Hogwarts Legacy Reviews

  • LifeExpectancyLifeExpectancy1,714,088
    17 Feb 2023 18 Feb 2023
    17 1 15
    **********SPOILER FREE**********
    Well well well, what do we have here. Quite an unexpected and pleasant surprise from a universe of which I'm not a huge fan. I don't dislike the Harry Potter universe mind you, but I've always just had a "well that was a pretty good movie" attitude, and have never read the books.

    That said, this game is quite the spectacle, and well worth your time. Bear with me folks, as it's been a LONG time since I reviewed a game other than my beloved Ori and the Blind Forest. (And Potter fans bear with me if I don't get the intricacies of what is or isn't happening in this game).

    Hogwarts Legacy will have you following the path of a young wizard at the titular school of Wizarding, as well as roaming out into the wider world to expand on the central story line. You'll use spells, potions, magic items like a meat-eating cabbage, and 'basic magic' (aka unlimited zaps from your wand, similar to magic missiles in the D&D universe) to fend off animals, magical creatures, the undead, and evil wizards as you gain experience more powerful magic. You can grow your own plants and brew your own potions in the Room of Requirement early-on, but I dont find it super useful for my play style.

    What struck me first and foremost about this game is just how incredibly detailed Hogwarts is. After the opening sequence, I wound up spending several hours just wandering around the school. I'm playing on Xbox Series X with the hi-rez texture pack downloaded, and even in performance mode I was absolutely in awe of the developers' attention to even the tiniest detail in the castle. There is a fidelity mode option (aka better graphics but at the risk of frame-rate drops), and a fidelity mode with ray-tracing (peak graphics, on Series X at least, but with noticeable performance issues even for someone not that picky like myself).

    The easiest place to see the difference in fidelity mode with ray-tracing is in front of a mirror. In performance mode on Series X, the mirror would reflect my character admirably. I was even able to make out the difference when I switched hats, and the feather in my cap (literally) was noticeable in the mirror. But the room behind me was just a blur, and my character was a 'shadow of herself'.

    With fidelity and ray-tracing, the mirror recreated the room behind me in stunning detail, and I could do my character's make-up using the mirror (if that were an option - it isn't). I highly recommend sticking to performance mode. The differences are extremely minor anywhere else in the game without a mirror to gaze upon. The lip movements for the massive amount of spoken dialogue are the best, most realistic I've ever seen in any game.

    Even in performance mode, the lighting shines above and beyond most games (pun intended). Shadows dance and waver based on the source direction of the light, and some of the more explosive combat spells can light up a dark cavern in a real feast for the eyes. I'm not surprised, and thankful, the OG Xb1 and PS4 versions were abandoned as they would have hamstrung the devs' work on the visuals. An odd graphical glitch such as clipping, and the lower half of an NPCs cloak rotating around to the front like an apron, mars the near perfection of the visuals, but they're superbly polished 99.5% of the time.

    Speaking of combat, once I pulled myself away from exploring Hogwarts to get to the meat of the game's story, I found the combat mechanics equally satisfying. The combat is what you make of it, however. If all you do is spam cn_RT for the 'basic magic' zaps and roll around with cn_B to dodge, you'll quickly get bored. If, however, you set up your quick-casting options appropriately, there is something immensely satisfying about a Glacius->Leviosa->Repulso combo to levitate a frozen enemy and throw them into a wall or another foe to explode on impact. The light show of a confringo-ending combat combo is dazzling if done in a confined chamber.

    Don't shy away from upgrading your talent tree in the 'dark arts' section either, as this will open up even more combat options, allowing you to mix things up further with your spell combos. You'll quickly find yourself becoming more of a walking nuclear weapon than a lowly little wizardling child. The game has no difficulty-related achievements, so I expect many folks will play on story or easy mode, and that's totally fine if it's your cup of tea. For true enjoyment of your character's weapon-of-mass-destruction spell combo abilities however, I'd suggest one of the higher difficulties as you become accustomed to the game's flow. You can start off on a lower difficulty then bump it up as you go.

    Another very pleasant surprise is the gear system. Although you'll want to upgrade to the latest-greatest gear for better offensive and defensive stats, especially if playing on higher difficulties, the game allows you to press cn_X when hovering over a particular gear slot and change its appearance to any piece of gear you've found previously. With so much of this game's enjoyment being how much of a visual spectacle it has, it's quite nice to keep your character looking how you see fit without sacrificing combat stats to do it.

    Inventory space is quite lacking early on, so make sure you are selling any and every extra piece of gear you have on your person at every opportunity. Being able to use their visual appearance on your higher-stat gear removes any sting from doing so, and until you complete Merlin Trials to upgrade your max gear quantity that you can carry, you'll need the slots for additional loot you find.

