Come all witches and wizards, no matter your age. You are cordially invited to Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please, take your sealed invitation from the beautiful owl sitting next to you. Enter Hogwarts Legacy, an open world RPG set in the late 1800’s.
As the world basks in a utopia-like glow, at least on the surface, you transfer into Hogwarts as a 5th year student. What lurks below in the darkness will set the Muggle and Magical world spinning towards disaster. Can you defeat the evil, within and without? Or will you drown in it? Let’s unpack our bottomless bag of facts.
Hogwarts, a History
The world JK Rowling created decades ago still captures the imagination of countless fans around the globe. Regardless of where you stand in your opinions about her personally, there is no denying she has given us something special. Multitudes of media franchises have spun off from the original Harry Potter series. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” the stage play, opened in London and Broadway to rave reviews, many acknowledging its diverse casting.
The Hogwarts universe still holds the largest number of fanfictions ever produced for a single franchise. Fanart has contributed a vast number of beautiful artworks and launched some artist’s careers. There’s even anime openings and Harry Potter’s Puppet Pals. And you can’t forget the games: Lego, mobile, and puzzle games galore.
Publisher Portkey Games is no stranger to the Hogwarts games. Established in 2017 and announced officially on Pottermore as an offshoot of Warner Bros. Games, the studio’s only focus remains bringing the world of Harry Potter and Hogwarts to the fans. Named for the Portkeys that wizards use to transport themselves around the entire wizarding world, international included, the games developed by PortKey Games have transported players all over too. So far, they have only released games on mobile devices. Hogwarts Legacy will change all of that.
Avalanche Software has been through a few Wronski Feint in their time. The studio has faced shutdowns and acquisitions, yet managed to rise like a phoenix in the end. After Disney sold the company to Warner Bros. in 2017, it took some time to rebuild. Hogwarts Legacy will be the first title under the reopened studio.
Age old problems leads to new threats
The wizarding world is always facing some sort of threat. During the early days of the castle, there was the split between the founders. The early 1900’s saw the rise and fall of Grindelwald, with many atrocities happening not only in Scotland and the rest of the UK, but across the pond in America as well. And of course, we can’t leave out the Great Wizard War when Voldemort came to power.
There are other mentions of dark periods in Hogwarts’ history. One of the more notable and repeated instances are the Goblin Rebellions. Spread out over several centuries, each uprising was brutal and ultimately ended in the goblins’ defeat. Unfortunately, if you delve into the history of the Wizarding World, you will find that much of this was due to oppression, discrimination and brutality, common themes throughout the Harry Potter franchise.
Wizards and witches alike tend to have a superiority complex over other magical beings, viewing them as inferior. Whether well-meaning or not, Hermione Granger’s insistence at forming SPEW and attempting to unionize the House Elves even after they repeatedly told her no is just one example. The goblins were subjected to their magic being limited by wizards out of fear that they were more powerful. In one instance, several houses of goblins were slaughtered. Such atrocities often went unpunished by the wizard courts.
Hogwarts Legacy, for the first time in franchise history, is set during the last Rebellion of 1890. A sneak peek at the Daily Prophet edition in the gameplay trailer shows the date to be September 1, 1890. According to “Hogwarts, A History,” and as mentioned in the books, Ranrok, a supreme leader is raising an army of goblins to fight wizards’ unjust treatment of his kind. Decked out in some truly gorgeous armor, it appears he is ready for anything.
The Mirror of Erised shows all
As an open world RPG game, we will have the opportunity to customize our character’s hair, facial features, skin tone and race. As a late starting 5th year, we of course will need sorted, and the Sorting Hat is ready for us. This choice is left up to the player at the beginning of the game. (I’m consistently and happily a Slytherin/Ravenclaw hybrid.)
Part of what makes Hogwarts Legacy appear so life-like is the attention to detail the creative team has put forth. In interviews, they have repeatedly said they studied the books and really thought of what the Common Rooms for each house would look like. And never fear, you Hufflepuffs are in for a treat.
Classes are conducted by faces we have only read about, as this is still over 60 years before Dumbledore would start teaching, and Tom Riddle wanders her halls. One such possibility is Phineas Nigellus Black, the least popular Headmaster in Hogwart’s history. He was known for hating both his position and the students he oversaw. Considering there will be dark wizards here, and the Black family is known for being dark, the role he plays in the story may be significant.
Who’s the real threat here?
He’s not the only dark wizard around. We get glimpses of random dark wizards in battle, although there are a few who stick out. One unknown wizard appears to be working with Ranrok and actively trying to stop our character. Along with wizards and witches, there are trolls, undead and cursed creatures that will attempt to take us out.
Battles will utilize spells and potions we learn throughout the game. However, one spell caught my attention right away- Avada Kedava. The sickly vibrant green flashes across the screen a few times in the gameplay trailer, as we would expect with the threats our character faces. However, there is a scene that stuck out- when we use it.
And at Gamescom 2022, a more indept look at the Dark Arts was revealed through a new gameplay trailer. It showed two students discussing the use of the Cruciatus Curse, an Unforgivable spell. We overhear them discussing whether or not one student will simply show the other how it works, or if they so choose, to experince the effects. A professor seems to interrupt them before they can act on it, asking if they know what they have done.
Much like the books, movies and other media, we journey on paths that shape our legacy. The possibility presented is that we can either be good, or bad. (I’m personally interested in if there is a chance to be truly grey.)
We are not alone on our journey. Fellow students, from all houses, yes even Slytherin, are there to lend a helping hand. Each one who becomes your companion seems to have their own useful talents and backstories. So far, we know of three.
Natsai Onai is a Gryffindor, and like her house, possess a brave and just spirit. Poppy Sweeting, a Hufflepuff, has a kind heart and is more at home with magical beasts than people. Reckless, charismatic and brilliant with spell work, Sebastian Sallow from Slytherin has a complicated past complete with a curse. It’s safe to assume we will see a Ravenclaw join the ranks.
A house elf named Deek is instrumental in helping you discover vivariums, places like Newt Scamander uses to house his magical creatures. Like much of the game, it is completely customizable. And if that’s not enough, we have the Room of Requirement at our disposal. Its design looks very similar to a mod used in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Potion ingredients, valuable resources and more can be grown and stored in there.
Just say “Up!”
Of course, getting around the wizarding world requires a certain amount of finesse. Brooms are always the go-to way for young wizards and witches. And the vistas that are available are breathtaking. It also appears we may ride a dragon, like Harry, Hermione and Ron rode to escape Gringotts. The Dark Arts pre-order pack also includes a Thestral mount, in its glory. However, a closer look at Hogwarts may hint at floo travel within the school, like at the front gates. This is an interesting departure from Harry’s time, when the floo network is limited to the professors’ quarters and Headmaster’s office.
The back of the book
Hogwarts Legacy’s development team has taken a lot of care in making sure the game adheres to the established world, while telling its own story. They have stated that while JK Rowling’s team has collaborated with Warner Bros. Games, she is not directly involved in the project.
The game will also focus on single-player storytelling. There will not be online multiplayer modes. Portkey Games has also said that there will be no microtransactions.
Pre-orders of the digital deluxe version includes the Dark Arts pack with a Thestral mount, Dark Arts battle arena and cosmetics. Additionally, pre-orders will also get 72 hour early access to the game.
Hogwarts Legacy appears in our world Feburary 10, 2023. It will be available on PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S Nintendo Switch and PC.
State of Play Gameplay Reveal
Official Teaser Trailer
Behind the Scenes