Whether you support J.K. Rowling’s views or not, one thing we will not support is harassing others for what games they play or assuming they support someone else’s beliefs. We open our review with this statement due to the level of harassment we got while reviewing Hogwarts Legacy.
This harassment came not only from strangers, followers, hate raiders, and even people we knew personally; since then, we have cut those people out. But, the ultimate question is, “Does Hogwarts Legacy stand on its own merit despite all the controversy?”
Before diving into Hogwarts Legacy, many Harry Potter fans were concerned but intrigued by the idea of playing as a wizard or witch in the Harry Potter Universe without any known characters present. With that in mind, could the magical universe stand on its own with the foundation that its creator put in place? With that question in mind, we dove into our Hogwarts Legacy review.
Developer: Avalanche Software
Publisher: Warner Bros. Games
Platforms: Currently PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X. Xbox One & PlayStation 4 April 4th. Switch July 25th
Release Date: February 10th, 2023
Price: Current Gen – $69.99 USD, Past Gen – $59.99
Hogwarts Legacy Story
At the start of the game, the player is tasked with creating their very own witch or wizard. Once the character customization is complete, the player is immediately introduced to their supporting mentor and thrown into the story’s overarching plot. Unlike a traditional student, you are heading to Hogwarts as a 5th-year student with a natural acclimation to magic.
While flying to Hogwarts in a carriage, you and your mentor are attacked by a dragon. Freefalling to their doom, Professor Fig summons the mysterious port key to his hands, transporting the survivors of the attack to a mysterious island. This island is where players first learn of ancient magic and set up the plot of Ranrok’s search for it.
Hogwarts Legacy‘s story focuses on two major plots. The first overarching plot is the search for ancient magic and completing the trials set by the keeps. The second major plot is living out your everyday life in Hogwarts and its surrounding area.
Before being able to complete the trials, the player must complete a variety of quests to help push forward their academic studies; these quests ultimately teach the player the spells they will need in order to complete the trials while forming bonds with their peers and teachers.
Most side quests within the game can be skipped but as such, players will find they are missing out on upgrades, character development, and even some spells. Additionally, skipping sidequests makes the game a lot shorter, and who honestly wants the most basic experience? Do you not season your chicken?
While playing Hogwarts Legacy, it is very easy to lose track of your main quest, not because of a confusing story but rather because there is so much to do. This game alone can easily entertain players for at least forty hours if not more.
Each character the player interacts with seems well fleshed out each with their own problems and backstories. The only negative aspect we can pinpoint is the inability to talk to most of the NPCs when quests aren’t involved; this makes the NPCs feel more like background art rather than their own standalone character.
Hogwarts Legacy‘s base story is rather simplistic. The student goes to school, the student makes friends, the student grows as a character, and then the student becomes the hero of the story when adults aren’t able to; ultimately, it is the same formulaic premises that Rowling used to flesh out Harry Potter. In fact, it is the same plot-driven focus and growth that a lot of series use to have their characters grow, and ultimately it just works.
Even with that in mind, Hogwarts Legacy‘s story allows players to live out their own magical adventure while exploring at their own pace; it allows fans of Harry Potter and newcomers to the universe to live out their own magical adventure similar to what Skyrim did a decade ago.
While playing Hogwarts Legacy, players can create the character they want to be. The developers did this by allowing the player to create their character and edit the character’s appearance in a variety of ways. When playing through the story, players can buy or find different equipment to stylize and customize their characters.
Later in the game, players can select the style of equipment they want to use while having the stats and abilities they want. Players can customize their equipment using the loom in the Room of Requirement. The game does hinder players early on with the carrying capacity but storage space can be increased by completing Trials of Merlin.
Combat within the game does take a little bit to get used to with players able to throw magic out while chaining named spells. Enemies can be resistant to certain spells but the game clearly indicates what counter spell can break the enemies’ protection. Each spell has its own cooldown but the recast time and damage dealt can be altered based on traits and clothing augments.
As the player levels, each skill they learn will either help them to find stuff throughout the HP universe, rotate spells easier, or survive longer in combat. Combat within the game scales based on the player’s level. A quest can say that the player needs to be at a certain level, but enemies within that quest will be close to the player’s level; additionally, players can alter the game’s difficulty settings to meet their needs.
Hogwarts Legacy offers a variety of mini-games and puzzles for the player to enjoy. Players can spend their time flying, brewing potions, taking care of magical beasts, and even solving mysterious puzzles. Before experiencing it ourselves, flying in the game was our biggest concern; would players be able to maneuver the broom easily or would it be a chore?
Thankfully, Avalanche Software managed to provide a fun and well-designed flying experience for players to enjoy; players can control the speed at which they fly, the angle they fly, and even the height at that they fly with ease. These controls also work well later in the game when the player can fly on a magical beast.
Despite all the controversy and initial bugs, Hogwarts Legacy is a well-designed game that will provide players with a magical journey from start to finish. The game offers a variety of quests, explorable regions, and mini-games to keep players entertained for hours on end.
Combat within the game can be confusing at first, but with practice, most players should be able to pick up the combat mechanics rather easily. Additionally, players can adjust the difficulty if need be. The game’s story allows players to be the hero in their own adventure while getting to take in the magical realm the developers have excellently flushed out.
The core gameplay elements are solid with the RPG elements making the player feel like they are creating their own character. Yes, the limited storage size early on can be frustrating, but the game introduces the Merlin Trials rather early. At the end of the day, it is up to the player to decide what they want from Hogwarts Legacy.
The game offers a wide variety of settings to help gamers with any impartments be able to access and play the game. Additionally, the game’s soundtrack helps create a magical experience, and for those who were fans of the movies’ soundtracks, you will feel their presence within the game without being a carbon copy.
At the end of the day, we have loved our time with Hogwarts Legacy and would be willing to play through the game again multiple times to experience what each house has to offer.
Hogwarts Legacy is a great way for those who have never watched a Harry Potter movie or read the books to experience the universe. Fans of the franchise will be able to express themselves and live out their own magical fantasy. We definitely recommend picking up this game if you like Harry Potter or love RPGs.
Hogwarts Legacy was reviewed on an Xbox Series X using a copy provided by Warner Bros. Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Hogwarts Legacy is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S.