Hogwarts Legacy is a name that is associated with a lot of controversies these days. If you are wanting to see this review discuss it, it won’t. However, if you want to explore Hogwarts without controversy, then look at Pottergame. My time associated with Harry Potter as an IP has been one with a lot of positivity in my life. Heck, one of the reasons my self-image wasn’t destroyed by needing glasses as a kid was because Harry Potter had glasses. This was a game I dreamed of playing. The closest you could get was the PS2 Chamber of Secrets game or the PC game Sorcerer’s Stone. It has been three whole generations of consoles until we, at last, received Hogwarts Legacy.
Game Name: Hogwarts Legacy Platform(s): PC, Xbox Series S|X, PS5 (Reviewed) Publisher(s): Warner Brothers Games Developer(s): Avalanche Software Release Date: February 10th, 2023 Price: $59.99
Hogwarts Legacy is about your character getting called to Hogwarts late due to a delay, as when your character gets noticed for their magical abilities. You then get to go to Hogwarts but also know that your magical abilities seem different as you notice traces of ancient magic. Other wizards and witches in the wizarding world don’t seem to see these traces. You have to discover what this power is, why there are other goblins and wizards interested in it, as well as finish your O.W.L.S. with regular Hogwarts attendance. That regular Hogwarts attendance, however, gets left out about halfway through the game.
Studying at Hogwarts
Hogwarts Legacy starts you off pretty quickly with a brief tutorial in combat and exploration. Afterward, the game dies down as you are at Hogwarts and learning the school layout, and meeting the cast of characters you will see throughout the game. The main loop of gameplay will be doing side quests to unlock more main quests. The reasoning is that many early side quests are necessary to unlock spells. These spells will generally be pretty essential for the next part of the main story. Luckily you don’t need to do all the side quests that get handed to you, and believe me, you will receive many from students, faculty members at Hogwarts, and eventually random people throughout the world.
That is right, you won’t be only at Hogwarts for the entirety of this game. There is a lot of open world to travel through in this game. Sadly not a lot of the world is really in the story. You will only see some places in passing to your actual destinations. Your main destination outside Hogwarts will be the town of Hogsmeade. This is also a hub town that has shops and taverns.
The open world is honestly really lively in Hogwarts Legacy. This game just oozes personality and atmosphere. You’ll see many NPCs interacting with each other and their environment. It feels very lived in and that each person has something to say to the other. Unfortunately, you can only talk to a few NPCs, so they will mainly just avoid you doing their own thing. Some of the shenanigans are hilarious, though. For example, as I was walking outside Hogwarts, a Gryffindor Student was doing some Broomstick flying practice outside at night because they didn’t feel like they were good at it. Then they get on the broom in the wrong direction that flies off with them, and then they fall off, pick themselves up, take their broom that has now fallen, dust themselves off, and just leave as if nothing happened. There were many other instances like this where characters are doing things in the world that end up humorously. It was fun just looking at the NPCs and watching what they were up to.
An added part of why this world is so chock full is due to its collectibles. Early on in Hogwarts Legacy, you will just get a spell that will help you see things that can be interacted with. Revelio, when used, will make objects in the immediate area turn yellow, blue, or red. Yellow is treasure chests, and blue is interactable objects such as locks on doors and quest items. Red as enemies. Throughout the world, there are hidden pages that you can use Revelio on to add to your field guide. The field guide is a collection of your enemies, spells, gear, maps, talents, and quests. It also keeps track of various challenges throughout the open world you can accomplish. These challenges include finding out secret areas, defeating a certain number of enemies, accomplishing side quests, and rescuing magical beasts. That is right, the bag from Fantastic Beasts is also in Hogwarts Legacy, which allows you to capture and put magical beasts in areas they are more comfortable in now that the world is full of wizard poachers.
