Hogwarts Legacy review: One of the most important titles of 2023

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    Developed by Avalanche Software (known for Disney Infinity), this game takes us on a magical journey through the world of Harry Potter, allowing us to explore not only the famous Hogwarts School but also other iconic places like Hogsmeade and the Forbidden Forest.

    Unlike the previous stories, this game is set during the “The Goblin Rebellion” at the end of the 19th century, giving us a unique and original adventure within the rich mythology of J.K. Rowling’s universe, complete with numerous references and nods to the beloved franchise.

    Welcome to Hogwarts

    The adventure in Hogwarts Legacy commences with an owl-delivered letter, as any captivating magical tale should. Unlike the usual 11-year-old age, this invitation to join the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry arrives at 16, directly inviting us to the fifth year.

    To fully immerse oneself in the magic world of Hogwarts Legacy, it’s vital to recognize that the game is not an isolated adventure but rather part of a larger ecosystem. The Wizarding World, a well-known site for many fans of the franchise, offers a range of quizzes to determine your House, ideal wand, pet, and Patronus for those unfamiliar with the platform.

    This is significant because, before commencing the game, players can link their account and receive exclusive cosmetic items while the game draws on their profile to suggest their House and other elements mentioned above, akin to a Sorting Hat 2.0.

    In contrast to previous adventures in the Harry Potter universe, players in Hogwarts Legacy create their own wizard or witch using a character editor that, while functional, may feel insufficient for those who enjoy in-depth customization. Facial shapes are pre-set and not as extensive as those found in games like Elden Ring or Cyberpunk 2077. Some players may be concerned because they expected pre-made facial structures to enable more complex and nuanced animations, yet our characters sometimes struggle to express emotions effectively.

    After character creation and receiving the anticipated letter from Hogwarts, players embark on a winding journey through the magical world that is far from a walk in the park. As one of the rare wizards able to detect ancient magic, players unearth secrets that lead to a confrontation with Ranrok, the goblin who leads the rebellion against wizards. This ability serves as the catalyst for the adventure, leading players to uncover mysteries that put them at odds with Ranrok and his followers.

    Inviting players to attend Hogwarts as a 16-year-old fifth-year student was a deliberate choice, not a capricious or arbitrary one. The idea is to tell a more mature story than what was possible with an 11-year-old protagonist like Harry Potter. Being “behind” their peers allows players’ professors to offer tailored lessons that teach the necessary spells to advance in the game.

    Like Harry Potter’s adventure, the game features mature and dark themes. The franchise’s most profound and murkiest moments occurred later in Harry’s story, and Avalanche and Portkey Studios wisely decided to skip this period, disguising it within the game’s narrative. Players discover this through the use of pensieves, the memorable objects employed by Albus Dumbledore. As they progress through the story, players learn that the game’s narrative features similar shades of maturity and darkness as the Harry Potter franchise.

    Taking your time in the lore of the adventure

    Hogwarts Legacy fulfills the long-awaited open-world game that Potter’s fanbase had been hoping for. While players can explore much of the map from the start, the real depth of exploration begins once they acquire a broom, which requires several hours of gameplay.

    The learning curve is progressive and marked, and players may feel as though they are in a prolonged tutorial during the first 7 or 8 hours, almost compensating for the lost school years of their protagonist. Although it’s enjoyable to complete these missions and explore some of the castle’s corners, the game holds players’ hands so much that it can feel sluggish.

    Hogwarts Legacy video game review

    Another issue that will impact Hogwarts Legacy is its dynamics. On the one hand, it has a vibrant story, a stunning castle, and a successful Hogsmeade that immerses players in the magical world. For those who have visited Universal Studios, strolling through the various Hogwarts Legacy environments produces the same sense of excitement as entering Diagon Alley for the first time. It’s a truly immersive experience.

    The game relies heavily on the Field Guide, a magical book that tracks quests, maps, objects, items, cosmetic elements, character and monster guide, and more. Due to the game’s structure, players will spend a lot of time navigating menus, which can detract from the feeling of living in the magical world.

