Hogwarts Legacy is developed by Avalanche Software, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. The game has been embroiled in controversy due to transphobic remarks from Harry Potter author JK Rowling. Although she is not personally involved with its development, she stands to profit from its success. For more, read our in-depth article on how Rowling’s comments have impacted the trans community. In this article, you will also find links to trans creators you can support, as well as charities you can donate to.
It’s difficult to find someone oblivious to the world of Harry Potter. For many it was a property that grew up with them, with both the book and film series persisting in the zeitgeist for decades. It’s confusing then that it’s taken this long to get a game that promises to deliver on the fantasy of becoming a wizard or witch within that universe; attending classes, learning spells, engaging in mischief, and exploring the grandeur of Hogwarts Castle. Hogwarts Legacy delivers on that promise, to a degree. Its adaptation of this universe is undeniably the most extensive yet, allowing you to truly explore Hogwarts and its surrounding areas like never before. But it’s also stuck too keenly in the present (and sometimes, past) of open-world game design, reducing much of what you do to repetitive checklist activities in a world that is disappointingly barren.
Hogwarts Legacy takes place in the late 1800s, although you might be hard-pressed to notice that from the way characters speak or by the clothes they wear, which look ripped straight out of the films set in the late 1900s. You play as a prodigal witch or wizard of your own creation, this time fighting against a goblin uprising led by one particularly nasty one named Ranrok. This props up a predictable and surprisingly sporadic narrative, with main beats and progression only taking place every few hours as you complete the requisite quests around them, which are often barely related. There’s so little screen time for many of the main characters that you struggle to get a sense of their motives, especially so in the case of Ranrok, who only appears to deliver a line or two to some subordinates before he disappears for a couple of hours. It robs him, and the story, of any sense of emotional tension, reducing it to nothing more than “talented good student takes out bad powerful goblin” by the end.
While trying to stop a potentially cataclysmic uprising, you’ll also be required to juggle the duties that come with being a newly inducted fifth-year at Hogwarts. Being both a new and older student means you get to enjoy the thrills of learning some familiar spells from earlier years, but also have access to a wide range of more advanced ones as the year progresses. The initial introduction to each class is captivating, from partaking in duels in Defence Against the Dark Arts or being subjected to a screaming Mandrake in Herbology. These are some of the moments where Hogwarts Legacy is at its strongest, recapturing the sense of wonder that has made this world so enticing to so many. The mechanical components of each class, however, fall woefully short. The small minigame used to convey wand movements for each spell feels ripped out of the series’ very first video game entry nearly two decades ago, while many of the activities introduced shortly after are brief, uninteresting, and usually used as a means to fill your map with many more instances of the same thing. They quickly extinguish any glimmers of hope that the school aspect to your time at Hogwarts will be as engaging as many of these classes might seem from the outside.
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