    Collectibles... oh how I normally loath thee. Collectibles are a hallmark of modern RPGs, for better or worse, and Hogwarts is no exception. Between field guide pages aplenty, Merlin trials to complete, Demiguise statues to hunt down, and butterfly mirrors for which you track down their corresponding Lepidoptera (just to get another field guide page, mind you), the collectibles in this game could quickly become annoying. Somehow though, despite having already found over half the collectibles in the game, I haven't gotten super annoyed.

    Perhaps it is because I am not going out of my way to sit and grind them out, hunting hither thither and yon, and doing it all in one go. I tend to find myself just hunting for the occasional one if I cast Revelio and hear the characteristic 'ping' of a page nearby. I have vibration turned off (never cared for it, even a little, on any game), so I have to rely on the nearness of the sound and its directionality. But it hasn't become a bother.

    You'll be hunting down treasure chests frequently for better gear (hopefully) anyway, so you tend to find quite a lot of the pages by shear happenstance, which is a true saving grace. Added to that, the mini-map does a fantastic job of pointing out nearby items to find (chests, Merlin challenges, and pages), so it really isn't as much of a bother as it could otherwise be.

    As for the story, I won't get into it in detail because I'd rather not spoil anything for anyone. Suffice to say that much as Potter discovers himself in a way in the movies, so too will you learn about your character as you progress through the game. With that will come twists and turns in the plot, and although I'm not even halfway through the main story, the portents and foreshadowing are pulling me in well, in many ways better than the Potter movies ever did. Perhaps it's just easier to see myself vicariously in a character I'm controlling than one on the silver screen.

    I have one gripe with Hogwarts. There are several points in the game where you're following along behind an NPC as they talk about this or that. I get that it's to expand on the plot, and perhaps it's a way to mask the loading of larger areas behind the scenes so as not to take you out of the experience, but the walking speed is excruciatingly slow. For whatever reason, these follow-the-leader sequences annoyed the living bejeesus out of me. But that really is my only gripe with an otherwise masterpiece of a game.

    All-in-all this is one of the best RPGs I've ever played, and I don't say that lightly. I've been trying to play The Witcher 3 lately, and have struggled to maintain any desire to play it. Yet I can't put Hogwarts down, except when I absolutely must to spend time with my wife, or get some sleep so I'm not dead at work. I'm surprised and pleased to see such an incredible game come out of a big-budget studio. That feels like more of a rarity these days than ever, with so many AAA big-budget games falling into the same tired routines and half-arsed bug-filled releases. Hogwarts is a polished, fresh twist on a pretty routine formula for Action-RPGs, and I'm loving every bewitching minute of it. Play this game, whether you're a Potter fan or not.
    Showing most recent comments. View all comments.
    LifeExpectancyCouldnt agree more. I didnt want to get into minutia in the review. Game has some minor areas for improvement but its a solid 9.5/10.
    Posted by LifeExpectancy On 20 Feb at 18:50
    BownzinhoGood review. I’m looking forward to getting this when it comes out on the previous gen consoles and am happy waiting.

    Also the fact that you have the guts to say you don’t have the desire to play Witcher 3 is always a thumbs up in my book 👍
    Posted by Bownzinho On 24 Feb at 15:57
    LifeExpectancyI thought they cancelled the prior gen versions entirely? Did they walk that back or did I misunderstand the announcement?
    Posted by LifeExpectancy On 24 Feb at 20:49
  • Don NielsonDon Nielson699,273
    13 Mar 2023 13 Mar 2023
    1 0 0 New
    Hogwarts Legacy seems to want to revive the magic of the Wizarding World. After somewhat disappointing returns from films about Newt Scamander, developer Avalanche Software now goes back more than a hundred years in the past to let you explore Hogwarts as a fifth-year student. Can the studio behind the Disney Infinity games deliver a top game with Hogwarts Legacy or does the game suck all the joie de vivre out of players as if they were being kissed by a Dementor?

    Unique and entertaining
    To take away all your worries, Hogwarts Legacy has become a very extensive and entertaining game. People who want to discover everything about the world around Hogwarts and Hogsmeade can easily spend eighty hours here. Would you rather just go through the main story? Then you will still be allowed to put an hour or thirty into the game. But what exactly is the main story about? More about that later. Your adventure starts with the creation of your character. The Character Creator has a multitude of options to choose from and thankfully isn't limited to three or four base models. After you have managed to design your own character, and have made a choice what your character's actual name is, the adventure begins.

