The “Harry Potter” series is the gift that keeps on giving, and its newest spinoff comes in the form of a “Pokemon GO” style mobile game. If you’re a Potterhead living in Athens, here’s what you need to know about “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.”
HPWU comes from the makers of “Pokemon GO,” but instead of catching Pokemon, you’re protecting the wizarding world from being exposed to Muggles. Like its predecessor, the new game utilizes augmented reality technology and location tracking to create an immersive experience, turning ordinary locations into hubs of magical activity.
A quick warning for readers who have never read the “Harry Potter” books or seen any of the movie adaptations—a lot of the terms used in this review will sound like gibberish to you, and the app will likely border on incomprehensible.
The game takes place in the present day, a few short years after fans got their last glimpse of the Golden Trio at the end of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” Harry Potter is now an experienced Auror, and the wizarding world is facing its first major threat from dark magic since You-Know-Who’s defeat.
Someone is trying to expose the existence of magic by cursing magical creatures and enchanted artifacts and setting them loose in the Muggle world, a conundrum which has been dubbed The Calamity. Not only does the Ministry of Magic need your help finding these potential threats and breaking the curses, but also in investigating who is perpetrating these wizarding crimes.
While on your mission, you will brew potions, get trained by one of a few classic characters in a career of your choice, and duel evil beings. However, your main focus is looking for Confoundables, or evidence of the illegal magic curse, and then freeing the object, creature, or person, all known as Foundables.
There are many tasks to perform outside of the map, but most of your time will still be spent searching for Confoundables, inns and greenhouses. Confoundables pop-up pretty much everywhere, but inns and greenhouses have to be sought out, and they are usually found at somewhat notable real-world locations.
Inns are locations where your character can eat, and options include snacks from the series, including Bertie Bott’s Every Flavored Beans and pumpkin juice. Eating gives you energy points, which are needed to duel and cast spells. You can also put on Dark Detector, which will draw more Confoundables to the area around the inn.
Greenhouses are, well, greenhouses where you can get energy and magical ingredients for your potions, as well as plant seeds that will cause more of that specific ingredient to appear in the surrounding area.
You’ll also see tall towers on the map. These are fortresses, where you can go to complete challenges by duelling evil creatures and dark witches and wizards, either solo or with other players.
Let’s be honest — the new jargon is a little confusing, but like any HP fan knows, it’s worth learning to feel fully engrossed in the fantasy world. But the journey to understanding can be made a little easier by knowing where you can go in Athens to get the most out of the game.
The best place to play, by far, is on the University of Georgia’s campus. Not just on North Campus or by the MLC, but everywhere. Creswell Hall is a fortress, Snelling Dining Commons is — fittingly — an inn, and The Visitors' Center on East Campus is a greenhouse.
If you run out of energy while chasing Confundables on campus, you’ll have no problem finding an inn to replenish at. Even in a situation where you need energy again within five minutes of your last visit, the next one is likely only a two minute walk down the road.
The next best location on the map is downtown Athens. There are two fortresses and a multitude of inns and greenhouses spread among the bars, boutiques and restaurants. If you run out of locations on North Campus, just head across Broad Street to fill up on energy at The Grill’s inn and pick up some potion ingredients at Bizzaro-Wuxtry Comics, Toys, and Stuff.
Happen to be living in the ADPi house and are a member of a Hogwarts House? Well, then this game was made for you. Milledge is a hot-spot of magical activity, with rows of inns and greenhouses.
Some Greek-life houses, like Alpha Kappa Psi’s, have their own fortresses. The ladies of Delta Phi Epsilon have a greenhouse, and if they go study with their friends a few houses down, they can replenish their energy at the inn located at the Kappa Delta house. No matter which sorority or fraternity you may be in, there is guaranteed to be a magical structure of some sort nearby.
Nearby at Five Points, the Bottle Shop doubles as an inn, so you can stock up on energy in the app while simultaneously buying libations in the real world. Certain areas attract more of one type of Confoundables than others, and Five Points is flagged as a Magizoology hub, meaning you might save an adorable Hippogriff while sipping on a coffee from Condor Chocolates.
Prince Avenue is another worthwhile destination for witches and wizards searching for an area with plenty of inns, greenhouses, and fortresses. From Bottleworks all the way down to Ike and Jane’s in Normaltown—a perfect name to distract Muggles from all the magical activity—you can participate in challenges, eat wacky wizarding foods, and visit interesting conservatories.
Though “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” has its flaws, it gives hardcore and casual fans alike a great excuse to get outside and explore Athens’ unique landmarks from a new perspective.
There is still plenty to learn about the game. Certain parts of the app are yet to be unveiled, and the storyline is a multi-level journey that takes time to solve.
Athens is a great place to play, so give the app a chance, see what the city has to offer and catch up with the world’s favorite magical trio in one fell swoop.