Receiving the ever so awaited letter from Hogwarts – or from any other school of Magic – to be part of the Wizarding World is all any Harry Potter fan has dreamed of. The magic within the series is so vast that the book pages are simply not enough. Games, which allow more interactivity, are a good way of making fans feel as though they are part of the story.

The issue is that there has never been an official Harry Potter universe RPG in “open-world”. The new franchise game, named Hogwarts Legacy, guarantees to change that reality. Promising many possibilities of interaction, the game will be launched in 2021 for PlayStation 4 Pro, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, and PC.

Harry Potter and the old frustrations

Being a long-time fan since The Philosopher’s Stone movie was released, back in 2001, I have been playing Harry Potter games since the first one was released for Game Boy Colour and PlayStation 1. I’ve always loved them, but they – and their successors – are focused on the stories from the movies and the books, therefore, they only allow the player to watch classes that are important to the narrative or teach spells which are essential to the gameplay.

My favorite game to this day is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which was released for PC, PlayStation 2, and Nintendo’s GameCube. Walking through the whole castle, flying a Hippogriff at any given time, and having the option to choose anyone from the trio to play as was very innovative for 2004. Still, the story was the same from both the book and the movie. There was nothing new to it.

Sorting Hat selection in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Legacy
The Sorting Hat ceremony in Hogwarts Legacy (Image: Warner Bros. Games/Reproduction)

Hogwarts expanded with the advance of technology but exploring the castle and other places in the Wizarding World remained limited. Even though the games for Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows made strolls around the castle possible, the level of interaction with the scenarios, other characters, and side quests are minimal. There is no reason to keep playing after finishing the main mission because there is nothing left to do.

In the following years, the closest attempt to an ‘open-world’ game the fans got was Harry Potter Lego 1-7, in 2010. Despite it being funny and enjoyable, with many characters to choose from, the game still follows the story from the books. Again, you can walk around the castle, but it’s not possible to do much other than follow the storyline.

Hogwarts Castle in the new Harry Potter game
The Hogwarts castle in the new Harry Potter game (Image: Warner Bros. Pictures/Reproduction)

The first Harry Potter game to explore beyond the books and movies was Hogwarts Mystery, from 2018. The main character is the brother to a Hogwarts ex-student who was expelled when trying to find cursed chambers inside the castle and disappeared. Though the story is interesting and the player can shape their character’s personality, the gameplay is very disappointing.

Hogwarts Mystery relies on predetermined clicks. That makes the classes, exploring, or any other activities very repetitive and not challenging at all. The duels, for example, are basically a game of rock, paper, and scissors, and the Quidditch games are very limited since the only thing the player is required to do is follow the rhythm, with no need for strategy or any other skills.

We want more! We want to get to know the Wizarding world deeply in mysterious and completely new stories. There are so many different times mentioned in the books other than Harry Potter’s and Newt Scamander’, so many different groups of students at the school, but we have never been able to see them. We need a full ride into the Wizarding world and, to do that, there is nothing more immersive than a game.

Unknown magical creature in the new Harry Potter game
Unknown magical creature in the Hogwarts Legacy game (Image: Warner Bros. Games/Disclosure)

Promise of success

For a universe as wide as Harry Potter’s, a game that goes beyond predetermined and repetitive narratives is more than welcome. We want something new. New Professors teaching different spells, classes which we never took part in, such as Arithmancy, Astronomy, or even Music.

The Hogwarts day to day is, after all, much more than that which we have seen Harry, Ron and Hermione do. We want to see the Chess Clubs, Duels, arts, and other collectives existent around the castle. We want to know what being a Hogwarts student really means when neither Voldemort nor Grindelwald was threatening to tear the Wizarding world apart.

That’s the premise in Hogwarts Legacy, which is set towards the end of the 18th century with the whole castle available to the players and scenarios which we do not know through the movies or the books. The game’s trailer impressed the fans. It is, of course, only a demonstration. It is hard to tell if everything that was shown on the video will be available at the game’s final version, but I bet this is the game that every Harry Potter fan has always dreamed of.

*Renata Mojola loves reading, travelling, and playing any kind of game, board or digital. Historian, she is doing her masters in Humanity’s World Heritage Studies in England in order to be closer to Harry Potter’s touristic sites.

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Translated into English by Dimitri Manaroulas and Aline Michel