I’d be lying if I said my game time over the last several months hasn’t been completely upended by Harry Potter: Magic Awakened. It’s just such a nice experience overall. I can’t help but enjoy all the wild PvP duels I’ve been in and some of the random players I’ve joined in a dorm and guild. The quick nature of nearly all the content makes it really perfect for mobile gaming. I haven’t even played a PC game in at least two months (as long as we don’t count Tabletop Simulator for some remote boardgaming action).
But in today’s Fight or Kite, I’m going to wrap up my overview of the game itself by discussing the big mechanics I haven’t touched on yet: story quests, guild features, and finally the monetization. We’ve gone through so many different features and activities, and Magic Awakened constantly adds so much content that the feature list continues to grow. I mean, the game just added picnicking so you that can sit and enjoy a quiet hangout with four of your closest mates. That’s some real roleplaying attention right there, all in a mobile MMO.
Let’s grab our brooms and sweep this one up.
Story quests help teach you how to play while providing a nice break from the game’s treadmill
I think many of us hope for and expect some level of story from our MMOs. It isn’t a guarantee or something that every MMO includes, but I always appreciate it, even when it isn’t the highlight of the game. I just love storytelling, so experiencing stories in my gaming is one of the best ways to really be engaged in the world. It might not be something a lot of primarily PvP-focused MMOers care about, but I do.
I also like that playing through the story offers up a sort of tutorial. Sometimes you’ll earn a new spell card followed by a quick mission to make proper use of it. It is also constantly rewarding you so that you can continue to be competitive in other aspects of the game.
In Magic Awakened, the story is being told in several parts, all broken up by the school years. This is another thing that is common in games based in the HP universe; it’s basically how the books were written, so it’s no surprise to see it here. As I’ve previously noted, the story beats follow closely to the books they’re based on. If it weren’t licensed, then I’d go so far as to say it’s too similar. In fact, even being licensed, it’s probably too similar.
For example, in the main cast of characters, you have your hoity-toity fancy blonde bully and her two airheaded side kicks. The Frey twins, as they’re called, are a couple of “sure thing, boss – whatever you say,” kind of guys. Together the trio is almost a piece-for-piece replica of Malfoy and his gang. On the friendly side, you have a cast that similarly matches up with Harry and his crew.
The plotlines of the story, while extremely similar to the books, are honestly interesting in their own right as well. While I’m not fully engrossed and carrying them into fan fiction, I like seeing which characters play out their roles – including my own. While you are obviously involved in all the happenings, so far through the two and a half in-game years I’ve played, the player character isn’t central to any of the stories. Unless there’s a shift that I haven’t played through yet, your character is not the Harry Potter stand-in. I know a lot of players prefer that kind of storytelling too. Not me, though. I’m the hero – carry me upon your shoulders.
While most of the content in Magic Awakened is served up in bite-sized chunks, the story quests can take a little more time. Of course, a little more time here means about 15 minutes or so per quest. You can also skip or fast-forward through the story so that you still get the content of it without spending as much time. Most of the main scenes are fully dubbed with English narration, and it’s well done. I appreciate the actors who play each role, particularly Cassandra (the Malfoy callback) because she’s just so easy to dislike.
From chapter to chapter, you’ll get to learn and know more about each character and the secrets of their background. In many games the hero’s party is made up of all one-note good guys. Here’s, each has his or her own motivations that come up during play. Anyone who enjoys these kids-in-a-magical-school stories will love these too.
Your social club gives you a few different guild-based activities
The social club is basically Magic Awakened’s guild system. There’s a 50-player limit to each one, which is small for a lot of MMOs, but I’ve never been one to really get into big groups, so it works for me. I don’t believe there are any restrictions on who can join, so even though dorms are gender- and House-locked, the social club can mix players freely.
Guilds are rated based on how often their members participate in the game too. Each one has a ranking for solo duels, duo duels, and the club adventure. Then, at the end of each of the game’s seasons, members are rewarded based on how highly their club ranked. So the more active your members are, the better rewards you’ll receive. Fortunately, the rewards are not extreme, so if you happen to be in a guild that isn’t in the top 100, you aren’t getting left behind or missing out on fancy loot. Instead, it’s a nice-to-have reward, like extra gold for leveling up.
