The Harry Potter franchise has had a history of poor video games, with basically only Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets being the exception. The majority of these games were underwhelming, with lackluster gameplay that failed to capture the essence of the source material and was only given a Harry Potter theme.

On the bright side howevere, there is Hogwarts Legacy. From its announcement three years ago, it was evident that it aimed to be different, offering a full-scale simulation of J.K. Rowling’s magical world. The delays caused by the pandemic have not detracted from my anticipation, as it shows the commitment of Warner to give Avalanche Software the necessary time to deliver a high-quality wizarding game to the world. But did they succeed?

Story And First Stepps

The Harry Potter story is well known and hardly needs any further explenation, but what’s important to note is that Hogwarts Legacy is set approximately 100 years prior to the events of the first Harry Potter book. As a result, most of the characters from the books are not present in the game, with a few exceptions such as the house ghosts Nearly Headless Nick and the annoying Peeves. However, players will encounter characters with surname references to familiar families from the series.

You start off by creating your own hero using a comprehensive character creation tool. The moment you’re done with that, you’re immediately thrust into the action and begin your own quest at Hogwarts School of Magic. Unlike your fellow wizarding classmates, you’ll be starting in your fifth year, which puts you at a disadvantage in terms of magical knowledge. However, there’s a good reason for this, and without giving too much away, your hero seems to possess some unique abilities that catch the attention of various parties for different reasons.

Avalanche Software has done an outstanding job of creating an entirely new story that is completely separate from the story of Voldemort. The journey is full of unexpected twists and turns, and the choices you make during the game shape the outcome of the story.

Avalanche Software has done an outstanding job of creating an entirely new story that is completely separate from the story of Voldemort. (Image credit: WB)

Through Harry Potter Fan Club, you can take a quiz and be sorted into a Hogwarts house before you even start playing Hogwarts Legacy. By linking your account with the game, you’ll then receive additional gooddies. But don’t worry, if the app assigns you to a house that you’re not satisfied with, you have the option to pick a different house through the Sorting Hat early in the game.

When the adventure begins, our hero is about as skilled in magic as the muggle who writes this text, but it doesn’t take long before he learns the first spells and we understand relatively quickly that our protagonist is something of a magical talent. Upon arrival at Hogwarts School of Magic, following a detour due to a dragon-related incident, we are greeted with the familiar and warm welcome of the start of a new term that fans of the books and movies have come to know and love. After being sorted into a house, a brief overview is provided before players are free to embark on their own exploration of the magical world.

Freedom To Explore

Although we have the freedom to explore as we want, I soon discover that in terms of quests, I am restricted to the main story and a few simple side quests where I assist my classmates with basic tasks. This is actually a good thing however, as the world is incredibly vast and being able to pick up quests everywhere would be too much for most players to handle.

If you’re not in the mood for quests immediately, there are numerous secrets within the school walls to discover. I spent countless hours searching for hidden items that unlocked new discoveries and gave me a fresh perspective on exploring the school. Every nook and cranny, from the classrooms, gardens, towers, concealed rooms, and even bathrooms, holds secrets waiting to be revealed. I was eager to use the “Revelio” spell to uncover everything, but soon realized that I had to learn new spells to access all the hidden spaces. I couldn’t wait to master the spell “Alohomora” to unlock doors and padlocks all over the castle for example.

Speaking of learning, just like in the books and films, you have to participate in teacher-led lessons to gain knowledge about everything. Through engaging mini-games, you acquire new spells and learn how to cultivate plants that can be used for potions and other purposes. Since the lessons are integrated into the story, there’s no danger of reaching a point in the story where you lack the necessary magical tools to progress. However, some side quests may necessitate further progress in the story before they can be completed.

You are also at liberty to pursue other missions if you desire. After a few hours of playtime, you’ll have a lengthy list of quests to choose from, with most being (white) side quests and a few being part of the (yellow) main story. I’ve done numerous side quests and I’m happy to report that they are, pleasingly, well-executed. Of course, there are some dud missions that can be classified as “fetch” quests, but even these usually have a twist that makes them enjoyable to play through. Furthermore, some side quests can impact the story in different ways later on.

