Hogwarts Legacy review | I have seen all the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies a couple of times. I have tattoos from the sorting hat, a mandrake, a dementor, and deathly Hallows. I even read the Harry Potter books and I hate reading books! So yeah, I’m a huge fan. Hogwarts Legacy has been my most anticipated game since it was announced. The world is so rich, it is the perfect playground to make a video game. Avalance Software, known for Disney Infinity is the developer behind Hogwarts Legacy. After the toys-to-life market declined, Disney the former publisher of Avalance closed the studio but Warner Bros acquired and re-opened the studio in 2017. I was a bit stressed about the developer, going from Disney Infinity to something as massive as Hogwarts Legacy is a huge difference. The spellcasting, exploring everything that the Harry Potter franchise has to offer, and magical gameplay. After I started playing I was reassured in the first ten minutes, it didn’t take long before I realized that the developer completely nailed the atmosphere, gameplay possibilities, and characters. This is truly the RPG fans of the wizarding world have been looking forward to. We Potterheads that hoped for a good Harry Potter game have had a lot to deal with, Harry Potter for Kinect or that awful EA Sports Quidditch game… remember those? I’m so happy to say that Hogwarts Legacy is leagues ahead of those two unspeakable games! But all the magic from Hogwarts didn’t blind me, the game has a few shortcomings too but you will read about that in our Hogwarts Legacy review!
Important message regarding J.K. Rowling.
I am personally saddened by J.K Rowling’s words and actions regarding the rights of transgender people. If our review for Hogwarts Legacy hurts you in any way we apologize for that. The decision to cover this game was solely made by me. As I believe that the developers from Avalanche should not be punished for the actions of J.K Rowling. The game is a representation of a dev. team and our review is based on that, and not on the beliefs of J.K.
|Publisher||Warner Bros. Games|
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on Twitter!
What we Liked!
- I Levioso’d and Incendio’d my way into combat | Hogwarts Legacy is exactly how I hoped it would be with spellcasting, it isn’t as fluid and impressive looking as the multiplayer action game Spellbreak though. So that’s still the king when it comes to spellcasting but Hogwarts Legacy comes close. You begin with a simple but effective basic spell that fires a bolt of magic that deals small damage to enemies (R2-button). Right from the start you know how to defend yourself with Protego, another simple to-cast spell (the Y-button). If you time that one when an enemy attacks you cast Stupefy stunning the enemy and dealing a bit of damage. Things become more complex and fun when you learn more spells from attending classes. I loved learning the spells I recognized from the movies, Accio or Bombarda. Knowing how to mix your spells with the basic spell attacks is essential to do some devastating damage. You can pull an enemy towards you with Accio, deal a few basic spell attacks, cast Levioso so your opponent stays stunned, do basic spells again and finish him off with an Incendio to deal fire damage. In case you are wondering, you can use unforgivable curses too. I’m honestly unsure how I feel about that as the game doesn’t really punish you for using them. Avada Kedavra has a silly long cooldown, making it balanced. It indeed kills a lower-levelled enemy instantly and deals great proportions of damage to others. Crucio and Imperio are available too, especially Imperio is useful for gaining an ally in a challenging combat situation. Learning and using the three Unforgivable Curses are completely optional, so remaining ‘a good wizard or witch’ for moral reasons is possible. Before I started playing Hogwarts Legacy my plan was to do exactly that but that original plan was thrown into the bin, as there is one more important mechanic that I haven’t explained yet for the spellcasting combat. Ancient magic! With essence, that you earn by completing combos on enemies you can deal insanely powerful ancient magic that instantly finishes an enemy. The ancient magic is clearly so deadly that I didn’t bother with my original idea to not use unforgivable curses, your ancient magic spells are exactly that too.
