Scores of witches and wizards have been craving an immersive Wizarding World experience ever since their first page or frame in JK Rowling’s fantastic Harry Potter series. It’s a world that effortlessly invokes curiosity, imagination, and captivation. With that said, any video game that attempts to capture the ephemeral magic of a Hogwarts adventure has a lot to live up to. From Potterheads that know their house and wand specs by heart to casual fans who love the whimsical and wicked nature of the Wizarding World, Hogwarts Legacy is the game we’ve all been waiting for.
Hogwarts Legacy is Avalanche Software’s single-player open-world RPG adventure set in an 1800s Hogwarts valley, which encompasses the castle, Hogsmeade, surrounding hamlets, and much more. It is the game you immediately wanted right after you finished watching or reading the Harry Potter series. To get lost in the ever-changing halls of Hogwarts, to let Lumos guide you deeper into the Forbidden Forest, to ride a broomstick over the rolling hills on your way from the castle to Hogsmeade, all of this and more is possible in Hogwarts Legacy.
After completing the main story of the game and getting a taste of everything Hogwarts Legacy has to offer (which is a lot), I can confidently say that this game is excellent. Though it’s not without its flaws, the overall offer of a personalized Hogwarts adventure that you get to write is captured with Hogwarts Legacy. The best Hogwarts experience ever made is finally here.
Yer a Wizard/Witch – The Story and Pacing
Hogwarts Legacy wastes no time with introductions. You pick your preferred graphics option, create your character, receive your letter to Hogwarts, and get in the carriage. We all know why we are here, which is why Avalanche Software thrusts you into the castle selecting your house as soon as possible, all while laying the foundation for its unique standalone story.
The grandeur and shrouded mystery of the plot mixed with the lunacy of a class of fifth years meddling in affairs far beyond their pay grade is unequivocally Harry Potter inspired. While the main story of Hogwarts Legacy does have some enjoyable quests and puzzles, the plot itself is easily the weakest part of Hogwarts Legacy. It’s not bad by any means, it just can be repetitive and predictable.
On the flip side, the side quests and activities that feature fellow students and characters outside the castle walls are deviously distracting in the best way possible. The main plot of Hogwarts Legacy is all well and good, but the whole Hogwarts experience is found as you help Poppy hunt down poachers that captured a dragon, attend classes that teach you how to use Mandrakes, and defeat powerful magic wielders found deep in dark dungeons.
The pace at which you unlock and explore the world of Hogwarts Legacy is expertly crafted. Instead of throwing you into an endless ocean of spells, collectibles, potions, plants, home decor, beast farming, combat, dungeons, gear upgrades, flying, and exploration, Avalanche Software ingenuously threads you along a trail of perfectly placed breadcrumbs that expand your knowledge of what Hogwarts Legacy offers and how to engage with it. The downside to that is you won’t unlock broomstick riding for a while, but if you plan on sticking with Hogwarts Legacy for a full term, you’ll appreciate the digestible pace that isn’t too painstakingly slow and isn’t too overwhelmingly fast. With Hogwarts Legacy, there is a lot to chew on, so eat slowly; savor every dick.
Expelliarmus! – The Gameplay
As mentioned previously, Hogwarts Legacy is a big game filled with lots of activities. While this can be a red flag in video games, the open world, Hogsmeade, and Hogwarts castle are filled with engaging activities, including puzzles that, while repetitive, manage to feel fresh and satisfying because they are bite-sized, focus on inviting you further into the world, and make you feel like a master sorcerer/sorceress. Best of all, the rewards for these puzzles skirt past being a mere collectathon because they are always gameplay-forward. Some examples of useful rewards for completing puzzles are increased gear storage, decorations, new outfits, and, yes, even XP.
Because of the all-encompassing nature of life at Hogwarts, there are a lot of things Hogwarts Legacy could have been, an MMO, a life-sim, or a sports game just to name a few. While each of those games would have all been fantastic in their own right, Avalanche Software casts a wide and confident net with Hogwarts Legacy which manages to capture almost all of what makes the Wizarding World special. Unfortunately, Hogwarts Legacy doesn’t include everything, namely Quidditch, romance options, and multiplayer, but what it does have is expansive, well-designed, and, as the British say, quite moreish.
Generally though, Hogwarts Legacy is greater than the sum of its parts. While each gameplay mechanic is momentarily fun in its own right, the entire Hogwarts experience when wrapped together in a bow is an absolute banquet for one.
