What Pokémon GO Could (and Should) Learn From Harry Potter Wizards Unite

I play Pokémon GO every day.  I’ve never missed a single day since the game’s rather rough launch in July of 2016 nearly three years ago. One week after the release of Harry Potter Wizards Unite I can say one thing: it’s a better game. This game’s launch has been nearly flawless since the start.

Pokémon GO captivated me at launch. I wasn’t alone. It seemed like for the month of July the entire world had come together to play that game.  That luster seemed to fade pretty quickly when one realized that there was not much to do in the game.  In the dark days of January through June of 2017 I would open the game once a day, catch something, spin a stop, then close it.  It was bleak.

While Pokémon GO’s only real challenge at first was simply to fill your Pokédex it is now a much richer game.  However, at level 40 with just about every possible achievement accomplished (still need 14 big Magikarp) there’s not much to do other than hunt shinies, hoard candies, and max out my XP well beyond what is needed to reach level 40 in hopes that someday the level cap will be lifted.

Harry Potter Wizards Unite, so far, is not suffering from this problem. 
It’s still very early but my main takeaway from the game so far is wondering if and when some of the depth from this game will be transplanted into Pokémon GO.

Battle Mechanics

Gym battles in Pokémon GO are boring.  Raids, at this point, are pretty boring as well.  It’s not a matter of whether you can beat something, it’s just a matter of tediously tapping it out until it’s over. What’s worse is that for raids you have to do this after sitting there staring at your screen for two full minutes before you can even start.

You can, quite literally, accomplish these battles without even looking at your screen.

Harry Potter Wizards Unite has figured out a much more interesting battle system.  You have to cast attack and defense spells, tracing the outline on the screen to perform them.  Additionally, before you can attack, you have to lower your wand position over the foe to fill your magic meter.  This can vary in difficulty depending on how quickly or unpredictably your foe moves.

Pokémon GO elected not to take turn-based combat from the main series game.  If they decide to stay that course they would really benefit from making gym battles fun.  Adopting a Harry Potter Wizards Unite mechanic would accomplish part of this.  Having something interesting as a reward would be the next step.  The coins are the only reason to battle gyms currently.  The XP you get from battling gyms is so insignificant that it doesn’t matter.  No one is battling gyms for XP.

Pokémon GO Fix: I’m not the first to say this but a complete gym overhaul is needed, something that shakes up the gym aspect of the game completely.  They’ve done it once before, it’s been two years and it’s time to do it again. 

Enemy Encounters Outside of Gyms 

In Harry Potter Wizards Unite you do not need to be in a Fortress to battle.  There are random creatures and wizards you can battle through traces found on the game map.

It would be great if you could have random encounters in
Pokémon GO. Encountering Team Rocket or other adversaries to challenge may spark a little renewed interest in playing the game.

Pokémon GO Fix: Add random battles to the game on the map.

Give Out Items on a Sliding Scale

In the main series games you can stumble upon items on the game map. In Harry Potter Wizards Unite you can stumble on items as well.  Why not in Pokémon GO? This would be a great way to reward rural players.  As it stands now if I’m in a rural area with no Poké Stops I simply don’t open my game because there’s no point.  Give me a reason to play the game no matter where I am.

Additionally in Harry Potter Wizards Unite if you are in an area more sparsely populated with inns they tend to be better inns that reward you with more spell energy.  In an urban area where they are densely packed together you have more options to get energy but you get less at each inn. 

In Pokémon GO a Poké Stop is a Poké Stop regardless of where you are.  If you’re playing in a rural area you will be counting the minutes until you spin again and if you are playing in an urban area you will be trashing 100 Poké Balls an hour so you can keep spinning. Additionally urban players are rewarded because if you spin 10 stops in quick succession you are rewarded with even more items.

Pokémon GO Fix: Pretty simple. Put items on the map and have a better reward at rural stops.

Earning Gold

The way you earn gold in Harry Potter Wizards Unite, is through a number of different actions.  Firstly you get gold for completing individual daily tasks, completing all your daily tasks, logging in daily, leveling up, and through random gifts.  Dedication and persistence reward the player.

