The Hogwarts Legacy – Review in progress
Hogwarts Legacy is gearing up for release on February 10th, but the verification code provided allowed for a verification embargo which was lifted earlier today. After only a few days with the game, I’m not ready to make a final judgement. But the 18 or so hours I’ve played helps paint a clear picture.
During that time, my most notable impression was that the developers captured what was unique and memorable about this fiction. Set many decades before the Harry Potter stories set in books and films, the game has scope to tell its own story with its own refreshing set of characters – albeit with a healthy selection of familiar surnames like Weasley and Black there in the mix. For players familiar with the books or movies, it’s great fun to explore the vast castle and surrounding countryside, which is full of secrets, side missions, unique characters, and magical discoveries.
Visually, the game is a treat, capturing the weird and wonderful elements that helped make the franchise so popular in the first place, and finding ways to make every minute of gameplay pop with little magical tweaks and engage the player remember that this is a fantasy world. However, I encountered many technical issues, including frequent pop-ins when quickly moving through an environment and some weird issues in action and combat.
The developers are clearly aiming for this to be a definitive version of gaming in the wizarding world. They have presented the player with many options, from broom riding to spider fights to classes with eccentric and prickly professors. Even after more than a dozen hours, I still feel like tutorial items show up fairly regularly. However, in a game about being a student studying at a school, the narrative surrounding these tutorials feels natural, and learning new mechanics, spells, activities, or character introductions is fueled by long stretches of interesting exploration and mission completions interrupted.
Combat is fun, mostly because of the spells you cast and the animations that accompany them. Enemies rarely impress with their nuanced attacks, and so far there’s too little variety in the types of enemies I’ve encountered. But I enjoy blasting fire and ice spells, learning enemy weaknesses, breaking color-coded shields with specific attacks, and just feeling like I’m in the middle of an action-packed magical duel.
Meanwhile, exploring is a lot of fun. While running through the castle, I’m constantly distracted from my quests to hunt down a flying key or solve a hidden mystery – and that’s how it should be when it comes to setting the mood of the inspirational stories. For the past few hours I’ve taken my broom and flown outside the castle, which is both fun and a rewarding navigation experience. Luckily, the game also includes plenty of fast travel locations, making it relatively easy to hop around the large map.
Upgrading and leveling is done by completing missions and challenges in the world, and it’s a lot of fun. The best part are the talents, which can sometimes dramatically change your approach to stealth, combat, or exploration. But gear progression is also fun, thanks to a smart system that allows players to separate functional progression from cosmetic tweaks. I find a lot of gear in the world as I explore it – sometimes a bit too much, especially when it doesn’t always help level up my character and is just sold in the nearest store. But it’s a minor issue, and each new piece adds a new cosmetic tweak to my collection, which I enjoy.
Hogwarts Legacy is shaping up to be a strong game, but I still have a few questions. While the dialogue and voice acting have been excellent so far, the story struggles a bit with pacing and finding a groove. And I’m excited to have all my magical options available as I explore and fight to see how complex things eventually get.
Aside from the critical review of Hogwarts Legacy, many potential players following the game are aware of a larger debate surrounding its release. Harry Potter author JK Rowling’s public transphobic remarks in recent years have sparked a wider discussion about supporting a game derived from her work. This ongoing conversation includes some who have called for a boycott of the product. As with all of our reviews, Game Informer’s Hogwarts Legacy review will assess the game itself and not any related concerns or debates that do not factor into our score. In this case, however, our review also includes a separate note to alert potential buyers to the broader discussion surrounding the game, so that each reader can make an informed purchasing decision.
We’ll have more to share about Hogwarts Legacy in the coming days. Watch out for the game releasing on February 10th for PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC, with early access for Deluxe Edition buyers on February 7th. The game will be released on April 4th on PS4 and Xbox One, with a subsequent launch on Switch scheduled for July 25th.
https://www.gameinformer.com/review-in-progress/2023/02/06/hogwarts-legacy-review-in-progress The Hogwarts Legacy – Review in progress