Hogwarts Legacy review for PS5, PC, Xbox Series X

Platform: PS5
Also on: PC, Xbox Series X
Publisher: Warner Bros. Games
Developer: Avalanche Software
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

Much like Forspoken a few weeks ago, it?s kind of hard to consider Hogwarts Legacy in a vacuum given the state of The Discourse around the game. In fact, given how large Harry Potter looms over the cultural landscape of the past twenty-plus years, it?s undeniably even harder to consider this game in isolation from everything being written about it. But let?s be honest: regardless of where you stand on?well, everything, you probably already know exactly how you feel about the idea of Hogwarts Legacy, and if you have a strong opinion one way or another, at this point you?re probably just looking for more content to either affirm your convictions or fuel your outrage.

And given how easy it is to find that content, if you?re after outrage or affirmation, I?ll simply direct you to literally the entire rest of the internet. And while you do that, I?m going to dig a little further into that Forspoken comparison.

See, where Forspoken felt too insubstantial (and, frankly, mediocre) to deserve all the attention and debate it garnered, Hogwarts Legacy feels like something more ? something substantial enough that it?s easy to imagine having a strong opinion about, even if you?re just looking at it as a game, rather than as a symbol for some broader debate.

In some respects, of course, it?s easy for Hogwarts Legacy to do that, since it has the weight of a few decades-worth of the Potterverse giving it substance. If you?ve ever read Harry Potter or watched the movies, when you see places like Hogsmeade or the Forbidden Forest (to say nothing of Hogwarts itself) and see names like Weasley and Black it?s hard not to have all kinds of memories and feelings wrapped up in them.

But Hogwarts Legacy doesn?t just bathe in the reflected warm glow of nostalgia. It contributes to that lore, and stands up as a worthy entry in the Harry Potter canon in its own right.

It does so by making Hogwarts the star of the game. I mean, yes, officially you?re creating your own character and playing through a story about the goblin rebellions of the late 1800s ? and that?s fine, and I?ll get to it in a moment. But the real attraction here is playing as a fifth-year student at Hogwarts who?s a latecomer to her wizarding world education, and getting to discover what it?s like to be a student at that school. You go to classes like Herbology and Charms. You explore every nook and cranny, honing skills like arithmancy to open secret doors and using spells to uncover pages that tell you more about the game?s world. You meet other students and go on quests, helping you flesh out the world and discover every secret the school has hidden. It all feels magical, and I say that with the pun only partially intended.

To be sure, it helps that the story is pretty engaging too, blending together nods to the original Harry Potter series with flourishes all its own that feed into the game?s identity. Your character is a chosen one of sorts, starting at Hogwarts at a later age than usual ? but it?s no Boy Who Lived situation, they just happen to have magic that helps them discover Hogwarts? rich history. The goblin rebellions are led by Ranrok, a goblin who sounds like a Cockney crime boss, and Victor Rookwood, whose last name is, of course, shared with a Death Eater. I don?t want to get too deeply into it, but I can say that there?s enough here to carry the game through its dozens of hours of playing time, and if you?ve ever wished you were at the heart of your very own Potterverse story, this delivers on that.

But again, it does that more by allowing you to live out your dreams of being a Hogwarts student. You can ? and I literally did ? spend hours running around the castle, seeing what you can discover, and you?ll find that it?s the little things that make the world feel real and lived-in. It?s not just scaling the stairs to take you to the top of the North Tower and finding the Divination classroom, it?s finding secret passageways that take you to mysterious rooms. It?s finding out that there are not only bathrooms in this version of Hogwarts, there are stalls within them that students have repurposed into snack rooms and potion-brewing stations. It?s petting the cats that roam the halls. It?s seeing Peeves play tricks on students, or seeing ghosts roam the hallways, or seeing the paintings move. It?s seeing wizards who look and sound and dress every bit as eccentric as the books always described them.

It?s also interacting with other students. As someone who doesn?t usually care for fetch quests, I was stunned by how quickly and how whole-heartedly I was throwing myself into helping an unpopular student find her gobstones, for example. Given how much the heart of the Harry Potter story was really about the friendship between Harry and Hermione and that useless hanger-on Ron, it?s great to see you have the same opportunity to build up relationships here.

It?s even about combat and spell-casting. Again ? and for the last time ? I?ll refer back to Forspoken to show how tricky it can be to have your game focus on range-based combat. While your very first encounter in Hogwarts Legacy may have you spamming the attack button, the game very quickly teaches you how to add in spells like Protego and Accio that allow you to vary up your approach, which makes it all the more fun.

It?s honestly hard to find faults with Hogwarts Legacy that aren?t just nitpicking. For example, I was going to complain about the lack of shifting staircases ? then I discovered the towers where the staircases were constantly moving around, so I guess my complaint would be that there aren?t shifting staircases everywhere? Otherwise, I?m stretching when I try to find fault with the game. Like, there was the odd very brief load time when I?d open a door, but they were rare enough that the times they happened stood out ? and even when they did, we?re only talking a second or two. There were occasionally moments of weird lighting when I?d go from a dark area to a brighter one, or vice version. Your gear can look a little silly as you try to find the clothing that maximizes your stats. I?ve read some complaints about the voice acting for your created character, but I decided to switch things up and play as a girl, and I never had any issues.

But clearly, if those are my complaints, then there?s not a lot to criticize Hogwarts Legacy for. It captures the magic at the heart of the Harry Potter story, and puts every bit of it on screen and in the world for you to enjoy. If you?ve ever wished you could get that acceptance letter to Hogwarts ? or even if you want a fun fantasy game you can sink yourself into for hours and hours and hours ? this is what you?ve always dreamed of. It?s hard to imagine another game topping this one in 2023.

Warner Bros. Games provided us with a Hogwarts Legacy PS5 code for review purposes.

Grade: A+