Hogwarts Legacy looks like its set to be the most Open World Action Adventure RPG genre hot pot since the last one of those. It’s a game that’s lived with a lot drama since it was announced. Between JK Rowling’s garbage opinions on transgender people, outed alt-right staff on the design team, and even its own adoption of transgender characters, the game has struggled against the broader conversation surrounding its primary intellectual property.
Today, Sony’s Hogwarts Legacy State of Play opened the door to a 15 minute deep dive. It’s the first time the game has formally been put on display, and the team had a lot to talk about.
Also JK Rowling’s name didn’t come up once, which was nice.
The open world of Hogwarts Legacy includes the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, its grounds, its surrounding hills and mountains, and even the adjoining village of Hogsmeade. Between lessons and major quests, players can explore all of these areas at their leisure to uncover new quests, loot, collectibles, and more.
You can also hop on your broom and fly about to allow for faster, more exciting travel.
A big part of the Hogwarts Legacy experience is becoming a witch or wizard, and all that that entails. Your character arrives at Hogwarts as a late enrollment, kicking off their magical education in Fifth Year. That seems like a real kick in the pants, given the inherent danger of the wizard curriculum, but it’s fine. The game is set in the 1800’s, presumably to avoid paying for likeness rights on the series’ most familiar characters. Indeed, the only familiar character who appears in the trailer at all is Nearly-Headless Nick, who appears to be a quest NPC.
As you move through the game, your character will accrue a roster of spells and combos through their lessons at school. These spells can be used for in-world puzzle solving as well as combat and stealth.
The game will also allow players to explore the Hogwarts School interior, with all its moving passages and hidden rooms. You can visit rooms and locations from the novels and that films, like the Room of Requirement, Prefect’s Bathrooms, and the Hogwarts Kitchens, that have never been explorable before. Some have never even been depicted in any Harry Potter media outside the novels until now.
Hogwarts is said to be the anchor in the game’s world and design. It will therefore be the most complex and interesting locale in the game. Finding your way around, learning the shortcuts, getting used to the school’s shifting layout, and accessing new areas as your list of spells increases will be part of the broader gameplay loop.
The RPG facet of Hogwarts Legacy is all about playing your character. You can create your character from the ground up, in almost every way. Though the trailer makes no mention of special character classes, you can alter your witch or wizard’s appearance. Yes, as previously reported, transgender character options are technically available as a little rebuke to Rowling’s idiotic feelings on the matter. Will the game make that a clear choice in the character creation menu? We doubt it, but it’s nice to know you can create a trans character all the same.
You can also select your Hogwarts house and hang out in the relevant common room. The trailer doesn’t show it, but it wouldn’t surprise if the campaign has you sneaking into other common rooms for snooping purposes. It also seems as though your character can pick up some of the Unspeakable Curses, including the Avada Kedevra killing curse. What’s an RPG system without a little fluid morality attached?
There’s also tiered loot to pick up in the world and as quest rewards, all to aid in upgrading your character’s abilities. A talent tree lets you specialise their moveset even further.
The kitchen sink
But that’s not all Avalanche is putting in the game. They’re giving you a bit of everything! Quidditch! School classes! Morality! Duelling! Potions and herbs as Witcher-esque oils and buffs to aid in combat! Stealth sections! Dark Souls bosses! Beast hunting! Randomised loot chests! Recruitable companions! Crafting! Base building!
Yes, base building! Despite that fact that you live in a cool-ass wizard castle, you can build your own lakeside hut if you want. Why? Who knows!
It’s like they took every open world adventure game from the last decade, and laid all their individual components out on a table. After considering the spread, the design team shrugged and said “Hell with it, throw it all in.”
There are so many gameplay elements packed into this 14-minute trailer that one has to wonder how Avalanche is going to make it all mesh together cleanly. It’s one thing to be feature-rich. It’s another to have so much going on that it becomes an indistinct jumble of mechanics.
And that’s it! That’s the full rundown on the Hogwarts Legacy State of Play. The game is set to launch Holiday 2022, so keep that October/November window open if you still consider yourself a Wizard fan.
Actually, that’s not a question to pass off to you, dear reader: after everything that’s happened to the brand in the last two years, are you still jazzed for a Harry Potter game? Are you able to separate Rowling’s stance from the work, or is all a wash for you? Curious for a breadth of opinion on this one. Sound off in the comments below.
If you’d like to watch the State of Play, you can at the embed above or just hit this link right here.