Hogwarts Legacy launches later this week, and we’ve spent just over 15 hours in the game so far, running around the colossal Hogwarts castle, diving into not-so-forbidden forests, Hogsmeade buys all kinds of magical contraptions and flies around on our trusty broomsticks. We’ll be reviewing the game soon, but from our adventures in and around Hogwarts so far, Hogwarts Legacy looks like a worthy return to the wizarding world. Avalanche Software has somehow distilled all the fondest memories from the Harry Potter books and movies into a Pensieve, capturing the lore and life of Hogwarts Castle. In the process, it also makes for a genuinely fun role-playing game that, despite all the borrowed magic, has its own merits.
While the Hogwarts legacy story goes its own way and has little connection to the world of Harry Potter, the DNA is the same. Much of the first 15 hours is spent on too much hand-holding, but once the castle gates are open, you’re free to explore the surrounding areas of Hogwarts. Whether it’s Hogsmeade and other nearby hamlets, or the enchanting Forbidden Forest, the iconic locations in the books and films make the open world a joy to explore, like a big tasty piece of candy that you can Slowly unpack and enjoy. By my estimate, the game should take about 40 hours to complete (based on my quest and challenge progress) if you’re participating in a healthy amount of spin-offs. A lot is packed into the first 15 hours alone. Here’s what we can tell you about Hogwarts’ legacy:
Return to Hogwarts Castle
The star of the show is, of course, Hogwarts Castle. Not only is it full of things to do and secrets to find, but it’s also recreated in such painstakingly beautiful detail that I often stop and just look at things. From the soaring stained glass windows to the many wandering ghosts; from the swinging staircase to the talking and moving portraits – Hogwarts is genuine fun. It’s also huge! I pride myself on having a preternatural sense of direction, but I often get lost in the halls of Hogwarts. A tap of the D pad will help guide you to your goal, but I encourage players to explore and really discover all that the castle has to offer. The common rooms of the house are all different, faithful to the essence of the house itself. For example, the Gryffindor common room resembles a medieval castle, sprinkled with red and bathed in golden sunlight. Of course, all the classrooms are there, as well as the grand moving staircase, the hall, and even the Room of Requirement, which, as the legend goes, you can shape to suit your needs. The Room of Requirement serves as your base of operations for all your shenanigans. Here, you can make potions, practice your spells, and grow plants and herbs that will aid you in your battles.
witch or wizard
Hogwarts Legacy casts you as a newly admitted fifth-year witch or wizard at the titular wizarding school who just so happens to have a dormant and lost form of magic running in their veins. This knowledge is called “ancient magic”, and only hidden traces remain in the world, and you will find yourself on the trail of it accompanied by your mentor, Professor Figg. But as you soon discover other, more sinister groups, some dark force is at play hunting the same.
The game begins with a character creation screen that offers deep customization options. In addition to the familiar cosmetics, you can choose your house at the Sorting Ceremony, your wand at Ollivander’s Wand, and your broom at Hogsmeade’s Sporting Goods later in the game. Character customization is so powerful that you can choose from multiple pieces of equipment in six categories – Handgear, Facegear, Headgear, Choker, Cloaks and Robes, and Outfits. You can mix and match items to look like a total clown, or if you prefer, you can choose a themed look and dress up as a dark wizard. Your dress code needs have been met. Clothing equipment also has attribute gains. Thankfully, Hogwarts Legacy has had a transmogrification system from the start, so you’re not bound by the aesthetics of your high-quality outfits.
get your wand ready
The battles in Hogwarts Legacy surprised me. While Wand Magic Combat, at least for the first 15 hours of the game, lists a list of familiar spells, we encourage you to experiment with combining them. Fighting enemies in the game is almost like dancing. You can dodge to dodge enemy attacks and fight back with a barrage of spell patterns. You can stun enemies, then lift them into the air, pull them in, and blast them apart with a final burst of heat. Your character also possesses what the game calls “ancient magic”. While ancient magic forms the narrative backbone of Hogwarts’ legacy, it’s also used extensively in gameplay. A telekinesis-like ability lets you hurl heavy objects at enemies, or eliminate them with a single action when your ancient magic gauge is full. The game also offers stealth abilities. You can make yourself invisible, sneak behind an unsuspecting enemy, and use the “Petrificus Totalus” spell – I’m sure Harry Potter fans will know what it does! It’s the familiar stealth game, but the novelty of the wizarding world makes it stand out.
Outside of Hogwarts, the game offers a vast open world with new and familiar locations. The game map is divided into three main sections – Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, and the world map. The Hogwarts area encompasses the titular castle itself and its surrounding grounds. Hogsmeade includes popular places like The Three Broomsticks, The Pig’s Head Inn and Honeydukes. The village shop sells everything you need for your trip and more. The world map extends well beyond the castle and its adjacent lake and village, with multiple regions, each with corresponding enemy levels. Once you get the broom, you can go out and explore all corners of the map. While aerial mounts like the Hippogriff didn’t unlock in my first 15 hours, flying around on a broomstick was a lot of fun. There’s also a nifty fast travel system that ties into the Witcher lore’s Floo network.
get out of class has ended
Hogwarts also has a rich legacy. In true RPG fashion, it lets you do everything you’d expect from an open-world Harry Potter game (except Quidditch, unfortunately). In addition to the main story, you can indulge in side quests, help your Hogwarts classmates, find magical artifacts and pages of knowledge scattered around the world, and even take classes. Taking classes at Hogwarts goes hand in hand with learning new spells, which helps with all your extracurricular activities. You’ll learn to concoct useful concoctions in Potions, basic spells in Spells and Defense Against the Dark Arts, and grow a variety of useful plants in Herbalism. Typically, to learn a new spell, you must complete assignments, which include in-game challenges related to dueling, crafting, and exploration. Progression also includes a talent system where you accumulate points that unlock devastating new spells and abilities. These abilities are spread across five different trees–spells, black magic, core, stealth, and room of response–each of which provides meaningful additions to the gameplay.
The strength of the Hogwarts legacy lies in its details. The menu and UI design, the gizmos on the HUD when completing quests, the common rooms and hallways; all of these work together to make this game not only a faithful recreation of the wizarding world, but a meaningful extension of it . The game features open-world loops we’ve all seen before, but the wizarding world’s twist on them makes them feel novel. The music in the game is reminiscent of the iconic John Williams soundtrack from the film, touching on familiar themes. The Hogwarts legacy is perhaps most important, a new way to experience the world of Harry Potter that might even bring book and movie fans who don’t play video games to its shores.