Developed by Avalanche Software and published by Warner Bros Games, Hogwarts Legacy is an open-world action RPG inspired by the world of Harry Potter, created by J.K. Rowling. However, Hogwarts Legacy is an adventure of its own and does not relate to the events of the original series of Harry Potter. Nearly all of the characters and the main storyline of Hogwarts Legacy is unique and different from that of Harry Potter. This makes Hogwarts Legacy even more special because it is a proper game that is only taking its inspiration from the original author and is building and expanding upon the universe in different ways. This is our review of the PS5 version of Hogwarts Legacy in which we explore the Forbidden Forest on a Hippogriff and fight some evil goblins.
Before starting Hogwarts Legacy, you are presented with the option of signing into your WB Games from where the game takes your chosen house and other details. After this, you can create your very own wizard and customize the character to the one that looks good to you. You can choose the body type, hairstyle, facial features, voice type, and more and then you are able to start the game. Hogwarts Legacy has a lengthy intro so make sure you have around an hour or so if you are starting the game for the first time because you will have to play through the complete into before you arrive at Hogwarts. After arriving at Hogwarts, you will be sorted into your house however the game does not force its decision on you for house selection. The Sorting Hat might pick your house based on the questions it asks you however you can either go with the Sorting House’s decision or choose your own house if you want to. Each of the four houses Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw have their own unique dormitories and signs on the robes but other than that, houses play a minimum role in the story of the game.
The game starts slow with a few spells unlocked for you to use and you are gradually introduced to different in-game mechanics. Since you are starting as a Fifth grader, you are already lagging behind other students, so the faculty goes out the extra mile to teach you spells and other course material in order to bring you up to speed with everyone else. Apart from regular classes, the faculty will also assign special assignments to you in order to unlock new spells. These are mostly tied to story progression because certain missions will require certain spells so you will need to learn them beforehand. You will find plenty of spells in the game straight from the Harry Potter franchise such as the useful Repario, Levioso, and Accio, and the deadly ones such as Expelliarmus, Crucio, and Kadevra.
Apart from these spells which are bound to different keys and are not always used by you, there are some essential spells that cannot be changed and you will always need them. These include basic spells for defense like Protego which forms a defensive shield around you to protect yourself from incoming spells, Alohomora which allows you to open locked doors, and Revelio which highlights important interactable objects, enemies, and puzzles around you. You can equip and use four main spells from your spell book which are cast by pressing R2 and then the designated button for the spell. As you continue to unlock more spells, you can assign the ones you need on the go from your spellbook. Depending on your needs and the current missions, you will need to switch them around quite often. Before you can learn each spell, there is a small mini-game that you must complete and when it is done, the spell is unlocked and accessible in your spellbook.
These missions are scattered all over Hogwarts and its adjusting areas. Apart from Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, Hogwarts Legacy features a lot of different areas as well and the actual map of the game is pretty huge including the Forbidden Forest and beyond. Apart from main missions, attending classes is a charm on its own. Depending on the subject, the classrooms are designed accordingly, and you will be playing different mini-games in them which use certain spells. For example, the very first Charms class teaches you the spell Accio and then you have entered into a challenge where you must summon huge balls and earn points based on the segment where the ball ends without letting it fall down. Similarly, Defense of the Dark Arts classes has plenty of duels that you will have to take part in. Each of the classes in the game has its own unique activities and mini-games that you will be completing. Each class is in its respective section, and you will walk through the castle to get there. If you want to get there quickly, you can use the cool Floo Flame network which is spread all over the map. The students are not just fillers in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry because every NPC and character in the game feels like a real person as you take classes and complete different activities.
They will interact with you in a different manner and some of them will like you and some will not like you. Depending on your actions and dialogue choices, you will make friends and rivals in the school just like in real life. These students or friends will also accompany you on various missions irrespective of which house they are in. You can pick between the people you meet to take them on different missions and activities. Similar to you, other students also have their own unique strengths and weaknesses so you will need to keep that in mind. Interactions play a vital role in ensuring that the game world feels alive and there is no shortage of interactions between you, teachers, and other characters in the game. Apart from friendlies, the world of Hogwarts Legacy is filled with enemies as well and you will be fighting with different creatures, wizards, and goblins.
The game features some really cool creatures from the franchise such as dragons, goblins, hippogriffs, house elves, and a lot more. Combat is a crucial aspect of Hogwarts Legacy and you will need to get your spells game to the top in order to succeed in the game. While the combat is pretty refined in the game, the only problem you have while fighting with enemies is the perfect balance of using all of the spells that you have unlocked in the game. If I take myself for example, there were often instances where I forgot to use even half of my unlocked spells to fully utilize them and I was just shooting one or two of my spells making the combat bits a little harder for myself. Once you understand how to balance your spells for combat, you will be a lot better at fighting all of the enemies in the game. You can also protect yourself by dodging in the game and using Ancient Magic which is one the best bits of combat. There are also some bonuses if you nail certain moves like if you are shielding yourself, you can send back a powerful spell to stun the enemy as well if you keep holding the shield button. The combat is not too deep but has enough mechanics to keep things interesting.