    Hogwarts Legacy offers an extensive range of missions, challenges, and content to explore characters, places, mythology, and lore within the Wizarding World. The main missions drive the story forward, but players must complete secondary missions to level up since a level-cap hinders their progress.

    Quests can be relationship-based and offer narrative depth comparable to the main missions. Working with secondary characters makes sense since interpersonal relationships are a significant part of the Hogwarts experience, not only in the game but also in the wider Potter universe.

    NPCs also offer missions that may be similar but serve to unlock cosmetic items or necessary elements for potion preparation. The game features several challenges, such as Merlin’s Trials or completing the missing pages of the Field Guide, that delve into the mysteries of the magical world through puzzles.

    While the game offers a diverse range of missions and challenges, it inevitably falls into repetition of mechanics. For instance, one mission may require players to collect blue flowers, while another mandates orange branches. Players must balance challenges to avoid burning out from the monotony of repetition.

    Magic vs. Sorcery

    Hogwarts Legacy incorporates a broad spectrum of magic beyond combat, with over a dozen and a half spells in the arsenal. Players can customize their approach to the game with spells for fighting, transformation, transfiguration, and functionality like Alohomora, Wingardium Leviosa, and Lumos. These spells become necessary at different points in the game.

    Players can activate up to four spells at a time by combining R2 with triangle, square, circle, or cross (for the PlayStation 5 version). In addition, two spells do not take up space: Revelio, which helps players find chests and secrets, and Protego, a protective spell that works as a parry during combat when activated at the right time.

    Hogwarts Legacy includes the Unforgivable Curses: Avada Kedavra, Crucio, and Imperio. These allow players transform into a dark wizard. Ancient magic, the protagonist’s characteristic element, becomes an essential combat technique as the missions progress. Its recharge bar accumulates substantially slower than common magic, making strategic planning vital.

    Similarly, the combat system’s slow progression parallels the evolution of the story. Initially, combat feels straightforward, but it gains complexity as players add weapons to their arsenal. Once combat becomes dynamic, the battles become fierce, filled with flashes and lightning, akin to a cinematic experience.

    A whole magical world to discover

    Avalanche Software has created an incredibly immersive experience in Hogwarts Legacy. Exploring the castle feels like a new adventure as every tower, dungeon, hallway, and classroom invites meticulous exploration (with the help of Revelio every step of the way). The Great Hall, common rooms, Defense Against the Dark Arts tower, Quidditch field, and botanical garden are just a few of the thousands of spaces present in the castle.

    Hogwarts Legacy gameplay

    The game’s environment is not limited to the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, as the outskirts of the castle are also explorable. Players can encounter unique magical creatures, access the Forbidden Forest, visit the Black Lake, and explore Hogsmeade with iconic places such as The Three Broomsticks and Ollivanders, where players can obtain their wand. Overall, Avalanche has created an awe-inspiring experience that truly brings the Wizarding World to life.

    Conclusion about the Hogwarts Legacy video game experience

    Hogwarts Legacy is not a flawless game, nor does it aspire to be. It takes several hours to move past the feeling that it is more of a tutorial than an open-world adventure. However, when players finally do become immersed in the game, they are welcomed into the magical world. The game is clearly focused on appealing to fans of the Harry Potter saga rather than traditional RPG fans, and in that regard, it succeeds. Hogwarts Legacy captures the hearts of those who are willing to be enchanted by it, much like casting Riddikulus on a Boggart.

    The opportunity to explore every inch of Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, the Highlands, and even Azkaban is reason enough to lose oneself in the Avalanche adventure for hours. The game is well complemented by an adult narrative that invites players to progress through the story to see how it unfolds.

    In summary, Hogwarts Legacy is the ultimate game of the Wizarding World, an experience that no wizard, witch, or Muggle should miss if they consider themselves a Harry Potter fan.

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