The Wizarding World (Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts) is one of the most successful franchises in the world, with the 11 films collectively grossing over $9.6 Billion. It would always be difficult to turn a beloved franchise and expansive world into a fully-fledged open-world video game, and developers Avalanche Software are no strangers to working with beloved franchises. The studio previously worked on the Disney Infinity series which was successful enough to span 3 games. So how did Avalanche fair with such a difficult task? Find out in our Hogwarts Legacy review.
HOGWARTS LEGACY – STORY
The story takes place at Hogwarts in the late 1800s, around a century before the events of the Harry Potter series. You take control of a wizard or witch who has received a letter confirming their attendance as a fifth-year student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. After a stumbled journey to the Sorting Ceremony with your mentor Professor Fig, you are sorted into your house (yes, you can choose) and your term at Hogwarts begins.
Your character discovers early on that they can see ancient magic, and is targeted by a goblin called Ranrok. Professor Fig and yourself find an ancient chamber below Hogwarts containing four talking portraits that are guarding the secrets of ancient magic against the world. Unfortunately for you, Ranrok the goblin and a dark wizard called Victor Rookwood have teamed up to lead a rebellion against wizards and are on the search for a repository of power.
The main story in Hogwarts Legacy is not where the game excels, unfortunately. It does keep you engaged but it’s not unique or creative in any way. I found the sidequests a lot more captivating than the main quests, which isn’t a bad thing – because there are a lot of them. As with any open-world game, side quests are littered throughout the world map which is broken up into three parts – Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, and World Map.
Your main companions are Professor Fig and two students who you quickly befriend called Sebastian Sallow and Natsai Onai. Both Sebastian and Natsai are very lovable and well-developed characters. Sebastian’s side story was my favourite quest line in the game.
Open-world RPGs are notoriously known for oversaturated maps with a million icons and meaningless side quests (I’m looking at you The Witcher 3 and Assassin’s Creed). I’m happy to say that Hogwarts Legacy has found a happy medium with a stripped-back map and a world that has a lot of detail and depth to it.
The quests around the world are really fun and don’t feel like a ‘filler’ experience. The teachers at Hogwarts give you assignments regularly which unlock cosmetic items and new spells. Speaking of the spells, there are a total of 26 spells in Hogwarts Legacy, including 3 unforgivable curses – Crucio, Imperio, and Avada Kedavra. While these curses are unforgivable, Hogwarts Legacy has no morality system, which I thought was a missed opportunity.
Hogwarts Legacy’s combat is extremely fluid and allows you to approach a fight in many different ways. Some areas allow you to take the stealthy approach, which I thought I would find boring, but it was quite exhilarating sneaking up on an enemy and turning them into stone with the press of a button. The few boss battles in the game can be really challenging if you aren’t brewing potions or growing magical plants to aid you in battle.
I would have preferred a little more variety in the enemies during the main storyline though, with most encounters being goblins, dark wizards, spiders, and the occasional troll, but the encounters were spread out enough not to feel too dull.
A mechanic I was most excited about is flying on a broom. It feels perfect. It is definitely my favourite way to traverse the map. Quidditch has conveniently been cancelled during your year at Hogwarts which I think was the only thing I was genuinely disappointed about. That being said, Avalanche has masterfully recreated the world we have loved for years, with many iconic locations taken straight out of the films.
GRAPHICS AND PERFORMANCE
It would be a disservice to criticise Hogwarts Legacy’s graphics. While not the most beautiful game on the PlayStation 5, the art design is extremely complimentary and faithful to The Wizarding World. The map is sprawling with beautiful landscapes which look even more amazing 200 metres in the air on a broomstick.
During my playthrough, there was only one part toward the end of the game where my framerates dropped significantly. Other than that, the PlayStation 5 runs the game really well, which raises the question of how the Switch is going to run this game. It’s a beefy game, so hopefully the quality isn’t compromised by Nintendo’s outdated hardware.
The Harry Potter films have very iconic soundtracks and Hogwarts Legacy continues this trend with an immersive and melodious soundtrack that never fails to disappoint during the 25-30 hour playthrough. Chuck E. Myers returns to collaborate as lead composer with Avalanche Software after previously working on Disney Infinity with the development studio. Peter Murray (Quest for Love) and J Scott Rakozy (Hereditary) also make contributions to the soundtrack which is a solid addition to The Wizarding World.
The game includes fantastic performances by Lesley Nicol (Downton Abbey), Moira Quirk (Destiny 2, Saints Row), Jason Anthony (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, The Lego Movie 2), and Simon Pegg (The Boys, Shaun of the Dead). The cast is a lot more diverse than the books and films were with different ethnicities present throughout the game which is always pleasing to see.
HOGWARTS LEGACY – THE VERDICT
Hogwarts Legacy is a beautifully crafted love letter to The Wizarding World that we all know and love. The fluid combat combined with an engaging experience cements Hogwarts Legacy’s place as a Game of the Year contender. While drawn back by the absence of a morality system and Quidditch, it really is hard to fault an experience this polished.
Hogwarts Legacy is now available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.