“HARRY POTTER: WIZARDS UNITE” Game from NIANTIC Releasing this FRIDAY

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Back in 2016, mobile game developer Niantic worked with Nintendo to realize dream of many fans that grew up on the “Pokémon” game and anime franchise. “Pokémon Go” debuted that year and became a social mobile app phenomenon worldwide encouraging players to walk around their hometowns to find and catch the titular Pokémon. More play mechanics were added later over the years, though not before the user base tapered off. But Niantic is soon to go at it again with a game app based on J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” franchise. The “Wizards Unite” app was announced in March. Now it has gone on open beta, with a release date announced.

The Verge tells us that “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite,” a re-jiggering of the “Pokémon Go” gameplay platform with a skin of the Wizarding World created by J.K. Rowling, has been announced to begin its worldwide release at the end of this week. But before that, the game app has already been undergoing beta tests in two territories. New Zealand launched its beta version of “Wizards Unite” back in April, with Australia following suit in May. These two areas were also among the first territories to launch “Pokémon Go,” and it seems Niantic is repeating history.

Co-developed by Niantic, Warner Bros. Interactive label Portkey Games, and WB Games San Francisco, “Wizards Unite” has its players assume the role of Potter-verse witches and wizards living in the greater Muggle world. After a mysterious force begins exposing magical creatures and phenomenon to the muggle public, the players must help the Ministry of Magic to hush up these strange events. To do that they will capture magical creatures in the wild and confront hostile entities like Dementors and Wizard supremacists. The experience comes across as a more fleshed-out take on the “Pokémon Go” experience.

One of Niantic’s new proposed features for “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” was the employment of a “persistent world.” This means that the online representation of the environment will have creature sightings and special events going on in real-time, even when the app is not running. This is unlike “Pokémon Go” where the pocket monsters would start appearing when the app is activated. There is also an attempt at player distinctiveness by having three selectable wizard “professions” at game start, reflecting which possible in-game activities the player avatar would specialize at.

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Niantic will begin the worldwide release of “Wizards Unite” for Android and iOS this Friday, June 21. They have not specified which markets will have first crack at the app’s launch, though the developers have asked fans to keep on the lookout for further information.

Images: Google Play and BBC

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