I'm standing in a corner near my office in San Francisco. A few blocks further I see pointed fortresses and rounded greenhouses. Nearby, a smoking chimney of a tall inn with a blue roof signals that something is cooking inside. Owls and colorful paper planes glide past, and often an object appears near me, including a piece of frog's brain and ginger root. I Play the GameHarry Potter: Wizard's Unite and immerse yourself in the world of Harry Potter, Hagrid and other sorcerers and witches ̵
My The View is no different from standing on the same street corner in Pokemon Go next to a blue pokestop where I can see red and yellow gyms a few blocks away and spawn Pokemon at my feet. I've played Pokemon Go on and off for three years and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite since it was released last Thursday, but in the time I've spent with the new mobile game developed by Niantic and WB Games, it feels already different, because it uses AR on Android and iOS.
In Pokemon Go, AR brings you into play as a coach. In Harry Potter: Wizard's Unite, AR performs a much more encompassing function by immersing you in a new and wondrous magical world and almost experiencing it like Harry Potter after learning that he is a sorcerer. Here's how Harry Potter compares Wizard's Unite and Pokemon Go when using AR, and whether a deeper immersion leads to a better gaming experience.
In-game maps can be managed in Pokemon Go.
Based solely on appearance, Harry Potter circles: Wizards Unite for Pokemon Go. The Harry Potter game map is full and alive: owls and colorful paper planes glide over the screen of your phone, clouds pass by, in the evening a moon rises, smoking chimneys to indicate that a guesthouse is filling up its food supplies.
And if you play in the car – do not drive while playing! – They float on a magical broomstick right across the street. The game looks quaint, like the Burrow, the Weasley's house, and it's wonderful.
Pokemon Go's map feels less buoyant. The map is not static – Pokestops spin as you tap it, Pokemon spins slowly around the tops of gyms, your trainer breathes in and out as he relaxes – but there are fewer items to grab your attention.
On the top, Pokemon Gos card also feels far less distracting. There are fewer structures and objects to interact with, fewer elements and events that require your attention. Wizards Unite has almost too many objects to interact with.
And personally, although I do not like the live camera in both games – which by default defaults you on the map based on your orientation – The one in Harry Potter is particularly confusing and I turned it off as soon as I could. (To do this, tap Settings in the upper-left corner of the case, scroll down and turn off Card Camera Idle.)
Winner: The card in Harry Potter: Wizard's Unite Feels get rich and immersive. It also feels cinematic, which could be too much. I go with Pokemon Go because it offers a good balance between immersion and ease of use.
Gyms or Greenhouses: Structures in Harry Potter Offer You More to Do
Harry Potter's Map: Wizard's Unite is littered with inns, greenhouses, forts, and even banners warning of the dark arts, and all provide entry points to the game. For example, tap on an inn and you'll be taken to an AR dining room to gather food and recharge your batteries to cast spells.
Plates float in the buildings, potted plants turn in front of you and you feel as if you had entered a magical room. And if you place a portkey, you will be taken to a room in the Borgin and Burkes shop in Knockturngasse. In this AR room, you can move around, approach and inspect objects, and collect five wreck spurts for rewards.
Pokemon Go, with its pokestops and gyms, has fewer structures to deal with, and of the two gyms, only gyms feel like they've entered a room to fight Pokemon. I can turn pokestops in my sleep.
Winner: Harry Potter: Wizard's Unite offers a more diverse AR experience and feels more realistic. If the only new piece of AR Harry Potter offered was the room you could access via a portkey, it would be worth it.
Wizards Versus Monsters: Bigger Challenge, Bigger Reward
Unlike Pokemon Go, Harry Potter is not about catching them all. It's all about exploring the unexpected magical world around you and interacting with the various characters and creatures you encounter. Dealing with characters is much more challenging and rewarding, from spells to working with other players to curb dark magic.
In Pokemon Go, the equality of throwing and throwing pokeballs at pocket monsters can quickly feel like a chore.
Winner: Once again Harry Potter nods off for variety.
The real reason why Harry Potter wins: Wizards Unite.
I'm not surprised that Harry Potter Wizards Unite AR better translates everything it learned from its Ingress and Pokemon Go games to create a rich, refreshing experience for your phone.
But is this a better AR game? Harry Potter has an extensive background story – between the original Harry Potter books and movies and the newer Fantastic Beasts films – and the AR experience of the game is instrumental in bringing the charm and richness of Harry Potter's magical world to your transfer phone.
I wonder if Pokemon Go would benefit from such a compelling experience. Pokemon Go is, in a sense, more about throwing pokeballs and fighting gyms, not exploring a new and enchanting magical world, and that's the real power of the game ,
Harry Potter: Wizard's Unite looks at the game like an epic, weaving AR into a universe you want to return to again and again.