Title – Hogwarts Legacy
Platforms – PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC
Release Date – February 10th, 2023
Developer – Avalanche Software
Publisher – Warner Bros
MSRP – $69.99
ESRB – T for Teen
Disclaimer – This product is being reviewed on PS5. A review copy was provided by Warner Bros for the purpose of this review. This review may also contain spoilers for certain gameplay and story elements. Watch at your own risk, you have been warned. Gaming Instincts is an Amazon Affiliate and does gain financial benefits if you choose to purchase this product on this page.
Ever wanted to feel like a true magician who lives in an awesome fantasy world, cast a bunch of cool spells, take your broom to the skies, or ride a hippogryph while exploring an awesome fantastical universe? Because if the answer is yes, then I am happy to say that Hogwarts Legacy is the game you have all been waiting for. Welcome to our review of Hogwarts Legacy.
The World of Hogwarts
Just as always, before we get into the nitty gritty of gameplay systems, it is imperative that we discuss what Hogwarts Legacy is all about. This is to explain what kind of stuff you can expect in the magnificent world of Harry Potter. Hogwarts Legacy’s goal is to live the fantasy of the popular books that many of us read as teenage kids back in the good old days. The book is about wizards, witches, goblins, dragons, and your typical fairy tales. The Harry Potter IP became a cultural phenomenon that later turned into video games and movies. Many fans of the series have been waiting for a game that would put you in the shoes of a Hogwarts student. This is exactly what Hogwarts Legacy is.
The dev team over at Avalanche Software has poured their heart, tears, blood, and soul into this title and it really shows. The castle itself is absolutely massive. It’s not just another castle that’s part of the world or the environment of the game. It’s more like a character with its own personality. It’s filled with magnificent secrets, hidden rooms, a ton of collectibles, cool characters, classrooms, an entire outdoor area with a Quidditch arena, and whatever else a Harry Potter fan can hope for. The artists have done a great job of adding small details that make the castle feel atmospheric and alive. From moving portraits, and ghosts that interact with each other, to a living suit of armor. I don’t want to spoil much, but I will say that it’s 100 percent worth exploring every nook and cranny possible. Your time spent exploring will be greatly rewarded.
The best part about Hogwarts Legacy is that not only does the game provide a full-on pipedream for fans, but it also introduces the universe to those who have never read the books or seen any of the movies. And all in all, it is just a fantastic game for a variety of reasons that we will get into later in this. Believe it or not, as someone who came from a different country, Harry Potter was how I learned to read English during my middle school years. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the movies, but I did like the books and Hogwarts Legacy really brought out the nostalgia of my younger teenage years. With the introduction of the universe, it is now time we talk about magical gameplay.
Hogwarts Legacy treats itself as a standard RPG that consists of your regular RPG-like mechanics including leveling, gear, stats, questing, real-time combat, and a talent system. However, Avalanche Software has also decided to create new systems that are tied to lore such as the Room of Requirement, Spell Casting that gets you around the in-game puzzles, and combat that perfectly captures the stylish magic of witches and wizards.
If you are familiar with the lore then you’ll know exactly what kind of spells you can expect to use. But just to give you a few examples, you can cast things like Reparo that repairs broken objects. Then there is Lumos which turns your wand into a source of light so you can see better. You can also use it to attract magical insects to follow you so you can solve mirror puzzles. And the most commonly used spell is Revelio, which reveals hidden objects around the environment, such as hidden field page collectibles, lockpicks, interactable boxes, chests, and other types of objects. These are the spells you’ll be casting for the majority of your time in Hogwarts Legacy. They all interact very well together, and none of them ever feel pointless or gimmicky.
The combat in Hogwarts Legacy is quite enjoyable. It’s not super in-depth and that’s OK, it doesn’t need to be. I will say, however, at first, it took an hour or so to get used to it. But once you practice it a bit and start unlocking offensive spells, then you can start having a real blast. The combat is all about creating cool combos instead of just spamming your regular wand attack.
A four-hit regular-hit combo will deal a large amount of damage, but after that, it’s wise to use a damaging spell such as Confringo and then after that, you can use Accio to pull the enemy towards you followed up with a Descendo that slams enemies on the ground. The spells can be assigned to four different hotkeys/buttons on your controller. As you level up and gain talents, you can unlock additional spell sets to widen your arsenal and switch between them. As you progress through the game, you will also gain stealth spells that can make you invisible and help you turn enemies into stone while you are in stealth. It’s pretty cool, but not as fun as regular combat. It’s nice though that the developers have decided to create a variety of play styles.
