There has been a hell of a lot of discussion and controversy surrounding the works of J. K. Rowling, all coming to the fore after some heated Twitter debates, with lifelong fans having left the works of the famous author in protest. Hogwarts Legacy comes about away from the author of the world, running as an open-world adventure that puts you in the shoes of a student of that famous school for wizards and witches.
As you fire up Hogwarts Legacy, a letter arrives, offering you a place in the fifth year of Hogwarts school. From there you get access to a good character creator with a whole array of different looks, allowing you to choose who you’re going to be at school: a wizard or a witch? Whoever and however you set up though, the story found in Hogwarts Legacy is not connected to the Harry Potter timeline, instead set in the 1800s, covering a completely original story with your witch or wizard taking centre stage.
The story starts with an action-packed prologue featuring dragons, Gringotts and a villainous big bad in the shape of a goblin rebellion and magical chief. You are pivotal to this goblin story as you hold the secrets to some kind of ancient magic: you can see things that others can’t, but you also have access to a special kind of magic in attacks. Professor Fig has been your mentor, enrolling you into Hogwarts (a bit later than normal) to perfect your skills and training.
Like all good open-worlders, Hogwarts Legacy will have you following the main story, as well as taking in a load of side quests and encounters that you can get involved in. There is some training to partake in too, taking classes at Hogwarts itself, as you build your defense against the dark arts, work out how to mix potions or take care of your plants in Herbology. These lessons help build up experience, as you collect useful items and skills. The world itself is full of narrative, delivered in its visuals and the over-hearing of conversations as you pick up tales here and there.
Hogwarts itself is a treasure trove of a place, amazing to explore and wander around; from the moving paintings to the ghosts frequenting the ancient building. The story isn’t just confined to the school though and at times you will travel to a variety of locations, including Hogsmeade Village and many locations around the countryside, in the forests and secret areas.
It’s a great narrative, one that fans of the franchise will cherish. The writing is good too, building on a whole host of colourful and unique characters who you get to meet and work with. Hogwarts Legacy has a family-friendly vibe about it, something which feels fairly unusual when put up against more adult-orientated open-world titles. I loved the main story, and pretty much all the extra stuff that complements it, as it all comes together to ensure that the main thrust of narrative is engaging throughout.
Played in the third person, in Hogwarts Legacy you will partake in some – deep breath – exploring, racing of broomsticks, making of potions, the design of your own secret room, a bit of shopping, as well as the following of magical keys and treasure maps. From there, you’ll have lessons to get involved in, the chance to take part in duelling competitions, the sorting of hats, diving for treasure, popping balloons and countless other activities. There’s a bountiful array of things to do and experience, with a field guide in place to ensure you can keep track of all the challenges, quests, and items you need. If you want to fully complete Hogwarts Legacy, that is going to be essential. But now let us talk about the combat.
As you would expect, in Hogwarts Legacy the combat, of course, means the casting of spells with your wand. You might get taught these by a professor or a friend, but at other times you will need to complete several tasks to gain access to a new spell; working through little mini-games that are almost like a QTE. From there, you’ll get to add your spell to any one of four slots that are available in battle at any time. You cast a normal spell with a press of RT and then add a special on top of that, combining different techniques like pulling someone towards you before battering them with a blast spell in midair.
The spells themselves range from the defensive type for protection, to much more aggressive spells that allow you to go on the offensive. There are spells for lighting the way, pulling things towards you, or levitating, making yourself invisible, and the revealing of secrets. But then there are also cursed spells for the darker magic person inside you. Do you use the famous spell that kills someone in a blink? Do you want to go down that dark path?
The combat works via a mixture of stealth attacks, taking out grunts, and more complicated boss battles. I found them to be pretty fluid and a lot of fun to play through, especially when you consider the combinations of spells on offer. And as you progress you can add talents to your skill set, levelling up as you go. Talents add extra power to your spells and even more interesting side effects and powers.
Throughout Hogwarts Legacy you will find a ton of gear to collect as well, adding even more to your defensive and attacking powers. Collecting gear is always fun in an RPG but the array of different visual costumes on show here is seriously impressive, creating a host of enjoyment in itself. Having a powerful top hat on whilst walking around in a magical pyjama outfit was a personal highlight.
The visual world of Hogwarts Legacy is a total delight. Hogwarts itself is an exciting place, busy and full of talking paintings, fighting ghosts, pupils, and magical events. The architecture, design, and ease of travel make this a school I would never grow old of. Then you have the other areas; the beautiful Scottish countryside, the dark forbidden forest, and the warm welcoming Hogsmeade. These locations – both externally and internally – have been lovingly created and work flawlessly. For an open-world game, Hogwarts Legacy provides a ton of magic in the graphics department.
The soundtrack is delivered to the player with a bombastic film score vibe to it, one that is full of bells, strings, and the full nine yards of the orchestra. Sometimes it feels a bit over the top, especially in the quieter moments of the game, but overall it fits the mood perfectly. The effects are superb, from a magical whip noise when something disappears to the atmosphere sounds that make up Hogwarts. It is similar in terms of the voice actors as they deliver their lines with aplomb, bringing each character to life.
It’s wonderful to spend time in Hogwarts Legacy. A triple-A open world game which works brilliantly, the visuals and sound are excellent, whilst the story, side quests and activities will be much loved. A game for all the ages, there’s a ton of content included so take out your wand, put on your most magical of hats, and go and enjoy the thrills of Hogwarts Legacy.
Hogwarts Legacy is on the Xbox Store