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Niantic’s AR Harry Potter game has a cute solution to COVID-19 self-quarantines

Niantic’s AR Harry Potter game has a cute solution to COVID-19 self-quarantines


All aboard the Knight Bus

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Harry Potter: Wizards Unite — the Pokémon Go-esque augmented reality Harry Potter game — is a game uniquely unsuited to the current world of self-quarantining people looking to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Unlike most video games, which are thriving right now due to the captive audience of bored people stuck inside, Wizards Unite (much like Pokémon Go) is a game almost entirely based around exploring outdoors and meeting up with other players in public spaces — the exact sort of thing that people are supposed to avoid doing right now.

How do you play a GPS-based game when you can’t leave home?

Fortunately, the Wizards Unite team has a solution and its based in a clever bit of in-universe fiction: the Knight Bus, which is being added to the game to let players enjoy magical dueling challenges that would otherwise require going to a real-world “Fortress” location. It’s a similar feature to the remote raids that Pokémon Go added recently to help stuck-at-home players (although it seems the Knight Bus won’t require in-game currencies to use, unlike the Remote Raid Passes in Pokémon Go).

Players will be able to tap the new “Knight Bus” button on the map, which will bring them to a Fortress located at Hogwarts Castle (as opposed to the real-world locations to which the rest of the in-game Fortresses are tethered). Once there, players will be able to continue to battle opponents using Runestone items as they would at any other Fortress location.

It’s a particularly fitting explanation for the new feature, given that within the world of Harry Potter, the Knight Bus functions as an emergency transport for stranded witches and wizards who need a way to get where they’re going.

The new feature doesn’t appear to be limited to just the current self-quarantine situation, either — per the announcement, the Knight Bus is “here to stay,” meaning that players who don’t have easy physical access to a Fortress location will be able to enjoy the gameplay feature even when the world does open up again.