Hogwarts Legacy: The AGExp Review

Harry Potter is one of those generational phenomena’s that despite its targeted demographic encompasses everyone. In my teenage and early twenties it was everywhere, and prior to the movies being released my only exposure to the novels came in the form of late night or early morning line ups. The only time I read any of them was the last chapter of the last book while in line so I could annoy my mother and younger sister who I was buying them for. I enjoy the movies but that is about as far as I get into the whole wizarding world. Harry Potter or the expansive escape that was created outside of his story has just been an occasional watch to get away from the worries of the real world for a little while.

Then along comes Avalanche Software with an original story set in the Scottish Highlands around one Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Taking place late in the 1800’s we get to experience Hogwarts in a detail only seen previous within your own imagination. Taking the role of a fifth-year student joining Hogwarts for the first time you are immediately thrust into harm's way via a dragon attack, and you haven’t even made it to the sorting hat yet. Luckily professor Eleazar Fig has been giving you some pointers in the lead up to the school year and a second-hand wand. Some trips to familiar places and your fair share of duels later and you get your first look at your home for the foreseeable future.

Hogwarts Legacy sets up the story exceptionally well early on in a manner that has been missing from games for some time, you can tell that fans of the wizarding world are involved in its creation looking to expand and dive further into an already extensive amount of lore along with the ever-present fan expectation. The team at Avalanche have meticulously rebuilt this world for us all to experience in our own way at our own pace.

Very early on Hogwarts Legacy shows you that you have a massive open world to explore and that it isn’t going to constrain you to certain areas just because you haven’t progressed part of the story yet. If you wander into the Forbidden Forrest and you clearly aren’t ready for it yet, well good luck to you. There are puzzles at every turn and so many collectables to assist and inform you’d be forgiven if you thought you were after Riddler trophies. Top that all off with a full wardrobe of items to find, collect and show off there is well in the vicinity of 100 plus hours of content here.

Aside from a story that has me 100% committed and enthralled I find myself actually enjoying the vast majority of the side quest content. They’re not perfect, a lot of it comes down to meagre fetch quest style missions but each tells its own story. A worried niece, an overly excited young astronomer or a snide nosed little miss that believes she holds the key to fixing the rampant acne problem apparently plaguing Hogwarts. Each tells a unique story and brings another character into your world who I have found again later on wandering the halls and was able to interact with them and carry on from what had happened previously.

Not only are you exposed to a raft of other students during your travels but each of your teachers are well thought out and capable characters. Each designed to show you a part of the world before unlocking another spell for you to cause havoc with. With some strong voice acting to complement very intricate and well showcased models each teacher is worth the time to chat to and get to know their story.

Delving into some of the more technical aspects. Avalanche Software has produced probably the best character creator to date. While not as wide ranging as others it definitely is the most inclusive, with an ability to create characters from all walks of life. A big inclusion that was brought to my attention via TikTok has been the African American hair styles specifically and how everyone has been loving their look. There are plenty of inclusions that I hope encourage other studios to step up their game giving us wider access to how we want to build our own character.  

Playing on the PS5 it took me a little time to get my desired graphical settings. Fidelity mode looked amazing yet had some glitches around windows / mirrors within the castle but excelled out in the open. Turning on Ray Tracing just made it more noticeable that it was only 30 frames. Performance was perfect for the 60-frame fan in me but was a bit of a step down visually from Fidelity, so I ended up settling on Balanced. It provides a good balance between the two with great lighting effects and barely any noticeable frame drops from the 60 yet I am only playing in 1080p.

Before you dive into Hogwarts it should be known that a lot of the so-called rules that were established early on in the Harry Potter world do not apply here. Though the more I play the more I am starting to believe I am the reason those rules were put in place. You can roam the halls of the castle whenever you feel like its day or night, head off into the countryside whenever you feel like it and turn up to class when you want. It really is an open world that you are free to explore whenever and however you want.  

Hogwarts Legacy is a title that deservedly should be talked about within Game of the Year circles, it is just unfortunate that the noisy minority and those preaching from their own ivory towers have tried to take away the talent, love and hard work that Avalanche Software has put into this title. Is the game perfect? Not by any means yet it is solid. For someone like me that enjoys getting home from work, spending time with the family and then hopping into a world of make believe and wonder, Avalanche Software you have a fan in me and I cannot wait to see what comes next for Hogwarts and the surrounding area.


Hogwarts Legacy

Reviewed on PS5

Developed:        Avalanche Software

Published:           Portkey Games / WB Games

Available now on PC and current gen consoles. Coming soon for the Xbox One, PS4 and Switch. 

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