Looking for a comprehensive Hogwarts Legacy Review? We’ve got you covered! With a lot of hype, Hogwarts Legacy is the latest game set in the Wizarding World created by J. K. Rowling. Set in the 1890s, a world very different from the Harry Potter Series set in the 1990s and Fantastic Beast Series set in the early 1900s.
Developed by Avalanche Software and released in 2023, and published by Portkey Games, this tells the story of a newly enrolled 5th-year student in Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Embarking on his journey to learn the art of magic, but is thrown into a world beyond his understanding and pulled into the goblin rebellion, will our hero learn enough to survive?
Welcome to Hogwarts students! Enter into the world envisioned by J. K. Rowling for the Harry Potter franchise, now reconstructed for a century-earlier tale. The Team at Avalanche Software is probably best known for their work on Disney Infinity, and the video games accompanying Disney Films. Hogwarts Legacy IS so far away from their catalogue of projects it is hard to believe the same studio built the reputation and series of games they have, honestly, Hogwarts is on a different level in comparison. This isn’t a bad thing, for me, this shows so much that the studio must have had to transition through in order to make the dream of the game a reality, it is truly inspiring. This is only made more impressive when you know that the Unreal Games Engine is used to power Hogwarts Legacy. Where you might think that it was built on an in-house engine you would be mistaken, Hogwarts is powered by one of the most intuitive and powerful game engines on the market which is free to use, and it isn’t even Unreal Engine 5.
While we did enjoy the game, we do not support the views of the creator of Harry Potter, does this mean you should not buy the game? No, because the game is pretty good, but we do recommend waiting for it to be on sale, mainly due to the profits of the game being donated to anti-trans organizations. What we do recommend is to donate to pro-trans charities that are active in your country when buying the game, even a tiny bit can help people in need.
Although the game is called Hogwarts Legacy, there is far more than the castle to explore. From the depths of the castle to the dark and treacherous world of the Forbidden Forest, and even Hogsmead and far to the south. When running around the castle you can be mistaken to have a massive map that is sprawling and easy to get lost in, in reality, the world of Hogwarts Legacy is not all that big when you see the world map.
In all truth, the biggest part of the map is the interior of the castle, which is so big and detailed it should really be experienced as images and video don’t do it justice.
Contrary to what you might think, this is not to do with anything about the player’s character really. What we do want to highlight is the amount of ambient life in the world, which makes the world feel really lived in and alive with so much that is going on.
As highlighted in the above image you can actually find Squirrels, and Red Squirrels at that, in the game. This is rather important as England had Red Squirrels until the late 1900s, to see them in the game makes it rather different and interesting. Like the Squirrels, there are plenty of ambient things that breathe life into Hogwarts Legacy from animated suits of armour around the castle to wildlife and magical creatures found in and around the castle.
Most of the game is a Seamless transition between Gameplay and Cut Scenes, and even between areas of the game. Please keep in mind this was written off the PS4 release of the game, and Loadscreens are still present but not as annoying as you might think. What this aspect will focus on is the fact that you can go from Gameplay into conversations, or cutscenes with little difference in immersion. When going to Conversations or interacting with Cats it will flash a Black screen momentarily, but it will resume gameplay pretty well, however. You will be able to move from a Cut Scene to gameplay seamlessly, making the immersion you get pretty good.
With all that being said, there are times when you will hit a loading area where the door will show these little swirling things like those illustrated above.
Unlike in most games where the HUD is in your line of sight a lot of the time Hogwarts Legacy has a more minimalistic HUD. This isn’t anything like Dead Space or anything, it’s more like the elements of the HUD are not distracting to have, and if you find them distracting you can always turn them off.
As you can see from above there is a Minimap with a Quest on the Left Hand Side of the Screen, whereas the Health, Ancient Magic, and Spells are situated at the bottom Right Hand Side of the Screen. There is also the Tracking Marker which can be seen pointing you to your tracked objective. Now this was fine for me, however as stated you can actually turn off the HUD elements in Settings. As highlighted below you can see that most if not all things that are HUD-related can be turned off, including the XP, Damage you deal to enemies, and their health.
