We usually don't conduct reviews on video games, but this novelty was worthy of one. Hogwarts Legacy is the main theme to discuss everywhere, and the videogame itself is breaking all gaming records with a possible potential of getting the "game of the year" title.
The Harry Potter universe has millions of fans around the world, with many film adaptations and even a dozen video games. But until now there was no game that would cover the entire spectrum of features of the amazing universe of J.K. Rowling. Finally, after Hogwarts Legacy has been released, it's safe to say that the fans got the very game they were waiting for.
The narrative begins with the main character’s enrollment in Hogwarts in the 5th year, which is permitted by a special order of the Headmaster. What such merits are due to, is not specified, but in the course of the plot there will be an explanation for this. All the events of the game take place at the end of the XIX century, that is, long before the main events of books and films, and therefore we will not meet familiar characters here – only their ancestors.
Nobody had heard of Voldemort at the time, but there were enough problems without him. In the center of the plot there is a global conflict between wizards and goblins, where some ancient magic is involved, which the main character is also endowed with. So, he will have to reveal some secrets about it.
It should be noted from the beginning, that the main plot is not the strongest side of the game. To tell you the truth, it is quite secondary. The conflict with the goblins fades into the background almost immediately, leaving the scene to the secrets of ancient magic’s revelation.
The main antagonist, Ranrok the Goblin, is not taken seriously because he appears too rarely in the course of history. Even if it was not so, who can be scared of little goblins at all?
Hogwarts Castle is beautifully designed. It is recreated with the smallest details and filled with a whole bunch of riddles and puzzles, making it really interesting to explore.
It is full of life, and since it is a magical institution, there are interesting and sometimes funny situations here and there: moving portraits, ghosts, enchanted staircases, chambers of secrets.
The atmosphere of Hogwarts is imbued with the spirit of the first films of the Harry Potter saga – recognizable music from the film is playing everywhere, and local locations repeat almost completely those from the films.
In each location you can find a page with a brief description, which is very useful for those players who are not familiar with the universe.
Before the release, it was expected that the studying process would be the main element of the Hogwarts Legacy gameplay, like learning magic and new spells in the classroom, but this expectation failed.
Initially, all events of the gameplay do really begin to happen during the usual routine life of a Hogwarts student. But after a couple of lessons, the usual training ends abruptly, and the method of obtaining new spells changes: they cease to be an object of study, but become just a reward for completing additional tasks from teachers during extracurricular time.
Comforting teachers are ready to pull up a student who missed as much as 4 years of study. In general, our avatar grasps everything on the fly with such ease and makes up for the curriculum, that questions involuntarily begin to arise about what students have been doing for the past 4 years.
Open world of wonders
Outside of Hogwarts there is a fairly large open world with recognizable places: the Forbidden forest, the Hogsmeade village are present too and play an important role.
The open world is quite large and filled with various types of activities and interesting landmarks, such as enemy camps, puzzles, Merlin trials, dungeon clearing, treasure hunting and much more. However, this is not enough. There is nothing really interesting that would encourage the player to study the world.
There you can collect ingredients for potion making, as well as ore, which will be useful for arranging a home. Collecting resources here is an unobtrusive gameplay element without any hint of a grind.
During the research, players will be accompanied by a broom, as well as flying creatures that can be saddled. During the flight, you can appreciate the open-world game design, which is just great here. By the way, in the course of history winter comes and the open world blooms with winter colors.
In addition to the main plot, there are many extra tasks in the game that will shed a little more light on the magical world. Moreover, some missions, in particular the personal stories of three of the fellow students, surpass the main plot in terms of interest.
In the course of research, the player will constantly find more and more new items of equipment that will differ not only in characteristics, but also in appearance, which is not always appropriate. Fortunately, the appearance of the character can be fixed regardless of what equipment he is wearing.
In terms of the combat system, Hogwarts Legacy offers something unique in the RPG genre. There are many games where magic is used as an additional game element, but those where the entire combat system is based on magic are quite rare to find.
The combat system is fascinating, simple, diverse and intuitive. However, it suffers from a lack of potential enemies. In the first hours, the player meets all of the opponents, and until the very end of the game this selection does not change.
Being a magician, the main character is not able to fight in close combat, so all battles take place at a distance. In the arsenal of the protagonist there is a basic ranged attack, 4 spells to choose from and ancient magic. There is no analog of mana, the use of abilities is limited only by the recharge time. There are about 30 spells in the game.
During character leveling, you can expand the simultaneous capacity of spells to 16 pieces (4 switchable combinations of 4 skills). Although this quantity of options seems redundant to me, as personally I used no more than 12 in battle. Four remaining slots, however, were used to keep the equipment for a rescue room.
Combat system demonstration:
Skills are atypical, and each and everyone of them has some purpose beyond simple damage. Put together, they can form an interesting combination. For example, you can throw an enemy into the air with one spell, then turn him upside down with another and at the end sharply pull the enemy to the ground, which creates a huge damage impact. You can come up with a lot of such examples: turn the enemy into a red barrel and throw it into a crowd of enemies — you’re welcome. In this regard, spells give a wide range of opportunities on the battlefield, allowing you to naturally juggle enemies.
Ancient magic is presented here in two variations: as the ability to throw surrounding objects at the enemy and a charged ultimate, the discharge of which causes huge damage to one enemy.
When the hero is about to be attacked, an indicator appears above his head, similar to the "spidey-senses" from the Spider-Man series of games. The enemy's attacks can either be blocked with a shield, or dodged. Blocking will allow a counterattack, but will not protect against more powerful strikes.
In addition to spells, there is a circular menu with items that can help in battle, such as various potions and plants that can be used in battle. For example, the famous screaming Mandrake can produce an effect of stunning opponents.
There are also several non-combat spells that will help with your studies, such as illumination of objects with which you can interact, a skill that unlocks locks, and a Disillusionment spell that gives conditional invisibility, which is used in stealth. Stealth is present here as a game element, during the plot it is required only a couple of times, the rest of the time it plays a role of a trick for amateurs.
As the tasks are completed, the player increases the level of the character and simultaneously receives talent points that can be spent on spell improvements.
The developers of the game did a good job here, as there is nothing useless among the improvements, as in other RPGs. Each talent brings something new to the skills, there are no improvements like “+5% damage” in the game. And given that the number of points is limited, you have to choose between useful and more useful.
The local room of requirement is a personal space for the player, which can be arranged the way you like with plant cultivation, potion making and even breeding magical creatures.
The room itself can be changed and designed entirely, including walls, floor and ceiling. As the main story goes on, the room of requirement is upgraded. It turned into a real architectural masterpiece with several fields of open space, where you can keep your familiars: phoenix, unicorns and other magical creatures, which give you the opportunity to improve the equipment.
I would like to note separately, that technically the PC version of the game is not in its best condition, it lags often, and the performance leaves much to be desired.
I played with RTX 3080 and still went through some unpleasant frame rate drops, especially in the village of Hogsmeade. I hope this problem will rest in the early version of the game and will be fixed in the future.
Quite a perky action is likable, and with the advent of new spells, it fascinates more and more. Even if the game does not have an interesting plot, it is full of something else — an opportunity to appreciate the full depth of the Harry Potter universe. Hogwarts Legacy primarily attracts admirers with its fanservice, it is a game from fans for fans.
So, the latests will be absolutely delighted, for the rest of the players the game will be a very strong middling. And if it does not get the title of "game of the year", then it certainly deserves "the most anticipated game of the year"-one.