- Stunning visuals | Hogwarts Legacy is pretty to look at. Outside and inside is full of highly-detailed magical details. The most impressive visual experience for me was the dark forbidden forest, it truly felt like a real and creepy forest. Obviously, the interior of Hogwarts is an impressive feat too but I did start to notice all the hidden loading parts. Characters are highly detailed, occasionally things sometimes go wrong with clothing and hair but that’s easily forgiven considering the scale of the environments. You really start to appreciate the work of the developers when you unlock the ability to fly on a broom. Seeing Hogwarts while flying high-speed next to it will likely remain my best visual experience of 2023. The real magic in this magical game is how immersive the experience is, every corner has something new to see. The art and assets of Hogwarts Legacy are incredible, you constantly see new stuff. You never seem to watch the same things twice, every room is completely different, every hallway features a new moving painting, and every simple object seems to be made with hours and hours of magical love. It can be easily said in one sentence: The representation is everything I ever wanted from a Harry Potter game.
- Exploring Hogwarts | I eagerly wasted a few hours petting cats and exploring everything that was familiar from the books and movies. Developer Avalance cleverly added collectables that are revealed by the spell Revelio. This reveals concealed objects, creatures, plants, and people or in Hogwarts Legacy’s case information about objects found in Hogwarts. The magical castle is full of rooms and secret paths that are adorable to discover. It really calls on my love for the Harry Potter franchise when I visit all the different classrooms. A blast through my movie memories to explore them myself, classrooms like defence against the dark arts or herbology is such a wonderful thing to see. Or what about the Room of Requirement, a room that you can entirely change with everything you might need? This is so perfectly implemented into the game, here you can quickly make your potions or do some potting and change the entire look of the place. Lovely stuff! So yeah, even if the fight against Rankrok is an important one you won’t be able to resist exploring the huge castle and uncovering everything it has to offer. Especially the little foreshadowing easter eggs you’ll be able to find about the story between Harry and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
- Exploring Hogsmeade village & more | My inner Harry Potter fanboy went crazy in Hogwarts but went completely loco when I could visit Hogsmeade. Looking at the gorgeous Hogwarts from outside was definitely a reason but actually being able to walk inside stores that I read so much about. The Magic Neep, Zonko’s, The Three Broomsticks or Ollivander’s. It is all so heartwarming as a fan to finally be able to see it all in a massive video game. The love from the developer for the Harry Potter world is clear from the very beginning, this is made by and for fans of the wizarding world. Fans and newcomers can spend hours and hours exploring what Hogwarts Legacy has to offer. There is so much more than only the castle and village, the forbidden forest or one of the many familiar place names are all waiting for you. They could have just left it at that but Avalance went even further. You’ll notice that places are never the same. Other students will have different conversations (that are actually funny to follow!), I’ve seen students steal items and be thrown out, ghosts coming in and out doing all kinds of silly things, decorations change regularly or students petrifying themself by accident.
- Gotta Catch ‘Em All! ̶P̶o̶k̶é̶m̶o̶.̶.̶.̶ Hogwarts Legacy! | You get the option to tame beasts in Professor Howin’s beast class. With the help of the Vivarium you can tame 12 different beasts. Rename them, let them breed or collect magical items from them. I felt like a new Newt Scamander and that’s by far one of my favourite things to do in Hogwarts Legacy. You have to keep your pets feed and entertained. I’m not going to spoil what all the possible beasts are but I do have to warn you about one of them… the Mooncalf. Why? They are so ridiculously cute. Some of them are mountable too!
- Gameplay is so addictive | Combat is part of why the gameplay is so much fun but there is so much more that makes Hogwarts Legacy great. The first time you pot a Mandrake or find and figure out Merlin’s puzzles is another big reason why you’ll love this game so much. There’s no hand-holding here, sometimes you’ll really scratch your head on how to solve something. But that’s an essential part of the Harry Potter experience, how do you use your magical abilities to solve an impossible task? Brewing potions, patiently spending time growing plants to use them in combat or searching for chests you might have missed. At times Hogwarts Legacy can’t be purer when it comes to a video game, it creates a feeling of awe and nothing seems impossible. I could write a few more I liked parts about things you can do but please be sure to discover them yourself!
