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Game review: Hogwarts Legacy (PS5)
Tue, 28th Feb 2023
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter first arrived more than 25 years ago and yet, has struggled to offer gamers any consistently great video games set in the universe. Avalanche Software and Warner Bros. Games aimed to change this, and definitely have with the release of Hogwarts Legacy. A game that is just what my teenage self wanted when I first read the series!

Hogwarts Legacy starts about a hundred years before Harry Potter ever existed with you as a new student coming to Hogwarts, but starting at the school as a very rare late fifth-year student instead of back when you were 11. This made a lot of sense as it allows the player to learn much more advanced spells and abilities that would not have felt right as a first-year student.

The game doesn’t just have you taking the Hogwarts Express to school and starting things off easily. Instead, you are picked up by Professor Fig to do a little bit of training on the way to school. However, your method of transport is attacked by a dragon and leaves the two of you having to use a Portkey to escape. This leads you to a hidden chamber that leads into Gringotts bank and sets up some early story with your protagonist being able to somehow see ancient magic, which comes into play as the game’s story moves forward. This also ties into a rebellion by the goblins that you have to face during the game’s story as some enemy forces team up against you.

Upon arrival at Hogwarts, everything starts to settle into more of a groove as you quickly get sorted into your respective house, which you can have some say on if you have a specific house you want to be a part of. From there, you get to attend classes like Professor Ronen’s Potions class, visit your house’s common room, and start to make friends with others around the campus.

This is where you first get to experience the magic that is Hogwarts, as Avalanche Software did not hold back on trying to bring this setting to life. From walking around the hallways and interacting with students to first coming across the moving stairways and the suits of armour that come to life as you traverse the school, this is the type of experience in this world I’ve been waiting on for years!

Getting to fully explore this world is what makes Hogwarts Legacy special, fulfilling a dream that fans of the series have wanted forever. You are not just limited to a small section of Hogwarts and then taken to a few areas for story beats, but rather, you get to wander around areas like Hogsmeade, the Forbidden Forest, and several other areas around there as well. Hogwarts Legacy features a pretty standard quest and levelling system that you would come to expect in most RPGs.

As you play through your adventure after arriving at Hogwarts, you will come across main story quests, side quests, as well as things like relationship quests that help you bolster your relationships with other characters. The combat system in the game seems pretty basic at the start, with you being able to fire off basic spells with your wand, but that changes very quickly as you start acquiring new spells.

Hogwarts Legacy features over 30 different spells that you can use throughout the game, with you able to have four main spells equipped at all times. By pressing the right trigger, you can unleash a basic spell, or you can hold down RT and instead use one of the four face buttons to use a spell that you have equipped. These can be swapped out easily without even going into the pause menu, which becomes important the more you unlock. You also can cast Revelio to help see hidden objects by pressing left on the D-Pad at any time as well.

Beyond the various quests in the game, there are also challenges for you to complete that are broken down into different categories, such as Combat, Field Guide Pages, and Exploration. Quests tie into here as well, tasking you with completing certain numbers of the quest types to earn special rewards.

The game also has no shortage of collectibles for you to find throughout the game, including Revelio Pages, Beasts, Ingredients, and more. You can choose to skip a large number of these if you so choose, but they add a lot more replay value to the game in the long run on top of the respectable story length of about 25 to 30 hours.

The performance in Hogwarts Legacy is pretty solid most of the time, with it having very tight controls and being quite responsive. When first starting the game, you have the option to choose between three different options, Performance, Fidelity, and Fidelity with Raytracing. Even when playing in Performance mode, there were occasional issues with framerate drops when a lot was happening on screen. Opening doors sometimes causes issues as well, where it will not open and then will cause you to suddenly burst through the door when the interaction does what it is supposed to do. These rarely got in the way of gameplay, though, so they didn’t have much impact on the overall experience.

Hogwarts Legacy is the game fans of this franchise have been asking for over the last two decades, and Avalanche Software was able to deliver. Not only do you get to live in this magical world, but the game also has a captivating story, and fresh combat throughout that keep you coming back for more. If anything, the foundation laid by this game makes me all the more excited for what the developer could come up with in a sequel.

Verdict: 9.0/10