The Hogwarts Legacy review embargo has lifted, and it turns out a lot of people like being an open-world wizard. The game has been in development for many years at Avalanche and is Warner Bros' big attempt to establish the Harry Potter gaming universe. Fans have previously had the movie tie-in games, but this is entirely its own thing and distinct from the ongoing film franchise.
Review code for this one only arrived a few days before embargo, so some sites have not yet posted reviews, but of those that have the reaction is near-universal positivity. Hogwarts Castle comes in for particular praise, with nearly everyone digging the game's recreation of the iconic wizarding school, but everything from the imaginative missions to the quickfire spell combinations of combat seems to have impressed. PC Gamer's review is in progress (opens in new tab), and here's a roundup of what the critics are saying.
"In nearly every way, Hogwarts Legacy is the Harry Potter RPG I’ve always wanted to play."
IGN: 9 (opens in new tab)
"In nearly every way, Hogwarts Legacy is the Harry Potter RPG I’ve always wanted to play. Its open-world adventure captures all the excitement and wonder of the Wizarding World with its memorable new characters, challenging and nuanced combat, and a wonderfully executed Hogwarts student fantasy that kept me glued to my controller for dozens of hours. It’s certainly weighed down by technical issues, a lackluster main story, and some poor enemy variety, but even those couldn’t come close to breaking its enchanting spell over me."
"Bursting at the seams with hobbies to pick up."
Evening Standard: 4/5 (opens in new tab)
"The game is bursting at the seams with hobbies to pick up. Have a liking for Potions? Spend hours growing and scavenging ingredients from around the game’s huge world map (comprising a hefty slice of the Scottish Highlands around Hogwarts) to brew new ones. If animals are more your thing, why not tame a Thestral or Hippogriff–or something even more exotic like a Mooncalf? And for the combat-inclined, there are also multiple bandit camps to find and wipe out, and, though it’s really not hard to do, it’s also fun."
"[Has] a spark that’s long been missing from Harry Potter games."
Metro: 4/5 (opens in new tab)
"That combination of lush scenery and apparently limitless things to do within it, lends proceedings a spark that’s long been missing from Harry Potter games. Freed form the baggage of the original canon, you’ll still bump into Weasleys and various antecedents of modern era Hogwarts, but the story is never beholden to them, which is a refreshing change of pace and something the Star Wars franchise ought to be watching with keen interest."
"Avalanche has cultivated a special atmosphere that will leave franchise fans completely engrossed."
Gamerant: 4/5 (opens in new tab)
"The developers did a tremendous job bringing Hogwarts castle to life, perfectly capturing the aesthetic of the Harry Potter franchise. Combined with the recognizable Harry Potter musical score, Avalanche has cultivated a special atmosphere that will leave franchise fans completely engrossed. One could spend hours simply walking through the school and taking in the sights."
"Hogwarts will justify the cost of entry alone for Potter fanatics."
Tom's Hardware: 4/5 (opens in new tab)
"If you have any sort of appreciation for the Harry Potter franchise, Hogwarts Legacy is an easy recommendation. It’s very clearly a labor of love from the development team at Avalanche Software, and their respect for the source material shines through. The chance to explore the game’s remarkable recreation of Hogwarts will justify the cost of entry alone for Potter fanatics."
"The deeper you get into the adventure the more vacuous sidequests become."
GamesRadar+: 3.5/5 (opens in new tab)
"Like a great many modern action role-playing games, Hogwarts Legacy suffers from bloat outside of its core (and often quite imaginative) mission-set. The deeper you get into the adventure the more vacuous sidequests become, the more monotonous the activities (magical lockpicking is not the one), and the more sparse the environments: Hogwarts Legacy introduces an entirely new area called Poidsear Coast, and it's as barren as it is beautiful. "
"It is nostalgic without being nostalgia-bait."
VGC: 4/5 (opens in new tab)
"Avalanche Software’s game is to Harry Potter what Middle-Earth Shadow of Mordor was to The Lord of the Rings. While both mega franchises had to wait a few decades, they each deliver a huge, excellent video game adaptation that is almost exactly what fans had been asking for since the early 2000s. It is nostalgic without being nostalgia-bait. It’s reverent to a franchise without having to play the hits. It’s hard to argue against it being the strongest piece of Wizarding World media since the films concluded over a decade ago."
"It's the game all of us Harry Potter fans have dreamed of and deserved for so long."
GameReactor: 8/10 (opens in new tab)
"It's the game all of us Harry Potter fans have dreamed of and deserved for so long. You can really dig into so many aspects of the adventure and even play it your way. Perhaps you prefer stealth to action? Then you can level up your character to be better at just that, and if you prefer more of a magical Rambo, the tools for that are included as well."
"Being a wizard is just about as fun as we’d always hoped it would be."
Gamespew: 8/10 (opens in new tab)
"Hogwarts Legacy is the closest any of us are ever going to get to actually attending Hogwarts, and what a magical experience it is. It’s clear that it’s been created with love, and the attention to detail here is phenomenal. It’s not without its issues, of course, but there’s few that get in the way of the overall experience. It looks gorgeous, it’s a joy to play, and being a wizard is just about as fun as we’d always hoped it would be."
"A fun, open-ended tour through a well-constructed fantasy world."
CBR.com: Unscored (opens in new tab)
"For good and for ill alike, Hogwarts Legacy feels like the ultimate chance to explore and tour the Wizarding World from the ground up. In its best moments, it's reminiscent of something like Elden Ring or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, inviting players to just go and explore a larger world, discovering who they want to be and learning more about the setting in the process. Even when the game slows down, it feels like a fun, open-ended tour through a well-constructed fantasy world, where the solid gameplay and impressive overall graphics do wonders to immerse players into the world."
"Even now as I write this, I want to be back at Hogwarts."
GodisaGeek: 9/10 (opens in new tab)
"Hogwarts Legacy does what so few games do these days, leaving me to think about it every second I wasn’t playing. Even now as I write this, I want to be back at Hogwarts solving puzzles and exploring, wondering if there’s still somewhere I might have missed. Exploration is so satisfying, as is the combat, and the way it captured my imagination with its inventiveness, freedom, and characters has been nothing short of remarkable. Avalanche has nailed everything about this game, and I think it’ll be some time before I can get it out of my mind."
"It's everything we’ve dreamt of."
PushSquare: 8/10 (opens in new tab)
"Hogwarts Legacy has turned the hopes and dreams of Harry Potter fans into reality. Finally there is a proper simulator of the school of witchcraft and wizardry, allowing you to create your own student, attend classes, and explore the vast landscape outside. It's not without its issues—side quests prove far too basic, the menus are poor, and annoying timers hurt the player experience—but they don’t get in the way of something that so blatantly comes from a place of extensive love for the source text. Almost 26 years after Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone hit bookshelves, video game fans finally have a magical title to be proud of. It's everything we’ve dreamt of."
"Will surely go down as comfortably the best game based on the Harry Potter franchise so far."
PureXbox: 9/10 (opens in new tab)
"It felt like Hogwarts Legacy was always going to struggle to live up to the hype, but somehow Avalanche Software has managed to deliver an absolutely fantastic open world adventure that will surely go down as comfortably the best game based on the Harry Potter franchise so far."