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What Critics Are Saying About Hogwarts Legacy

Critics have gotten their hands on "Hogwarts Legacy," and as gamers might expect, the results are pretty divisive. While some have been enthralled with many aspects of the game, others feel let down by the very same things. The game, which is set 100 years before the "Harry Potter" books, focuses on a 15-year-old protagonist who has just arrived at Hogwarts after discovering they're a witch/wizard.

In following this familiar story, "Hogwarts Legacy" largely takes players back to the Hogwarts they know and love, according to VGC's Jordan Middler. His review pointed out that the game's design clearly takes some design cues from the movie version of the famous fictional castle, but the developers "stretched their legs" inside the massive building to bring new things to the table. Morgan Park at PC Gamer also felt that the titular school is one of the highlights of the game, feeling alive in its own way and full of magical things to do. IGN's Travis Northup commented that the result was "nearly everything I wanted in a 'Potter' game and more."

However, some critics had harsher comments about the representation of the magical castle — and the game itself.

The different opinions of Hogwarts

NME's reviewer argued that the grounds of Hogwarts feel a bit too restrictive. They had many encounters in which invisible walls, the bane of any open-world player's experience, which resulted in them taking plenty of shortcuts (like jumping down the side of a staircase instead of having to walk all the way down them). These kinds of restrictions have generally been seen in older open-world games, which might make them surprising to see in a current AAA game. As Jordan Middler's review points out, these issues actually make a good bit of sense when one remembers that this game began development during the previous console generation.

Despite the debatable thrill of Hogwarts itself, the castle is full of activities, including breeding creatures, decorating rooms, crafting, and partaking in general RPG elements like skill trees, side quests, and magical combat. This is all on top of the roughly 35 hours it takes finish the main story, so players will be busy for a while. Luckily, these various systems have been deemed rewarding enough that many critics feel more than ready to sink additional time into them.

Critics also generally praised the main characters of the game, commenting that they were mostly well-written and function as much more than walking plot devices.

Combat shines, but there are some drawbacks

Combat has been frequently pointed to as another high point in early reviews. Spells can be chained together, creating smooth-feeling action when combined with parrying and dodging mechanics. Travis Northup pointed out that enemies have various shields that force players to change their tactics throughout fights, adding another layer of strategy and excitement. However, NME's reviewer noted that, unless played on a higher difficulty, players can generally get through everything by breaking shields and then just using a quick, basic spell over and over again and defeat most enemies.

Unfortunately, as cited in many reviews, technical issues are apparently present in both console and PC versions of the game. Complaints included things like objects and buildings rendering in and out oddly, massive frame rate drops, and other visual glitches. Stevivor's Ben Salter was optimistic that a day-one patch should fix most of these problems for consoles, while NME's reviewer was also hopeful that a patch could improve PC issues.

Ethical quandaries are at the forefront of many critics' minds, as well. Morgan Park expressed conflicted feelings towards the game stemming from author J.K. Rowling's openly transphobic remarks, while GamesHub's Percy Ranson noted that although the game is "competently-made," the entire experience is overshadowed by its creator's controversial statements. 

Overall, Hogwarts Legacy is solid

Overall, the combination of solid combat mechanics, beautiful settings, and entertaining characters has made the game a solid hit for many critics, regardless of the controversy that has followed its entire development process. 

Some of these critics have also argued that there's more than nostalgia at work here. Jordan Middler explained that it's "nostalgic without being nostalgia-bait," saying that "Hogwarts Legacy" is "the strongest piece of Wizarding World media since the films concluded over a decade ago." Ben Salter likewise wrote that "Hogwarts Legacy" is "the best spin-off story" in the franchise, beating out other media such as "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" and "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child."

"Hogwarts Legacy" has a release date of February 10, 2023 — unless you pre-ordered, in which case it's available February 7 — and is available on PC, Xbox Series X|S, and PlayStation 5. It will be released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch at a later date.