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Hogwarts Legacy Review – Complete Immersion

Hogwarts Legacy is an open-world action RPG based in the Harry Potter universe, developed by Avalanche Software and published by Warner Bros. Games. It released on PC, Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 on February 10, 2023, and is one of the most immersive experiences in the wizarding world that I have experienced. I admit that I am not the biggest Harry Potter fan and wasn’t overly excited about the game, though co-founder Johnny and writer Justin are huge fans. We were all blown away at just how immersive this game is, and we all got something great out of it.

Set in the 1800s, well before the events of Harry Potter and the books/movies, the main character is a fifth-year student starting at Hogwarts. We are embarking on a journey through new and familiar locations, explore and discover magical beasts, craft potions, master spell casting, upgrade talents and customise our character to become the witch or wizard we want them to be. Playing through the prologue got me immediately hooked into the world and the circumstances around our arrival at Hogwarts.

As Professor Fig is leading us through a sequence that is full of mystery and intrigue, I couldn’t help but shoot off my wand at anything that could be interacted with – pew pew! The prologue is fantastic and not just because of the intriguing sequence of events, which is a great tutorial on how to use spells such as Revelio and Lumos, but also introduces us to combat, blocking and dodging. The setting is incredibly detailed and ran super smooth on my PC with RTX3060, and the music was so damn special along with the excellent voice acting that the whole intro experience got me hooked.

I did experience some crashes throughout my playthrough, and they were quite random where I could be talking to someone, then the next crash would be out in the wilderness. Outside of those crashes, I did have a few moments where the framerate would drop down to 30-40, however for the most part the game ran really well on PC, and I was blown away with every new area I visited. Some locations we travel to were familiar, like Hogsmeade and the Forbidden Forest, and there are heaps of new locations to discover.

We do get to customise our character and there were decent amounts of options to create the wizard of my liking. However, once I was in-game and started to learn about charms and dark arts of magic, I was noticing some of the students looking similar despite having different names/surnames. We get sorted into our houses early on and it’s an exciting moment answering questions with the sorting hat. Though if you had already used the Wizarding World website, you could link this account to your WB Games account and then use the choices you made on the site for house, wand and patronis in Hogwarts Legacy.

I went Hufflepuff, Johnny went Ravenclaw, and Justin and another friend went Slytherin. Aside from the starting quests at Hogwarts, there isn’t much of a difference in terms of storyline as you progress. I would have liked to see more house-specific quests here. There is just so much to do in Hogwarts Legacy. Usually in RPGs, I get distracted easily by shiny things. I love exploring every inch of an area before moving onto the next, and the same happened here. Though I quickly started to get overwhelmed with so many things to do in Hogwarts Castle before I even stepped foot outside.

There are shiny things all over the place! From flying pages to the glint of something that needs revealing, to dark mirrors that have you hunting for butterflies, and that’s not including talking to people with icons above their heads. Thankfully the Floo Flame fast travel system connects us to places and travel becomes so much quicker than running everywhere. This isn’t a complaint, far from it, but after spending a few hours smashing through heaps of side quests, when I went back to the main quest, I was miles over levelled for it and the combat sequences were a breeze as my character was so much stronger. Combat is a lot of fun though and gets more versatile as you learn new spells. It’s a decent mix of attacks, dodges, counters and using environment objects, and it certainly kept me on my toes.

I feel this over levelling is amplified by the field guide system, as good as it is. The field guide is an interesting way to gain experience rather than the traditional experience system. However, because there’s a limit cap to the field guide, it feels like you’ll have to complete everything to gain maximum experience rather than playing the way you want. I have seen other games separate adventuring experience from knowledge points/experience and I feel that could have been a better way to handle this. XP points aside, the field guide is super helpful to remind you of your progress in collections, whether you have had a few days break since your last session or to remind you of other things you are collecting in your travels when something shiny catches your eye. When you do complete challenges, be sure to go back to the field manual and click to collect the items as it doesn’t automatically add them to your inventory/gear.

Broom flying is amazing once you progress to that point, and free flying is fantastic. However, I wish we could freely move the camera around to take in the sights. This doesn’t let you look up or down whilst flying, only to the sides. If the mouse was included in the movement of flying it would be more natural, as well as the ascend and descend buttons. The whole point of the broom is to gain elevation which helps you scout the area easier. Not being able to look up and down hinders the player’s vision when looking for things like the Merlin trials.

I am a huge fan of MMORPGs, and the world and gameplay of Hogwarts Legacy just screams to be played in multiplayer. I would love nothing more than to be able to play this with a friend or a couple of friends. There could be quests that you need to complete with a partner, and while I would love this to be an MMORPG, even four-player groups would be enough. Imagine how awesome it would be to grow your skills as wizards and witches around the school with a group, and then all set off on our brooms to complete the flying challenges and solve more difficult environment puzzles together. You would be walking around Hogwarts castle and all those NPCs you see could be real people. Now that would be immersive!

Overall, Hogwarts Legacy is an amazing single player wizarding experience and it’s a credit to the developers. The only thing really missing is multiplayer in some form but otherwise the story was fantastic and engaging, and gameplay dynamic and exciting. I believe the couple of delays were well worth the wait to have this kind of immersive and engaging experience, and for it to run smoothly for the most part. As I said at the beginning, I am not as big a Harry Potter fan as others in the team that love it, but we all had an amazing time developing our characters and working through the rich story. There’s levelling up, talents to specialise in, potions to brew, tonnes of side quests and puzzles to solve, and the cosmetics! So many cosmetic options and the field guide helps you to keep track and work towards things you want to make your witch/wizard look amazing.

This review utilised a Steam key provided by Warner Bros. Games and Hogwarts Legacy is available to play now on PC, Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5.


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