The developer of Hogwarts Legacy has kept us warm in recent years with extensive trailers about Hogwarts, tutorials for caring for mythical creatures and wintery atmosphere films with fireplaces. We therefore did not expect that the game would excel in its action-packed gameplay and adventurous plot full of riddles and mystery.

In the first half hour of Hogwarts Legacy, you’ll be attacked by a dragon, take a dizzying rollercoaster ride through the banks of Gringotts and find yourself in a haunted vault, where you’ll be unexpectedly attacked by living statues after solving a cryptic mirror puzzle. This fusion of exciting action with dark mystery immediately draws strong parallels with the Harry Potter films. A feeling that is further exaggerated when the prologue ends and the camera slowly zooms in on a stone Warner Bros logo, while familiar orchestral music rings in your ears.

Hogwarts Legacy is at its strongest when you let the story guide you and you get the feeling of playing the leading role in a magical fantasy story. But the game is much more than ‘just a story’. It is a large-scale wizarding simulation as well as an open world game. When you pull up floating platforms in underground dungeons with Accio spells, it even looks a bit like a platformer. Hogwarts Legacy is a game of many elements: from simulating a magical school life, to crushing a goblin rebellion with brute force, and from capturing and taming mythical beasts, to completing all kinds of side missions spread across a large world. With such a broad scope, Avalanche’s Wizarding World adventure has something for everyone, exactly what fans have been hoping for since its announcement.

Hogwarts Legacy revolves around you: a teenage witch or wizard who is invited by Professor Eleazar Fig to join the fifth year of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Soon, Fig discovers there’s much more to you than a quick flash of light or a simple hover spell. You can see traces of an ancient form of magic that hides other wizards from the naked eye. As a group of rebellious goblins led by the enemy Ranrok seek to obtain this magic to seize power in the Wizarding World, you unknowingly become a key pawn in a dangerous game. Reason enough for the Hogwarts professors to introduce you to a special trajectory, which will soon make you stand out just a bit more than your fellow students.

In addition to taking lessons at school, you venture outside the castle walls several times to trace traces of that ancient magic and find out what the goblins are up to with it. You often do this together with your mentor Fig, but as a stubborn teenager you also venture out into the wide world on your own several times. You regularly involve a fellow student, such as the stubborn Slytherin apprentice Sebastian, who is only too happy to teach you a dark spell or two.

Every so often you will come across an abandoned tower or castle that contains a trial; a kind of sorcerer’s test that teaches you more about the ancient form of magic. These underground trials are expressed in The Legend of Zelda-esque dungeons full of magical booby traps – such as bridges that suddenly start flapping like a carpet – and various types of puzzles that you as a skilled wizard must solve on your own.

The recurring dungeon crawling element is perhaps the most surprising aspect of Hogwarts Legacy gameplay. The puzzles and twists you encounter during the trials (but also often enough outside of them) may not be of the same level as that exemplary Nintendo franchise, but are nevertheless creative and often quite challenging. Instead of a bow and arrow or a bomb, you mainly use your wand here, which you have to use in the most imaginative ways. For example, you use a spell like Accio to lift yourself over an abyss on a plateau. People with a little knowledge of the spells in Harry Potter are guaranteed to have an edge with the puzzles.

The way you use spells in Hogwarts Legacy is actually a lot more interesting than we initially expected. This is also evident from the fights, which, in contrast to the books and films, are much rougher. This way you can use almost all the spells you have in your arsenal during battle. This often produces spectacular scenes and interesting combinations. Especially the dozens of combos you can make keep the combat system in Hogwarts Legacy constantly entertaining.

Fighting in Hogwarts Legacy is unprecedentedly brutal and to be honest it rubs a bit with the otherwise family-friendly Harry Potter series. Those who feel a bit at home in action games can at least indulge their lust. You can almost call Hogwarts Legacy a button masher; combat is chaotic at times, it’s all about reaction speed, and with a little training you can get really good at it.

Most spells are learned by taking classes at Hogwarts. The better you do at school, the more spells you unlock and the faster you develop yourself. At the same time, the school offers much more than just learning spells. For example, during a course like Herbology you come into contact with the wonderful world of magical herbs and grow carnivorous plants, and during Potions you make all kinds of magical concoctions. The Care of Magical Creatures course introduces you to magical creatures and teaches you how to approach them in the wild.

Besides witty cutscnees and some subtle minigames, these lessons are unfortunately not much more than that. You mainly unlock spells and learn, for example, which potions you can make to help you during your extracurricular activities. In the greenhouses of Hogwarts, you can use tips from Professor Garlick to grow monster plants such as the screaming Mandragoras, which you can then use as a kind of Pokémon during battles. So most of your time at Hogwarts is spent on homework rather than on the lessons themselves. And wandering around the castle of course!

Hogwarts is grandiose: you will certainly lose a few hours if you want to get to know the castle properly. That is not crazy; in the books the castle was already big, and this is the first time it has been realized in its entirety. For example, locations such as the History of Magic classroom and the teachers’ lounge have only existed on paper until now, but now they can be seen and experienced for the first time. Those who know the books a bit will notice that Avalanche Software has thoroughly studied the source material. The map of Hogwarts is accurate and there are all kinds of little details scattered in and around the castle that will make the biggest fans overjoyed.

Hogwarts is a visual spectacle; the same goes for the neighboring shopping village of Hogsmeade and the beautiful natural landscapes. It is a pity that all those wonderful details often take a while to come into view. Hogwarts Legacy is constantly plagued by loading textures, resulting in pop-ins. This is especially disturbing when you dash through the open world on a broomstick or Hippogriff, when trees suddenly get leaves or the facades of the castle suddenly change. But also during cutscenes, a lot happens in the background, which sometimes makes it seem as if the ground is shaking.

Hogwarts Legacy is a beautiful game, but sometimes leaves something to be desired on a technical level. We were spared really annoying glitches, except for a sheep that suddenly came waddling through a door. It is mainly technical imperfections that you cannot hide from the eye, as well as the NPCs that, in contrast to the beautiful backgrounds, look very rickety.

Fortunately, these imperfections do not ruin the gigantic experience of Hogwarts Legacy for many players. Avalanche Software has created as faithful a Wizarding World experience as possible through its design, world building, and careful study of Rowling’s source material. Hogwarts Legacy is sure to put a big smile on the face of Harry Potter fans.

Hogwarts Legacy releases this Friday on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and S, and PC. The game is coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on April 4 and to Nintendo Switch on July 25. For this review, the PlayStation 5 version was played.



+ Beautiful open World
+ Combat System
+ Dungeon Gameplay
+ Story
+ Breathtaking and detailed Hogwarts Castle

– Classes are nothing exciting
– Some puzzles/caves a bit repetitive