- Voice actors | Every dialogue is completely voiced in Hogwarts Legacy, from smaller NPCs who throw you a line or two to professors that teach you the art of magic. On a few occasions, I felt that the picked voice actor didn’t match the actual character. Even one of the more important side characters, Professor Fig sounds much younger than he looks. We’re in a magical world so everything can easily be explained in terms of spells but things like that brought me out of my concentration. Especially as some voices are really badly picked, for example, the tavern lady in Hog’s Head pub. I can only say bad things about the casting as the actual performances are good.
- A decent but confusing story with a detached protagonist | Your self-made character enters Hogwarts as a latecomer. You start your witchcraft and wizardry school in the fifth year. Your magical adventure begins with Professor Fig, a lovely wizard that becomes one of your important side characters. Things go wrong rather fast and it immediately becomes clear that Fig is a capable wizard. Not much time passes when it becomes clear that you are a powerful wizard or witch too, you have the unique ability to see and use ancient magic. For this reason, dark forces are hunting you and even Hogwarts isn’t safe. Hogwarts Legacy uses the things fans love about Harry Potter and twists them a little to bring something unique to a story. You’ll start to adore all the characters and some of the setpieces are truly memorable. However, I wasn’t entirely convinced and often felt a little confused. My main reason was that I started to think it simply wasn’t possible that someone started so late with magic and could easily catch up with others. I know that sounds silly in a world with flying cars, teleporting house elves and talking paintings…
- Why walk if you can fly? | What would a wizard game be without flying on a broom? You have that ability relatively early on in the game. And yes! You can even play some mini-games and do races on a broom! If you wait a few hours you can ride magical beasts too. Watching the world from a higher place really shows how beautiful Hogwarts Legacy really is, there are a few reasons why I had to place this part in the mixed feelings though. My first real disappointed feeling started when I realised I couldn’t land at Hogwarts castle, immediately destroying my hope to find secret passageways by flying. Secondly, I guess for technical limitations you can’t fly around at Hogsmeade. A magical cloud of some sort prevents you from entering the village by broom.
- Clearly, the game had Quidditch but this was ditched somewhere during development. | I’m pretty sure this was the original idea as the Quidditch stadium is available, you have a Quidditch shop in Hogsmeade and the broom flying was clearly designed for more. Somewhere during the beginning of the game, the Hogwarts headmaster Phineas Nigellus Black mentions why the season of Quidditch is cancelled by some lame accident. This is such a crucial part of the franchise that I really missed this as a fully-fletched mini-game. And no, I’m never launching that failed EA sports game again. All signs point that it was originally planned to be in the game, sadly it is nowhere to be seen.
What we Disliked
- Selecting the spells | Remember that maze from the movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? I felt as lost as Harry whenever I wanted to change my spell selection. You can pick four spells on your spell wheel, assigned to each face button + R2. You can unlock another spell wheel in your talents menu to have quick access to four other spells, so that’s eight potential spells that you can immediately cast. With the press of a button, you can see all 31 available spells and assign them on the spell wheel but I started to feel that I was wasting my time looking for whatever spell I needed. Enemies can shield them with a Protego shield that can only be broken by a specific spell (or colour). By the time I learned to use my additional spell wheel for utility spells like Disillusionment and Reparo so everything offensive was packed together. I was still struggling a bit when I was surrounded by multiple enemies that used different Protego shields. Finding the required spell took more effort than it should be.
How long to beat the story | 35 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | 100 hours
You’ll love this game if you like these | Spellbreak or Skyrim
Hogwarts Legacy is truly what I dream about as a Harry Potter fan. Exploring a magical world, learning how to use magic or seeing unbelievable things. Developer Avalance created something as magical as the Harry Potter movies… a game with limitless possibilities.
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