The time is here at last: Not only can I play Harry Potter: Magic Awakened, but I can finally write about it too. I’ve been anticipating this game since it was originally announced, although I certainly had my doubts. I even predicted it’d be in my top three played games of the year, which I’m even more confident of now having played it.
And now that it’s here – and indeed, dropping a patch today – it really is living up to just about everything I wanted out of it. It’s got PvP, a ton of ways to customize your character, and just loads of activities to do. And it’s billed as an MMO – a mobile one, but still the real deal. On top of all of that, the combat is card-driven, which falls right inline with my recent string of card games I’ve been testing here in Fight or Kite.
I do need to admit that I have never been the biggest fan of Harry Potter. I think I had just aged out of it when it came on the scene and struck like lightning. Plus, I was never much of a reader; if you can picture a child sitting down in front of the TV or with some video games, then you’ve got an idea of about 80% of my time as a child.
However, my significant other is a big fan. As a kid, she was there at the midnight book openings and for all the movies too.
So when an MMO comes on the scene with a chance of actually combining our two pastimes into one? I couldn’t wait. I can actually play a game with her without twisting her arm into doing it… for now, at least.
The game captures what players love about the Harry Potter world in an MMO style
From the moment you get logged into the game, you’re inundated with images and nostalgia from the original movies. I absolutely love the art style for Magic Awakened. It’s sort of low-poly in some places; characters’ faces and bodies are all very angular. It’s something I wouldn’t think I’d be into, but it just works so well. I really love the splash/loading screen images too. Often these are pivotal scenes from the movies, and they are just so well done.
As you begin character creation, you have a decent set of choices and options in choosing how you’ll look. There are no body-size choices, unfortunately, but you do have several faces and hairstyles to choose from. The game has, or will have, a ton of different outfits and clothing to wear, so I’d bet the developers went the easy route of designing clothes that always fit the characters nicely by simply forcing everyone to have the same body size. On the upside, the game lets you know upfront that your hair and some other visuals are not locked, so you don’t have to fret too much about whether you get just the right look off the bat.
After character creation, you begin a story and tutorial that does a good job of walking you through some introductory information on how the game works and plays. It’s just the right level of hand-holding for me. I know a lot of players get bent out of shape with just about any and all types of tutorials, so maybe I’m the exception.
Some players may also get annoyed with the fact that the story is pretty much a repeat of Harry Potter’s story. You begin by opening a special letter inviting you to attend Hogwarts, and you even meet Hagrid right outside your home. Later, you get to meet the various other story characters, each one fitting nicely into a niche carved out by a member of the original Harry Potter crew. It works for me, but to call it derivative would be an understatement. It’s kind of like how the new Star Wars movies following Rey hit almost all the same beats as the Luke trilogy – and everyone loved those, right?
Lore reasons for splitting up characters might make sense, but that doesn’t make it fun
One pretty massive downside is that two choices that should basically be cosmetic or just flavor actually amount to walling yourself away from others, at least by causing you to miss out on some bonuses. These aren’t groups that will lock you out of playing content with anyone, but grouping up with players in your dorm and House can help you earn bonuses.
We’ll start at your House. In the Harry Potter world, there are four Houses that separate wizards and witches based on their personalities and other abilities. The game carries this concept forward by letting you pick a house, but in doing so, you restrict whom you can share a dorm with to only members of that House. Sure it makes sense in terms of the game’s original world, but limiting players who can share a dorm kind of stinks when you want to RP as a Ravenclaw but your friend doesn’t, and now you can’t share that dorm.
Dorms themselves are a really cool concept in that you get to have three other players share a dorm with you. You can even decorate yours with different beds and posters and such. Unfortunately, you restricted not just by your House but also by your gender, meaning boys and girls can’t share dorm rooms – which I guess also follows the lore, but this is a video game. It’s not like we’re actually kids sleeping in a dorm room together. It’s just a real bummer because I’ve been playing primarily with my significant other, but we can’t have this as a shared space for decorating and stuff thanks to this mechanic. It’s unfortunate and not really something that needed to be restricted in game.
You can still do all the other game activities with any other player, and there’s still the Social Club, which is Magic Awakened’s guilds. Social Clubs don’t restrict players by Houses or even server from what I’ve seen, so you can play with whomever you want – as you should.
So with dorms and Houses aside, we’ve still played together without any restrictions. It’s just something I wish I’d understood better when I rolled my character because I’d have just matched her and carried on as normal.
There is so much to do that I’m constantly logging in to play more
Judging by the subtle elevator music ringing in my ears, I can tell I’m running out of time here. I’ve barely got space to talk about the buckets of activities Magic Awakened has available. I’ll get into more details in the next edition of this column, but here’s a quick taste:
- Dueling Club – PvP battles in solo or duo mode.
- Forbidden Forest – These are dungeon equivalents. There’s a version for solo and also for three-person teams.
- Dance Club – I’d equate this to a quicktime event. You and a partner tap through a song with more points awarded for how well you timed your taps. The first few levels are simple, but four- and five-star songs are insane!
- Attend Class – A bunch of different classes each playing differently. Some are combat, some are trivia, and others are wholly unique.
- There’s also story quests, Social Club quests, personal home instance decorating, achievements, roaming around on your broom, daily quests, time limited challenges, and so many other random events!
In the next column, I’ll also talk in length about the game’s gacha system, which might end up being the plague that drives me away from the game. Right now, it’s already evident to me that the gacha tendrils wrap around nearly every activity players do. However, there’s also a ton of free loot on offer from the game so that normal players don’t feel as if they’ve fallen too far behind the typical whale. Only time will really tell, though. For now, I’m enjoying every minute I get to login and play – and with it being on mobile, those minutes are pretty easy to sneak in. Check back here in a week or two as I dive into those activities in much greater detail!