So while you gain rewards for doing a number of different things with your club, the primary activity is the club adventure. This is sort of like a boss battle where up to three members can enter and fight a boss. You aren’t expected to defeat the boss in one run, however. Instead, you deal as much damage to it as you can within a three-minute time period. The damage will carry over to other members, and the more bosses you defeat, the more rewards you’ll gain. The key is that each member can participate in a fight only two times a day, so it really takes active and regular game participation to stay ahead. It’s also nice in that it’s an activity that all club members can participate in on their own time, even if they must go in solo – although you’ll deal much less damage when you’re the boss’s only target. So there’s no playing favorites with the guild activity as in some other MMO.
Finally, if you’ve found yourself a roleplaying kind of club, there are two other activities that can be scheduled: a dance party and a history of magic party. Now, my club has not been inclined to host these, but I imagine they’re simply times we can get together and perform dances in the ballroom or play the question-and-answer game about the HP series.
Monetization is totally gacha and totally in your face about it
Finally, I’ve got to discuss just how much gacha is really tied up into Magic Awakened. Basically everything from learning new spells and earning any new cosmetics are embedded deeply in the game’s monetization. And the game is going to remind you of these constantly almost every time you log in.
Let’s start with the game’s currencies. There are a few main types: gold, gems, and keys. Gold is your basic and typical in-game reward. You’ll earn a few thousand each day for completing your dailies and some for completing seasonal rewards and the like. Mostly this is spent on leveling up your cards, but there are a few other uses as well.
Gems come in two types: The first is a gold gem, which is like gold in that you’ll also earn it in game from similar activities as the gold is earned but on a much smaller scale, and the second is directly premium only, meaning the only way to obtain it is buying it directly from the shop with real dollars or purchasing a subscription.
The last big type are keys, primarily silver and gold keys. These are both earned frequently through gameplay and are used to open lockboxes that reward various spell cards. Now, as you level up your cards, you need more and more copies of that card to be able to level it up again further. For example, if I have a level 9 basic card, I need to collect 10 copies of that card to level it up. After I’ve got 10 copies, I can spend some amount of gold to level it up to 10, at which point I need to collect more copies again. The decent part about the keys is that while the chances of getting a good card are slim, after 30 draws you’ll get a guarantee, so there’s some consolation for a streak of bad luck.
Now, where things begin to get pay-to-win is in the Mystery Wheel and similar systems. The wheel uses a premium mystery wheel key that I believe you can purchase using the gold gems – but they cost so much that you’ll need to buy the gold gems if you really want the treats. Also, of the two or three wheels (they change with the seasons), there’s a unique wand skin, which offers bonuses to dueling and dungeons that are not offered with the earned in game wands – at least not the ones I’ve seen earned.
Finally, there is a seasonal reward that keeps track of how many premium currencies you’ve bought. After you’ve spent something crazy like $200 or so, then you can unlock the outfit or whatever is locked up there.
Despite all the annoyances of the gacha, the lockboxes, and the pay-to-win shenanigans, the game does give you a lot of loot just by playing, and that has so far still been the case throughout my experience. All the real nice premium stuff is locked away, but you’ll earn a ton of silver and gold keys to unlock cards.
However, if you’re actually trying to keep up with the “top” players, the only way you’ll do so is by spending those dollar bills. For me, it’s not a problem since the dueling hasn’t placed me in too many matches that were terribly unfair. And it gives me an out; I can always brush off my losses by believing my opponent bought his way to success.
Anyways, that’s going to do it for this one. While I’ve talked about all the big stuff, I know I didn’t get to tell you everything, which is really a shame. For instance, I don’t think I mentioned how you can record yourself for the spell casting voice overs. You’ve never been more ashamed of a spider summoning spell than when you hear “spiders” come out in my high, nasally, monotone voice. Which is really fantastic.