‘Hogwarts Legacy’ and its past

Hogwarts Legacy focuses on interactivity, including challenges like troll fights. While it adds lots of variety, players have criticized the fights being drawn-out. // Photo courtesy of Avalanche Software

Few games have been as heavily anticipated as an open-world RPG set in the universe of “Harry Potter,” as promised by Avalanche Software after being acquired by Warner Brothers. This game would come to be entitled Hogwarts Legacy, a role-playing game (RPG) that was released on Feb. 10, 2023 for the most recent platforms (PS5, PC and Xbox X/S), and is set to be released in the coming months for legacy platforms. 

The game is set about 100 years before the events of the “Harry Potter” books with the main player character being fully customizable, from their appearance to their Hogwarts house. Players can elect to follow a path of good or evil as they navigate through the open-world game.

As developers released teaser videos showcasing a high level of customization, a large open world, a variety of spells, flying on brooms (and magical creatures) and other magical elements, the game quickly captured the attention of the dedicated fan base of “Harry Potter.” 

After its release, the game was received with mixed emotions. The game failed to live up to the lofty expectations it set out for fans, and instead proved to be a mediocre experience.

The open world of the game is visually stunning, showing off the nature of the Scottish highlands changing with the seasons. However, navigating the map and user interface is frustrating and takes the magic out of the experience.

The non-playable characters (NPCs) have been noted to be particularly boring compared to the lifelike interactions that were promised in teaser materials. Players have also complained that the characters often feel like unoriginal copies of beloved characters in the “Harry Potter” series. 

The main villain of the game is introduced through relatively casual interaction, lacking the dramatic flair that players were hoping for.

In addition to issues with the game itself, the “Harry Potter” series, which is the source material of the game, has come under fire recently due to its highly controversial author: J.K. Rowling. 

In June 2020, Rowling posted inflammatory comments on Twitter about the transgender community, angering longtime fans of her work and the internet community at large. As she began receiving pushback about her statements online, she doubled down on her position posting lengthy statements detailing her opinions on the transgender community. 

Rowling has caused smaller (though not insignificant) controversies through other online statements she has made. Notably, she attempted to add diversity to the “Harry Potter” post-publication by posting on Twitter that Hogwarts headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, was gay. While at first this might seem to be positive, fans criticize the move as throughout the series there was no mention of this in the series, making the representation quite hollow.

Throughout the “Harry Potter” book series, fans online and news outlets such as Pop Crave noticed that certain characters were named in ways that aligned with stereotypical characterizations of their respective races. 

Most notably are Cho Chang, whose name is insensitively made up of a Korean surname (Cho) and a Chinese surname (Chang), Kingsley Shacklebolt and the Patil twins Parvati and Padma, feeding into harmful stereotypes and racist caricatures.

Hogwarts Legacy contains another poorly named character, Sirona Ryan, a transgender girl. Fans online took issue with the naming of a transgender female character with ‘sir,’ aligning with Rowling’s rhetoric that transgender women are not real women. 

However, according to the esports outlet Sportskeeda, the game’s developers have repeatedly stated that Rowling has had no direct involvement with “the production, direction of the title, or its narrative,” leading to lots of online controversy about whether or not you should play the game.

Hogwarts Legacy has proved to be disappointingly mediocre and is unfortunately based on material created by an author whose true colors have shown themselves both on Twitter and through viewing the “Harry Potter” series with the tough lenses of retrospect.