Menus, and Customisation Options:
Before starting your adventure, you get bombarded by a multitude of menus and customisation options available to make the game different. There are some that should be highlighted, like the Colourblind Mode, Left Handed, and probably the most interesting Arachnophobia Mode. All of these will alter the way the game works for each user, however, the most important one in this author’s opinion is Arachnophobia Mode. Although this will not be activated for the Author, we feel it necessary to highlight the fact that if you suffer from Arachniphobia you could still play this game. It feels like the team deliberately made accessibility a core mechanic for users, knowing that Spiders would need to be included in the game they didn’t want to limit the player base and instead substitute arachnids out for “Less Frightening Enemies“.
Arachniphobia Mode is all well and good but as highlighted it seems like the developers wanted to keep accessibility for all uses, so colourblind mode is an impressive thing to see in the game. In addition to this, the fact that the key binding settings have been given a lot of freedom feels unique to Hogwarts. The same can be said for the Left Handed Mode. Just because we don’t want to trigger anyone’s Arachniphobia there will not be any visual reference to the creatures, however, for the sake of illustrating the “Less Frightening Enemies” that is put in the game there is an image below.
Although these are powerful settings and how to interact with the game, there are more powerful things to come. This is of course the Character creation and customization options, of which there are a good number.
Really it’s just a good idea to play around and build the character that you would like there is so much to look through it can take a while before you find the right look for your character.
The story is a little hit-and-miss when you start, at first glance the game looks to follow the footsteps of the wizards who came before and put a stop to the Goblin Rebellion. This isn’t entirely inaccurate as they are both storylines that will progress the game, however, they work hand in hand to make the overall campaign.
Most of the time will be to progress your own studies and enhance your knowledge of wizardry while working on finding out about the Ancient Magic of the wizards you are following. Occasionally you get some event that will work to progress the Goblin rebellion path, like the Troll attack on Hogsmeade. That being said, most of the game is a relaxing time where you can explore what Hogwarts has to offer and slowly progress to the end of the campaign.
Graphics, Gameplay, and Mechanics:
Visually the game is stunning, mechanically it can take a little to get into it. The only reason for this is that it is so different to anything else that can be brought to mind. As for the Gameplay, there is so much that can be incorporated into this section it would feel overpowering, the best way to describe it is if you have played any of the Harry Potter games this one feels completely different and unique.
As the image above illustrates, every part of the game has been expertly crafted to make the feel, atmosphere, life, and magic come to life and be the adventure that was expected. That being said this isn’t without some strange and wonderful errors, let’s face it what game releases without bugs and glitches nowadays?
Where this only happened a very small amount of the time it still broke the immersion for me. It’s not to say that is bad but playing through the game felt like it was minutes when in actual fact hours were passing. Other things were minimum like the coat or robe glitching through the characters and so on, however, independent physics rather than animated cloth on the character was the main culprit here. For clarity, there are multiple ways to get the cloth simulation as it does, although it is only the author’s hypothesis that it is physics-based clothing rather than manual animation.
As one might expect, the gameplay is set in the settings. For the purposes of the review, the easiest Story setting was selected, which makes combat pretty simple. There are harder difficulties for those who wish for a challenge, but it seems to only impact the combatant abilities and how to take down combat situations. This isn’t too unexpected as the freedom you have in the game, and the vastness of things to do, like complete collection, explore, or if you wish, battle.
On top of all this, you have the battle mechanics, which is pretty ingenious. Where you need to lock on to the target that you wish to hit, which is nothing new, the ways that you can battle are completely in your hands. From firing off Stupify, to combing spells to make combat easier the possibilities are completely up to you.
This is all well and good but before you can actually cast a spell you will need to unlock it by learning it. This is really rather interesting because you need to use the joystick to trace the pattern that is shown on the screen and when you get to a button press if you press the corresponding button, you can speed up the learning.
It wouldn’t be an RPG-style game if you didn’t get optional conversation points, would it? As highlighted below you can select options to enhance the conversation or gain additional information to better help you understand what to do. Below are the options to pick for the different houses in the Sorting Hat Ceremony.
