Hogwarts Legacy is a new fantasy action adventure RPG from Avalanche Software and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. It puts you in the robes of a new student at the magical Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – yes, the SAME school attended by Harry Potter and Co. Hogwarts Legacy is set in the late 1800’s as to not step on the toes of any of the Harry Potter books or cinematic universe properties. It features an original story where you are put front and center. In a world where Harry Potter games have been decidedly kid-targeted, Hogwarts Legacy is the first “real” Harry Potter video game designed just as much for adults as teens. Does Hogwarts Legacy take the Golden Snitch or does it get lost in the Forbidden Forest? Read on to find out!
Visually, Hogwarts Legacy is beautifully rendered and more than a handful of times I had to stop and setup some screen captures during my play through. From breath taking sunsets with Hogwarts looming in the foreground to some young witches and wizards flying magical kites from their wands. Once I unlocked the flying mechanic of the game, I spent a lot of time exploring the exterior of the castle and the Quidditch pitch. This game is a real looker – even the stylized character design works perfectly. When coupled with the top notch voice acting, I very rarely skipped ahead through dialog scenes. Performances are terrific and cast members include Simon Pegg, Luke Youngblood, and Amelia Gething just to name a few.
Truth be told, the open world design and gameplay mechanics of Hogwarts Legacy are not really anything new. The counter system (in this case, casting the Protego charm) is reminiscent of the Arkham games while the challenges and side quests located around the very large map are similar to most third person action RPGs these days. The brilliance of Hogwarts Legacy is how it flawlessly combines all of these game mechanics with J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. Hogwarts Legacy keeps adding new elements and mechanics as you progress through the game’s chapters. I mentioned Quidditch before and it is worth stating that the sport of wizardkind is sadly missing from Hogwarts Legacy. The game explains the reason for its absence, but it is missed. Whether or not Warner Bros and Avalanche release it is a DLC remains to be seen.
The main storyline of Hogwarts Legacy fits right in with the Wizarding World and will take you on an epic journey. One minor gripe I had with the game is that you don’t get the option of bringing along a companion during your journeys unless it is scripted within a quest. The Harry Potter movies work so well because of the supporting friends that accompany Harry on his journey. It would have been nice to have another witch or wizard along with you during the day to day stuff and side quests. I played through Hogwarts Legacy in the course of a couple weeks, with doing side quests and enjoying the entire experience. I sorted into Gryffindor and would love to play the game a second time going full “dark wizard”. When I get the chance, I definitely will.
The game has a heavy focus on diversity and inclusion – going as far as not allowing you to choose male or female pronouns (or gender) during character creation. You do get to select “witch” or “wizard” in the process but, no matter what, characters will refer to you as “they”. More on character creation – it is excellent in terms of physical design of one’s virtual avatar. A multitude of skin tones, body types, hair styles, makeup designs, and facial scars can be applied (and even changed at the equivalent of a wizarding world barber shop later on). There is also an incredibly diverse cast of characters in the game and I couldn’t think of a particular race or sexual orientation that was not represented in some way. Whatever your feelings on J.K. Rowling’s statements on trans individuals, Avalanche Software is going above and beyond with its inclusivity.
Overall, Hogwarts Legacy is an amazing game experience that puts YOU in the role of a Hogwarts Student. It’s absolutely fantastic – now they just need to get Quidditch working!