There has been no shortage of video game adaptations of the Harry Potter series in the quarter of a century since the series first became popular with fans. However, fans of The Boy Who Lived have never been able to fully live out their Wizarding World fantasies in an immersive, cinematic, interactive experience, despite having enjoyed everything from early book-based action-adventures to brick-busting Lego entries to a title dedicated entirely to Quidditch.
Hogwarts Legacy, out now for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and gaming PCs, and coming to Switch later this year, is an attempt to grant this wish by letting players assume the role of a witch or wizard in a fully customizable avatar and embark on an epic, open-world action role-playing adventure that rivals anything Harry, Ron, and Hermione have ever faced in the books or films.
Is it true that this long-awaited, highly-anticipated game provides an experience as refreshing as a Butterbeer? Does it have a pleasant aftertaste, or does it linger in your mouth like the nastiest of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans? Well, so let’s get on our brooms and investigate.
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What We Enjoyed Most
Excess of Attention From Fans
The price of admission to Hogwarts Legacy will be more than worth it for diehard fans of the series the moment they set foot inside the magical institution. Players take control of a new character, a fifth-year student they can alter aesthetically, and their wand in a scene set around a century before the events of the novels and films. Yet, the most fully realized depiction of Hogwarts ever committed to any medium is still shown despite the shift to an earlier time period and the absence of a familiar protagonist.
Not constrained by the pages of a book or the frames of a movie, Hogwarts Legacy’s version of the magical school is a vast, detail-rich playground just waiting to be discovered. It has all the standard game aspects, such as major missions and side quests, optional challenges, a plethora of items, and innumerable encounters with characters, but it also has a wealth of hidden content, including secrets, surprises, call-outs, hints, and Easter eggs.
— Hogwarts Legacy (@HogwartsLegacy) February 16, 2023
Huge swaths of canonical content, like the Great Hall and the Sorting Ceremony, are faithfully recreated. The moving paintings, the annoying poltergeists, and the countless additional fan-focused details you’ll find at every turn are all subtle additions. It’s the settings, events, and interactions that weren’t written about before that make this the definitive Hogwarts story. There is a fresh corner or cranny waiting to be discovered for every well-known one.
Even the most devoted Potter fans will want to visit Hogsmeade and the Forbidden Forest, even if they have a hard time tearing themselves away from the school’s hallowed halls. These locations, like Hogwarts, are not only more thoroughly realized than ever before, but they are also fully explorable, packed with both mandatory and optional gameplay, and offer a wealth of room for players to create their own Potter-like adventures.
Rather Than a Simple Coat of Potter Paint
The formula of Hogwarts Legacy will be recognizable to anyone who has played an open-world action role-playing game in the previous several years. Horizon: Forbidden West, Gotham Knights, and the last three Assassin’s Creed game all share this game’s vast map packed to the gills with things to do. Although it has many of the staples of the genre—fighting, crafting, questing, collecting, a growth system for characters, and puzzles—it never feels like a cheap knockoff.
Hogwarts Legacy, on the other hand, doesn’t tack on the aforementioned interactions, activities, and challenges to an already nostalgic presentation but instead naturally incorporates them. Your first quest in the game will have you searching for five misplaced books.
— Hogwarts Legacy (@HogwartsLegacy) February 15, 2023
It’s a mission that could have just been a way to kill time, but it makes use of the game’s extensive setting to become more. A strange student who, in an attempt to reduce her schoolwork, gives her books wings. Follow this to the beautiful Hogwarts library, where you can practice your Accio spell on the elusive flying books.
This side quest may seem inconsequential, but it actually serves as a metaphor for the game’s overall capacity to transform the ordinary into the magical. Other examples include the stat-based gear system, which may grant you a damage increase while wearing a very Potter-like striped scarf or more defense thanks to a smart set of spectacles, rather than the standard chest plates and helmets.
Having genre standards like resource collection and crafting implemented into Hogwarts Legacy’s Herbology and Potions classes certainly didn’t hurt the game’s development by Avalanche Software. Like Floo magic, which can be used as a convenient substitute for quick travel around the universe.
However, it must be said that the production company also deserves praise for skillfully delivering these simplistic readings. It’s obvious that using a broom or a mounted beast to get across this enormous planet is the best option, but doing it mechanically might have been a nightmare. But Hogwarts Legacy does it so well that it becomes one of the most exciting parts of the game.
