A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

“Hogwarts Legacy”: A magical experience worth the wait.

In “Hogwarts Legacy” players spend time within Hogwarts and also explore other locals such as Hogsmeade or dungeons.

“Hogwarts Legacy” was a rumor at first, with communities speculating on whether the game even existed. Finally, in September 2020, the game was officially announced by Avalanche Studios and gained a following. Two years and one delay later, the game was released by Warner Bros. on Feb. 10, 2023, and I am happy to say that it offers amazing visuals, exciting gameplay and a beautiful soundtrack that longtime fans and newcomers will enjoy.

I played the game on PlayStation 5, and one of my initial thoughts was how stunning the graphics looked. Usually nice graphics are a bonus, but in this case they made locations such as Hogwarts and Hogsmeade stand out, thanks to the game’s day-and-night cycle. It was clear that the development team tried its hardest to immerse players in the setting.

Another thing that the developers did well was form a story. While there were a few references to the “Harry Potter” books and movies, the game’s story managed to make me forget about the novels. It took an already-established setting and made it its own with a new cast of characters and locations.

Without going too deep into spoiler territory, the story takes place 100 years before the first book and follows your character, fully customizable, who discovers they have a rare ability they must use to stop evil forces from gaining too much power.

The cast of side characters help you gain new abilities and understand the world better. Each offers a different story to follow and allows you to go on different adventures.

A worthy mention is the creatures, from unicorns to ogres, you can discover by exploring the world. These animals also play a role in gameplay. You can farm rare materials to upgrade your gear by spending time with them, and other animals let you use them as mounts to fly to your next destination. 

The gameplay consists of different spells you can acquire to use in combat or during the many puzzles that players have to solve while exploring. You can only unlock some of the better spells by doing assignments, which involve one of the professors giving you challenges to complete.

You have a default bolt that doesn’t do much damage on its own but allows you to defend yourself while your stronger spells recharge. These include spells that allow you to slam your enemies to the ground or light them on fire. Not only are these moves flashy but they can be used to exploit enemies’ weaknesses. For example, fire spells are effective against spiders and a levitation spell can be cast on an armored frog in order to expose its soft spot.

During combat players can also use potions to increase the damage your spells do or that form stormy clouds over your character that shoot lightning to stun your enemies. As well as using plants like the Mandrake, which screams so loud that it stops those around in their tracks.

The skill tree, which unlocks later during the campaign, allows players to upgrade their spells so they affect multiple enemies, or make it more difficult for enemies to detect them when they are invisible. It can also enhance the effects of potions and plants.

I have only a few complaints when it comes to side quests and assignments. The first is that after a while, it can start feeling repetitive. While this is an issue most open-world games suffer from, it comes off worse here because the majority of the quests follow a formula, which is to go to a location and retrieve an item. During the first hours it can feel tedious because you haven’t unlocked other modes of transportation, such as the flying broom or mounts.

Furthermore, the assignments are more like challenges that require you to use certain potions and plants on enemies. The problem is if you are trying to get these assignments over with as soon as possible, you are going to need to buy the required plants and potions. While this only means a quick trip to the store, it’s the actual prices of the items that cause an issue. Money isn’t easy to come by, and the items can cost up to 1,300 galleons, the in-game currency.

One way to earn money is by selling unused gear. The great thing about this is that once gear is unlocked, it keeps its permanent appearance in your inventory. So don’t worry about selling cosmetics that catch your eye.

Overall, “Hogwarts Legacy” was a welcome surprise. The attention to detail and the ever-expanding combat makes time spent in the game fly by. The story may follow the typical good-versus-evil trope but the cast, both heroes and villains, help set it apart from the “Harry Potter” franchise. The care and devotion that Avalanche Studios spent on this game make it worth the money even with a few flaws.

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About the Contributor
Javi Rosas
Javi Rosas, Editor
Javi Rosas is in his third semester with The Oak Leaf and starting his second year as a journalism major. He enjoys covering video games and other entertainment. Javi plans to transfer in Spring 2024.

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