Wizards Unite Trailers Analysis: Spells used by actors

Wizards Unite Trailer
Wizards Unite Trailer

It was always obvious that a game called “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” would involve casting spells in some way. The three teaser trailers we have seen so far have all featured spells in different ways, and this article speculates about what this will mean for the gameplay in terms of which spells and how they will be cast.

The first Wizards Unite trailer – Immobulus

In the first Wizards Unite teaser trailer we saw a snitch flying around London, and a witch casting Immobulus on it. She cast it using a wand and calling the incantation, but as I will argue below, this is probably not how we will be casting spells in Wizards Unite.

As for the spell itself, Immobulus is the Freezing Charm, which (as the incantation suggests) immobilizes the target. This can be used to stop Muggle technology from functioning, and, most importantly in this case, it stopped the snitch from flying around erratically, making it much easier to capture.

The witch casting Immobulus on the snitch.

The second Wizards Unite trailer – Meteolo Jinx (Recanto?)

The first trailer showed us concept rather then gameplay, but in the second and third trailers, we might have more hints as to how spells will actually be cast in Wizards Unite. The trailers each feature something that looks distinctly like wand movements.

In the second trailer, it’s the wand movement for the Meteolo Jinx, or the Meteolojinx Recanto. Which of these two is still under debate, as the wand movement has been attributed both to the Meteolo Jinx, and to its counter curse, Meteolojinx Recanto.

Wand movement traced over broom.
Wand movement for the Meteolo Jinx.

Either way, the Meteolo Jinx is a weather-modifying charm, and the exact effect it (or its counter curse) would have on the riderless broomsticks in this trailer is unclear. As far as we can see, there is no strange weather or unexplained storms causing the broomsticks to wreak havoc. It is possible, however, that a localized thunder storm could bring the broomsticks down.

The third Wizards Unite trailer – Not Alohomora

In the third trailer, it has been trickier to figure out the spell. The wand movement is similar to Alohomora, except it’s turned on its side, it’s traced in the opposite direction, and its straight line is shorter. So not really like Alohomora at all, but it’s the closest of the known wand movements that we have been able to find.

Wand movement traced over the niffler.
Wand movement for Alohomora.

Since the subject of this trailer is a discombobulated niffler, the effect of the charm might be to incapacitate it or to cure it of its discombobulation. Although it’s debatable whether it’s a good idea to do that before it has been detained, given the trouble even Newt Scamander has with keeping his niffler in check.

Spells in Wizards Unite

From the very beginning, we have been told that spells will be featured in Wizards Unite, along with fantastic beasts, magical artifacts and so on. With these trailers, we can draw a few conclusions.

  • We will be using many different spells in the game.
  • We will see both familiar spells and new ones.
  • Wand movements will be used somehow.

Familiar and new spells

There are many known spells in the Harry Potter universe. At the time that this article is written, Pottermore lists 34 of them with spell profiles, what they do, when they’re used in the books and so on–but there are many more than that. While I haven’t counted every single spell from the books and movies, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that between all the canon stories from the Wizarding World, we have hundreds of spells.

Some of them we only know by name, not incantation. We also only know the wand movements for a few of them. The best known wand movement is, of course, Wingardium Leviosa, with its “swish and flick.”

If you Google wand movements in Harry Potter, you will find a few different lists, mostly containing some or all of 25 different wand movements. Meteolo Jinx, or Meteolojinx Recanto (the counter jinx) is on this list, which is how we know what the wand movement in the second trailer is. It should be noted, that some lists will state that this wand movement is the Meteolo Jinx, and some that it is Meteolojinx Recanto, which is why we can’t be entirely certain which one the trailer is referring to.

Alohomora is also on this list, and as you can see in the images above, it looks similar to (round with one straight line), but not the same as (longer straight line, turned a different way) the wand movement from the third trailer.

This does not necessarily mean that the trailer showed us an entirely new spell (although for all we know it could be). It could simply be a wand movement to a spell that we have heard the name or incantation of, but not seen the wand movement. The fact that the wand movement is similar to Alohomora also may or may not mean that the spells themselves are related.