This one was an interesting mechanic and Gameplay immersion element which helps you navigate. Unlike the Harry Potter games which see you have Nearly Headless Nick taking you around or someone similar, this time you get a Charm that is summoned. While Nick has some nice conversational pieces in The Half-Blood Prince, unfortunately, the Charm will not communicate with you.
Although a lot has been covered there is one more thing that I should point out, which is the Stealth mechanics. Stealth in this sort of game is probably the last thing that you might think of, however, there is a pretty good stealth mechanic using spells or a potion. I have only used the spell thus far but imagine the potion will work the same. The basic idea is to cast the spell and move slowly avoiding enemies or gaining a preemptive attack on them. This came in useful when exploring around and attacking enemies that were far higher level than myself, and it is easy to see this is a good way to get the jump on some of the more irritating combatants.
On the note of attacking higher levelled enemies, unlike some games that would reward you incredibly well for taking out enemies who are out of your league, Hogwarts Legacy will not and it is better to just ignore enemies who are higher-level. The only reason is you get exactly the same EXP for an enemy who is tougher and higher level than you would for someone of the same level. The only thing is you will have a tougher fight but if you play on story mode it’s not all that bad.
The final part of this section that needs some attention brought to it is the fact that your equipment plays a role in how well you actually do in combat, much like in other games. Below are two images that highlight this. The first is the Default loadout highlighting the normal School uniform with 0 Defence and Offence, the second image shows the best gear I obtained after about 3 hours of slow play with 7 Defence and 14 Offence.
It should be noted that if you do not like the appearance of the character with the next items on you can modify the appearance and set it back to the default Hogwarts look.
To summarise Hogwarts Legacy is a rollercoaster of thrills and one of the best games I have played so far in 2023, which is a new launch title. Despite my experience having played this on a PS4 rather than the PS5, it didn’t feel much different that the adventure that I would expect on the PS5. Faster Load/Response times would have been nice but the game hold up on the PS4 remarkably well. As highlighted there are some glitches and bugs but that is to be expected, even though the PS4/ XBOX ONE release just launched and PS5/ XBOX Series users have had access to it for ages.
Above highlights one of the things that was pretty bad at times, however, due to the Technology gap we have seen between the PS4 and PS5 this can actually be overlooked. Basically every now and then I would encounter these blurry or misty textures, all it is, is a resolution glitch and where minor when it constantly occurs it can get a little irritating.
Another thing that was slightly annoying was the difference between the Sorting Ceremony to gameplay. Once I actually stumbled upon the Great Hall this was so apparent. The image below highlights the length of the hall in gameplay, however, it is way too short for the impressive room that it is highlighted to be.
“Harry had never even imagined such a strange and
splendid place. It was lit by thousands and thousands of
candles which were floating in mid-air over four long
tables, where the rest of the students were sitting. These
tables were laid with glittering golden plates and goblets.
At the top of the Hall was another long table where the
teachers were sitting.”
– Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Another thing about this room is the fact of the ceiling. In the Harry Potter Books, the ceiling is an impressive bewitched item that is designed to look like the Sky outside. Where you could argue that the outside sky looked cloudy, it’s hard to believe that it is that way a lot of the time.
“Harry looked upwards and saw a
velvety black ceiling dotted with stars. He heard
Hermione whisper, ‘It’s bewitched to look like the sky
outside, I read about it in Hogwarts: A History .’”
– Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
One thing that did irritate me however was the lack of a Photomode. Where this hasn’t bothered me in the past, and quite honestly I don’t know why it irritated me as much as it did, modern games have come built with a Photomode. The lack of said mode kind of made the game feel like it was missing a core mechanic, where this is not a massive thing and can easily be remedied by the Capture system on the PS4/PS5 a Photomode would have been nice.
Overall the game feels and looks so full it will take hours to go through and find absolutely everything that has been packed into it. Personally, I found that I was distracted far too easily by all the little things around the game, and went off on tangents looking for side quests and collectables.
Looking for more reviews to read? Be sure to visit this page and discover a wide range of informative and insightful reviews. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to gain valuable insights and make informed decisions.