Last year, when Warner Bros. released their first trailer for Hogwarts Legacy, it was as if magic had suddenly become very real. There has of course been a plethora of Harry Potter games since the first movie way back in 2001, most of the movie tie-ins, along with the likes of Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup and, in more recent years, mobile games such as Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, but for the best part of two decades, Potterheads have dreamed of an open-world game set in the absurdly rich Wizarding World...
What's Hogwarts Legacy about?
If you’re as clued up on this game as a first-year is in Advanced Potion Making, you might be surprised to learn that Hogwarts Legacy doesn’t actually take place along the Harry Potter timeline, nor does it include Potter or any other character from the movies and books. Instead, the game takes place in the “late 1800s”, meaning there are several decades before we even reach the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them timeline, let alone Harry’s first steps inside the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In true Hogwarts fashion, you’ll be playing a student, whose name, voice, body type, gender, style, and more will be yours to customize. You’ll be able to choose your house too (guess that puts the Sorting Hat out of a job), attend classes, make friends and explore vast open-world locations including the castle, the Forbidden Forest, Hogsmeade Village, and beyond, as you grow into a powerful young witch or wizard, all the while seeking to uncover a dark truth that will forever change Hogwarts and the Wizarding World.
Thank Merlin’s beard that we have a full trailer to keep our thirst for magic quenched until the game finally apparates into our lives next year. As you can see from this incredible sneak preview, there are many familiar environments from the films, and some never before seen. While previous Harry Potter titles have only teased a fully accessible Hogwarts, this game looks to be an access-all-areas (provided of course Filch and Mrs. Norris don’t have equally detestable ancestors lurking the castle halls and corridors). The music is on point too, with bombastic echoes of the film franchise’s iconic theme, while the graphics and the world they occupy have been conjured up by Unreal Engine, a wizard in its own right. We also see the Great Hall teeming with students, and a majestic shot of players riding hippogriffback over a rugged coastline, all the while the narrator – who sounds very much like John Hurt's Ollivander – talks of meeting “lifelong friends” and of a “world beyond these walls”.
Once you’ve customized your very own character, you’ll be able to do all sorts of things at Hogwarts: learn to cast spells, develop wand-combat skills, brew potions, befriend students, make enemies with others, encounter fantastic beasts and so much more (here’s to hoping Quidditch is also on the table). As your character embarks on a quest to uncover a “hidden truth” within the Wizarding World, you’ll be put to the test by facing off against enemies and undertaking missions, using everything you end up learning at school – and perhaps outside - to do so. There will also be a ‘morality system’, meaning that your actions will dictate the way in which you’re treated by others, and more than likely affect things like your house points. The official website also states the following:
“You have received a late acceptance to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and soon discover that you are no ordinary student: you possess an unusual ability to perceive and master Ancient Magic. Only you can decide if you will protect this secret for the good of all, or yield to the temptation of more sinister magic. Discover the feeling of living at Hogwarts as you make allies, battle Dark wizards, and ultimately decide the fate of the wizarding world. Your legacy is what you make of it.”
Well, when our fingers finally make contact with the wand that is the video game controller next year, we solemnly swear that we will be up to no good...
Many other open-world games such as Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto offer the best of both worlds, in that players can enjoy an offline story mode experience, or connect with the wider world in an online arena. However, such a thing hasn’t yet been confirmed for Hogwarts Legacy, so it’s very possible there won’t be an online element but hold your hippogriffs. The official website’s FAQ section states that the game is “open world”, “single-player” and an “action role-playing videogame”. While the same can be said about the aforementioned gaming titles, the term “single-player” is perhaps the biggest clue that would suggest Hogwarts Legacy will indeed be exclusively offline - which probably isn’t a bad thing when you think about it. Going to a school to learn magic in a video game sounds great. Going with actual people sounds far too much like a real school.
Where things like games are concerned, the term ‘canon’ is perhaps a bit more flexible than with a film or television series. Nevertheless, games such as Ghostbusters: The Video Game and The Thing are indeed considered ‘sequels’ to existing movies, so for the sake of an argument, let’s assume the word is concrete. Where Hogwarts Legacy is concerned, though the game is not based on any written works and is a unique story developed by Portkey Games, virtually anything set in the Wizarding World is considered canon (except of course for fan fiction), so we see no reason why this game would be any different. Not only that, but the fact it’s set in the late 1800s would indicate that the developers want to avoid charted territory,
J.K. Rowling is not directly involved with Hogwarts Legacy, however, the game is firmly rooted in the Wizarding World and will honor the established lore. In fact, this is probably why the developers chose to set the game in the 1800s, long before the Harry Potter story begins, so that there’s no ‘overlap’, leaving fresh ground to cover without the baggage of existing stories to weave around. The official website also confirms that Rowling is fully supportive of all Portkey Games and that she has “entrusted the design and creation of the games to WB Games and the developers involved.”
Sadly, Warner Bros. has confirmed that the game will not be showing up at this year’s E3 gaming event. However, if you wish to feel closer to the magic, stay connected with the official Hogwarts Legacy website.
Hogwarts Legacy will be a widely accessible game, available on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4 Pro, Xbox One devices including Xbox Series X and Xbox One X and Microsoft Windows for the PC.
Initially scheduled for release this year, Hogwarts Legacy has unfortunately been delayed until 2022 – which comes as no surprise, as this is pretty standard for most video games. That, and almost everything has been delayed over the past year. Though no specific date has been announced, the good news is we’re already halfway through 2021. It’s just a shame there’s no such thing as a Time-Turner or at the very least a Prophecy Record.
There’s more than enough of the Wizarding World to keep your inner-wizard or witch satisfied until the release of Hogwarts Legacy, whether it’s the books, movies, or Portkey mobile games Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery. In the meantime, you’d best familiarise yourself with all the spells and read up on all the literature you can find – because your first term at Hogwarts starts next year...