Hogwarts Legacy Review
Ever since the Harry Potter franchise exploded in popularity in the late 90s, fans have been dreaming of getting their Hogwarts letter and visiting the magical school for their own adventures. That’s possible now thanks to Hogwarts Legacy, an open world Harry Potter action-RPG that sends players to Hogwarts as fifth-year students with peculiar abilities.
After creating their character, Hogwarts Legacy players are thrust into the Wizarding World with an exciting opening cut-scene that establishes the game’s core mystery and introduces some of its principal characters. Hogwarts Legacy players take on the role of a new Hogwarts student who has a strange connection to a powerful form of ancient magic. They find themselves mentored by Professor Fig, who aims to help them solve the mystery behind their unique abilities. In the meantime, players have to attend classes at Hogwarts, deal with the threat of a goblin rebellion, and master a variety of helpful spells.
Hogwarts Legacy wastes little time getting players their first spells, which include the basic Lumos to light dark areas and Levioso to levitate objects. While spells are used to great effect in combat, they really shine when used for puzzle solving. Some of the most fun in Hogwarts Legacy is figuring out which spell one needs to use to get through an obstacle, whether it’s fixing a broken bridge using Repairo, casting Alohomora to pick locks, or using Revelio to find secret paths. The dungeons in the game feature all kinds of puzzles that require using multiple spells to solve, and so it’s necessary for players to remember everything they have at their disposal.
There have been some concerns that Hogwarts Legacy’s relatively low number of spells compared to other games would be a problem, but that’s not the case at all. Hogwarts Legacy has 23 spells, with players able to have up to 16 equipped at any given time. This gives players a lot of options when flinging spells in duels and general combat. Hogwarts Legacy combat is an exhilarating test of quick thinking and strategy, with players having to act fast to evade incoming attacks while also keeping their combos up. It’s fun experimenting with the spells and discovering which ones work best together. For example, players can make an enemy float with Levioso, pull them forward with Accio, hit them with a few basic spells, send them flying into the air with Bombarda, and then yank them face-first to the ground with Descendo, all in a matter of seconds. It’s possible to win battles by simply spamming spells, but those that mix things up and try for clever combos are going to have a blast with most combat encounters.
Hogwarts Legacy combat is fun most of the time, but it’s not perfect. The boss fights in Hogwarts Legacy are dull and repetitive, while the troll fights are downright obnoxious. Trolls in Hogwarts Legacy are spell-sponges with absurdly large health bars, especially later in the game, and so the battles against them can turn into 10 to 15-minute affairs. Players encounter different types of trolls in Hogwarts Legacy, but they mostly have the same move sets, so the fights against them quickly become routine and boring. Luckily, there’s a way Hogwarts Legacy players can speed up these troll fights considerably. Once players know Avada Kedavra, aka the Killing Curse, they can end the troll fights in the two seconds it takes to cast the spell.
Besides the standard spells that players learn from their teachers at Hogwarts, Hogwarts Legacy also lets players learn the three Unforgivable Curses: Crucio, Imperio, and Avada Kedavra. Crucio lets players torture their opponents, whereas Imperio lets them control their enemies. There are no real consequences for utilizing Unforgivable Curses, and in fact, Avada Kedavra is necessary to make some of the later fights in the game more tolerable. The developers didn’t want to give Hogwarts Legacy a morality system, but it may have given more weight to whenever players decide to use one of these overpowered spells in battle.
Anyone interested in obtaining all the Unforgivable Curses in Hogwarts Legacy will need to complete one of the game’s companion quests. Three of the four Hogwarts Houses have their own representative companion character with their own side quests and distinct story to follow. These quests often reward players with new gear and spells, so they are certainly worth pursuing, though it’s odd that Ravenclaw is left out of the mix when it comes to having a proper companion side quest.
Regardless, the companion quests are only one type of side quest in Hogwarts Legacy. Hogwarts Legacy is absolutely stuffed with side quests, and while most of them are serviceable, the game’s quest design is easily its weakest point. Many quests in Hogwarts Legacy, unfortunately, involve a lot of fast-traveling from one area to another, talking to characters, and then following said characters around waiting for the action to start. Most of the side quests in Hogwarts Legacy amount to little more than busywork, with the developers clearly taking a quantity over quality approach. These problems plague the main quests too, but to a lesser extent, and in general, the main story path offers a lot more variety.
Something that hurts the pacing of all the Hogwarts Legacy quests is the sheer amount of talking in the game. The voice acting is great for the most part, but the dialogue is excessive. Hogwarts Legacy is a game that may have benefited from using a silent protagonist, as the main character doesn’t have much in the way of a discernible personality and cutting out their pointless dialogue (which usually amounts to “Yes, I agree” or “No, I don’t agree” with more words) would have sped things up considerably.
