- Hogwarts Legacy is the first major attempt at a proper Wizarding World videogame experience and it’s proving to be quite successful.
- The game is loaded with performance and optimization issues similar to Elden Ring at launch. Much like the latter, its core values outweigh its shortcomings.
- Hogwarts Legacy‘s combat system is easy to pick up on but requires a bit of creativity to be fully experienced. People demand variety after the fact but lean back into flowcharting.
- Addressing the performance issues should be the developers’ priority. Where these games go from here is to be seen, but they certainly have the potential to improve and excel.
Hogwarts Legacy has finally arrived, and players around the world were able to step into the wizarding world. Those who had pre-ordered the digital deluxe edition got 72-hour early access and saw the game in its purest state.
I say purest because of one of the trends in modern gaming. Most video games nowadays tend to roll out sizeable day-one patches to optimize performance and fix some unsavory issues that may exist in the game. Many have referred to it as a “ship now, fix later” mentality, which plagues a lot of projects.
While Hogwarts Legacy did roll out an update shortly after its launch, it was approximately 300 MB. Something of that size can’t hope to fix the game’s myriad problems. Hogwarts Legacy is an ambitious project, and Avalanche has done an outstanding job in utilizing the source material and its creativity.
Yet, ambitious though it may be, the game is loaded with performance issues. It’s not a stretch to say that these problems and the launch state are on par with Elden Ring. But in that same manner, the game breaks through the confines of bad ports and proves itself to be a worthy Game of The Year contender.
Hogwarts & Beyond – A Vibrant World
Hogwarts Legacy is an open-world action role-playing game. At the forefront of any open-world RPG is its world and how well-crafted it is. While not open-worlds, FromSoftware‘s titles, such as Dark Souls and Bloodborne, have been renowned as some of the best game worlds.
Besides the obvious reasons, it’s also because of the craftsmanship that went into those worlds. Hogwarts Legacy excels in providing that same effect as soon as you’re able to control your character. Lest you forget, Hogwarts itself is akin to a literal maze. Avalanche definitely captures the castle’s charm in this game, so kudos.
But its efforts don’t stop at Hogwarts; the wizarding world itself feels alive. As you traverse Hogwarts, you often cross bridges to get to other buildings. Seeing the outside world during these times, the build-up gets intense until you finally step outside the castle for a trip to Hogsmeade.
Admittedly, the trek to Hogsmeade felt a bit off due to performance issues. However, one can’t ignore the quality of this game. It’s a rough diamond that can be refined, and I’m sure the developers are most likely to address these issues in the coming weeks.
There’s something about this world, a spark that it contains that reminds me of other well-crafted open worlds such as The Witcher 3 or Elden Ring. I’d even add Batman: Arkham Knight over here. Gotham City in that game was definitely the best representation of that locale thus far.
When a world understands what it wants to be, where it comes from, and how it can fully realize that potential —it feels good. That’s what it comes down to when creating an open-world experience. Something that most developers often overlook.
Expansive landscapes and cutting-edge graphics are not the only factors, as we saw in Square Enix‘s latest release, Forspoken. The world needs to have that special touch that just brings it to life. It can be anything, actually, but in my opinion, the best way to achieve it would be passion and creativity.
Hogwarts Legacy’s Misunderstood Combat System
It’s quite normal at this point for people to expect a AAA project to have the best combat system ever. Each entry in this space has put its own spin on the combat element of their games.
CD Projekt Red‘s The Witcher 3 involved fast-paced sword-fighting with Signs, potions, and oils. FromSoftware’s Elden Ring had the famous stamina bar with moderately fast combat, support systems, and a jump button. Bloodborne had the high-risk-high-reward health regain mechanic.
And let us not forget Team Ninja’s Nioh 2. The absolute pinnacle of combat within the souls-like genre in my opinion. Most people who have played Nioh 2 and the souls games would be hard-pressed to disagree with this sentiment and provide factual arguments.
Hogwarts Legacy takes a very humble approach to its combat, something I find unusually refreshing. It’s simple yet engaging. Easy enough to get a hold of and provides enough room to play around and improve. There’s a certain nuance to the combat that doesn’t ask too much or too little of the player but provides balance.
Mastery of this nuance present in the combat system is what elevates the gameplay of Hogwarts Legacy. But what exactly is this nuance? To reiterate, it’s nothing special or groundbreaking but rather a simple set of core mechanics. It’s this simplicity that sets it apart in a sea of games trying to make the next complex stew.
You have the spell set that you use in and out of combat for various purposes, and then you have your essential spells, which include the Basic Cast, Protego, and Stupefy, for starters. On top of the fairly compact spell pool, you have Ancient Magic skills at your disposal too. The combat evolves further once you unlock the entire pool.
— Mark Medina (@Mark_Medina) February 6, 2023
The tweet showcases a sample of Hogwarts Legacy’s combat when you know how to play the game. It does not deviate from the source and successfully incorporates the fun element into the game.
A simple combination of juggling your enemies with Levioso and Accio to extend your combos while perfect parrying with Protego and executing Stupefy — ending with a big Ancient Magic Blast. A chain that requires a little amount of finesse to execute yet feels highly satisfying.
It’s ironic how people often ask for such kinds of moderately simple yet engaging combat systems but express their dislike when developers deliver. It’s not common for a system as simple in its nature as the one in Hogwarts Legacy to be as fun as it is.
Just because Elden Ring had over 100 spells doesn’t make Hogwarts Legacy’s achievement any less. The developers could have added more, yes, but the game still feels complete for a first entry. That is something you can’t say for most modern games.
People also have the bad tendency to demand variety but then end up flowcharting and sticking to that singular thing that works until it’s nerfed into the ground. Rivers of Blood and Bloodhound Step are the perfect examples of this problem, and yes, it’s from Elden Ring.
Class Is Dismissed
While combat is one aspect of the game, there’s an entire magical high school simulator on the other side of the gameplay spectrum. It’s the marriage of these two elements that form the core gameplay loop of Hogwarts Legacy. Something that the developers claimed to provide, and they delivered on it.
It’s often overlooked since it’s considered a pre-requisite in modern times, but Hogwarts Legacy features a somewhat dynamic day/night cycle. An element that was not present in 2018’s PlayStation 4 blockbuster, Marvel’s Spider-Man.
Hogwarts Legacy is so far from being a perfect Wizarding World game, yet it provides an authentic and enjoyable experience. Being the first noteworthy attempt at a game for this franchise, it’s definitely a milestone.
The immediate goal of the developers should be to promptly resolve the performance issues, especially on PC, while adding quality-of-life features where needed. DLC content can also be a possibility due to the expansive lore.
However, what really matters is the direction this series takes moving forward. Avalanche and Warner Bros. Games have succeeded in figuring out how to make this work.
Witnessing the evolution of this series and seeing future entries with new and creative ideas would be grand. Even grander would be if the next entry isn’t as broken as Hogwarts Legacy.
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