning at inns, using a potion, or completing a challenge. Longer achievements work similarly, tracking milestones like reaching level 10, successfully casting 120 spells, and using 10 potions in challenges.

Rewards include potions, spell power, ingredients, XP, scrolls (for leveling up my skill tree), and gold (for purchasing any items in the store). Each day features eight different assignments, while daily treasures give me a rewards just for logging in, with better rewards given out for more consecutive days.

All of these elements help make Wizards Unite a rewarding experience, and that’s without spending a dime. Wizards Unite does a fantastic job incorporating every bit of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter while taking full advantage of Niantic’s excellent AR gameplay. Even if you have only a passing interest in Harry Potter and have since fallen off the Pokémon excitement, it’s well worth giving it a go.

Pokémon GO Celebrates Third Anniversary

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Believe it or not, the once cultural phenomenon and still decently popular Pokémon GO is turning three years old this summer. Niantic is celebrating the milestone with a series of special events and promotions.

From now until July 6 at 1 pm Pacific/4 pm Eastern, you’ll be able to find a Pikachu wearing a party hat. The partying Pikachu has a chance of appearing whenever you take a Go Snapshot photo. The hat-wearing mouse can also be hatched from 7 km eggs.

For the rest of the summer a new Special Research quest line has been added. It’s designed to help lapsed players jump back into Pokémon GO, with a slew of helpful rewards. The Special Research is only available to trainers who are at least level 10.

During the third anniversary promotion, raid bosses will be easier to take down when joining with friends, and everyone can earn bonus Premiere Balls. The stardust cost of trading Pokémon has also been temporarily reduced to 25%.

Finally, the first generation Alolan Pokémon who have made their way into Pokémon GO – Rattata, Sandshrew, Vulpix, Diglett, Meowth, Geodude, Grimer, and Exeggutor, have an increased chance of spawning as shiny versions.

The promotion ends September 2 at 1 pm Pacific/4 pm Eastern, except for the party hat Pikachu, which end July 6. Pokémon GO is free to download on iOS and Android mobile devices.

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Pokémon GO Trainers Can Reserve Their Name for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

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Pokémon GO players can now reserve their user names for upcoming AR mobile game Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

To reserve your name, you’ll need to head to the website and select the option to use your Pokémon Go Trainer Nickname. If you play Ingress (or would rather use that name), you can select to use your Ingress Agent Name instead.

Since Ingress and Pokémon GO do not share user names, it’s possible your name could be used by another person from the other game. Name reservations will happen on a first come, first served basis. You have until midnight on April 30 to reserve your name.

All three games are developed by Niantic, Inc. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is developed in conjunction with WB Games and Portkey Games. Like Niantic’s other mobile games, it will use augmented reality to display magical environments and creatures in the real world, via your smartphone.

Niantic provided the first details of Wizards Unite last month. Players take on the role of a new recruit of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force. The goal is to investigate magical aberrations that threaten to expose the wizarding world. You’ll be able to cast spells, collect Foundables, unlock Portkeys, and battle enemies in Wizarding Challenges.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will launch later this year.

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Pokémon GO Organizing Second Annual Earth Day Cleanup Event

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For the second year in a row, Pokémon GO developer Niantic is partnering with Playmob to organize a series of global events for Earth Day (April 22). You can register for a number of events around the world throughout the month of April.  Participants can earn in-game rewards.

“As an organization with millions of players around the world, we see it as part of our responsibility to help ensure things such as ocean pollution and global warming are at the forefront of conversation and action,” writes Yennie Solheim Fuller, Social Impact, Niantic. “By participating in these Earth Day cleanups and learning more about local NGOs, players can have a larger impact on their communities and the health of the planet. Long term impact projects include educational initiatives for school programs and community organizations, as well as replacing pollution with new plants.”

Niantic is offering in-game rewards based on the number of attendees at these cleanup events. If at least 2,000 players attend, then Ground-type Pokémon will appear in Pokémon GO more frequently. At 5,000 attendees players will also have a chance to catch a Shiny Diglett. If over 7,000 players attend the cleanup events in April, then Pokémon who appear as part of the event will net twice the Stardust and Candy, and Groudon will appear in Raid battles.

Cleanup events are restricted to ages 13+. Cleanup events last for about two hours. After registering for an event you will receive email confirmation. In-game rewards will appear within 48 hours of the end of the campaign, which is on April 28.