Out of all the magical elements in the Harry Potter series, the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is the most iconic piece of architecture of the franchise since it has been the centerpiece in pretty much every book and movie. Even those who have never seen or read these installments will undoubtedly recognize the famous castle, especially since there are real-life versions of it in theme parks, and it’s so entrenched in the cultural zeitgeist. But now, the legendary school has taken on a new form with Hogwarts Legacy, where players can get lost in its vast, maze-like design.
The first time I saw Hogwarts brought to life in the movies as a kid, I was blown away by its breathtaking visuals and accurate representation from the books. Now, as an adult, I’m getting that same feeling all over again with Hogwarts Legacy’s version of the school, featuring various locations filled with hidden areas and familiar structures.
While the map may look simple, its complexity is revealed once you see there are multiple levels to it. For instance, The Astronomy Wing is divided into sections, including the Charms Classroom, Defence Against the Dark Arts Tower, Professor Fig’s Classroom, and many more. On top of that, the other destinations also showcase different places, like the Great Hall’s Boathouse and The Library Annex’s Greenhouses.
Players can expand the layout further with hidden rooms and passageways through side missions and the main storylines. In particular, you can uncover the secret Map Chamber or discover the famous Room of Requirement. Additionally, there’s a hefty number of locked areas that include valuable items and cosmetics, which you can open by casting Alohomara or solving an intricate puzzle.
These locations also have underground tunnels and ruins that make it seem like a labyrinth, giving players more places to uncover. But, of course, we can’t forget all the notable buildings and structures from the series that Harry Potter fans will certainly enjoy, like the Gryffindor Common Room, the Grand Staircase, and the Clock Tower Courtyard.
Due to the map’s immense size, the game does provide various means of transportation, from a flying broom to the fast-travel mechanics of the Floo Flames. This also means that there are unique ways to experience each location, as walking around the grounds is drastically different from zooming overhead on a fast broomstick.
What I appreciate most about Hogwarts Legacy’s layout is how lively every destination is, considering that they’re filled with students, ghosts, animals, and other magical beings. Too often, we’ve seen open-world games fall prey to the age-old trap of being too massive, with little substance to keep you immersed. It’s fortunate, then, that Hogwarts Legacy’s world is filled with so much flavor and life to keep you engaged. For instance, when you walk in the middle of the night, a ghost will ask you why you are out so late, or when you pass a suit of armor, it will begin to sing and dance.
Not only are there lively characters to look out for around the castle, but the game also features a variety of collectibles to look for to receive upgrades, unlock spells, and craft potions. It’s almost impossible to be bored at Hogwarts because there are so many things to do in any one area.
Hogwarts Legacy also takes this opportunity to flesh out the world further by incorporating little details and plot points from the books. For instance, players will meet several house elves around the school, which is a story arc that was removed from the movie version. Furthermore, it gives us further insight into the series’ history and what it was like before the time of The Boy Who Lived.
Still, if you think the school itself is big, wait until you see the massive outdoor regions, such as the Forbidden Forest, Hogsmeade, Manor Cape, and Feldcroft Region. The list could go on and on, demonstrating just how much time and effort was made to make this game fun and truly immersive for any Harry Potter fan.
As a longtime lover of the series, I believe it truly captures the magical essence of the books and films due to its interactive settings and diversified cast. Whether you’re a fan or not, if you’re at all interested in living out your fantasy life as a witch or wizard in this ridiculously well-realized world, Hogwarts Legacy is certainly worth checking out.