The announcement of Hogwarts Legacy filled the entire gaming community with equal parts excitement and controversy. Sure the whole JK Rowling thing put a damper on the hype for the game, but the developers work is so impressive.
I decided tosupport the developers and jump in. Previews were good, but the actual game is even better than I expected. So much so that I went off on a long tangent from playing Hi Fi Rush to try Hogwarts in early access.
Hogwarts Legacy Graphics are Great
First things first, the game’s graphics are great, with the duo of ray tracing and DLSS. There are some weird sparkly artifacts here and there, but the vast majority is beautiful. I’m not even a huge Harry Potter fan. Never read the books, but did watch some of the movies and visited the Universal Studios Harry Potter section.
Even though I’m not a super fan, there’s magic in the Wizarding World. My wife hates Harry Potter and even she loves that section of Universal. The game captures that same magic.
As soon as I started playing, I was transported into the Wizarding World. There’s incredibly detailed environments that truly capture the essence of Hogwarts whether from the movies or the Universal Studios land. From the winding staircases to the towering spires, every inch of the castle feels alive and vibrant, and I couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe as I explored.
From wall art to office decorations, the level of small details is very impressive. A lot of love went into this game. I love the moving portraits, ghosts floating down the hall, magical staircases and so much more. It’s so easy to get lost in the castle and so amazing when the entire map opens up.
As much as I loved visiting the detailed version of Hogsmead and seeing Hogwarts in the vista, I can only imagine how diehard Potter fans react to it.
Fun and Deep Wizard Gameplay
Gameplay-wise, Hogwarts Legacy offers a ton of variety, layers and depth. I battled dangerous creatures in the Forbidden Forest when I wasn’t attending classes to learn new spells and potions. There’s always something new to add to the gameplay loop.
Before I knew it, I was solving puzzles, hunting for treasure, picking locks, designing my room of requirement and more, all with magic. There’s even a whole beast saving and caring game mechanic I’ve just started with. It’s a great game of “what’s next”? Come to think of it, I have yet to unlock any beast mount yet.
A big map is hard to navigate without constant fast travel (Floo network as it’s called in game). Luckily I have the broomstick and it is fun to fly. It feels great. Even flying through balloons to pop is fun.
Spellcasting and Customization are Magic
Spellcasting really impressed me with the attention to detail. Each spell requires its own unique combination of movements and button presses to learn and unlock. From there it’s a simple button press to cast. My favorite combo was Levioso to lift enemies off their feet, Accio to pull them close, Incendio to burn them, then Confringo to blow them up.
Wielding Ancient magic adds a whole other layer to the dozens of spells with finish-like devastating attacks. Burning enemies with lightning or pounding them to the ground over and over is satisfying. Battles are great, but even the puzzle solving uses of that same magic is great.
It’s an RPG, so even character customization plays a big role in Hogwarts Legacy. From choosing the Hogwarts house to customizing the wand or clothes, there are plenty of options to make the character I wanted. The branching skill tree lets me tailor my playstyle to my preferences. My wizard is unique compared to other players.
What really sets Hogwarts Legacy apart is its sense of immersion. Exploring Hogwarts and the surrounding areas, introduced a diverse cast of characters, each with their own personalities and backstories. There are choices with consequences on the story and the world around, but not sure how much yet.
Hogwarts Legacy Story
The story might not win any awards, but it is good and weaves attending classes into the bigger story. It’s greatest strength is the shared Wizarding World history, but set before the time of Harry Potter. The setting is familiar, but the freedom of a prequel leads the story to something brand new from any of the movies or books.
Hogwarts Legacy’s story does follow the familiar “chosen one” theme, but it’s not a “boy who lived” situation. Instead, it’s about a new student starting late as a fifth year that finds out ancient magic is there thing. It’s a surreal journey with dragons, trolls, dark wizards, forgotten magic and more.
The artwork in the story set pieces is the perfect blend of magic and medieval. That attention to detail I mentioned about the graphics lends to great environmental storytelling. All the characters have unique personalities instead of cookie cutter ones. Professor Fig, the mentor of the story, is my favorite for sure.
There are plenty of side missions filled with magical mischief. I plan on finishing all of them. The main story missions are the true highlight of the story as you’d expect, though. I’m grinding quite a bit of the side content like I do with other games. I find it helps ease my path through the main quest. Although some eventually get tedious, the majority are filled with magical fun.
Can’t Wait for What’s Next
Overall, my first dozens of hours in Hogwarts Legacy are extremely fun. It’s clear that the developers poured their hearts and souls into creating a game that captures the magic of the Harry Potter universe. I can’t wait to see what else Hogwarts Legacy has in store for me.