One of the best aspects of Hogwarts Legacy is that the game offers you so many side quests and activities to complete that you sometimes get lost in these extra activities on your way to a main mission. There were so many instances where I would be heading toward a main mission’s point but on my way, I would run into a student that needs something done and I would just start doing that instead and that activity would lead to another and this cycle just keeps on going. Since Hogwarts Legacy is an open-world game so this is quite normal for RPGs to do and I am glad that this game has gone along the same path as well. The side content mostly involves simple quests like fetch quests, simple combat quests like the underground dueling club of the school, puzzles scattered all around the castle, and more. Sadly, there is no Quidditch in the game despite being a full Quidditch Stadium in the game and I think that this was a missed opportunity since the brooms are already present in the game. Apart from brooms, you can also use Hippogriffs to fly around the big map of the game.
Hogwarts school on its own is designed in the best way possible complete with tons of references to the Harry Potter book series. The pictures move and the characters in them perform different cool activities as you pass them in corridors such as singing or playing different musical instruments. The stairs move around and disappear sometimes, and you see tons of cats, owls, and other pets going here and there in corridors and your dormitory. You can even pet cats and they purr in a loving manner. Different house ghosts such as Nearly Headless Nick and the pesky Peeves are also present in the game as you will often see Peeves annoying different students in the corridors. Apart from this, the attention to detail is amazing in the game as you will see trimmers flying here and there trimming bushes and trees, water buckets watering plants on their own, brooms cleaning floors and knight armor suits moving their heads, hands on their mantles.
This high level of detail is not just limited to the Hogwarts castle but is also found in the Hogsmeade village and other surrounding areas of the game. You will see people moving around, talking with each other, purchasing from shops, and whatnot. The game does not feel empty at any point because there is always plenty of activity going on everywhere. The Hogsmeade village has plenty of shops from where you can purchase new supplies that you will need for your journey. Since there are RPG elements in the game, you will unlock better gear that enhances your stats such as your offense and defense. Equipping better items and gear allows you to protect yourself better and deal more damage to your enemies. Certain items are purely for visual eye candy but some stat-changing items are present in the game as well. This brings me to another solid aspect of Hogwarts Legacy and that is the sound design.
I was extremely impressed at how well the game’s sound design is. Apart from the amazing score playing in the background and it dynamically changing according to different scenarios, the voice acting, and dialogue delivery is just brilliant. I also liked that the dialogue between the students and teachers is extremely polite. The students and your character talk with teachers and each other in a respectful manner that portrays a good school environment. This also depends on your playstyle as well because each option gives you a polite option or a rude/arrogant reply so it goes both ways around. The voice acting is too good and barely I wanted to ever skip dialogue in the game even after spending over 40 hours in the game. Completing the main story of the game should take around 28-30 hours depending on how much you are rushing it or taking your time but if you are a completionist, you are looking at tons of additional hours because there are tons of different side activities that you can do in the game.
Hogwarts Legacy offers tons of great accessibility features as well right when you start the game. It will offer you different options that you can turn on and turn off at the very start of the game. These options include Menu Reader, Colorblind Mode, different modes for casting spells, switching to Left Handed modes, adjusting camera sensitivity, and a lot of similar settings that will allow a diverse variety of players to enjoy the game without any issues. Even if you miss them at the start of the game, they are always available in the Settings menu and you can toggle them at your will. Apart from the accessibility options, there are also some generic settings that you can toggle on and off here as well which will tailor to the overall gameplay experience. These options range from Mini Map Pathing, Audio Visualizer, and increasing or decreasing text size. This is a hefty menu and you can adjust all of the settings according to your gameplay style.
On the PS5, you cannot change the default DualSense controller scheme however the default scheme is just fine, and I hardly thought to myself in any scenario that this button should have been assigned to any other button. The PS5 version of Hogwarts Legacy fully uses the advanced features of the DualSense Controller as well such as certain sounds play via the controller’s speaker, near some hidden collectibles the controller gives a slight vibrating feedback, the adaptive triggers work while spell costing and more. This is especially a positive aspect of the developer because very few games including AAA releases ever use the full potential of the DualSense controller. Hogwarts Legacy currently has a few technical hiccups on the PS5 and the most prominent one is the loading issue. While opening certain doors, a loading icon appears and you are stuck for a few seconds while the game loads the next area.
If you are outside in the open, there are no loading screens or any sort of a hint that the console is loading the game in the background but this is an issue when it comes to running around Hogwarts. This is not a very common issue with the game but sometimes when you are exiting the castle and going out in the open, the game will freeze at the door and a loading icon will appear. Apart from this, I noticed a few graphical hiccups here and there such as an object might suddenly pop up on the ground out of nowhere or the robe of student would be acting up. These are not game-breaking bugs but they can be annoying if they are not fixed in post-launch patches. The framerates are decent in the Performance mode on PS5 but they are not that good if you switch to Visual Fidelity mode. Raytracing also needs some more optimization and that should fix the overall frames as well. I am sure that most of these issues will be gone with the first few patches of the game.
While most people might think that it is pure nostalgia for the Harry Potter franchise that might be driving high scores for Hogwarts Legacy, I can easily say that this game might be set in a familiar fantasy world, but it has its own strong personality to be called one-of-the-best RPGs ever made. It features rememberable and lovable characters, the score is brilliant, the voice acting is stellar and the overall world design is just breathtaking. Once you start playing Hogwarts Legacy, it is tough to put it down and today, very few games are capable of delivering this level of immersion, especially an RPG because RPGs are normally really hard to get into. Personally, I would have liked the main story of the game to be a little longer, but it is still enjoyable and has its moments. Hogwarts Legacy is not just a game for fans of Harry Potter and if you enjoy RPGs like Elden Ring, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Hogwarts Legacy can easily sit in the same ranks as those iconic RPGs and you should definitely give this game a chance.