Hogwarts Legacy’s quest design may leave something to be desired, and the repetitive boss fights are a letdown, but that’s not to say that the game still isn’t an absolute must-play for Harry Potter fans. Once Hogwarts Legacy players get their broom and are let loose in the open world, the game becomes near-impossible to put down. Flying in Hogwarts Legacy is incredible, with the developers nailing the flying mechanics so it’s easy to do and more importantly, fun. Soaring above the trees and zipping across the school grounds on a broom never gets old.
Hogwarts Legacy’s open world is much bigger than many may have expected. Players have the entirety of Hogwarts, Hogsmeade village with plenty of interior areas, and the vast grounds that surround the school to explore. There is a definite “wow” moment when players realize how big the map truly is. In typical open-world fashion, the Hogwarts Legacy map is peppered with activities for players to complete, and while not all of these activities are particularly engaging, one can’t complain about having a lack of things to do in the game.
The activities in Hogwarts Legacy include everything from dungeon crawling to clearing out spider nests to catching magical beasts like they were Pokemon. Some time after players gain access to their customizable Room of Requirement, they are given the ability to capture beasts, which can then be sold or kept for breeding and resource farming purposes.
Some of the magical creatures in Hogwarts Legacy can serve as mounts, but they all have another purpose as well. Hogwarts Legacy players can care for their magical creatures by brushing and feeding them to get crafting materials that can be used to upgrade gear. These upgrades are very important in late-game fights, as they allow players to outfit their clothing with items that significantly buff spells and provide other benefits.
Gear in Hogwarts Legacy functions the same as it does in many looter games, with items color-coded by rarity and players regularly finding new gear to replace their equipment. One potential problem with having a system like this in Hogwarts Legacy is it forces players to wear items that do not match what a Hogwarts student traditionally wears, which can break the immersion. However, Hogwarts Legacy gives players the option to equip items and enjoy their stats without actually displaying them on their character. This way, players can play through all of Hogwarts Legacy in traditional school robes and not have to walk around with dorky-looking hats simply because they have better stats.
Hogwarts Legacy players will spend their time in the game collecting better gear, caring for their magical beasts, growing plants, brewing potions, completing quests, racing brooms, hunting down collectibles, exploring dungeons, and a lot more. There’s so much to do in the game that it really ran the risk of collapsing in on itself or feeling half-baked, but everything is polished to a sheen. Whereas many open-world games are plagued with bugs and technical issues, we ran into zero major problems during our time with Hogwarts Legacy.
Hogwarts Legacy is absolutely massive, but it should be pointed out that the story is not quite as long as expected. Our initial playthrough of Hogwarts Legacy took about 20 hours, and that was with completing all the main story quests and many side quests. So it doesn’t take 35 hours to beat Hogwarts Legacy as has been claimed, but fully completing the game is still going to be a huge undertaking for anyone that tries it.
Something else that should be clarified in case anyone is confused about what exactly Hogwarts Legacy is – it’s not really a Hogwarts student simulator that some may have wanted. Going to classes, learning spells, and generally living out one’s life at Hogwarts is all a fairly controlled, linear experience. In fact, players actually spend a great deal of time outside Hogwarts, and their status as a student is basically a plot device. This approach might be disappointing to some Harry Potter fans, but rest assured that it’s still a top-tier gaming experience.
Players may not always feel like they are actually a student at Hogwarts, but they will still have a great time exploring the castle and surrounding areas. The developers did a tremendous job bringing Hogwarts castle to life, perfectly capturing the aesthetic of the Harry Potter franchise. Combined with the recognizable Harry Potter musical score, Avalanche has cultivated a special atmosphere that will leave franchise fans completely engrossed. One could spend hours simply walking through the school and taking in the sights. The Great Hall is particularly breathtaking in the game’s fall and winter months, so players should make sure they visit there when they can.
Avalanche has created something truly special with Hogwarts Legacy. It succeeds at being the dream Harry Potter game that many fans were hoping for, and if nothing else, it creates a rock-solid foundation for future Wizarding World games to be built upon. Hogwarts Legacy lives up to the hype, and we can confidently say it’s the best thing to come out of the Harry Potter franchise since the original books and movies.
Hogwarts Legacy launches February 10 for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X, April 4 for PS4 and Xbox One, and July 25 for Nintendo Switch. Today Technology was provided with a PS5 code for this review.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Legacy Reviewed on PlayStation 5Hogwarts Legacy is a single player action role playing game developed by Avalanche Software. Set in the Wizarding World universe, players will experience life as a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry while also exploring an open world filled with other iconic locations.