It’s no secret that I’m an absolute sucker for video games about my fandoms. I know I’ve talked in no small amount about the original Harry Potter PC games; the joy of being able to run around Hogwarts, cast spells, and lose myself in the idea that that sort of magic was real for a little while was unparalleled.
I was especially fond of the third one because of how much map roaming you were allowed to do compared to the first two. It was almost like being there!
When whispers first started coming out about Hogwarts Legacy, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure about it. At the time, I was pretty bitter at Portkey Games because I’d been obsessed with their mobile game, but somehow it wiped my save and two weeks going back and forth with support led to the ultimate conclusion that they couldn’t help me.
As more information started coming out, though, I couldn’t help starting to get excited. After all, the more I saw, the more I thought it looked like the I-get-to-go-to-Hogwarts adventure I’d been waiting for since I first read about those welcome letters 24 years ago.
Naturally, I spent this weekend trying out the game—so today, I thought I’d share what I think of it so far.
But first: We need to talk about current events.
As I’m sure many of you have heard, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding this game thanks to the issues surrounding J.K. Rowling, the creator of our beloved world of Harry Potter, who has taken to espousing straight-up hatred of the transgender community, especially women.
Personally, I don’t think I’m the most qualified person to talk about the issue overall, but let me share what I know here so you understand where I stand.
First of all, I will never understand how one woman can hate another so viciously for no reason. The prejudice and hatred shown by Rowling has shattered the rose-coloured glasses that many of us who grew up with the Harry Potter stories had.
I’m not at all surprised it turned into a massive backlash against her; I don’t know that she could possibly have expected any other result. No one just gets to put that much hate out into the world, especially in a position like hers, where generations of impressionable young people will inevitably listen to her and potentially develop the same ideas.
It’s an absolute abuse of power, and I have no doubt she knew it.
But what’s currently happening around this game, honestly, has shown that not everyone is above acting the same way. I’ve always held the belief that the worst way to answer someone’s hatred is with more of your own, because all it does is perpetuate a cycle of misery that does nothing to improve the human condition or change anyone’s minds. Worse, it often shows bigots (incorrectly, of course, but there’s little helping that) that they were right to hate in the first place.
This past week, just reading the news around Hogwarts Legacy, I have seen some horrific stories. Regular people being harassed to the point that they have to leave their own streams. Echoing calls of shame from every corner of the internet for anyone who buys the game.
But there was one article I read that encapsulates the spirit of what this debate should be about.
In it, author Jessica Conditt digs into the history of the world of Harry Potter; how, for many of us growing up in the aughts, it became a cultural movement that transcended J.K. Rowling’s imagination and essentially became universal intellectual property. Fanfictions introducing LGBT+ characters and transforming the stories into something everyone could relate to blew up the internet. As Conditt quips in the article,
We made Dumbledore gay long before the canon did.
That’s a point that I think more of us need to remember.
Rowling, quite honestly, hasn’t owned the world of Harry Potter for over a decade. She has no right anymore to dictate the limitations of that world, influence anyone about what’s permitted in it, or choose who’s allowed to enjoy a world where literally anything is possible. And what’s more, by accepting details like Dumbledore’s sexuality from fanfiction into canon, she herself has acknowledged that it isn’t hers anymore.
Bottom line, she doesn’t get to influence our actions and decisions. Much like President Snow of Hunger Games fame, we can choose not to allow her to turn us against each other anymore.
And with that in mind, let’s get into the actual game.
The story behind Hogwarts Legacy
Hogwarts Legacy is set in 1899, long before the time of any characters that most Potterheads would recognize. That said, though, there are plenty of characters who have names that fans will recognize as predecessors of our favourites.
The story itself is entirely unique to the Wizarding World, and puts a new spin on what dedicated fans will know as historical events. Among these is the goblin rebellions, mentioned a time or two through the main stories.
Because of the setting, there are some things that will seem different, especially around Hogwarts. So don’t be surprised if things changed somewhat in over 100 years!
Who you’ll play
This is probably what I was most excited for with this game because unlike previous Harry Potter-themed games, you aren’t playing an existing character within the lore: You get to be your own character.
Right at the beginning, you get to pick your character’s appearance, as well as features like name and voice—so if you’re like me, you can totally build a character that kind of looks like you and put yourself right into the world.
It is worth noting that the character creation is a little on the basic side, but hey. I’ll still take it.
What gameplay is like
Hogwarts Legacy is a traditional RPG, which, honestly, is probably the best possible choice they could have made. The game puts you right into the shoes of a new Hogwarts student and although there are guided quests, for the most part you have total freedom over what you want to do.
You’ll have main quests that carry you through the narrative, side quests that unlock extra features, and even plenty of exploration challenges to keep you busy.
I haven’t gotten very far yet, but so far, there also seem to be some elements of classic RPG games involved, including growing and gathering essential potion ingredients, managing and upgrading your gear, and even building your own space in the Room of Requirement.
I’m sure there will be updates from me on that when I get there, because as we all know, if there’s one thing I’d love more than a Hogwarts RPG, it would be building and designing in a Hogwarts RPG!
Where you can go
From what I’ve seen so far, the game looks to give you access to nearly all of Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, as well as some other surrounding villages. I’ve yet to find somewhere that I can’t get into, aside from story locks!
Because the map is absolutely massive, the developers also included the Floo system to help you get around. It can be a little tricky figuring out which is actually the closest outlet to where you need to be, but it’s still far faster than actually walking all around the castle.
What you should know
As much as I want to absolutely adore this game, you should know that it’s not all sunshine and candy. The PC version seems to have some issues right from the get-go, including problems with the raytracing engine and a packet issue that causes the game to continually load high-resolution textures without scaling them back when you leave the area.
So eventually, your computer just decides it has too much going on and the game starts to jitter.
At first it was almost unplayable for us, but after messing around with the graphics settings, it seems to help if you turn raytracing off, and turn down non-essentials like sky, fog, and population. I also found that the benchmark overestimates itself a little, at least for now, so it might help to turn settings down to the step below what it recommends.
I’m looking forward to seeing whether they can do anything in future patches to fix it up because honestly, it’s pretty annoying. It reminds me of when No Man’s Sky came out; I played it for half an hour before deciding I was tired of a planet of painfully phallic sixteen-bit alien monsters in what was supposed to be one of the most visually stunning games of the year.