In Pokémon GO it can be difficult to earn coins. Either you’re in an urban area where holding a gym for enough time can be difficult or you are in a rural area where you could be in a gym for weeks without getting the reward since your Pokémon will never be knocked out to claim your coins.  Suburban players likely have the advantage in this area.

Pokémon GO Fix: Give daily players coin rewards for doing things other than just gym battling. Battles could be a part of it but unless you live in the suburban sweet spot it’s slow going earning those coins.

Professions, Lessons, and Player Stats

I’ll admit, I’m only just starting to figure out how all this works but so far I love the idea. Professions are a class-based system where you select either Auror, Magizoologist, or Professor.  Unlike teams in Pokémon GO these groups work together and all have different strengths.  Also unlike Pokémon GO you can switch professions at any time for free.

With Lessons you can invest earned scrolls, and spell books to improve all different aspects of your battling skills from defense, charms to help your teammates in battle, and ways to improve your own proficiency and accuracy in combat. All in all I’ve completed 61 of 134 lessons and once they’re all complete you can go through and upgrade areas where you feel like you need better stats.

Player stats complete this by showing you where your character lies with stamina, power, precision, defense, etc.  This will be very familiar to anyone who has spent any time playing RPGs.  Building your character up and maxing out different areas is most of the fun in this kind of game.

Pokémon GO Fix: Give us a way to build our skills.  A certain number of great throws, for example, could widen the great throw radius to make getting them easier. Or simply increase our catch percentage up to a certain point. Or, better yet, ways to train our Pokémon to improve their stats!

Rewards For Achievements

In Harry Potter Wizards Unite I have cast exactly 10 masterful spells.  I have no idea how many excellent throws I’ve made in Pokémon GO. I also know that if I reach 100 masterful throws I’ll get 2,000 XP as a reward. In Pokémon GO if I throw an excellent throw I get 100 XP.  When you have over 50 million XP the reward of 100 XP doesn’t hold a lot of weight.  Even simply having a medal for this would be something.

There is tracking for everything rewarding you bronze, silver, and gold status in many different categories in Harry Potter Wizards Unite.  While we have this in Pokémon GO it could use to be adjusted a bit.  I’m still working hard on my Fisherman gold badge nearly three years after the game launched but I’ve held gold in nearly everything else for a very, very long time.

Pokémon GO Fix: New badges and rewards for achievements are needed to keep players interested. 

Aiding Friends in Wizarding Challenges

The only way to aid friends in raids or gym battles (does anyone take down gyms together anymore?) is to be ultra or best friends with them.  This gives you a slight attack bonus.  If you have enough people in the raid this makes no real difference unless you’re just barely able to beat the rad without the bonus.

While I have only scratched the surface with Harry Potter Wizards Unite you seem to have the ability to cast charms to improve your teammates accuracy, help them with defense, and even heal them when they are low on HP.  Also you don’t seem to be battling the same foe, you can split up and take down different adversaries.  Presumably you’d be able to break these up based on profession for maximum efficiency.

In Pokémon GO it’s just tap, tap, tap until it’s over.

Pokémon GO Fix: Improvements to team play would drastically change the strategy and fun behind raids and gym battles. 

It is very early in Harry Potter Wizards Unite.  So far it seems much more compelling than Pokémon GO but that could be the newness of it all.  I’m not sure what the longevity of the game will be.  Will I still be playing it daily three years from now?  Will I have maxed out all of these different aspects of the game in just a few months and be bored?  It’s hard to say.

Overall Harry Potter Wizards Unite has a lot more going on than Pokémon GO at first glance.  The gameplay, at least at first, seems to be much deeper than Pokémon GO and certainly much deeper than Pokémon GO was at launch.  Niantic has learned a lot of lessons from Pokémon GO in making Harry Potter Wizards Unite.  Now they just need to start applying some of those lessons back to Pokémon GO.

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