We are often going on about the importance of focus in game design. Most of the time this is related to certain mechanics at the epicenter of the gameplay loop. Hogwarts: Legacy however makes a case for level- and environment design to also having the potential to take over the lead, becoming the magic ingredient, that makes this journey through the world of Harry Potter as enchanting as you’d wish for.
Instead of it being one central feature, here the magic lies in dozens of little things of beauty and signs of love for the background material. It’s about the warm feeling of coming home, that the architechture of Hogwarts and its lovingly strange but comfy surroundings evoke. About the countless small details that do not bear any relevence for story or gameplay, but are only there for the enjoyment of the player and to make this place feel as magical, lively and unique, as we got to know and to love it from the books and the movies.
Hogwarts: Legacy is, more than anything else, a feeling-simulator than a groundbraking open world game.
As much there is to say about the atmosphere and potter-heady giggles the game’s lovingly crafted world brings to the player’s living rooms, there is little to nothing remarkable to be told about it’s gamepay loops. In simple terms, it’s a top-100 of mini games, from collecting, over outfitting to solving shallow riddles, scattered among the game’s vast environment in a way, that the player can be sure to never having to travel further than a few dozen meters without stumbling apon yet another, unsignificant and undemanding nullity to engage in. The achievement in balancing in making this as motivating and enjoyable as it is, despite the dullness each of the tasks represents, is probably the only noteworthy thing to mention in regards of the gameplay. The focus here obviously lies more on creating a way-back-machine to all the feelings and warm memories we had when we got in touch with this world, lore and characters the first time.
It’s a testiment to Warner Bros. Interactive‘s understanding of its fans and potter-heads, that they decided to go down this road, creating an strikingly unremarkable open world game.
Hogwarts: Legacy is then, more than anything else, a feeling-simulator than a groundbraking open world game. Aiming at offering a fairytale’esque world for escapists, similarly to what we came to love about the books and movies. Concentrating on digging into the player’s hearts rather then triggering their rationale. It’s a concept we know from horror games – where it’s more about building atmosphere and targeting the player’s emotional complex than telling an award winning story or inventing impressing gameplay mechanics.
It’s a testiment to Warner Bros. Interactive‘s understanding of its fans and potter-heads, that they decided to go down this road, creating an strikingly unremarkable open world game in terms of what the player can actually do. But to focus on the little things, the details, things that make the fan’s heart jump, that make the interaction with the beloved brand worthwhile and what lets us wanting more every time we leave this enchanting version of one of pop-culture’s most important and beloved worlds for a break and a pint of butter beer.