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2021 Preview: Hogwarts Legacy explores the wizarding school’s mysterious history
Over 100 years before Harry Potter’s birth, Legacy introduces a new threat to the Harry Potter universe
During Sony’s PlayStation 5 event in September 2020, the long rumoured and previously leaked Harry Potter RPG; Hogwarts Legacy was confirmed.
Set at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the late 1800s, Hogwarts Legacy seeks to let players experience their own wizard journey while not encroaching on the established canon of the books.
Developed by Avalanche Software, previously of Disney Infinity fame, the game is being released under Warner Bros’ recently established Port Key games, which also plays home to Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, a magical Pokemon Go developed by Niantic.
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While little is known about the game officially, in 2018 footage of an early build of the game leaked, showing off the player learning spells, exploring iconic areas of the wizarding world and interacting with beasts. It’s rumoured that the game will begin with the player being transferred to Hogwarts in their 5th year, two years before students typically graduate from the school.
Leaks appeared to show players customising a character that looks significantly older than a first-year Hogwarts student.
The trailer begins with what looks to be an older student arriving at the school seems to confirm this, however with the sorting hat and the process of being sorted into Hogwarts’ four houses so prevalent in the original books, and subsequent media, it seems strange that this element would be omitted.
Although not part of the trailer, a screenshot released shows an older student in a wand shop testing out their new wand, something that’s traditionally done when a student joins Hogwarts at age 11, so there’s potential that the story could surround a wizard not uncovering the powers until slightly later in life. The appearance of the unnamed wand shop implies that players will be able to visit the magic world’s High Street: Diagon Alley.
What’s also made clear by the trailer is that the world around Hogwarts is also a large part of the game. Hogsmeade village, the Forbidden Forest, and other locations from around the school grounds will be explorable. One part of the trailer even shows the player flying what looks to be a Hippogriff over a seaside setting, suggesting the open world may be much larger than expected.
Dementors, Inferi and Dragons all make an appearance in the trailer, as well as several of the creatures introduced in the Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them spin-off films.
One of the biggest questions so far is due to the appearance of mysterious skull-faced figures at the end of the video. These appear to be the main threat to the player, although their motives and origins are unknown. Due to being set over 100 years before the rise of Voldemort and his death eaters, this will have to be a new threat further divorcing this game from the canon established by creator J.K. Rowling.
“In the Wizarding World cannon, September 1 is the day that students return to Hogwarts after the summer holidays, a day which would certainly fit thematically for a release.”
Rowling’s involvement has also been the source of much speculation due to her recent controversy. Warner even addressed the concerns about the author’s involvement in a FAQ posted online.
They wrote, “J.K. Rowling is not directly involved in the creation of the game, however, her extraordinary body of writing is the foundation of all projects in the Wizarding World.
Regardless of the author’s creative involvement, she is certain to receive profits from the game as she still oversees all of the projects related to the Harry Potter IP.
Due to the game being set in the late 1800s, there are few established characters or events that could appear in the game. While ghosts such as Nearly-Headless Nick could appear due to having died in the 1400s, teachers, students and other notable figures are likely to be entirely the creation of Avalanche.
While a release date is currently unknown, the trailer confirms that the game is planned for 2021. While there’s no Wizarding World movie releasing next year as Fantastic Beasts 3 was delayed until 2022, an release early in the year seems unlikely due to no date being announced.
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In the Wizarding World cannon, September 1 is the day that students return to Hogwarts after the summer holidays, a day which would certainly fit thematically for a release.
Tie in games for the immensely popular Harry Potter films were released for console and PC from 2001 until 2011. These were third-person action games, not dissimilar to the leaked footage of Hogwarts Legacy. While not critically loved, they have developed a beloved fanbase due to their strange voice acting and large explorable Hogwarts castle.
The last Harry Potter game for console was a collection of the LEGO games from TT Games which released on the PS4 and Xbox One.