I solemnly swear that I want to see some gameplay.
Earlier this week, Avalanche Studios proudly presented some gameplay of their upcoming RPG, Hogwarts Legacy, a game set in the Harry Potter Wizarding World franchise. The showcase focused on three different aspects of the game that can be experienced fairly early on: the character creator, a small tour of the Hogwarts Castle itself, and a brief look at the title’s combat mechanics.
The character creator seen included six different categories. The first of these offered a variety of presets that could be used as bases to help provide a jumping-off point for further customisation or just used on their own. The next of these sections focused on the player character’s general face shape, skin colour, and also glasses. There seemed to be a lot of options for the first two of these, with only a handful of glasses, but given that there will be options to change clothing and glasses later on in the game, this is likely just to provide a few starting options that can be changed out later.
Next up were the hair options, including both hair colour and hairstyle, both of which seemed plentiful and filled with detail. Following that were a few more face offerings, like general complexion and face markings, like freckles, moles, and scars — though keep in mind that a classic lightning bolt scar on the forehead does not appear to be an option! After that were options for eye colour as well as eyebrow shape and colour. Lastly, there were two options for voices — one being a more masculine voice and the other a more feminine one — with the ability to further modify the vocal pitch to one’s liking, four options for game difficulty (story, easy, normal, and hard, with the rest of the showcase being played in the normal difficulty), name, and dormitory, or rather, whether you want to be a witch or a wizard.
Hogwarts Castle Tour
The tour itself started in the Hufflepuff Common Room, which has a very earthy and yellow design in addition to a unique theme in the score. All four of the Houses have their own interior design and personal themes, though we only got to see the loyalest of the Houses’ rooms this time. A discussion on the UI then followed, which included a set of spells that can quickly be cast. Apparently, it's easy to slot in the spells that you want to use quickly, with eventually up to 20 spells to play with and up to 16 slots to assign a given spell to. At any time, it seems, the player can also use a few essential spells, like Revelio, which can be used to reveal collectibles and information. Similar to the slotted spells, there's also a tool wheel for magic tools. Additionally, there's a valuable minimap and a health bar (with a little count of health potions nearby), as well as a second mysterious bar that we still don't know the purpose of. Probably not stamina or magic, since those likely wouldn't be considered spoilers. Perhaps something to do with dark magic? Though it could be something more traditional that they simply didn’t want to get to at the time so as to avoid bogging down the showcase. Lastly, the hud can be edited, with whole sections of it being removable.
The tour continued out from the Common Room, with the player character seeing a few different halls and famous rooms, revealing certain collectibles with Revelio, and marvelling at the beautiful scenery. But before moving on, special care was made to show off a small piece of the pause menu, which is based around the Wizard’s Field Guide, a special journal on loan to the protagonist from the Ministry of Magic to assist them in catching up to the rest of the fifth years at Hogwarts. The book is said to be able to recognise when the holder is doing some task that can help them grow and reward them for completing certain challenges or quests. Mechanically, the pause menu itself lists your player level and your House sigil while also providing nine submenus: Gear, Inventory, Talents (greyed out at the time of the showcase, perhaps meaning that the section takes a bit before it unlocks), Collections, Challenges, Map, Quests, Owl Post, and Settings. Most of these are self-explanatory, but Owl Post is likely meant to be a message sharing part of the game, possibly with the player receiving messages or mail from other characters. One of these submenus — Challenges — was further explored, listing five distinct categories of challenges that could be completed in exchange for more experience points: Combat, Quests, Exploration, Field Guide Pages, and Room of Requirement.
Moving on from there, I caught a mention of Fast Travel Points before the showcase neared the Great Hall, though they didn’t go in. Instead, they stopped in front of the House Points hourglasses to admire their stunning representation. However, the House Points themselves are only “part of the narrative” (likely mostly side quests, given what else they called “part of the narrative”), and can potentially be affected by some player actions in certain Choice Points, but there’s not a dedicated House Points mechanic. There’s a variety of other common Harry Potter side mechanics not present in this title, like Gobstones or Wizard’s Chess, though again, some quests (mostly side ones, like the ones brought up by fellow students or even teachers) will mention them. There’s one side quest shown in particular where you can assist a precocious younger student who’s gotten all of her Gobstones stolen from her and hidden around the castle after she beat other people at the game, and thereby sprayed them with a foul stench, as are the usual rules for Gobstones.
Following that, the showcase passed through a variety of unique halls and more open areas, with the presenters making sure to state that they tried to make every hall just a bit unique such that no two places look the same. This design ethos even carried over to a more central hub area that the showcase reached soon after, where the player can go in a variety of directions that seem easy to understand, going by colour and context clues for the relevant areas. This Hogwarts has been designed to be easier to navigate and harder to get lost in, which is a most refreshing idea!
Moving on from there, we also learned that, like how House Points and Gobstones aren’t their own game mechanics, class schedules also don’t feature their own dedicated system. The majority of the game seems to be focused on splitting up activities into a variety of main and side quests and the classes are no exception. There are various quests that involve being in a class or a lecture as part of their narrative, with some of them teaching the player spells required to progress. However, it does not seem as though it’s possible to miss any classes (though that’s not to say it’s impossible. Theoretically, there could be some classes that must be taken by a certain point in the plot or classes that can be missed as part of the story, though this is entirely speculation). The point is, there’s no specific class schedule mechanic to worry about, which is especially nice, considering that Hogwarts Legacy also features a day/night cycle. I’d hate to be scrambling around the castle trying to get anywhere on time!
Lastly, the presenters also made sure to point out that there were many places to explore and many easter eggs to find, as well as a lot of owls, with the showcase even showing off the Owlery from far away on two separate occasions.
There’s a Duelling Club in the Clocktower, named the Crossed Wands. While there, you can train in combat against a training dummy or participate in a series of battles against other student members for glory and challenge completion.
In combat, hitting R2 (on a PS5 controller) will throw out a basic shot spell. Holding R2 will grant access to the spell wheel mentioned prior, where you can then cast any of your slotted spells quickly (though be warned! There’s a cooldown for each spell here). There’s Accio and a flame spell it seems — possibly Incendio?
When facing off against other witches and wizards, everyone seems to bring out their Protego shield charms (each with varying colours, which correspond to the colour-coding of the castable spells, acting sort of like rock-paper-scissors), which can take several hits before breaking. Enemies have their own health bars popping up at the top of the screen, also listing their level. The protagonist has a sort of sixth sense for danger, with a little waving halo graphic popping up over their head when someone’s about to hit them with a spell, which allows them to counter the spell, either with a quick press of the counter button (which just redirects the spell in a random direction) or by holding it to retaliate with a powerful counter, like a stunning spell.
The showcase ended with a brief look outside of the castle, teasing us that there’s so much more to see outside of its hallowed halls. After that, there were a few final questions. Here, we learned that only some aspects of character creation can be changed mid-game, like clothing, glasses, and hair. We were also told that there are a lot of secrets to find as you explore Hogwarts, so keep your eyes peeled and your Revelio ready.
With that, the gameplay showcase came to a close at just over 45 minutes! I’ve listed everything that seemed important to me on my time seeing it, but give it a watch for yourself to see if I missed anything! Then, if you saw something you liked, feel free to pre-order Hogwarts Legacy’s Digital Deluxe Edition.