I’ve spent the last 18 months desperate for any sort of update on Hogwarts Legacy. Earlier this week, I finally got my wish, as an extended Hogwarts Legacy gameplay demo was showcased during a PlayStation State of Play stream dedicated exclusively to the game.
Going into the event I was conscious about keeping my expectations in check. I’ve occasionally fallen victim to overhype in the past, and didn’t want my first chance to see Hogwarts Legacy in action to be blighted by impossible-to-meet standards. Even with a cautious approach, I was still thoroughly impressed with what I saw.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Hogwarts Legacy could be the game I’ve been dreaming about since I was a child reading the Harry Potter books for the first time. Granted there were a couple of things I spotted that did give me pause for concern, but my overwhelming response was positive.
After having watched the entire gameplay presentation (and then re-watched it three more times) here are the four things from our first look at Hogwarts Legacy that excite me, and two that have me just a little worried.
Reason to be excited #1: A whole Wizarding World to explore
Perhaps the biggest appeal of Hogwarts Legacy is the opportunity to just wander the halls of the iconic castle. The last non-LEGO console game that let you do that was the video game tie-in for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, which was released back in 2009.
However, it’s not just the game’s digital recreation of Hogwarts that I can’t wait to explore. I’m also extremely excited to roam the wider Wizarding World. Visiting the village of Hogsmeade to buy new cosmetics gear, venturing into the Forbidden Forest to see what terrifying creatures lurk in the shadows and coming across unique wizarding hamlets in the surrounding Scottish Highlands.
Reason to be excited #2: So many secrets to uncover
Exploring the game’s seemingly sizeable open world would get old pretty quickly if there wasn't anything actually worth finding on the map. Thankfully that doesn’t seem to be the case. The Hogwarts Legacy gameplay demo teases there will be secrets around almost every corner.
Being able to uncover previously unexplored locations within Hogwarts, and the larger Wizarding World, should give the game an enticing sense of adventure. Plus, the presentation also hints at dungeons and vaults filled with both deadly threats and rare rewards. I’d love some unique labyrinths that are inspired by games such as The Legend of Zelda.
Reason to excited #3: An unwritten tale
Hogwarts Legacy is set within the Harry Potter universe, but it’s not a game about the Boy Who Lived. Set almost 100 years before Harry’s birth, Hogwarts Legacy tells an original tale within the already established Wizarding World.
I’m thrilled with this decision as it allows the game to not only tell a fresh tale, but also avoid any backlash if it accidentally contradicted pre-existing lore or presented a fan favorite character in bad light. The decision to allow players to create their own custom character is another wise one, as it should immediately make us feel a part of the world.
We don’t know a great deal about the game’s main plot just yet, beyond it involving a goblin rebellion and some form of old magic that only your character has the power to wield, but it sounds interesting enough on the surface.
Reason to be excited #4: Every day’s a school day
Hogwarts Legacy looks like it's got a little bit of Bully about it. That 2006 video game from Rockstar has you playing a delinquent schoolboy and exploring a prep school and its surrounding town.
Most interestingly, the game was framed around a day-to-day route of attending class and getting up to extracurricular mischief. I’d love to see Hogwarts Legacy mimic this structure, and from the game’s first gameplay showcase it just might.
We know that attending classes like Charms, Potions and Herbology will be important in order to hone your wizarding skills. Furthermore, the seasons will change as you progress through the story. Let’s just hope players aren’t forced to do actual homework!
Reason to worried #1: Timers are rarely fun
Eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed that during one part of the Hogwarts Legacy gameplay trailer we see the player visit the Room of Requirement to plant some Venomous Tentacula, a spiky plant with highly valuable leaves.
After planting, a timer pops up on screen, presumably informing the player how long to wait before the leaves will be ready to collect. Instantly this sequence screamed micro-transactions to me. Forced timers have become a common element in predatory mobile games designed to have players paying rather than playing.
The good news is that the Hogwarts Legacy community manager has subsequently confirmed in a Twitter post that there are no plans to include micro-transactions in the game. This has me very relieved, but I’m still concerned that those pesky timers will potentially be more frustrating than fun.
Reason to be worried #2: Combat could become stale
While the combat showcased in the Hogwarts Legacy gameplay demo looked highly cinematic (and I especially loved all the exuberant animations for casting spells) the enemy AI looked a little static.
We mostly saw packs of enemies standing around waiting for their turn to be obliterated by the player character. I'd have liked to see enemies that are a little more aggressive and look to overwhelm you by all attacking at once. The combat could get dull fast if enemies are just sitting ducks that can't match up to your powerful arsenal of spells.
Thankfully it was confirmed via the PlayStation Blog that Hogwarts Legacy will have a range of difficulty options. So maybe I’ll just need to crank things up to hard mode from the start to keep combat consistently engaging.