Hogwarts Legacy review: An immersive & magical experience that doesn’t disappoint

Alex Garton
Hogwarts Legacy open-world review

Hogwarts Legacy’s beautifully crafted open world & castle completely immerse you in the life of an adventurous student, even if the main story stumbles.

Hogwarts Legacy is one of the most controversial releases of modern times. Often when a game provokes such debate, it is because of the content, be it violence or sex – but here, the controversy has nothing to do with the content of the adventure, but rather JK Rowling’s transphobic comments. This has led to a lot of discussions on social media as some people have argued for and will be boycotting a game that the Harry Potter author will profit from, while others argue, for various reasons, that they will be playing it anyway. We’ve heard people say that they want to support the developers and that they’re not going to let JK Rowling’s comments prevent them from playing in a world that they love.

We are not going to tell you whether you should buy the game or not – that decision rests with you – all we can say is whether it is an adventure that delivers a good Harry Potter experience.

On its own merits though, Avalanche Software has crafted an impressive RPG that succeeds in putting you in the shoes of a talented Hogwarts student. While the game has shortcomings, they do not ruin your journey or leave you disappointed.

With a charming world, simple but satisfying combat, and an engaging main story, Hogwarts Legacy offers Harry Potter fans a completely new way to experience the spellbinding universe they fell in love with.

Hogwarts Legacy: Key details

  • Price: £49.99/$59.99
  • Developer: Avalanche Software
  • Release Date: February 10, 2023
  • Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch

Hogwarts Legacy trailer

A magical world brimming with charm, beauty & mystery

From Hogsmeade to Feldcroft, Hogwarts Legacy’s open world achieves a delightful combination of charm and beauty. The rich Scottish countryside dotted with abandoned castles, long-forgotten mines, and winding rivers always has something new for curious students to discover. This experience is only amplified when you take to the skies on your broom or Hippogriff, allowing you to appreciate the tireless work that must have gone into crafting this world.

As you would expect, collectibles are a significant aspect of Hogwarts Legacy, but unlike other RPGs, they don’t feel like a chore. Avalanche has incorporated the game’s massive array of spells into the gathering process, with puzzles that require charms to complete and chests that won’t open without a touch of magic trickery. This consistent encouragement to use your spells means you actively go out of your way to seek these challenges, using Revelio around every corner to uncover any secrets that are hidden out of sight.

Hogwarts Legacy Hogsmeade
Floo Flame locations can be used to fast travel around the Hogwarts Legacy map.

While the enchanting landscape surrounding Hogwarts is fun to explore, the attention to detail and sheer size of the castle elevate it to something special. The school is split up into seven separate wings which can be explored on foot or navigated with fast travel via Floo Flames. This gives players a chance to visit iconic areas that have been faithfully adapted. Whether it’s the four common rooms, the Viaduct Courtyard, or the Great Hall, it’s surreal to walk around these locations as a Hogwarts student, fully immersed in the game’s world.

Although the castle has no load screens, Avalanche hasn’t achieved a completely seamless experience, with loading symbols often appearing on doors before you enter them. While this seems like a minor issue at first, it becomes a regular occurrence in Hogwarts, with my character having to wait up to 10 seconds in front of an entrance for it to open.

Technical issues aside, for me, it’s the extra touches in the castle that really captured my attention. From watching a set of enchanted books organize themselves on a desk to getting distracted by a house elf preparing food in the kitchens, the game manages to bring Hogwarts to life in a way no Harry Potter title has done before.

Captivating characters with interesting stories to tell

When it comes to the main narrative, Hogwarts Legacy tells an engaging story that’ll keep you interested during your journey, though it may fail to leave a lasting impression. While the faces you’ll meet along the way including Professor Fig, Nearly Headless Nick, and Gladwin Moon are all charismatic and likable, the overarching plot can fall flat. This is especially apparent when you’re sent off into dungeons for magical trials, that appear almost identical every time. These overly polished areas of magical power lacked the charm of the main open world and just left me wanting to return as soon as possible.

That being said, the story shines bright at points, especially when you’re joined by the likes of Poppy Sweeting, Sebastian Sallow, and Natsai Onia, who are all fellow students that you build friendships with throughout your adventures.

Hogwarts Legacy greenhouse
The Room of Requirement is fully customizable and allows you to provide a safe haven for the beasts you collect on your travels.

If you need a break from the main story, Hogwarts Legacy has a hoard of sidequests for you to take on for specific rewards. These will introduce you to a range of interesting characters but more importantly, they’ll push you out into the open world to explore. Staying focused on the task at hand is difficult with so many collectibles and discoveries to be made, but this is hardly a drawback in my book.

Overall, the main story in Hogwarts Legacy won’t be winning any awards, but it fulfills its job of keeping you engaged and guiding you through a variety of fan-favorite locations.

Simple & satisfying combat with a high-skill ceiling

Combat is undeniably simple in Hogwarts Legacy, with the majority of your damage coming from your wand’s basic spell casts that automatically lock onto enemies. The skill ceiling comes in the form of interweaving charms between these attacks to maximize your damage and expose the weaknesses of a foe. In single combat, this feels extremely easy, with your dodge roll making it simple to negate any attacks coming your way. However, against groups of opponents, you often have to strike the perfect balance between dealing damage and avoiding incoming strikes, which felt satisfying to master.

Despite this, it’s clear some players will love the simplicity of Hogwarts Legacy’s combat and others will no doubt be disappointed that Avalanche didn’t opt for more of an action-based system. This all comes down to personal preference but at times, the basic nature of the combat did feel clunky, making it difficult to navigate large groups of targets.

Hogwarts Legacy wand shop
Hogwarts Legacy has a day-night cycle.

In terms of mechanics, certain enemies are cloaked in a colored shield, making them immune to the majority of magic. In order to break this barrier, you need to use a corresponding charm or hurl an object from the environment to make them vulnerable to your entire arsenal of spells. This pushed me to always be ready to switch my charms in combat to counter these foes and meant no spell ever went unused.

Instead of just unlocking your core spellbook through skill points or levels, the game introduces them to you through school lessons. These mini-quests are always incredibly simple, but it felt so much more fun to learn a spell practically, rather than just clicking a few icons on a menu. After you have access to these charms, they can be upgraded through the talent system which is split up into Spells, Dark Arts, Core, Stealth, and Room of Requirement. Points are earned by leveling up and while this system does allow you to specialize in specific types of magic, the talent trees are not very big so your options are limited.

Verdict – 4/5

Hogwarts Legacy isn’t the perfect game, with the main story falling short in areas and technical issues providing some frustrating moments. However, it achieves a level of immersion that grips you into the wizarding world and doesn’t let you go.

Whether it’s attending classes, getting lost in the mysterious hallways of Hogwarts, or visiting Ollivander’s to pick out the perfect wand, Avalanche has crafted a magical experience that takes you back to the day you first encountered Harry Potter, recapturing all the feelings that came with it.

Reviewed on PS5

About The Author

Alex Garton is a former writer for Dexerto. He has a BA in English Literature and has been a Games Writer for over four years. He has previously written for Gfinity and TOP10Esports. Specializing in Call of Duty and Apex Legends, he also enjoys diving into new releases to create informative guides.