Hogwarts Legacy is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated games of 2023. Needless to say, we were eager to get our hands on the game to see what Warner and Avalanche Software have planned for us. So, is the game set in the world of Harry Potter as magical as it seems? Our impressions after a good hour of gameplay.
We were invited to play for about an hour on PS5 at Hogwarts Legacy. We were able to experience three different phases of the game, namely the introduction, a part more focused on exploring the castle, and a hectic mission with Poppy outside of Hogwarts. After that, we were also able to speak with Kelly Murphy, lead designer, and Moira Squier, lead narrative.
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Hogwarts opens its doors to you
As an imposing logo emerges from the mist, the first notes of a familiar theme resonate in our ears. There’s no doubt about it, we have entered the world of wizards. It’s impressive to see how quickly the magic takes effect. Yes, there’s a nostalgic element to it.
Some moments even remind us of the adventures of the well-known wizard who first introduced us to Hogwarts. These subtle nods are sure to delight franchise fans. But the magic doesn’t stop there, far from it. The promise of Hogwarts Legacy is to show us Hogwarts Castle (and its surroundings) in a different way. And visually and atmospherically, it’s a resounding success. Whether outside or inside, the sets are particularly well done and thought out.
Magic is everywhere, from the entrance of the greenhouse to the small animations of objects. Hogwarts Legacy: The Legacy of Hogwarts Castle has its own special touch and this short preview has already made us want to get lost in it for hours. Admittedly, it’s a little less magical when you focus on the details, like the sometimes frozen facial animations or the rendering of hair. Overall, you can sense the technical limitations of a studio that has never worked on such an ambitious project.
But with that in mind, the work accomplished seems even more impressive. Especially since, unexpectedly, the castle corridors are quite lively. After the first gameplay showcase, it was one of the players’ major concerns.
Well, the short hour spent on the game has managed to reassure us for the moment. Peeves’ entrances, the rumors that reach our ears (which will change according to your house according to the developers), and the small activities available here and there give life to this school.
Admittedly, the animations of the NPCs are not very varied and not much is always happening. But just let the music carry you away to enjoy the walk. And even our short escapade outside the walls of Hogwarts has convinced us enough.
It remains to be seen if everyone in Hogwarts Legacy will invite us as much to adventure and exploration. Especially since, according to the developers, it will take about forty hours to complete the main story. And you can add to that the numerous additional content that we are promised.
And in terms of writing, how does it look? Well, it seems quite interesting. The mission accomplished serves both the story and the development of the characters. In fact, all those that have been presented to us are colorful and seem to give that friendly tone already present in the books/movies.
You get the picture, this first taste has convinced us of the enchanting potential of the universe offered by Avalanche Software and Warner Bros.”
You’re a wizard, but not Harry Potter
The developers made it clear during our interview: the goal of Hogwarts Legacy is to let you live your own story within the wizarding world. The idea is that everyone should be able to find themselves there and shape their adventure according to their desires.
This is achieved in part through the very comprehensive character creation tool. To be honest, we weren’t really surprised. The first gameplay showcase had already introduced this tool, which promised to be particularly complete. But it’s still something else when you can see it for yourself. Fifteen face shapes, twenty skin tones, fifty hairstyles, and countless possible hair colors… And it looks stylish too. In terms of look and avatar customization, Hogwarts Legacy is clearly one to follow.
And the tool is also very inclusive. Whether you have scars, are trans (given the controversies, this is important), or a member of any ethnic community, you can create a character in your image. So, Hogwarts Legacy has largely succeeded in its mission!
And the customization doesn’t stop there. You can change the appearance of your equipment to live adventures full of style, and it’s quite enjoyable. As for the story, it’s too early to define the impact our choices will have throughout the game.
But according to the developers, some small decisions will change the way NPCs interact with you and others, more important decisions (especially on the use of dark magic), will affect the end of your adventure. What we have seen, however, is that the Unforgivable Curses clearly change the game during combat.
Get your wands ready!
If Avalanche Software’s first showcase reassured us about the game’s gameplay, this preview has managed to dispel any lingering doubts. Firstly, because the combat choreography is very pleasant to the eye and the information is nicely translated to the screen (forgetting the slightly cluttered side).
The counter system based on a precise tempo greatly punctuates everything, making it as enjoyable to watch as it is to play. The only downside is the lack of precision in movement, some combinations, and the tool to lock onto an enemy. Moreover, the combat system requires a little adaptation time to fully master and is therefore not the most accessible.
But once these few inconveniences are overcome, it’s a real pleasure to wave your wand in Hogwarts Legacy. In addition, the many spells allow you to adjust your combat style significantly. And then the enemy protection system (sensitive to only one type of spell) will force you to adapt anyway.
Add to that the ability to interact with the environment (by throwing enemies into the void, for example) and you get truly engaging and interesting battles. It remains to be seen if they will keep this flavor throughout the game.
In general, the game clearly has a richer gameplay than we would have thought. In addition to the dynamism of the combat, it’s also possible to choose your approach (stealthy or aggressive).
It may not seem like much, but it helps give Hogwarts Legacy a gameplay that promises to be more extensive than expected and will therefore appeal to true fans of the franchise as well as curious players. Add to that the dark tone the title seems to be taking and you get a game that can intrigue even the most resistant Muggles.
Avalanche Software has clearly done a colossal job with Hogwarts Legacy, and it shows. This preview has indeed managed to dispel our doubts. The combat system is engaging and more complete than we thought, and the castle is far from empty.
Admittedly, the title has some technical shortcomings, but the magic of the game easily makes them disappear behind an exemplary and enchanting artistic direction. For the moment, Hogwarts Legacy has everything to be the ultimate Harry Potter game awaited by fans. If the proposition