Niantics Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is a sorcerous smorgasbord for the Pokemon GO generation

Niantics follow-up to the absurdly popular Pokemon GO, the long-awaited Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, has one major drawback: unlike its predecessor, you cant explain it in a single sentence. Theres so much to do in this game that it may repel some casual players but while its depths of systems and collectibles may be nigh endless, dont worry: you still basically just walk around doing wizard and witch stuff.
We first reported the news that this was coming back in 2017. Last week I got to spend a short time playing the game at Niantics office in San Francisco, and while they didnt reveal all their secrets, I saw enough to convince me that HP:WU (I await a catchier nickname, like PoGO) will be a huge time sink for any Harry Potter fan and will probably convert or cannibalize many players from GO.
If you were worried this would be a slapdash cash-in effort like some of the HP tie-ins weve seen dont be. This is legit. Rowling isnt involved, and the voice actors are sound-alikes, but still legit.
And just to get some of the major facts out of the way before we move on: its coming out sometime in 2019 (Id guess before Summer but they wouldnt say), in 17 languages (listed at bottom; actual countries where itll be offered unknown), theres no wand accessory yet (I asked and they all looked nervous), minimum specs are reasonable and AR is optional, and its free but there are in-app purchases.
So what is this game? While it would be misleading to say its just HP:GO, the similarities are deep. But theres a lot more going on. Perhaps Id best summarize it in bullet point form before I embark on the many details. In HP:WU you:

Walk around a wizarding-themed version of the real world looking for locations at which to resupply and foundables to encounter

Dispel, battle, or otherwise deal with the confoundable associated with these

Earn reward items from encounters and for entering foundables in your registry

Use reward items to level up in various professions, brew potions, and battle alongside others at fortresses

Find rare foundables that advance the overall plot of why this is all happening anyway

So lets take that piece by piece.
(By the way: The few images I have here were provided by Niantic and Portkey Games, the studio under WB Games who co-developed the game; I actually saw much more than what the shots show, so if something I describe isnt illustrated directly, dont worry its in there.)

Walkable Wizarding World

Niantics Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is a sorcerous smorgasbord for the Pokemon GO generation
Yes, this was the only image of the map we got.
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