Hogwarts Legacy is an open-world RPG set in the Harry Potter universe. Developed by Avalanche Software and published by Warner Bros. Games under its Portkey Games division.
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I must admit, I’ve never read the Harry Potter books and have only seen the first 3 movies. Mrs. Blaavenger is a major Potter fan so I saw her excitement from the books but she was not keen on the movies, so we never saw them all.
Thankfully, none of these are prerequisites for getting into Hogwarts Legacy, for this is an entirely fresh entry with a new story that acts as a distant prequel to the events of the Harry Potter storyline.
I was very excited about this game since I saw the initial trailer. I’m a sucker for a good old open-world RPG and it looked like there was a lot to do and see here.
Get your cloaks, wands, owls, and let’s tackle Hogwarts Legacy!
The story kicks off in London in the late 1800’s. You create your own Wizard or Witch who has been extended an invitation to join Hogwarts as fifth year student. You meet up with Professor Fig, a teacher from Hogwarts, who has been appointed your mentor for your induction and studies in the Wizarding World.
Your entrance to Hogwarts won’t be traditional in any sense. Firstly, you are entering as a fifth year, so you have 4 years of magical knowledge to catch up on, which Fig has been aiding with. You hop into a magical flying carriage and take off for the mystical destination.
Things go badly quite quickly, just as you find out there is something special about your character, who can see traces of and can interact with an ancient magic thought to be long since lost, your carriage is bitten in half by a dragon. You and Professor Fig crash land far from your destination but you find a way to bridge the gap to Hogwarts by manipulating the ancient magic to arrive directly outside Hogwarts.
The story progresses from here where you attend classes, make friends, or enemies, befriend fantastical creatures, and fly on your broom (no Quidditch however, the Headmaster has banned it for this year).
It gets quite serious after this as you are thrust into a plot of an evil goblin called Ranrok, who can control dark and powerful magic and wants to overthrow all wizards and witches as revenge for their treatment towards goblins.
The story flits between school, side quests, and the main questline. All the while throughout it seems to be building towards a massive finale, however, the story ends with a whimper far more than a bang. I was left thoroughly unimpressed. Honestly wanted to give up less than halfway through my playtime but the completionist in me just wanted to see it out.
You start with the character creation. There are quite a few options available from hair, face and even vocal pitch to create your perfect wizard or witch (no beard options though!).
The game is played in third-person. As you progress through the game you will unlock spells to cast, potions to brew, and vegetation to grow (some useful in combat). Firstly, the Revelio spell, which allows you to reveal secrets and points of interest in your immediate area, needs to be added in its own way to other games. This mechanic made searching for secrets and items a lot less tedious.
Combat is ranged, getting up close and personal with any enemy is not recommended. You have several spells to damage, incapacitate and create some breathing room in fights. Once a spell is cast there is a slight cooldown before it can be cast again. Numerous spells can be linked together to create combos. These can be entertaining and leads to some experimentation but you will lose that joy when you cast the same combo multiple times per fight on the multiple spell sponge enemies thrown at you.
I was quite surprised at how violent the game can be for a game aimed at 12-year-olds. The ancient magic you have access to can be used as a finisher to turn enemies into chickens, which I laugh at every time. It can also be used to call lightning bolts down and disintegrate enemies. There are no mentions of the killing or even any repercussions for a teen student commuting murder with magic.
You are a school student, so there are classes to attend. Most classes just breeze by as a montage with a minigame at the end or a spell to learn. These range from potions, flying, protection against the dark arts, astrology, herbology, and beasts. Each class teaches you a certain mechanic of the game, but become a story blocker in time, and you will not be able to progress in the story without completing these classes. Some classes seemed interesting at first, but then the requirements to pass the classes became so cumbersome and uninteresting.
See The World
Exploration could have been so much more in Hogwarts. The castle and grounds are so meticulously created that I was eager to get at the extended world. Oh, how it let me down. The world is massive with some activities to see here and there, but ultimately, once you’ve done a few once or twice, you’ve done them all. I flew past a lot of these activities after a short time. The world is so large and so sparsely filled that going from one end to the other is a laborious task. Once I unlocked a few fast travel points I would just use them to navigate the map.
Room with a view
Another element included is the Room of Requirement. This acts as your base of operations to design the room as you like, upgrade items, grow plants and care for the fantastical beasts you can capture in the wild. The room has the potential to be more, but I found myself not using it too much outside of a few missions and side quests. There are timed waits for most beast and plant-growing tasks. This caused me to leave the room to further the story or do other tasks and forget about the timed tasks altogether.
There is no denying, this is a beautiful game. The character models look great, and the facial animations and general movements are top-notch.
The real winner here is Hogwarts itself. The castle and surrounding grounds are quite a sight to take in. On a few occasions, I found myself just lapping the castle on my broom/hippogryph, taking it all in, from the highest tower to the lowest boathouse and everything in between. Internally, it’s no different; the place is massive, and the level of intricate detail is amazing. Corridors, classrooms, common rooms, greenhouse, balconies. They have lifted the school accurately from the book.
Spells have exaggerated animations and flourishes, but ultimately, each spell of a certain type is just a slightly better version of the last one unlocked. There are red for damage spells (mostly fire), purple for force spells, and yellow for control spells, some unique utility spells. You cast each spell so much that their appeal wears off quickly.
Sound is a mixed bag for me. Voices and sound effects have been very well put together. It’s the world music that’s lacking. Mainly when I was out exploring, there was nothing, no backing music at all, just the sound of wind whizzing past and your cloak flapping. Some journeys take you from the top to the bottom of the map, which is a great distance. There’s a lack of something to add to the sense of adventure and exploration. I traveled quite a lot once I unlocked more areas, so I didn’t have to fly around as much in silence.
Technically, you can replay Hogwarts Legacy. I am not sure why you would, though. There are clear Good and Evil paths to choose from and several dialogue options that change the outcome of the conversation and people’s opinions of you. Unfortunately, the story remains essentially unchanged regardless of which option you choose.
Hogwarts Legacy runs very well and is genuinely beautiful to look at. While the initial few hours are fun and exciting, they become more similar after extended play. There is very little holding power to keep you invested and wanting to see the story and game out to completion.
It could be more enjoyable for a Harry Potter enthusiast for the lore on offer, but as a game, it is quite repetitive, and the story is so underwhelming. Maybe a purchase on sale just to muck about in it.
- Extremely detailed world
- Experimenting with spells is fun
- Ancient magic finishers are hilarious and over the top
- Story wears out early
- Monotonous gameplay
- Exploration gets boring