Hogwarts Legacy: Gameplay Reveal

Released yesterday, the ‘Gameplay Reveal’ above is something of a trailer for the computer game, ‘Hogwarts Legacy.’ If, like me, you are totally clueless about this game, here is the Wikipedia summary of key details:

Hogwarts Legacy is an upcoming action role-playingvideo game developed by Avalanche Software and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment under its Portkey Games label. It’s set in the Wizarding World universe which is based on the Harry Potter franchise. The game is set to be released in late 2022 for Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

Hogwarts Legacy will be set in the late 1800s, following a student at Hogwarts.The player will be allowed to choose their Hogwarts House and attend classes at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and explore an open world consisting of locations including the Forbidden Forest and Hogsmeade Village. In the game, the player character will learn to cast various magical spells, brew potions, tame magical beasts, and master other combat abilities. A morality system will play a role in the game.Players will also be able to customize their character’s voice, body type, wand type and whether they are a witch or wizard.

This looks very professionally done, though I am no judge of such games, and, given the prevalence of such games in people’s lives and the investment made here by Avalanche and Warner Brothers in development and promotion respectively, I think it fair to assume it may very well occupy as much head space among Potter fans as the movie adaptations. 

Which is to say, unfortunately, that this ‘interactive’ game will be one more profit taking exercise that, while bringing some new readers to the series, changes — and I’ll say it, diminishes — the imaginative reading experience of those books. Supplanting imagined ideas of Hogwarts with these professionally crafted electronic scenes means the magic of the books, what Rowling has called their “real magic,” the meeting of her mind’s images and the readers,’ is in significant part lost, as we have seen with the film adaptations.

Please let me know what you think of this trailer for the new ‘Hogwarts Legacy’ computer game. Hat-tip to Chris Calderon for cluing me in to what millions of Harry Potter fans have already checked out online though it only appeared yesterday!


  1. I have to say, I’m really disappointed in this rather testosterone heavy game presentation. The movements of the characters are too mechanical, and fast paced, which elicit a violent undertone that does not at all portray the the general character of Hogwarts, let alone a Hogwarts that is set in the 19th century, or, Victorian Era, (not late 18th hundreds). The skin tone of the characters have an unnatural, muddy appearance (why do they all look like potatoes?), and appear drab, and shabby with regard to their costumes, lack of hairstyles, and poorly groomed beards. The entrance gate does not look period correct, and personally, I find the depiction of the Fantastic Beasts and goblins to be ghastly. On more thing, it’s Care of Magical Creatures, not Beast Class (cringe), which the creators of this game should well know if they all read, and reread the books, as they claim. It’s a shame, all I see here are missed opportunities.

  2. These are just some random notes off the top of my head in reaction to the whole video posted above. It’s just me either trying to put together whatever further pieces of information might be available in the presentation, or else its just random guess work and hypothesizing on my part, and nothing else.

    I almost started out saying that this could be a story with no real main character. It’s a thought I had in the early stages of the video. My initial thought was that the prospective game player was just going to be put in charge of some random Every Person avatar, and that would be it. Now, to be fair, this could still be the case. The one piece of information that makes me pause and wonder if that’s true is a scene showing the player figure interacting with Thesstrals. The trick there is no one can see them, unless they’ve suffered a very particular personal loss. So the main character is able to see and hear them.

    Does this mean the developer’s have taken a page out of Rowling’s original texts, and given your avatar a back story similar to either Loony or He Who Lived? If so, then it still leaves open the question of whether they’re able to do anything original of their own with the trope, or if they’re just going to play it safe with a copy and paste job, under the apparent assumption that it’s what audiences either expect or want.

    Another interesting bit of info is the reveal of three companions who are going to more or less accompany the player on the overall story of the game. There’s Natsai Onai, a Gryffindor who is meant to be sort of like the Artegall, or Knight of Justice for this outing. There’s what seems to be a Newt Scamander expy, in the form of a Hufflepuff, Poppy Sweeting. Despite this, I get the impression she’s meant to represent the Heart virtues in the game. If that even makes any sense. Then it turns out we have an actual Slytherin as part of the main cast. Sebastian Sallow, a trouble maker who seems to enjoy a bit of mischief. He also doesn’t mind if the rules get broken every now and then, and that rings an interesting, familiar bell. Put it like this. If Natsai is the Justice Knight, and Poppy supplies the Heart, then Sebastian seems to take very much after the trickster figure known simply as Mercury.

    So right away, we have Justice, Mercy, and Mercurialism all introduced in one go. Another interesting thing is that Sebastian is the one character with a greater sense of backstory. Either Sebastian or his family are hinted to be living under some sort of curse, and part of his goal is to find a cure for it. I’m just going to go out on a limb, and call it now. Bastian’s mother probably has a curse on her head that could prove fatal, and his over-arching goal in the game is to find a cure for it. It is therefore going to be up to the player to try and help Mercury find a cure for a Mother Figure in the course of the game.

    The interesting thing about this whole setup is that it sounds like the game developers are sort of hinting that the player should choose to make their avatar into a Ravenclaw. It makes sense on two levels. At the surface, it would provide a sense of completion between the story’s overall group dynamic. We’re given representatives from each major house, except for Ravenclaw. It’s like the house is being deliberately left un-represented, so that it becomes a nudge to the player to step in and fill that role.