How to cast spells

That we are going to use spells in Wizards Unite is obvious, but how we are going to cast them in game is unknown. Theories range from speaking the spell out loud, tracing it on your phone screen, or with your phone or a wand in the air, and simply choosing from a list. Let’s explore these options.

Wizards Unite accessories

Some people have been excited about the prospect of having an accessory to this game in the form of a wand. The idea comes from one of Niantic’s previous games, Pokémon GO, which has the Pokémon GO Plus, or the Pokéball Plus, which can help you capture Pokémon in game. While something like that might be coming for Wizards Unite in the future, it will not be a necessity to be able to play this game. Just like the Pokémon GO Plus and the Pokéball Plus, it will be an extra thing you can buy to enhance or simplify your gameplay, but all you will really need is a smart phone.

Audio cues in Wizards Unite

There has been speculation about Wizards Unite using audio cues–the player being required to say the incantation out loud. Using voice recognition, the game would know which spell you’re trying to use, and implement it. This seems intriguing, but has a number of problems.

Voice recognition software has a long way to go before it’s a sure thing, even if all it needs to learn to recognize is a number of spells. There are many ways to say these spells in different languages, or just with different dialects or accents in English. Teaching your particular game how you personally would pronounce the spell the moment you learn it in game is a possible work around for this, of course. In that case, you would read the name of the spell out loud, and the game would remember how you pronounced it.

A problem that is more difficult to solve with technology is the fact that while many of us would happily walk around yelling “expelliarmus!” at random things through our phone, there are potential players who would not enjoy the attention this would draw. Not to mention that there are places and situations in which such behavior would be inappropriate. This is the main reason why I personally think that if this is implemented in the game, it will be– just like with any accessory–an added bonus, rather than a requirement to be able to cast a spell.

A list of spells

A quieter way to cast your spells would involve simply tapping your phone. In many other games, you would have a list of spells, and simply tap the one you want to use. Or, in an even simpler version, you would be told by the game which spell you are to use, and tap to approve. It seems unlikely that Wizards Unite will implement a system like this, at least not without also adding in the wand movements. Since these have been have been so prominently featured in the last two trailers, it would be strange if they were not important.

Using the wand movement

Given that wand movements have featured in the Wizards Unite trailers, assuming that they will be used to cast a spell in the game is not a stretch. How to trace it is a different matter. It could, in the future, very well be combined with an accessory, like a wand connected to your phone via Bluetooth. Until then, you will either be tracing the wand movement in the air using your phone, or trace it on your phone’s screen. The latter has been seen before, in Hogwarts Mystery, for example.

Tracing a wand movement with your phone holds the same kind of problem as speaking the incantation–it looks strange, and it might not be appreciated by the people around you. There’s also the risk that your phone won’t register the movement. In Pokémon GO and Ingress, Niantic’s previous games, the most you might need to do physically with your phone is turn it in the right direction to see the right part of the map. Since even this is too much for some phones (the phone I used to try to play Ingress for about a week, I had to turn upside down to see the map properly), it’s unlikely that your phone will act as your wand.

The latter option, tracing it on our phones, seems to be the most likely one. It’s simple and discrete, any smartphone can detect such a tracing, and since Hogwarts Mystery has done it before, we know that it works. It could be combined with a list of spells, as it is in the dueling club in Hogwarts Mystery, or we could freely choose which spell we want to trace at which time, and the game will tell you whether or not the spell was useful.

In conclusion

Each of the first three trailers for Wizards Unite have featured spells.

The first one saw a witch using a wand and the incantation to freeze a snitch.

The second two have seen wand movements traced on top of the item or creature that was causing trouble.

It seems clear that spells will be an important part of Wizards Unite, and that the wand movements of these spells will be part of how we cast them. There are still many things we don’t know–how will we cast the spells specifically, which spells will we learn, and so on–but with every teaser trailer that is released, we get one step closer to all these answers.