Hogwarts: Legacy Early Access First Impressions

by: 
hello world!
Michelle Holstine,Brandy Brown,Charlotte Merritt
| February 9, 2023
hello world!

*excited squeal* IT’S HERE, IT’S HERE! After an already longer-than-a-month delay, Hogwarts: Legacy has graced our doorsteps/gaming consoles. I, another contributor, and one of the editors here at Couch Soup were lucky enough to get early access on Feb 7 before the Feb 10 general release, and we wanted to give our initial impressions and thoughts! Neither Brandy, Charlotte, nor myself have been able to finish the game (thank goodness there’s more to explore), so this article will dive into what was previously stated, initial impressions! There will be light spoilers, so if you want to go into your game completely blind, come back to the article once you’ve had a chance to dive in yourself!

I did want to make it clear that this article will not dive into the drama surrounding the *cough* external people of this universe. It is a celebration of the universe we can explore and our love for that only. Now, to begin!

To get the boring details out of the way, Hogwarts: Legacy is an immersive RPG developed by Avalanche Software (Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Prince of Persia: Arabian Nights, Disney Infinity) and published by Warner Bros. Games ( Batman: Arkham series, Middle-earth series, Lego series) under the Portkey Games label. It is set in the Wizarding World universe based on the Harry Potter series we know and love.

The Story:

You enter the universe as a unique student at Hogwarts. We are starting at the school as a 5th year instead of an 11-year-old 1st year. This means we haven’t had the previous 4 years to refine our magic skills and wand-waving like the other students, so we are a protege of sorts of Professor Fig. The game starts with us learning that we have a deep magical ability that hasn’t been seen in years. For example, we can spot a mysterious glow from an ancient goblin-made relic or doorways that shouldn’t be doorways.

Michelle’s fully customized red-headed character- Gwen Lowry

In the opening scenes, our trip to Hogwarts takes an unexpected turn when an evil dragon chomps through our carriage, being flown by thestrals in a very Vhagar-style chomp. This sets us off into the game’s tutorial without feeling much like a tutorial. It progresses the story seamlessly while teaching you the game’s movements. We even get into our first battle with statues that we have to beat via magic! Familiar spells such as Revelio, Stupefy, Protego, and Lumos are all used within the first 45 minutes of play, which feels like an excellent payoff to our wait time for this game.

Once our journey gets us back on the road to Hogwarts, the opening title screen lets us know we’ve made it through the tutorial portion/opening story, and we have now made it to Hogwarts in time for the Sorting Ceremony! Here was a portion that I was concerned about going into the game that ended up not being a necessary concern. Prior to starting the game, you could link your Pottermore, now Wizarding World, account to your Warner Bros. Game account to keep the same House, wand, and patronus you already had established. See Brandy’s paragraph below for more information as to how this happens!  When you go to the sorting ceremony in the game, you still go through the motions of participating in a conversation with the Sorting Hat since it considers your choice and shouts the house it thinks you belong in. It then lets you either agree with the house or choose another one! I am, of course, a true Gryffindor and therefore didn’t have to go through choosing another house because he said Gryffindor to begin with. *brushes off shoulders in Gryffindor* 

A beautiful look at the castle from the path to Hogsmeade

Look and Feel:

So far, the game has been enjoyable. The movement has been easy to adapt to, and how you learn spells has been incredibly fun. I may be seeing things through rose-colored glasses, but at the moment, things are pretty damn rosy. I love being immersed in the world, exploring Hogwarts and the Gryffindor Common Room. We can explore Hogsmeade and even have more battles and duels. 

The Transfiguration classroom

Entering our first Charms & Defense Against the Dark Arts class, it was difficult to NOT feel as if I were truly there, fully immersed in learning my magic. The environment is gorgeous, and I can’t stop taking screenshots. The game feels large but not overwhelmingly huge compared to Elden Ring. Learning through a different story than the one we know is met with warmth since it includes familiar names, places, and objects. I feel as if I have only scratched the surface, and I can’t wait to continue my playthrough.

Brandy’s first impressions:

I will say this. I have looked forward to this game since it was first announced, and some gameplay was leaked in 2018. I have not been disappointed. The game world is complex and detailed and reminds me of some of the more open-world Assassin’s Creed games. There is so much to look at and so much to explore. I have been fully immersed in the world from the moment we start meeting some characters and the crazy dragon scene. There are several different options for gameplay difficulty levels. They have story, easy, normal, and hard. I wanted to experience SOME difficulty but also wanted to be able to enjoy the experience, so I chose easy mode. While the character customization could be more detailed, I was happy with the choices and have had several people say that they are looking forward to playing because this game gets many different hair types right.

Brandy’s Character looking at some interesting ruins early in the game

The tutorial is just a series of quests you are doing to unlock some secrets where you learn a few basic spells and combat. It’s quite fun and gets you right into the story and the mystery surrounding you as the main character. One of the cool things that I discovered is that you can link your wizarding world account to your WB account for extra goodies. It also sorts you into the house based on the quiz questions from that site. You can decline it if you want to be placed in a different house. Your wand that it chooses for you is linked as well. Mine is an alder wood wand with a unicorn hair core. I loved the experience of going to classes and meeting fellow students and teachers and learning new spells. Going to Hogsmeade was a joy, and heading over to Ollivander’s shop for your very own wand was a magical experience. You will be in for a real treat if you love this world. 

Charlotte’s first impressions:

I am only a couple hours into the game, but I enjoy running around Hogwarts, looking at all the portraits, unlocking Floo locations for quick travel, and listening to the silly things one of the gargoyles says.

I rarely look at game casts before playing, as it doesn’t always make a difference to me for my purchase. My husband thought I had lost my mind when he found me giggling my head off on the sofa. I had just then realized that Professor Weasley is Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) from Downton Abbey. I keep waiting for her to scold my character for messing up a pudding or something.

So far, the look and feel of this game are exactly what I expected. Rich colors, immersive sound, and character customization options are fun to play with.

Fair warning. You cannot pause (at least on PS5) during a cutscene. So, if your dog needs to go pee….you might die if you have to fight right after a cutscene. That said, I’m still having a great time with this game, and I can’t wait to play more!

Early Verdict:

Each of us has enjoyed customizing our characters and exploring the universe we love. I can’t wait to be able to dig in more, get lost in Hogwarts, and just wander. I challenged myself last night to not use the map and find the stores I needed to get to in Hogsmeade just by walking around, and it was so fun. If you’re on the fence, I say absolutely get it and have fun exploring!

Early Verdict Rating: 9/10

Do you plan on buying the game? Are you waiting for the release? Let us know your thoughts!

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Ben Hazell
11 months ago

Big props, I liked this game a lot.

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