Traversing The World

Initially, getting around the massive world is done on foot, but later on, you will have access to flying on a broom and other modes of transportation. Moreover, you have access to a fast travel system using floo powder from the start. With the school being so extensive inside and locations like Hogsmeade and smaller farms to explore, the fast travel system is incredibly useful and operates as it typically does, requiring you to discover places before you can travel to them.

Initially, getting around the massive world is done on foot, but later on, you will have access to flying on a broom and other modes of transportation. (Image credit: WB)

However everything is not great, and I have to admit that the menus have several shortcomings, one of which is the use of the mouse pointer system by Avalanche Software, which is indeed superior if you have a mouse, but navigating with an analog stick becomes challenging.

The slow speed of scrolling between various sections such as collections, quests, map, equipment, etc. with a small delay between each step (as well as when accessing the menus), only exacerbates the difficulty. Additionally, the arbitrary sorting of items/gear makes it hard to find the gear that suits me best, as I have to go through everything I have to make comparisons. Finally, I also find the map layout to be unintuitive when choosing the fast travel destination.


One aspect of the game that really excels is the spells. Within just the few first hours, you’ll have access to more spells than you can use at once. You assign spells to each action button and activate them by holding R2 and pressing the corresponding button. This leads to constantly swapping out spells, but eventually, you will have too many to manage with the range of buttons you have on your DualSense. But don’t worry, as the game progresses, you’ll have the ability to access more spells at once by unlocking a way to quickly swap out your set of spells.

And speaking of all those spells, the battles in Hogwarts Legacy are a highlight of the game. The combat system in the game shares similarities with the fighting styles seen in Batman: Arkham Asylum and Spider-Man and the protagonist can attack multiple enemies simultaneously, send them flying with magic, and build long combos by playing smartly and skillfully. These long combos provide opportunities for special, more powerful attacks. The battles can get intense at times as you dodge attacks, cast spells, and keep a watchful eye out for enemies coming from all directions.

The battles in Hogwarts Legacy are a highlight of the game and defeating a hard enemy is rewarding. (Image credit: WB)

The game features diverse enemy types, each requiring a unique approach to defeat. Some enemies must be knocked into the air, others burned with spells, and others thwarted with the use of plants, potions, or other elements. Additionally, the player must employ various forms of defense during attacks. The combat mechanics are well-crafted and provide a sense of full control for the player during battles.

Graphics and immersiveness

Graphically, Hogwarts Legacy is a bit of a mixed bag. The game’s development, which started and lasted a long time for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One (the game was intended to be released in 2021), shows in some areas such as the flat lighting effects, basic special effects, and stiff animations. For example, attempting to jump over high objects, standing on uneven surfaces, and the movement of students and teachers around the game world appear outdated and detract from the experience. Additionally, the lip-syncing is inconsistent. Despite these issues, the design of the game is top-notch, with remarkable faces and monsters that make cutscenes a delight to watch. As long as one does not pay close attention, the graphics are pleasing in certain parts.

Regarding the NPC characters, there is room for improvement. Most of them are non-interactive and simply walk around or lean against objects. My roommates were absent even when I woke up in my room in the morning, which was disappointing. The NPCs do not immerse me in J.K. Rowling’s magical world and instead remind me that I am playing a game. This stands in sharp contrast to games like Red Dead Redemption 2, which excel at creating immersive, lifelike NPC experiences.


In conclusion, my experience so far in Hogwarts Legacy has been incredibly satisfying. As a long-awaited dream for Harry Potter fans, the game offers an in-depth and personalized adventure that allows players to explore and play according to their preferences. Whether you prefer stealth or action, the options are available to tailor your character’s development. With the promise of continued updates and new gameplay elements, the game remains fresh and never feels monotonous. While there have been a few bugs and instances where I’ve had to restart, these can be expected in a game of this magnitude at launch. I would highly recommend this game to both die-hard Harry Potter fans and those with only a passing interest in the wizarding world. The opportunity to share a Butterbeer with friends at the Three Broomsticks, create your own potions from harvested plants, uncover hidden secrets, and soar through the skies on a broomstick around Hogwarts is truly magical.

Score: 9/10

Hogwarts Legacy is available on PC, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. I reviewed the game on Playstation 5 with a code provided by the publisher.