Disclaimer: This is a video game review for Hogwarts Legacy. Not a commentary on anything else, no talk about the original creator or her views. I feel it is important to state that at the beginning. As many people know, Hogwarts Legacy comes with a lot of baggage. I will not be talking about that baggage today. I will not be making a judgment of this game based on the many outside factors that have found their way into so many other reviews. Is that the right way to do this? No idea, but it is my way. Now, wands at the ready.
Starting Hogwarts Legacy, I quickly forgot about Harry Potter and his pals and found myself instead simply living in their world, albeit one that’s about a hundred years before Harry set foot in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The story drew me in instantly and gave off similar vibes to the books and movies. The game starts with a bang that immediately pulls you into the world; hopping into a carriage to go to school, only to be attacked by a dragon, transported by portkey to Gringotts Wizarding Bank, and being chased by evil goblins in the first half hour of Hogwarts Legacy was a trip. Hogwarts Legacy holds onto the feel of the books and films set well after this game, but still finds a way to add new lore that feels like it belongs in this world. I thought that with Hogwarts Legacy being an open-world game, the story would take a backseat, but I was glad to see that was not the case.
The attention to detail was something I found a lot of joy in. For example, early on, you find yourself riding in a carriage that appears it’s not being pulled by anything. Nothing out of the ordinary in this world. But, once you witness someone dying, you then see that it wasn't being pulled by nothing, but instead, it's Thestrals, creatures that can only be seen by someone who has seen death themselves. Hogwarts Legacy is full of details like that. While searching the school, you can find out why the sport Quidditch has been banned this year. It doesn’t mean much to the story, but it was fun to discover the conspiracy against the sport. Hogwarts Legacy is full of little tidbits just like that. As someone whose formative years were filled with Harry Potter I found it exciting to see these little moments.
All of the locations in Hogwarts Legacy are great for several reasons. Again, lore-wise, the developers did a great job of putting locations in the correct spot. The Great Hall looks like the Great Hall, and the same can be said for almost every location. The house Hagrid occupies in the books and films looks like it was peeled from the silver screen and slapped directly into the game. I loved that the defense against the dark arts classroom looks the way it does. Not only did they nail the look and feel of locations, but the attention to detail about new places - ones that I haven’t seen or read about - is equally impressive. Towns that are not referenced in the books or films still look great. If I didn’t know any better, I would think they were taken right from the source material.
I loved being able to go anywhere and do what I felt like, but it does take some time for Hogwarts to feel truly open. About six hours is spent playing mostly main story missions, taking classes, learning spells, and visiting the town of Hogmeade; all occur one after another without being able to do much else. But once I hit that open world, it was loaded with side-quests to do. I saw my quest log go from two or three quests to ten or twelve in a matter of minutes. Hogwarts Legacy felt even bigger once I unlocked the ability to fly my broom, again I saw my available quests double, not to mention suddenly being able to just fly anywhere and find quests. I found it hard not to get distracted by finding side activities to do instead of focusing on what I was supposed to be working on. It was exactly what I wanted.
Can’t do everything at the same time, and that was the problem. My quest goes in one direction, there’s a vendor in a different one, and I want to pick these herbs that I can see but they are in a third direction. I want to do it all. Is there too much to do in Hogwarts Legacy? No, don’t be silly; there’s just a lot, and the game is so open that I can do whenever I want. I was constantly going off course on a quest, only to stumble upon two or three additional side quests. Once Hogwarts Legacy fully opens up, there is a plethora of quests, items, vendors; you name it.
My favorite part of Hogwarts Legacy was the combat. The use of spells, how they worked, the combos, the rock, paper, scissor style of countering; it all just works. I found myself getting excited when I would walk into a room I knew was full of dark wizards, or giant trolls. There’s just something about dodging an incoming attack, firing off a spell to shoot the attacker into the air, another spell to disarm them, a third to freeze them, and finally taking them down that feels so good. Coming up with combinations of spells to use was fun too. Seeing what works best to take enemies down quickly became a mini-game of sorts for me.
Almost everything works well in Hogwarts Legacy, but there is a handful of things that do not. Stealth missions are just awful. You need to sneak around the school at night. I found I needed to judge time my running perfectly not to get caught. I could always tell when things were not going as planned because I would have nowhere to run and hide once I was seen. Having to wait for your herbs to grow is also terrible. The countdown only works when you are in-game, and not on the pause menu. Waiting 15 minutes real-life-time before you can complete a quest was is just a bummer in any genre. When my real-life dog needed to go outside, I would fast-travel to the room of requirement, pick my plants and then take my dog out, leaving my game on. By the time I got back inside, I would only have another three or four minutes to wait before I could pick again.
Then there were little things that were partly my fault, and partly the developer’s. I found myself using the revelio spell constantly. The spell shows you hidden or magical items that are nearby. Since I play a lot of RPGs, I found myself spamming the spell, like some RPG nutcase, never wanting to miss out on some loot. If you add a spell in a game that shows you were hidden items are, I am going to spam it like a madman everywhere I go. The second was the wardrobe. Hogwarts Legacy offers a lot of style choices. The problem is that everyone in game is wearing regular robes, and here I am looking like a hobgoblin. Giant goggles, robes that are all different colors, scarves that looks fancy. Nothing matched. It took me way too long to learn how to transmog my stuff. I went to the internet to see how to do it; the game never directly tells you how. The last was the cursor in the in-game menus. On PS5 it is slow. I know I can use the touchpad on my controller, but using it and pushing into the touchscreen to confirm anything often led to me confirming the wrong thing, or ending me to the next location over instead of the one I wanted.
There also were a handful of glitches, normal things that I regularly see in other open world titles. NPCs walking like turtles to go around objects that the game didn’t think would normally be there. Walking through doors instead of pushing them open. Mouths of characters in conversation cutscenes look odd, especially when you are in a dark room. It felt like their teeth were too bright. Creepy.
But all of that is minor. Hogwarts Legacy feels like it was made for people like me. People who enjoyed the novels and films. People who dream of going on vacation to Hogwarts theme parks. People who take quizzes to see which Hogwarts house they should be in. Luckily, the developers seem like they might be the same kind of person, and it shows. The little details, the big ones, the quests, combat, exploration, all feel like I am a student at Hogwarts. I want to stay in this world. I want to play this game again choosing a different house so I can play through the quests only those freaky Hufflepuffs get. I want try the other dialogue options. Hogwarts Legacy is for fans of the world, but it’s made so well that if you have any interest in the game you’ll find yourself sucked in too.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
I'm pulled towards anything that isn't driving or sports related; having said that, I love a good kart racer. I Can't get enough RPGs, and indies are always worth a look to me. The only other subject I pay any attention to is the NFL (go Colts!).
While writing about games is my favorite hobby, talking is a close second. That's why I podcast with my wife Tessa (it's called Tessa and Elliot Argue).View Profile