Fighting With Spells
Learning spells and other combat skills as part of the Hogwarts curriculum allows for the ultimate marriage of gameplay and source material, much like how constructing a Wiggenweld concoction in Potions class flawlessly transfers to crafting your usual med bag. The classes are expertly crafted to provide you with a healthy dose of the license’s trademark charm while also arming you with useful tools.
Fans of the novels and movies will enjoy the same sort of wacky professor introductions and entertaining in-class hijinks. Rather, they fit snugly alongside your development path, bolstering your spells and talents as you acquire and improve them.
On the battlefield, these magical skills truly shine, both visually (you can blast eye-popping effects from your wand) and mechanically (they support a complex, nuanced fighting system that never left us wishing for more traditional weapons). There are the standard elemental spells that can burn or freeze an opponent with a flick of the wrist, but these abilities are just the tip of the iceberg once you’re actually casting spells.
There is no shortage of flashy ways to combat evil with the dozens of spells available, which are categorized in ways like Damage, Control, Force, and Unforgivable Curses. Even while most of your spells are for non-combat uses like solving puzzles or opening locks, you still have plenty of wand-born abilities that will help you out in sticky situations.
Mix things up and experiment with your ever-expanding arsenal of monster-slaying skills, whether you’re taking on a small goblin army, a pair of towering trolls, the spider population of a cave, or even human adversaries who need a lesson in etiquette.
The depth of the immensely gratifying fighting system is best experienced by combining several magic types, and perhaps throwing in the occasional Chinese Chomping Cabbage for good measure. Ancient magic’s potency provides still another dimension, turning the tables on even the most dangerous mythical beasts, while also tying into the game’s major narrative enigma.
Those Things That Bothered Us About It
Consequences of Overachievement
Hogwarts Legacy succeeds as both a licensed fan service game and an open-world action role-playing game, but it isn’t without its flaws. Areas that lack this level of care can feel unsatisfactory because their authenticity and attention to detail are frequently so strong and engaging. Parts of the map that aren’t part of Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, or the Forbidden Forest, for example, often feel sparse and more like general fantasy locations than their actual Potter-level counterparts.
— Guinness World Records (@GWR) February 16, 2023
By the end of the game, when the diversity of enemies and the combat encounters get stale, repetition can also tarnish the experience. When combined with the less impressive environments, the occasional late-game tedium made me ponder what a less ambitious, more confined Hogwarts Legacy may look like.
Considering the success of Batman: Arkham Asylum, which took place entirely within the walls of the eponymous psychiatric hospital, do you think it would have been better if the action had taken place solely on the school’s grounds? The sheer size and scope of the game are remarkable, but at times it feels like the developers aimed for the moon when they should have gone for the stars.
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There’s No Spark
The secondary characters and, more importantly, your interactions with them, lack some of the series’ trademark enchantment. As crucial to the series as its wonderful monsters have always been strong connections with peers, and even tight bonds with professors and other adult characters.
You may not be able to brew up a love potion in Hogwarts Legacy, but there's always the Thunderbrew Potion…😉
Check out our top Hogwarts Legacy tips and tricks here: https://t.co/xVo2Olzfdk
— Epic Games Store (@EpicGames) February 15, 2023
While Hogwarts Legacy does its best to do this by putting you in contact with a wide variety of interesting people (including some with the unusual last names of Weasley and Black), the relationships you establish with them rarely have the emotional weight of their literary counterparts. You’ll feel like a lone wolf, with lots of casual friends but no true, rock-solid alliances, most of the time.
Major omissions, like Diagon Alley and playable Quidditch, are particularly difficult to overlook because they feel like lost potential. It might not be right to criticize the creator for excluding anything, especially if that something could be added as DLC or in a future sequel. It’s hard to get on your broom and not fantasize about stepping on the metaphorical throttle and flying straight at a Golden Snitch.
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Frequently asked questions
Where to play Hogwarts Legacy?
When will Hogwarts Legacy be available on what systems? If you're wondering which platforms you can play Hogwarts Legacy on, here are the answers: PS5, PS4, PS4 Pro, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
How big is Hogwarts Legacy?
The area covered by Hogwarts Legacy's map is exactly 2.95 square miles (7.65 square kilometers). The expansive magical setting includes several recognizable locations from the best-selling book series, including Hogsmeade and the Forbidden Forest.
How do I ride my broom in Hogwarts legacy?
Pressing L1 + allows you to fly on a broom. When you have a broom, the Broom tool will be available in the L1 toolbar. Once the broom is unlocked, you can hop on it by pressing L1+ on the PlayStation or Tab + 3 on the PC.