Combat is satisfying in Hogwarts Legacy. You have a variety of spell types and spells to use. Once I unlocked the talent system, I quickly put it in, adding more slots to be shown in the taskbar so I could have more than four spells to use at once. Not only do they do different things, but based on what your enemy is doing, you can have it do a variety of effects. For instance, an enemy could be swinging a club at you, and you can cast flipendo to make the club swing back around and hit the enemy troll. You can levitate enemies off the ground and push them off cliffs, throw fire on a barrel and make it explode, disarm an enemy ax and throw it back at them, there is a lot you can do in combat. This is the most badass you can probably feel in the wizardry world.
Heck, none of the Harry Potter games’ combat felt nearly this satisfying to take on a group of strong dark wizards merely because you can do so much with your magic and use it creatively. With each spell cast that lands, you receive a combo multiplier. If this multiplier gets high enough, you can activate your connection with ancient magic that shoots a lightning bolt from the sky to come and smite your enemies. It could also involve controlling gravity to just mangle your enemies.
You can even do all your encounters from stealth if you are clever enough. You learn a spell called disillusion that makes you harder to see and transparent. This can be used to cast petrificus totalis on your enemies and paralyze them immediately. You can use your arsenal of spells to also confuse or distract enemies as you go and paralyze them without anyone noticing. An example would be levitating something that makes someone scout around the object, or you can just throw a normal spell to a loud-sounding object that will make enemies curious as to why there is a sound. If you feel like there is someone that will see you don’t want to see and no distractions around… just transform them into a cup as you paralyze their friend right in front of them.
Sightseeing the Wizarding World
Hogwarts Legacy is more robust than I was expecting visually. The one negative I will say is how foggy the outside usually is in this game. The environments and architecture in the open world are all rather unique and fascinating to see. The interior of Hogwarts is intricate and has a lot of added locations and areas that could not be explored within the older Harry Potter games, such as dungeons and the boathouse. The person who designed most of these buildings in the game should be praised because they are all interesting, and the Victorian-type architecture is visually stunning. There is a variety of castles and manors you get to explore that all have interesting exteriors as well.
I will say that the character models are good, but many of the animations can feel repetitive with how often they are used. There is like a total of three animations that are used constantly in every instance you talk to someone. It doesn’t stand out at first, but once you are talking to the sixth character in a row who has all used the same animation while speaking, it is quite noticeable. I almost wish they would just not have animations with the talking and just let them speak.
My entire playthrough of Hogwarts Legacy was on PS5. I was in performance mode and had some frame dips during flying and traversal but nothing that seemed too extreme. You do get some stutters in combat if you have many enemies all throwing around various spells. There were some weird bugs or glitches that happened, but they weren’t common. I fell through the floor while wandering outside Hogwarts building, or an NPC showed up where they should not have been, but otherwise, the game feels extremely polished. Performance mode goes for a stable 60fps. As you enter the outside world from inside a building, the lighting takes a second or two for it to match, which gives a weird lighting effect.
The movies of Harry Potter were the inspiration for the music of Hogwarts Legacy. The theme song and the opening of when you enter Hogwarts are all audio cues and callbacks to the main theme of the movies. The rest of the soundtrack is in the same vein of feeling like these sounds and tracks could have just been lifted from the movie. Luckily they aren’t a carbon copy of the music, though they make you feel like you are in the movies and the world of Harry Potter as you are flying on a broomstick, walking in a town, or striding through Hogwarts for a class.
Taking the Plunge
I loved my time playing through Hogwarts Legacy. The last bits of the story all feel like it gets a little rushed, and the house cup doesn’t feel nearly as dramatic as it should, but overall the game is solid. As you travel around Hogwarts and the outlying world around it, you can feel the passion of the developers and designers behind it. This is the game I wished I had as a kid though I would prefer to have spent more time at the school of Hogwarts. I have yet to collect everything in the game, but I am surely going back in to try!
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Hogwarts Legacy is an absolute monster of passion and creativity in a world that is all about creativity. Great combat mechanics and a unique open world with many interesting secrets hidden around makes playing this game an absolute treasure.
Combat is satisfying
A unique open world filled with secrets and homages to the series