Hogwarts Legacy Review - Screenshot 1 of 5

Harry Potter games have always been popular on Xbox dating back to the early 2000s, but we've never had a particularly great one, perhaps aside from LEGO's Harry Potter Collection. Sure, the Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets games were definite highlights on the original Xbox, and maybe you even liked some of the Xbox 360 titles like The Order of the Phoenix, but if you compare any of those next to Hogwarts Legacy, they absolutely pale in comparison. This is the game that Harry Potter fans have been waiting two decades for, and it's an especially incredible effort from a developer that was previously only best known for its work on the Disney Infinity series. Unfortunately, it arrives at a time where the franchise is enveloped in very valid controversy related to the opinions of the series' creator, and we can very much understand and respect why a lot of people are choosing to ignore this title entirely.

Hogwarts Legacy Review - Screenshot 2 of 5

To sum up the actual experience, then, Hogwarts Legacy is the fantasy that we always wanted from a game like this. You create your own character, go on quests to progress the story, search for loot and upgrade your gear, take part in various classes to earn new spells, engage in a large number of side missions, brew your own potions, decorate your own Room of Requirement, look after Fantastic Beasts, explore the massive Hogwarts and the rest of the huge map... the amount of things you can do in this game just goes on, and on, and on. To give you some context, even after 10 hours you'll still be feeling like you're only just starting to get to grips with all the various mechanics.

So, what's the actual focus here? Well, you play as a fifth-year student coming to Hogwarts for the first time, but on the journey you discover that you have the ability to wield a powerful Ancient Magic, which immediately throws you into a situation where you'll encounter a strange mystery at Gringotts Bank, an evil Goblin named Ranrok, and a whole lot more besides. We don't want to get into spoiler territory, but rest assured it's an engaging campaign which will see you exploring everything from the Hogwarts Castle to the Forbidden Forest to eerie tombs and alluring chambers. All of this is complemented by AAA-level cutscenes and impressively creative visual sequences, particularly in terms of the major "trial" levels which tend to utilise environment-changing mechanics as part of some well-designed puzzles. You'll understand what we mean when you play it for yourself - it's pretty cool!

Speaking of visuals, this is a very nice-looking game as you'd expect. You can see from the screenshots just how stunning Hogwarts looks during the day in particular, and the character models are also very good. The part that sticks out the most to us though is just how much attention has been put into the little things. Hogwarts is a joy to explore because of all the fine details that you can spot, as well as the various interactions happening around the castle. Hogsmeade is very much the same, serving as a surprisingly large recreation of the Harry Potter village in which you can visit around 10-15 shops in order to buy and sell everything from potions to brooms to plants... or even just get a haircut at the hairdressers! You can definitely feel just how much care and attention has been put into making these main locations as detailed, sizable and interactive as possible.

In terms of the feature set in general, there's a sense that Avalanche Software has really gone the extra mile to elevate the game beyond a generic quest-to-quest format. The fact that you can search for all kinds of collectibles, complete puzzle-based "Merlin Trials", find hidden tombs, buy and sell items on a whim, make your own potions from the ingredients you've either bought or collected, customise your Room of Requirement with a wide range of colours and decorations, and care for Fantastic Beasts by petting them, feeding them and even playing with them (and those are just some of the side attractions), means you could spend hours doing all of this without ever accepting a new mission if you wanted to, vastly increasing the game's long-term appeal.

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When you do want to go on those quests, or simply explore some of the more dangerous areas around Hogwarts, you'll come into contact with a wide array of enemies, from goblins to giant spiders. The combat system in Hogwarts Legacy is once again the best we've seen in a Harry Potter game, allowing you to utilise the many spells you learn at Hogwarts (and beyond) to attack and defend in a variety of ways. The animations are great, there's a nice degree of depth with plenty of room for combos, and enemies are graded using a level-based system so you always know whether you've got a good chance of winning the battle or not. The one criticism we have about combat is that the targeting system can feel a bit clunky. To Avalanche's credit, there are a couple of ways you can choose to target enemies, but they sometimes don't feel precise enough when you're in the heat of battle against a large group, which can lead to frustration particularly on harder difficulty levels. It's not a deal-breaker by any means, but it definitely takes some getting used to.

To be honest though, there aren't really any major negatives we can pick out with Hogwarts Legacy. Sure, the voice acting is a little rough at times (particularly in terms of the main male character), the map is made up of a lot of largely empty wilderness areas, and the fact that Quidditch isn't playable in the game is a huge shame considering the flying feels great and the Quidditch pitch looks fantastic, but don't get us wrong - we've been totally enamoured with Hogwarts Legacy during our 20 hours of review time so far, and there's still so much more for us to see and do. It's one of those games where we're really tempted to go for the full completion!

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And by the way, the performance on Xbox Series X (the platform we reviewed this for) is very good as well, perhaps aside from some very short-lived loading sequences that occur in some parts of the castle. You've actually got up to five graphical options to choose from on Xbox's most powerful console ranging from "Fidelity With Raytracing" up to the high-FPS focused "HFR Performance", and we've found that the standard "Performance" mode offers a great balance of impressive visuals along with a near 60FPS lock for the most part.


It felt like Hogwarts Legacy was always going to struggle to live up to the hype, but somehow Avalanche Software has managed to deliver an absolutely fantastic open world adventure that will surely go down as comfortably the best game based on the Harry Potter franchise so far. If you've been following its progress for a while and were keeping your fingers crossed for good reviews, we're pleased to report that it's definitely been worth the wait.