The combat is not without its issues. The enemy variety is lacking. There are not that many enemy types that you’ll end up encountering. I had hoped for a bit more than what was offered. The boss fights are also a bit underwhelming. While the combat system for the most part is decent, some may feel that it’s a bit repetitive, and others may not. Basically, it’s a bit subjective, but thankfully it does get the job done for the most part. It is more than serviceable for the type of game this is and most importantly it fits the fantasy of Harry Potter.
Another big feature of Hogwarts Legacy is the Room of Requirement. As you go through the main questline, eventually you will unlock a personal room that can be decorated with a variety of vanity objects. Best of all, you can also create herbology tables that let you grow plants that can be used as materials for a variety of things. You may also create a crafting potion table that lets you brew potions. At the start of all this, you only get access to the small tables, but as you progress and earn the in-game gold currency you can buy bigger tables for your Room of Requirement so you can craft potions and plants in larger quantities.
On top of all that, the Room of Requirement is also tied to an entirely separate and dedicated pet management system. You can venture out into the world and collect a variety of beasts for your Vivarium biome. A Vivarium is a special area that is made for your pets. It’s linked via a portal in your Room of Requirement once you get to a certain point in the main questline. You can name your pets, brush them, feed them, and even buy them a toybox. If they are happy and well-treated, they will give you special materials that can be used to upgrade your gear. And yes, you can breed beasts as well.
Exploring the world in Hogwarts Legacy is the most fun part, especially when you get your flying broomstick and access to your personal hippogryph. The game does have a mount system and a variety of mounts can be found throughout your adventures. The world map is quite large and it will take roughly 70 or more hours to clear the game and collect everything. There are Merlin trials to complete. These will expand your default inventory space so you can carry more gear. Field pages to find, ancient magical traces to collect, statues to find at night, pets to collect, combat challenges, and so on.
Visuals and Audio
There is no doubt that Hogwarts Legacy is a gorgeous-looking title. The game utilizes Unreal Engine 4 and Avalance Software sure has made effective use of it. The PlayStation 5 offers two different graphical modes – Fidelity, Ray-Tracing, and Performance. The performance focuses on lower resolution but shoots for 60 FPS the majority of the time. I’d have to say that maybe only 2 percent of my 50+ hours of review playtime dipped below 60. It ran almost flawlessly without any hitches or crazy dips. The fidelity mode lets you run at 4K but at 30 or so FPS. I personally prefer the performance mode because it makes the game much more fluid and fun to play. Then there is the Ray-traced mode which I’ll be honest I haven’t actually tried, so I don’t really have an opinion. I was too busy casting spells, chasing field pages, and having fun in the performance mode to care about Ray-tracing. To be quite frank, I believe that current-gen machines are still too weak to really utilize Ray-tracing at stable framerates, but come PS6 and the next Xbox it will most likely be a different story.
The audio is quite good. Voice acting for the most part matches the majority of the characters that you’ll meet throughout your magical journey in Hogwarts Legacy. However, there are some characters who have weird voices that don’t match their looks. Thankfully, those characters are not really part of the main questline and the interactions with them are quite short. The facial and lip-syncing animations are not good though. After playing Horizon: Forbidden West it’s going to be quite a while before we see another game with stellar facial animations.
The world itself, however, is just gorgeous. The interior of Hogwarts Castle is wonderful to look at. Every room looks gorgeous and has something special about it. The reflections look great as well and I love the lighting. Avalanche Software has absolutely nailed the art style and aesthetics of the universe. The outdoor areas are great as well, especially when you’re flying on your broom or your mount and able to see everything around you. It’s just atmospheric and immersive from every angle. Huge kudos to the art and tech team that made all of this possible.
Whether you are an RPG fan, like open-world games, or a Harry Potter fan – Hogwarts Legacy is a game that MUST be played. It packs a ton of replay value. It takes roughly 30 or so hours to complete the main questline and an additional 40 or so hours to finish everything else. There is much to see and discover in this beautiful and magical universe. You cannot miss this game. The only small issues I have are the lack of variety of enemies to fight, boring boss fights, the facial animations, and mismatched voice acting. Other than that, the game is beautiful, fun, and pure magic. My personal opinion is that this game is a contender for game of the year in 2023. Hogwarts Legacy will receive a final verdict of 9.0 out of 10.
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