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Hogwarts Legacy’s most useful tools are where it really drops marks

Hogwarts Legacy does a lot right when it comes to immersing fans in the Wizarding World, but this RPG's most useful tools are often where it misses the mark.

Hogwarts Legacy open world gameplay immersion issues: an image of Ravenclaw's Samantha Dale from the Harry Potter game

For everything Avalanche Software does right when it comes to fully immersing the player in the Wizarding World while playing Hogwarts Legacy, it also misses the mark. Sure, you can use the Nab-Sack to summon a Hippogriff when you’re roaming the Highlands, or use Lumos to traverse dangerous patches of Devil’s Snare in dungeons, but there are so many moments in Hogwarts Legacy where you can’t help but feel like more could have been done – especially when it comes to the waiting feature. This might be one of the most useful tools when it comes to exploration and gameplay, but it is one of the biggest immersion killers in Hogwarts Legacy.

Wherever you might be in the Wizarding World available in Hogwarts Legacy, you can open your map and press R3 – on consoles – to wait. What this does is that it runs through the day-night cycle in-game to fast-forward to the daytime if it’s night, or the night if it’s daytime.

At a glance, there really is nothing wrong with this feature – in fact, it’s quite useful. If you’re looking for Hogwarts Legacy Demiguise statues, or you need to get your hands on a Mooncalf, it saves you waiting for the right time of day.

Similarly, if you’re waiting to play your next round of Summoner’s Court or meet Poppy Sweeting in the depths of the Forbidden Forest, you can head to the quest’s starting point and choose to wait until the NPC you need is there. However simple, this feature gives you – the player – agency when it comes to doing what you want whenever you want to do it; day or night, you can access everything in Hogwarts Legacy at the press of a joystick – or the relevant key on PC.

However, this is one of the biggest immersion breakers in the game – which is a shame when you consider how much good work Avalanche Software has done to make Hogwarts Castle and the surrounding grounds feel positively magical.

Why is this an immersion breaker? Well, because – when you do wait – your character simply sits down. Whether you’re standing in Professor Fig’s office, out in front of a vendor in Upper Hogsfield, or even in the middle of an ancient ruin surrounded by Dark Wizards, you always just sit down.

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We know this isn’t a major issue when it comes to functionality, and it’s marginally better than just having your character stand there like they do in the Fallout or Elder Scrolls series, but it really doesn’t make sense when you consider you’re asked to head back to your dorm room to sleep and pass the time very early on in Hogwarts Legacy’s story.

While we are aware this is done to encourage players to experience what each house’s common room has to offer before they set out on their adventures (which is quite-literally nothing until you start collecting Dedaelian Keys), it’s also presenting the solution to a problem that’s never taken advantage of.

This is also something that almost every single NPC highlights, when you’re waiting for them to start a quest. When your player character starts standing up from the ground they’ve been sitting on for hours, there is almost always a remark along the lines of “ah, there you are” or “about time you showed up” from the NPC you’re waiting for. When you consider the fact that you’re the one who has been waiting for them, and they would have to quite-literally step around you, it really doesn’t make sense. Would it have been hard for Avalanche Software to include a dialogue option along the lines of “sorry I’m late” for these situations?

We can’t say for sure, but this is something of a common thread that runs through the entirety of Hogwarts Legacy. Take the Floo Powder travel system, for example. Canonically, witches and wizards need to throw the Floo Powder into a flame in order to make use of it.

Hogwarts Legacy open world gameplay immersion issues: an image of a Floo Powder flame in the Ravenclaw common room

With so many Floo Powder flames scattered throughout Hogwarts Legacy and the ability to summon your broomstick almost all the time, it’s a shame that Avalanche Software has decided to allow players to fast travel from any point – and not force them to travel from one fast travel point to another like a handful of other open world games. Sure, this might sound more annoying, but the immersion it would bring would enhance the overall experience.

Another example of this would be an early mission involving the Restricted Section of Hogwarts Library and a particular Sebastian Sallow. Using the disillusionment spell, you need to sneak past prefects and avoid the librarian Agnes Scribner in order to get to the Restricted Section. Albeit a simple quest, it does pull you into the fantasy of being a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry; it’s something that reminds you that you’re a student at this school, and not a free-roaming action hero who comes and goes as they please.

However, this quest really is one of the only times where you need to be wary of being out after dark. Most of the time, you can run around in the dead of night without cause for concern – even being able to revisit the Restricted Section of the library at any time. We know the immersion is going to have to be broken at some point to favour functionality, but when you consider everything on offer canonically, there really is no excuse for some of the shortcuts taken and these decisions to abandon established mechanics and rules so suddenly.

As you can read more about in our Hogwarts Legacy review here, this game loses it’s way when it comes to adopting tried and tested open world mechanics. Avalanche Software had the chance to do something special with Hogwarts Legacy – and in many ways it has done. However, it’s missed the mark on quite a few things – the aforementioned immersion breakers included. Not only is this a disservice to Harry Potter fans, but also a disservice to open world game fans who were hoping for something fresh.

Hogwarts Legacy has drawn considerable criticism during its development, largely due to the fact that the creator of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling, has made a number of transphobic remarks on social media in recent years.

While Avalanche has confirmed that J.K. Rowling is not “directly involved” in the development of Hogwarts Legacy, it is working with “her team” and Portkey Games, a Warner Bros. label dedicated to launching new experiences inspired by J.K. Rowling’s original stories. It is currently unclear whether she will earn any royalties from the game’s sale, but it is likely given it is based on her original body of work.

If you would like to learn more about transgender rights or lend your support, we’d encourage you to check out the National Center for Transgender Equality in the US and Mermaids in the UK.