I have only been a fan of Harry Potter since October of 2022, but when I found out about the pre-release of the Hogwarts Legacy video game I immediately pulled out my wallet, logged onto Steam, and purchased the Deluxe PC edition for myself. Since then, I have been counting down the seconds until February 7, 2023, waiting patiently to access my 72 hours of early gameplay.
So, when the clock hit 11 AM MST Tuesday, February 7th, I launched my Steam client in a rush of double clicks and slammed on that bright green play button. My heart was beating wildly against my chest as the large Warner Brothers logo floated toward me on my screen. “This is it,” I told my friend, who had joined me on Discord to share in the experience, “this is about to be my new obsession.”
First, I had to choose the correct settings for my preferred gameplay experience. The interface was easy enough to understand, but I realized there were many settings I would have to adjust as the game progressed such as spell slots and toggle vs hold.
After my settings were deemed satisfactory, I moved to the character creation page. My expectations for this game rest in Skyrim’s hands as it is my favorite role-playing game (RPG), so I was ready for some high-detailed, to-the-centimeter type of character customization. I am sad to report that this was not the case instead the character I made was based on a few templates and color scroll bars. My first idea was to create a Malfoy-based witch, but after looking through the four options they gave me for blonde-colored hair, paired with the lightest pale skin they had, I decided to give up my pursuit of creating a Malfoy heir. I then moved on to creating an androgynous character, testing just how far these character creation limits could reach. Sadly, most template options appeared to be either super soft and round or extremely cutting and angular. Also, there were no options for choosing nose, mouth, eye, ear, or jaw shape individually. I could either choose a fully created character and tweak the colors, or I could choose one of about 15 preset faces. The redeeming quality of character creation was the ability to give my character a range of skin detail. There were many options for types of freckles, beauty marks, and complexion types my character could have. I finished creating my witch by adding some dark circles under their eyes to set the tone for the restless journey I knew waited for me on the next screen.
How right I was!
The game wastes no time at all getting you into their world and the dangers that lie ahead. Don’t expect to relax for too long as the game needs you to be ready and on your feet to solve their starting puzzles and cast your first spells. Luckily you have a guide in Professor Fig who joins you on your first journey. He teaches you your first spells, and the game has made them very intuitive for either a long-time player or a new gamer. Plus, you get lots of practice before taking down your first enemy. What your guide doesn’t tell you is to look EVERYWHERE. I cannot stress this enough, you HAVE TO SEARCH. This world has so much to offer right from the jump, so if you don’t look around you will miss the gifts the Hogwarts Legacy game developers are trying to give you.
Speaking of looking around, one of the most anticipated aspects of this game for me was the visuals. The trailer alone was not enough, I needed to see for myself the sun’s reflection on the water and the moving paintings along the Hogwarts Castle walls. In this regard, the game did NOT disappoint. I spent the better part of an hour just looking at all of the sights and scenery that were available to me, this included searching every available inch of the Hufflepuff dorms and common room without NPC protest. One thing I did wish for was the ability to transfer from a 3rd person to 1st person’s point of view. While I don’t mind looking at the back of my character’s head while traveling around the castle, I thought it would be a cool way to fully immerse myself in the Hogwarts experience by seeing the world through the eyes of a student rather than the eyes of an observing camera.
It was now hour three of my early access experience and I was beaten. I had expected to play until the sun went down, but the amount of information that the first few cutscenes and quests provide was putting my brain on overload. I knew that if I continued to play my brain would force me into autopilot, and this is the one game that I want to be fully conscious of as missing even one small detail may alter the course of my gaming experience.
If you’re on the fence about purchasing Hogwarts Legacy, I would recommend watching videos of first-look playthroughs as they will show you a general idea of what to expect while playing. If you’re just waiting for your chance to play then I wish you good luck, and may your time at Hogwarts be everything you’ve ever hoped for!