Hogwarts Legacy Rekindles That Harry Potter Magic Living in a wizarding world
Hogwarts Legacy Rekindles That Harry Potter Magic – Playing Hogwarts Legacy is a reminder that few fictional worlds are as bewitching as Harry Potter’s. In 1998, my Mum handed me a copy of Philosopher’s Stone — Sorcerer’s Stone in the US — and that first chapter sucked me right in its magical universe. I was hooked for life.
Or so I thought. After the core book series wrapped up and there were no more movie adaptations coming, my emotional connection diminished. The overstuffed spinoffs, along with author J.K. Rowling’s inflammatory comments about transgender people, sucked the remaining fun out of the franchise, and I figured it was time to move on.
All that baggage fell away as soon as I started Hogwarts Legacy, which hits PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, Series S and PC on Friday (it’s available in early access from Tuesday, and arrives on other consoles in the coming months). This open-world action RPG game, developed by Avalanche Software, is designed to let us live out our fantasies of enrolling at the iconic School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as a new student.
Having played the PS5 version for 10 hours, it captures the wonder of the early books, with an intriguing original narrative, engagingly varied gameplay and intricately designed world to explore.
Back to basics
The game sidesteps the narrative restrictions of Harry’s story by jumping way back in the timeline, to the 1890s. After creating your character, you’re whisked off on a brief opening adventure before reaching the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Even though you’re a new student, you’re starting your magical career a little late and enroll as a fifth year. That’s presumably because having a wide-eyed first year, just 11 years old, explore dangerous caves, learn dangerous spells and battle dark wizards would feel kinda weird.
The customization options are a key element in living out your wizarding world fantasy, and they’re a joy. You can choose your character’s gender and appearance. Then you’ll pick and alter your wand (don’t worry, the one you start the game with is a loaner) and broom.
You also get sorted into a Hogwarts house (Slytherin FTW), based on a series of questions you’ll answer shortly after arriving at the school, but you can have a do-over if the initial selection isn’t to your liking.
The house you end up in doesn’t seem to change much beyond the common room, your uniform and some throwaway lines. Though teachers mention house points in some classes, you won’t actually be competing for them in the game.
Your education is occasionally interrupted by the main story, which focuses on your connection to mysterious ancient magic and a sinister dark wizard in league with the intense leader of a goblin rebellion — these baddies sport the excellent names of Victor Rookwood and Ranrok, respectively. It’s an absorbing narrative that expands this universe’s lore nicely, especially when it hints at events further back in the timeline, but sometimes fades into the background amidst all the game’s other distractions.
Living in a wizarding world
The development team’s love for Harry Potter is apparent in every aspect of Hogwarts Legacy, but shines most brightly in the world and its characters. Every teacher, student and location feels distinct and real, with a peppering of familiar names like Weasley and Black to make fans feel comfortable.
Each character is richly written, cleverly voiced — Simon Pegg plays the unpleasant headmaster — and visually diverse, so talking to them and learning about their backgrounds is fascinating. (It’s frustrating that you can’t pause during cutscenes though.) This characterisation is woven through the main story and its side quests, which range from investigating one of the castle’s mysteries and sneakily grabbing potion ingredients to wandering into a dangerous cave.
These are varied and fun in terms of gameplay, exploration and puzzle-solving, but feel even more worthwhile since they present opportunities to learn more about the quest-givers and world. And teenage tomfoolery, like sneaking into the library in the dead of night with the help of an invisibility charm, just feels like vintage Harry Potter.
Your customized avatar’s voice acting is solid, but occasionally a bit flat — like you’re overly polite or reserved. That’s preferable to listening to a realistic teenager, though. The character models are convincing enough, but the eyes sometimes move unnaturally and feel unnerving.
The world is sumptuously designed too, particularly in the beautifully gothic Hogwarts, with its moving paintings, chatty gargoyles and fascinating student banter. Every inch is begging to be explored, with heaps of collectibles and Easter eggs to discover — you hear a satisfying hint of the John Williams theme when you pick up certain items. The nearby village of Hogsmeade isn’t quite as big, but it’s still full of fun diversions.