Hogwarts Legacy review: A spellbinding world to explore

By Tom West,

Hogwarts Legacy will apparate onto Xbox Series X|S this week, bringing original magical stories of the Wizarding World to us in a whole new way. Here are our thoughts on Portkey Games' latest RPG.

Like many of you, I spent a considerable amount of my earlier years vicariously embarking on adventures with Harry, Hermione, and Ron via the Harry Potter books and films — I even went as far as owning the Harry Potter school books. Considering that the Wizarding World is jam-packed with lore, I've always felt that the interactive side has always been lacking. We've had some great games based on the franchise, such as Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets from the early 2000s, which were great fun, but they hardly drew you into a world outside of the mainline stories. With Portkey Games' announcement that Hogwarts Legacy would be heading to Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One, I was filled with a little bit of hope that we would finally be able to live out the fantasy of being a student at the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Will Hogwarts Legacy rise from the ashes of its predecessors like a magnificent phoenix, or succumb to the venom of mediocrity? Let's find out.

Hogwarts Legacy explores an 1800s Wizarding World

Hogwarts Legacy: Digital Deluxe Edition

Hogwarts Legacy: Digital Deluxe Edition

Hogwarts Legacy is an immersive, open-world action RPG. Now you can take control of the action and be at the center of your own adventure in the wizarding world.

Hogwarts Legacy is an open-world RPG based in the famed Wizarding World, except this time, we're heading to a time long before Harry and his pals were annoying the hell out of Voldemort — the 1800s. Even in the mainline stories set more than a hundred years after the events found here in Legacy, the witches and wizards cling to tradition, and as such, most of their lives are practically the same as it was in the 1800s. That gives Hogwarts Legacy a fantastic stepping-stone for its own stories, as everything looks and feels familiar to what we've come to know. Whether it's the use of hand-written letters delivered by owl, travel via Floo Powder or broomstick, and even the general architecture found in the non-Muggle towns and hamlets, the magic is well and truly alive.

I've spent close to 60 hours in Hogwarts Legacy so far, and the level of detail that has gone into building the world still captures my attention in ways I hadn't really anticipated. Every inch of Hogwarts school is explorable, both inside and out, giving you a chance to really experience life as a student at the magical institute. For keen-eyed fans of the franchise, you'll probably find yourself spending hours attempting to uncover the ludicrous amount of lore available and hunting down the Easter Eggs strewn throughout the castle, as well as Hogsmeade, the Forbidden Forest, and the surrounding areas. While the entirety of the world is nothing short of beautiful, it's the dynamic elements that bring it to life in ways I didn't really expect to see. There's the expected tomfoolery of students to be found as you explore; students letting off fireworks, flying kites, being accosted by one of the resident ghosts, and so much more — as well as a breadth of franchise-specific goodies, which I won't dive into now as it all makes for a great surprise.

There really are a ton of experiences to uncover, which lead to the game feeling vibrant and full of life. You never quite know what you're going to see when exploring this version of the Wizarding World, except when you're visiting Hogsmeade. In a game that can show you a random NPC walking on a wall one minute and then the next, two ghosts pass through a wall in front of you... duelling, no less! You do have to question why the protagonist feels the need to continuously repeat a very small number of dialogue lines when you're exploring. I don't know how many times I've heard "It's like something out of a storybook" or "It seems like all roads lead to Hogsmeade." Don't get me wrong, it's not exactly a big deal, but I think the main character could have done with a few extra lines to help them fit in with the breathtaking world around them.

hogwarts legacy review xbox

The living, breathing feel of the world is probably the main reason that I had no qualms with having to play through three-quarters of the game a second time... thanks to my clumsily deleting my character! Seriously, why would the character delete only need something as simple as pressing 'Y' and then 'A?' At least in-game item deletion is blocked behind an addition button, so it's more difficult to do accidentally. The silver lining to it, though, is the second playthrough really pressed home just how much I love what Portkey has created — and I got to experience a new House.

In Hogwarts Legacy, you are the centre of the story. We come to Hogwarts as a new student in the fifth year, possessing the ability to see and wield Ancient Magic. Subsequently, the leader of a Goblin uprising, Ranrok, is after the power for his own devious schemes, and so we become the thorn in his side for the entirety of the main story. When we start on our journey, we're able to create our character to our liking, including the House that we'll belong to for the playthrough — yes, we're able to do a full Harry Potter and just tell the Sorting Hat where we'll be going. What's cool about it is that each House, while still following the same events and objectives, will experience parts of the story differently. It's a subtle touch, but after playing through first as a Slytherin and then Gryffindor, it was nice to partake in something different as I climbed through my quest list a second time. The writing in Hogwarts Legacy feels like a natural addition to the Wizarding World, which is probably why I've had a blast on both occasions, and the myriad wild and interesting characters you meet along the way add to the adventurous, yet childlike, nature of the franchise.

