Hogwarts Legacy Preview - The long-awaited letter has finally arrived

Hogwarts Legacy Preview - The long-awaited letter has finally arrived

The magic surrounding The Boy Who Lived has captivated millions of people since the first book was published. The books gradually climbed the bestseller lists and the films were able to attract countless fans to the cinemas. However, the world of video games has lacked a game that could do justice to the world of Harry Potter since its inception. Attempts to bring the world to console or PC were more than successful until the development studio Avalanche Software took on the mammoth task and announced the action-adventure Hogwarts Legacy. Ever since it was announced, every fan knew that this game was either going to be a total flop, or it would finally be the adventure that fans have always wanted. I've had a good practice swishing and waving my PlayStation 5 controller and my first look at the Sony console version and I'm still lost in the hallways of the most famous school for witches and wizards in the world.

Lessons are just a small part of the game, and it's still fun.

© Warner Bros. Games / Portkey Games / Avalanche

Your journey to Hogwarts in the 19th Century begins, as you might expect, with a letter. Because you are allowed to enter the school in the 5th school year, which is quite unusual. Why you enter the halls so late is not explained in detail at first, but it all makes sense as the game progresses. First, however, you will be sent to the character editor, where you can create your game character from a fairly wide range of customization options. Here you don't have to agree on a gender either and after you have given yourselves a name, you can start.

As you know from the world not everything goes according to plan and after the first dramatic events the next step is the opening ceremony of the school year where you will also be put in your house. Here you can rely on the recommendation of the Sorting Hat or decide for yourself which of the four houses you want to go to. If you signed into Pottermore at the time, or the later Wizarding World, you can import your traits like house, patrons, and wand from there as well. After that you are already part of Hogwarts and the adventure in the open world can begin.

Right from the start it is clear that dark forces are at work again and your character can wield a rare, ancient magic that few can see or cast. Therefore, you also get into the conflict between goblins and humans, which is logical in itself, but unfortunately again uses the well-known and old anti-Semitic narrative that you already know from the world of Harry Potter. Nevertheless, you are thrown into the middle of the action and have to fight the main story with the help of different characters. Larger quest series and various tests await you here, which are a mixture of battles and puzzles. Here you need some brain power and magical skills, but these are usually quite easy to solve.

Of course, the magic wand chooses you and not the other way around.

© Warner Bros. Games / Portkey Games / Avalanche

But an open-world game would be nothing without the countless side quests, some of which are superbly staged and give the whole world its depth. Because they take you with them into the everyday life of the residents of Hogwarts or the neighboring villages and reward you with experience points and many useful items. Some tasks may be repetitive, but with the world, the spells, and everything all meshing together beautifully, they rarely get boring.

The same goes for exploring , because not only the world around Hogwarts is huge, but also the castle itself invites you to get lost. How many times have I caught myself wanting to complete a quest, discovered a new passage and finally completed the original quest two hours later. Because what the developers have created here is a real love letter to the fans with an incredible attention to detail, so that sometimes you really stop to stare in amazement, smile or even wistfully. Those who already know the world fall into a maelstrom of nostalgia, and those new to Hogwarts have the happenings and intricacies beautifully explained by the student body or collectibles.

At some point, of course, running will only be something for muggles, because with a broom you can reach far away places much faster. This can also be done via the floo network, but each fireplace must first be visited in order for it to be active. So buying a broom early makes sense here, because you can use it to fly across the Great Lake. Everyone knows that it is better not to go swimming in it. The controls take some getting used to at first, but with a bit of practice, flying works quite well. Whether you miss Quidditch or not is a matter of taste, but there are at least races for all fans of the airy ride that you can complete.

But enough of the quiet Explore, you will quickly find yourself in the first fights, which are really fun. They are dynamic, always feel new and with the various magic spells you can really fire up your opponent. Here you can make use of the simple Expelliarmus spell or use the unforgivable curses, because a talent tree also allows you to skill the dark arts. The battles vary in difficulty depending on the level of difficulty of the game (which you can change at any time in the menu), so that even demanding players will get their money's worth. It's also exciting that you can include the environment and bang crates or similar things on your opponent's head. You learn new spells in the course of the game, among other things via various quests and not always in the classic way in class.

The world is incredibly detailed, you can hardly get enough of it.

© Warner Bros. Games / Portkey Games / Avalanche

Speaking of classes! The normal everyday school life still wants to be lived, although it clearly recedes into the background after you have attended an hour in each subject. You also get access to the Room of Requirement, where you can brew potions, grow herbs or breed magical creatures. As a result, you no longer need to attend classes, but can do everything in a room that you can even design yourself. Various decorations are available here and you can even customize the walls, floors and windows.

As far as graphics and performance are concerned, the game is on the PlayStation 5 an enormously good figure. Everything runs smoothly here and nothing jerks even in action-packed fight scenes. The clever camera work can also score here, because you always keep an eye on everything despite turbulent fights. In addition, you have three different graphics modes available, which focus on performance or quality with and without ray tracing. No matter which mode you choose, the game just looks incredibly good. The many details that go into the landscape, the different rooms or into the character's outfits contribute to the general atmosphere that one expected from the game.

The soundtrack also accompanies the game wonderfully and you often hear familiar tones from the films. The complete soundtrack is also well done, even if the conversations sometimes seem very artificial. But the German voice actors do a good job and even your own character is actively involved in conversations, even if your own character sometimes seems like a sip of water in a curve. The PlayStation 5 version also has the DualSense controller beautifully integrated and it makes everything feel much more real as various sounds or voices also come straight from the controller. Even the menu with the various sub-items is incredibly well designed, intuitive and clearly arranged despite the many different categories.

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