‘Hogwarts Legacy’ Keeps Getting Better The Longer I Play

‘Hogwarts Legacy’ Keeps Getting Better The Longer I Play

Hogwarts Legacy


Well, if I had a “first impressions” take on Hogwarts Legacy a week or so ago closer to launch, consider this my “middle impressions,” as I’m still playing the game now, and from the looks of it, I have quite a ways to go. I took a few days off as I was on a trip, but I do have 20+ hours into the game at this point, and I do not appear to be near the end yet, despite loads of exploration, quests and hitting level 30.

What I’m finding the longer I play is the realization that this…is a genuinely good game. I am frankly amazed by what Avalanche has done here, a developer previously known for a string of licensed Disney games, and one I had serious doubts about trying to take on a project in large in scale as this. They have not only proven my fears wrong here, but may emerge from this as a powerhouse developer in the industry, as no doubt, WB is going to demand a Hogwarts Legacy sequel now with this initial installment destined to sell 20 million copies at least.

What’s changed since my first impressions piece? What I’m surprised about the most is just how many things have gotten better over time. Things I didn’t like have improved, and things I did like have impressed me even more.

I was hugely skeptical about combat initially, which seemed a little basic and boring. But I’ve unlocked almost every available spell in the game now, minus the remaining two unforgivable curses the game gives you the option not to learn but I mean, come on. Like I’m not going to want to take those for a test run.

‘Hogwarts Legacy’


Casting Crucio feels powerfulas they’ve really captured something there distinguishing it from the others. In an otherwise kid-friendly game, the cursed enemies scream in agony and with an upgrade, shoot out damage bolts to neighboring enemies. But it’s not just that one curse, the entire toolkit of spells creates some really interesting and wild combat scenarios. You can disarm a goblin and then telekinetically whip their axe back into their face as it flies into the air. You can grab a poacher crossbowman off a high ledge and then slam them into to the ground. You can freeze a dark wizard duelist and pulse blast them off a cliff. It’s gone from somewhat dull and spasmic to actually very calculated and fun. The exception here is for large boss battles where you cannot ragdoll them around, and it’s more just dodging and parrying and occasionally casting your damage spells to chip away at their health bars.

I was impressed by the detail of the world even during my initial time with the game, and that’s only increased in time. The character models can be iffy, as this sure ain’t Horizon Forbidden West, but the environments and landscapes are breathtaking. But it’s not just the visuals, it’s all the systems Avalanche has integrated into this game. An entire room full of custom furniture and devices to help you brew potions and harvest plants. A wild, Pokémon-like catch-em-all animal taming system that lets you capture wild animals, feed and care for them in safe haven zones and then even breed them. The only thing missing in this entire affair is Qudditch. But otherwise, this feels like the kind of praise you’d give superhero games, like how Rocksteady’s Arkham lets you feel like Batman or Insomniac’s Spider-Man lets you feel like Spider-Man. Here, I have to imagine this is every kind of wish fulfillment Harry Potter fans have ever had about being a chosen one at a magic school. They really nailed almost every aspect of this.

Hogwarts Legacy


Some of the open world stuff can feel a bit grindy, as there’s just so much of it, and I’m not sure how many one-off magic puzzles I have in me for relatively little reward. But I have not yet tired of exploring the world, and 20 hours in, I’m still being surprised. Is that a Thestral? Is that a Centaur? Is that an underground Dragon fight club?

The story is somewhat improved, as despite some specific story spoilers being spammed in my mentions by Hogwarts Legacy protestors, I am curious to learn more about some of the mysteries the game presents like the source of the ancient power my character wields and curious things it can do like remove human suffering from the body. That said, I think characterization remains the weakest part of the game. My hero is so sickly sweet she’s dull and uninteresting, and I’ve found pretty much only one NPC that seems to exude any amount of agency in the form of Sebastian. The vast majority of characters are just entirely forgettable, and the game is unable to replicate anything like the core friendships of the original Harry Potter books.

This is a deeply impressive game on many fronts. While in a stacked year like 2023 I doubt it will emerge as an actual GOTY contender, this is clearly something that will appears millions of Harry Potter fans and garner tens of millions of sales to match. What Avalanche has done here really is something.

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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.

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