    This would create a complete picture of a full main cast, where each house is given its proper representation. On a further thematic level, it completes the picture in another way. If Natsai is Justice, Poppy is Heart, and Sebastian is basically Free Spirit, then it makes sense for the player to take the house that represents Intellect, and Knowledge. It grants the player a role that helps balance out the symbolic dynamic as the group’s resident brainiac. My guess is this is also something that will be present in the game script. Look for the player to keep trying to be the responsible one among the cast. He or she may be able to agree with Natsai in seeing the right thing done, or with Bastian in needing to shake the cage up. However, look for his go-to response to each of them to be to ask for them to find a logical way of accomplishing these goals, however necessary they may be. At least I hope that’s what we can look forward to. I could always be wrong on that assumption. And I probably am, anyway.

    There is one thing that ought to be kept in mind, however. I’ve outlined the four revealed characters based on a logic that operates from a very specific viewpoint. All I did was extrapolate the most likely sounding character and plot dynamics based on a working knowledge of Rowling’s artistry. The trouble is there’s no real way of gaging just how familiar any of the game makers are with this type of writing style. Nor can anyone be sure that this was something they kept their eye on as they were making the game itself. The worst part is it remains an open question of the intelligence of the individual player on these matters. Those who know something of Rowling’s themes and practices “might” be tempted to fulfill the logical character dynamics, and make their avatar a Ravenclaw, for instance. However, once more, there’s no telling how good such knowledge is from one player to the next.

    Continuing this thread of thought. Let’s take Sebastian once more as an example. Let’s just suppose everything I’ve conjectured about this character turns out to be true. What if he is portrayed as a Hermes figure, and his narrative really does revolve around trying to save his mother from a curse. Even in such an optimistic scenario, a fundamental problem of composition still remains. Namely, how are we to tell the script doctors had done their actual homework on the source material, from whether or not they just got lucky, and the Muse was either on their side, or they just stumbled onto the right way of tapping into it, and then proceeded to be smart enough to get of the way, and let the Imagination go to work? The answer to all these questions was given by Lewis Carroll, long ago. “I haven’t the faintest idea”. And unless one of the HogPro alums manages to cadge an in-depth interview off any of the developers, I’m afraid anything like a complete, straight answer won’t be forthcoming.

    Then again, would even as grilling an interview as possible help? I’m not saying it can’t. I’m just also being aware that it might not, as well. Like, for instance, one of the clips played bears an uncanny resemblance to Caspar David Friedrich’s “The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog”. That painting is a pivotal expression, almost an icon or mascot of the Romantic Movement in European Letters. So did the developers know any of that? Are they aware of the contents of the painting, and its place in history? Or did they just see it in passing somewhere, or else it was just recall from a fragment of memory, and that set off a chain of thought that made the artists decide to put a modified form of it into a video game? Again, I wish I knew the answer here. However, I’m inclined to go with the idea of random luck of the draw in the artistic lottery, rather than any calculated insight on their part. Say sorry, yet true.

    The real challenge is going to come down to the game’s ultimate reception. This is the most loaded dice out of the whole bunch, as far as I’m concerned. Because the ultimate truth of the matter is that it is perfectly possible for a game like this to be nothing special, and, like, it won’t matter to the majority of audiences who could still possibly eat it up, and call it the “Citizen Kane” of console entertainment. If I had to explain how such a result is possible, then I guess it comes down to a question of just how much the majority of people are ever truly “into” the entertainment they consume. Odds are even to me that the closest possible answer is that most people tend to see art more as a diversion, rather than a lie with a valuable truth embedded within the text which makes it worth preserving. Even if you told them this, they might just shrug and say it’s never made a difference to them on a personal level. The trouble is it begs the question of who or what is in the wrong. Is the indifference because of some inherent flaw in art as such? Or is there an inner isolation at work, that literally clouds their reception to these things?

    Of the two possible answers, what I’ve seen leads me to believe that the latter answer is the one in play here. What this means in practice is the “popular understanding” of all art is less about the actual thematic depths of any given work of fiction, and more merely whatever they are capable of grasping from one moment to the next. What this “could” mean in practice is that the game itself could prove to be an empty shell. Something mindless, and devoid of any of the themes or ideas that Rowling has been writing about for her most of her professional life. I hope I’m wrong. I’d very much like to see a game that was capable of intelligently incorporating Rowling’s artistry into the digital platforming media. Such an approach would have been something worth taking notice of, and might even have served as potential paradigm shift in the way video games are made and played. That sounds like asking too much from everyone involved, however, I’m afraid. That’s why all my conjecture above should be taken with healthy grains of salt. It’s more theorizing than it is anything substantial. My basic take on the whole thing boils down to just this. It’s probably going to amount to nothing. It’s just the that majority of the audience are going to treat it as if it was. They would make it “important” for their “needs”.

    Personally, I’m just left wondering what a poet like John Donne would think of the idea of a mandrake root being used as a kind of stun weapon in a video game. Now there’s an unheralded legacy for you! Probably his reaction would go something like: “What fresh hell is this”!

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