Early Impressions of the Hogwarts Legacy: A Worthy Return to the Wizarding World

Early Impressions of the Hogwarts Legacy: A Worthy Return to the Wizarding World

Hogwarts Legacy comes out later this week and we’ve spent a little over 15 hours in the game so far, running around the gigantic Hogwarts castle, sneaking into the Forbidden Forest, shopping for all sorts of magical gadgets in Hogsmeade and flying around on our trusty broomstick. Our review for the game will follow shortly, but from our adventures in and around Hogwarts so far, Hogwarts Legacy looks like a worthy return to the Wizarding World. Avalanche Software has somehow squeezed all the best memories from the Harry Potter books and movies into a pensive, capturing the lore and life of Hogwarts castle. In the process, he also created a truly fun RPG that has its own merits beyond all the borrowed magic.

While the Hogwarts Legacy story goes its own way and has little connection to the world of Harry Potter, the DNA remains the same. A good part of your first 15 hours is spent with a little control, but once the castle gates open, you’re free to explore the surrounding areas of Hogwarts. Whether it’s Hogsmeade and other nearby villages, or the enchanting Forbidden Forest, iconic locations from the books and movies make the open world a delight to explore, like a big, delicious candy you can slowly unwrap and have all to yourself. By my estimation, the game should take around 40 hours to complete (going by my quest and challenge progression stats) if you partake in a healthy number of side offerings. The first 15 hours alone accumulate a lot. Here’s what we can say about the Hogwarts Legacy:

Return to Hogwarts Castle

The main star of the show, of course, is Hogwarts castle. Not only is it packed with things to do and secrets to discover, but it’s also recreated in such meticulous and beautiful detail that I often stopped to just look at things. From its imposing stained glass windows to its many wandering ghosts; from swinging stairs to talking and moving portraits – Hogwarts is a real treat. It’s also huge! I pride myself on having an unearthly sense of direction, but I often got lost in the halls of Hogwarts. A single tap on the D-pad will helpfully guide you to your objective, but I encourage players to explore and really discover everything the castle has to offer. The common rooms of the house are all distinct and true to the essence of the houses themselves. For example, the Gryffindor common room resembles a medieval castle, dripping red and bathed in the golden glow of sunlight. All the classrooms are there, of course, and the grand movable staircase, the Great Hall, and even the Room of Requirement, which, true to tradition, you can shape to your needs. The Room of Requirement serves as a sort of base of operations for all of your shenanigans. Here, you can create potions, practice your spell, and grow plants and herbs that help you in combat.

Hogwarts Legacy from the Gryffindor Common Room Manas Mitul screenshot Hogwarts Legacy from the Gryffindor Common Room

The Gryffindor common room at Hogwarts Legacy
Photo credit: Screenshot/ Manas Mitul

witch or wizard

Hogwarts Legacy casts you as a fifth-year witch or wizard newly admitted to the titular school of magic, who just so happens to have a dormant, lost form of magic coursing through their veins. Dubbed ‘Ancient Magic’, only hidden traces of this knowledge are left in the world, and you find yourself in its wake accompanied by your mentor, Professor Fig.

The game starts with a character creation screen that offers deep customization options. In addition to the familiar cosmetics, you can choose your house at the sorting ceremony, your wand at Ollivander’s, and your broom at a sporting goods store in Hogsmeade later in the game. Character customization is robust, and you can choose from tons of gear pieces across six categories – hand clothes, face clothes, hats, ties, capes and robes, and clothing. You can mix and match items to look like a total clown, or you can go for a themed look and dress like a dark wizard if you so desire. Your tailoring needs are covered. Clothing equipment also comes with stat buffs. Thankfully, Hogwarts Legacy has a transmog system from the start, so you won’t be stuck with the aesthetics of your high-stat apparel.

get your wand ready

The combat at Hogwarts Legacy surprised me. While the magical wand combat, for at least the first 15 hours of the game, relies on a list of familiar spells, you’re encouraged to play around with combinations of them. Fighting an enemy in the game is almost like a dance. You can dodge-roll out of the way of an enemy attack and return fire with a flurry of spell patterns. You can stun the enemy, then lift them into the air, pull them closer and explode them in a final flourish of fire. Your character is also blessed with what the game calls ‘Ancient Magic’. While Ancient Magic forms the backbone of the narrative in Hogwarts Legacy, it is also heavily employed in the game. A telekinesis-like ability lets you hurl heavy objects at enemies, or you can dispose of them in a single move when your Ancient Magic meter is full. The game also offers stealth skills. You can turn invisible, sneak up behind an unconscious enemy and use the ‘Petrificus Totalus’ spell – I’m sure Harry Potter fans will know what that does! It’s familiar stealth gameplay, but the newness of the Wizarding World makes it stand out.

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Hogwarts Castle is the star of the show in Hogwarts Legacy
Photo credit: Screenshot/ Manas Mitul

the open world

Outside of Hogwarts, the game offers a vast open world with new and familiar locations. The game map is divided into three main sections – Hogwarts, Hogsmeade and the world map. The Hogwarts area contains the titular castle itself and its surroundings. Hogsmeade includes popular spots like The Three Broomsticks, The Hog’s Head Inn and Honeydukes. The village shops sell everything you could need on your journey and more. The world map extends far beyond the castle and its neighboring lake and villages with various regions, each marked by a corresponding enemy level. Once you get your broom, you can go out and explore every nook and cranny of the map. While aerial mounts like hippogriffs aren’t unlocked within the first 15 hours, flying around on your broomstick is incredibly fun. There’s also a nifty fast travel system that connects to the magical lore Floo network.

Exempted class

Hogwarts’ legacy is also meaty. In true RPG style, it lets you do pretty much everything you’d expect from an open-world Harry Potter game (except Quidditch, unfortunately). In addition to the main story, you can indulge in side quests to do favors for your fellow Hogwarts students, find magical artifacts and pages of lore scattered around the world, and even attend classes. Taking courses at Hogwarts is all about learning new spells, which help you with all your extracurricular activities. You learn to concoct useful concoctions in Potions class, pick up basic spells in Spells and Defense Against the Dark Arts class, and grow all sorts of useful plants in Herblore. Often, in order to learn a new spell, you have to complete tasks that include in-game challenges related to dueling, crafting, and exploration. Progression also includes a talent system, in which you accumulate points used to unlock devastating new spells and abilities. Skills are spread across five different trees – Spells, Dark Arts, Core, Stealth and Room of Requirement – ​​each offering significant additions to gameplay.

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Don’t skip classes at Hogwarts Legacy, knowledge is power
Photo credit: Avalance Software

first impressions

The strength of the Hogwarts Legacy is in its details. The menu and UI design, the little embellishments on your heads-up display when you complete missions, the common rooms and hallways; they all come together to make the game not just a faithful recreation of the Wizarding World, but a meaningful extension of it as well. The game features open-world loops that we’ve all seen before, but the Wizarding World twist makes them feel fresh. The game’s music evokes the iconic John Williams soundtrack from the films, hitting familiar themes. Hogwarts Legacy, perhaps most importantly, is a new way to experience the world of Harry Potter and will likely bring even fans of the books and movies, who don’t play video games, to its shores.

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