    What's it about?
    As a fifth-year student who has just been accepted into Hogwarts, you seem somewhat of a novice to the world of the wizards and witches that populate the world of the Wizarding World. Fortunately, it soon turns out that your character has a real talent for everything that has to do with magic. You are even able to see a kind of "Ancient Magic" that your teachers cannot perceive. The reason for this and why an annoying goblin named Ranrok is trying to make your life miserable is something you as a player have to discover for yourself. I found the story overall a bit predictable, but luckily it didn't detract from the experience at all. Because Hogwarts Legacy takes place more than a hundred years before the events of the Harry Potter stories, you will mainly meet new characters. In many cases they are ancestors of well-known figures with recognizable names such as Weasley and Black. In any case, I thought all the characters were well portrayed in terms of voice acting and the used character models. Without using the well-known characters, Hogwarts Legacy does an excellent job of creating the magical atmosphere of the films.

    For the people who have been living under a rock for the past few years; Hogwarts Legacy is an action RPG where you can explore the world of Hogwarts at your leisure. The story takes place over the span of about one school year. During that year you will have to attend classes, add new spells to your assortment and complete a huge amount of missions. Some missions will revolve around the main story, but a much larger amount of missions will be devoted to your friendships and relationships with fellow students and teachers at Hogwarts. Completing these missions will earn you experience points and over time your character will level up and your stats will improve as a result. Where most RPGs would give you points for defeating wizards, monsters and other enemies, in Hogwarts Legacy you will only earn experience points by completing the missions and completing challenges.

    Challenge accepted!
    These challenges vary greatly in terms of gameplay. For example, there are challenges aimed at collecting hidden pages that are hidden everywhere. Fortunately, you can find ingame on your map in which areas you are still missing collectables. But challenges come in all shapes and sizes. Defeating specific types of opponents, collecting items, preparing potions and much more will keep you constantly busy unlocking rewards. The gameplay loop of just completing an extra side quest or challenge regularly ensured that I kept playing the game until the wee hours of the day. The atmosphere is excellently created by the large scale of the locations, the eye for detail within Hogwarts and the world and the dialogues between the various characters. Hogwarts Legacy, in my opinion, makes it feel like the setting of the books and the movies really comes to life on a grand scale. Unfortunately, Quidditch is not an optional activity to keep you entertained for hours, as competitions have been canceled for the entire school year. But maybe that will be added in a future DLC.

    Magic battles
    For me, the main question was whether the battles with your magic wand would actually be fun to play. Well, I got a quick answer to that. Fighting in Hogwarts Legacy mainly depends on the spells you assign to your buttons. Some spells are better suited to use up close, while others are more effective when used against enemies from a distance. Expelliarmus you get after a few hours of playing and is excellent for disarming enemies. But a spell like Protego, for example, is simply a defensive spell that blocks opponents' attacks. In total you will be able to add more than 25 different spells to your arsenal, which you can alternate fairly easily by means of hotkeys and four hotbars. You'll need to unlock the ability for more hotbars first, but eventually you'll be able to allocate four sets of four spells. Enemies you encounter often have a color indication that indicates which type of spells are best to use. It's not like this means you should only use that color, but it's often the quickest way to get around their Protego spells and take them out faster.

    Changing clothes
    After your character reaches level 5, you also get the option to assign talent points to skills. As befits a good RPG, you will mainly use these points to make a unique build of your character. Do you choose to make your Ancient Magic stronger? Then you will regularly be able to hurl barrels and boxes at your enemies. But in addition to the skills you can develop, you can also equip your wizard with a multitude of clothing items. Each piece of clothing has a trio of statistics in the form of defense, attack and hit points. Although there are different classes, such as rare and legendary, for most of the game you will simply choose the clothes that have the best stats. It pays to open chests in your environment when your inventory is not completely filled. Excess items are easy to sell and when you like a certain style but the stats are no longer strong enough to justify your choice, you can simply choose to apply the cosmetic styling to your new item. That way you can shape your character exactly as you want without making sacrifices in terms of statistics.

    Still some ugly trolls in the beautiful world
    Hogwarts Legacy knows how to create a beautiful world on the Xbox Series X. However, there are some minor flaws here and there. For example, in a huge open world you will occasionally encounter some graphical errors such as students walking through each other, sometimes objects and characters float in the air and there is something to be said about the sound design here and there. As long as you are exploring the world, the music and musical hints stand out because of their recognisability. You will recognize many famous tunes from the Harry Potter soundtrack here. The ambient sound of talking students, water streams and animals also sound excellent. It is only that, when you pay close attention to the dialogues between your character and other characters, you notice that some recordings sound a bit hollow and robotic. It is not the case with every character, but I suspect it has something to do with the compression of the audio fragments. It's never super distracting and doesn't detract much from the experience, but I started to notice it more after a few hours of playing.

    Despite some minor technical flaws, Hogwarts Legacy has become a wonderful game. The gameplay is rock solid, the world is varied, exciting and definitely worth exploring and the atmosphere is dripping from all sides. Hogwarts Legacy has become the game Harry Potter fans have been hoping for. And although the story takes place more than a hundred years before Harry Potter, the magic of the franchise is fully reflected in Hogwarts Legacy.
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