Niantic has been quiet about the follow up to its smash hit Pokémon Go, but today the company pulled back the veil of secrecy on its new Harry Potter augmented reality game.
Like Pokémon Go, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite layers its universe on top of the real world. Players use their smartphone GPS to navigate to important points of interest, collect items and fight beasts.
The basic premise is that an unexplained calamity from the wizarding world is scattering traces of magic across the real world, or muggle world, in Harry Potter speak. As a player, you are a new recruit of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force charged with investigating what’s going on and reporting back to the Ministry of Magic.
Reports indicate that the game, first announced in 2017, will be released sometime this year. But the new blog post doesn’t reveal a release date, so it looks like the Statute of Secrecy Task Force is holding onto that crucial detail, for now.
Like Pokémon Go, players will still battle creatures scattered throughout the map, find points of interest where they can get powerups and gather at places where they can team up with others to take on powerful villains. Harry Potter will be a little more complex, with features like portals that teleport players away from the real-world map into various iconic locations from the wizarding world.
Battling beasts will be more complicated than capturing Pokémon on Pokémon Go. The beasts can fight back, and TechCrunch reports that the team plans to put in place more than 100 unique encounters.
About a third of Niantic’s employees are based in a rapidly growing engineering office in Bellevue, Wash. Niantic, which spun out of Google in 2015 and recently raised a huge $245 million funding round, is working with WB Games San Francisco on Harry Potter.
Niantic’s Real World Platform powers its suite of games by mapping its augmented reality universes on top of the real world, focusing on real life points of interest. Harry Potter builds on Pokémon Go. And Pokémon Go’s capabilities built on the company’s first game Ingress, which pits two teams against one another in a global bid to capture and link together important points of interest.