The Gameplay Loops
If you’re sad about what Hogwarts Legacy doesn’t include, know that there are so many delectable gameplay mechanics and loops to engage with that all overlap in practical ways. First, you’ll discover how to make potions which will aid you in battle. Then, you’ll discover how to grow magical plants that will grant you ingredients for your potions. You’ll constantly be learning new spells as you complete challenges and attend new classes which will help you solve more puzzles. Then you get the Room of Requirement which you can fully customize — walls, doors, floors, colors, styles, everything — with decorations found from completed puzzles and chests you’ll find with your new spells. You’ll also unlock a vivarium which is where you can keep your very own beast habitat in which you’ll be able to name and take care of beasts rescued in the open world who will reward you with ingredients for better potions. Every gameplay element influences each other in a way that makes doing anything in Hogwarts Legacy feel extremely gratifying.
Though there is so much to engage with, exploration in Hogwarts Legacy is a fulfilling gameplay experience in itself. Hogwarts Legacy lets you fly around anywhere you want on broomstick or on a magical beast which is all I’ve ever wanted in a Hogwarts game. Swooshing silently between the autumn trees is something I won’t get sick of any time soon.
The game also has a long tail thanks to the level of player expression. Along with all of the other interesting gameplay loops, sinking countless hours into customizing the perfect Room of Requirement with the best designs and decorations isn’t hard to do. Because Hogwarts Legacy has Sims, the Chao Garden, and fun flying mechanics similar to Horizon Forbidden West, people will be playing Hogwarts Legacy for many years to come.
Something that is key to every gameplay mechanic in Hogwarts Legacy is the awareness of player freedom. Right when combat becomes a bit exhausting, you can freely change the pace by engaging in a puzzle, hunting for some beasts, decorating your Room of Requirement, or learning a new spell. If you’re growing tired of a particular aspect of the game, you can at any point try something else. The exponential freedom that you have in Hogwarts Legacy with its many layers of gameplay is exciting and genuinely addictive.
One of the most skeptical elements of Hogwarts Legacy is the combat which has turned out to be surprisingly fun. While casting carefully chosen spells to break enemy shields is enjoyable both visually and mechanically, the true joy of combat comes when you combine what you’ve learned in Herbology, Potions, and Defense Against the Dark Arts. Whether you are countering a spell with Protego and Stupefy, throwing out a Venomous Tentacula to deal some extra damage, or focusing on completing the combat-specific dueling feats, combat is definitely not a weak point for Hogwarts Legacy.
The only downside to the combat in Hogwarts Legacy is that the big mini-bosses and bosses you encounter throughout the story can gum up the forward flow of combat because they are so spongey. Casting the same basic attack spell over and over while you wait for your powerful spells to cool down is great when you are creatively dispatching multiple enemies at a rapid clip, but it’s not great when you’re sinking spell after spell into a boss that is seemingly immune to everything until that last spell that finally drains its health completely.
Welcome Home – The Art, Characters, Music, and Setting
On PlayStation 5, Hogwarts Legacy looks breathtaking. Never before has it been so important to nail presentation and Hogwarts Legacy really delivers with not only its graphical fidelity and steady performance, but also with its world layout, cosmetics, and music that accurately captures the source material while expanding in a way that only a studio full of loving fans could.
The Hogwarts castle is accurate and interesting on a macro and micro level. On your first day of classes, you’ll not only get lost but you’ll also lose yourself as you become fully immersed in every little detail. Ghosts dance the halls, students whisper rumors, and portraits move. Each common room, hallway, and classroom is flooded with interesting details from the books and movies. Also, the tailored common rooms make each house feel distinct which makes your Hogwarts experience feel one-of-a-kind.
There is a colorful cast of characters that you’ll meet as you play through Hogwarts Legacy that are all charming and believable thanks to great performances and visuals. Some of the characters play a bigger role than others, but you’ll be able to interact with all of them and roleplay your responses to make friends or enemies with whomever you want. Each house has its own ensemble of quirky students that work to make Hogwarts Legacy feel like a legit school.
As discussed, there are many gameplay loops to enjoy, but one of the main ones that I’ve left out is styling your character. The character creation is great, but what is truly amazing is the sheer amount of fashion choices you’ll have in Hogwarts Legacy. Though you’ll cycle through better gear as you come across it, you can always set your gear’s appearance to whatever you want. The clothing animations are fantastic and the options are aplenty.
Avalanche Software has done it — the comfort, the nostalgia, the freshness, the thrill — everything in Hogwarts Legacy emulsifies together to create a celebration of what the Wizarding World is and what the fans have always dreamed of. This is by far the best Wizarding World video game to ever come out and stands with a select few games that prove more is more.
Every aspect of Hogwarts Legacy overflows with love, dedication, and admiration. This one’s for the fans, but for those who don’t have any ties to Hogwarts or the Wizarding World, Hogwarts Legacy is a phenomenal game that has a lot of great “somethings for everyone.”
This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game’s publisher, public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.
– This article was updated on February 9th, 2023