Create a Hogwarts student that is truly your own

hogwarts legacy review xbox

Being an RPG, character customisation is an integral part of Hogwarts Legacy, and we can control the overall look of our character, outfit styles, armour traits, skills, and a ton of others. Cosmetically, any appearance choice we made at the start of the game can be changed at the style parlour in Hogsmeade, so you're not stuck with anything permanently. You're also free to change the look of each item you're wearing, for free, as long as you have unlocked the relevant appearance. Each item you pick up in the world is automatically added to your appearance library, regardless of whether you wore it or not, and the in-game challenges also have styles as rewards. The challenges task you with completing just about everything in the game, and while the list is certainly a hefty one, Legacy's consistent use of rewards keeps it feeling worthwhile.

Naturally, the Hogwarts Legacy achievements are mostly geared towards the in-game challenge and collection systems, so you'll need to completely clear the map in order to grab a completion. There are a few achievements, like 'Spilled Milk' for flipping a cow ten times that are completely miscellaneous, but you'll find the majority of the list contains either story unlocks or map clearing achievements.

Other than making you look cool, gear plays an important role in your combat prowess, just like any other RPG, so expect bonuses to your offence and defence, as well as boosts to your skills, via Traits. These add even more bonuses to your character, allowing you to buff particular spells that you might use more often than others. I'm a sucker for a bit of character customisation and mix this in with the accompanying Talent system, which are persistent boons, and you can certainly begin to feel your character excelling in the areas you desire. Personally, I've geared all of my stats towards maximising the carnage I can create with curses like Avada Kedavra and Crucio, because there is nothing quite like obliterating your enemies with spells you shouldn't know as a minor.

A repertoire of spells for maximum carnage

hogwarts legacy review xbox

When we first started seeing Hogwarts Legacy's gameplay, I wasn't sure if I would like the combat. Seeing it in the trailers, the spellcasting looked like it could get stale quickly, but actually playing it has revealed that it's probably my favourite thing about the game. It helps that there are 16 combat-based spells to use, from the aforementioned curses to explosive balls of flame, abilities that fling enemies across the map, and more. Each can be used to complement other spells in your repertoire, leading to pretty devastating combos once you've found a particular set that you like using the most. It's a really neat system, and with the addition of small lesson-based quests to unlock each spell, it feels like you really are picking up something new each time you unlock one.

Combat is pretty fast-paced and fluid, and makes you feel like a badass in the process. As you fire spells off at enemies, you have the option to parry or roll out of the way of incoming attacks, which show up on your screen with a visual warning above your character's head. It's simple in context, but the fluidity of blocking spells and letting off your own creates a dance of death on the screen, with explosions of colour flashing this way and that with each burst of power. Visually, it's impressive, as is the entire world, but for me, the sound design is what makes the Hogwarts Legacy experience an unforgettable one. Battles are filled with deep bassy explosions, whips, crackles, and thuds, shouts of a myriad of spells being called up, and much more. It would be an understatement to say that I was surprised by how much I love the combat in this game, but here we are. Will I forever play as a wizard in my games now? No, Ranger is life, but Hogwarts Legacy will remain as one of the few times I've enjoyed obliterating enemies with magical hellfire.

hogwarts legacy review xbox

TrueGaming Network does not agree with, support, or condone the comments and stance of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling on the subject of transgender rights and equality. The developers of Hogwarts Legacy have stated that Rowling is not directly involved in the game, though given that it is directly based on her franchise, it is more than likely that she will receive a share of profits from the game’s sales.
Those interested in the game but wishing to avoid directly funding Rowling’s problematic language and attitude may consider looking to pick it up preowned. To learn more about the cause or to donate directly, please visit Mermaids (UK) or the National Center for Transgender Equality (US).


Hogwarts Legacy is a magical experience that is bound to go down well with fans of the Wizarding World. Hogwarts and its surrounding areas are crafted in meticulous detail and give players a chance to truly explore some of the most wonderful aspects of the Harry Potter novels. Both open-world and Potter fans should feel right at home here, but anyone that dislikes having to clear a map of all landmarks is going to be in for a tough ride. Hogwarts Legacy is a fantastic addition to both the franchise and the RPG genre, and an adventure you won't soon forget!
9 / 10
* Tom spent around 60 hours honing his wizarding skills in Hogwarts Legacy, unlocking around 20 achievements in the process. A review copy was provided by Warner Bros. Games and played on Xbox Series X.
Tom West
Written by Tom West
Tom has been playing video games since he was old enough to hold a controller, experimenting with systems like the Nintendo 64 and Playstation until he eventually fell in love with the Xbox 360. With a passion for the platform, he decided to make a career out of it, and now happily spends his days writing about that which he loves. If he’s not achievement hunting, you’ll likely find him somewhere in The Elder Scrolls Online.
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