Hogwarts Legacy Gameplay Showcase Shows Off Character Creator, Combat, Hogwarts Castle

It’s been a long time coming, but today we finally got a good long look at parts of Hogwarts Legacy we hadn’t seen yet. We saw the Character Creator, had a tour of Hogwarts, and took a close look at combat by watching the player character duel their fellow students. It’s a lot to take in (46 minutes worth, to be exact) so below the video, you’ll find a summary of all the key takeaways from today’s Gameplay Showcase.

The character creator was simultaneously very impressive and something of a disappointment. The models look great — the hair moves beautifully, there are tons of options, and most players shouldn’t have any trouble making a character they find appealing. However, there are no sliders — it’s still not clear why everyone doesn’t just copy FromSoft and let players make their character exactly how they want.

Instead, you’ll choose from a fairly large selection of preset characters, and then choose from a predefined set of face shapes, hairstyles, and eyes/brows. There are sliders for skin and hair color, and you can further customize your character with freckles and scars, or by changing their complexion. You can even give them glasses, and apparently there are more choices for glasses beyond the initial three available later in the game. One new and unique feature is the pitch slider for the character’s voice. This is a great idea, and one that would be nice to see in other games in the future.

In the QnA session at the end of the showcase, we learned that you won’t be able to reset your character after creating it — only things like hairstyle and color will be modifiable after you hit that accept button.

Surprising no one, the most impressive part of the showcase by far was the tour of Hogwarts. The Hufflepuff dormitory looks exactly as described in the books — the developers have confirmed they pulled details from J.K. Rowling’s writings in designing each of the common rooms. There is different music for each common room, and the theme we heard today sounded wonderful, and had the same general timbre as the music from the films.

It doesn’t seem like you can interact with a lot of the stuff in the dormitory and common room, but there is still plenty to do and see in the castle, and you’ve even got a person tour guide! Early on in the game, you’re given a magical Field Guide to help you catch up as a late fifth year. A loan from the ministry of magic, it senses opportunities for learning in the world around, sometimes even offering challenges to help you grow as a witch/wizard. The field guide pages also serve as one of the game’s collectibles, with over 100 pages to find just within the castle(!).

Throughout the castle, we saw Floo Flames light up the character neared them — these serve as fast travel points, as any true Potterhead could have predicted. Also of note is how the minimap tracks your recent path, which should make it easier for less-confident explorers to find their way around.

If there was a low point of the showcase, it was definitely the conversations with NPCs. They are as lifeless as any Oblivion NPC — the voice acting is passable, but the audio has a weird echo, the faces are still and lifeless, and the dialog doesn’t match the lips at all. Frankly, it looks like a bad dub when the characters talk. The background noise also disappears when you’re in a conversation, so it’s weirdly silent, making the issues with the NPCs even more stark and apparent. Funnily enough, sometimes the characters displayed some real (albeit subtle) emotions, but then their face would snap back to neutral, ruining the illusion.

We did learn that you’d be able to affect the lives of the students in Hogwarts Legacy, and even change the game’s ending by how you interact with some of them. It’s not clear whether that’s just your companions, or if you can have a major impact on other NPCs as well.

Many players will no doubt be disappointed to learn that this game isn’t anywhere near a simulation of life at Hogwarts — while some classes are mandatory for progression through the game’s main story, there is no being late for class, and many of the classes are simply optional side missions.

The way it was described in the showcase is that “There is a day night cycle, but everything is narrative based. There’s a mystery going on in the world and there are chapters in that narrative, within each chapter there are missions you optionally choose: mainline things you have to do, plus optional things like classes.”

The biggest area of improvement (relative to what we’d seen revealed previously) is definitely the combat. The older versions of the game had fairly stiff looking wizard battles, but in the duel we saw today, combat looked much smoother and more like what’s seen in the films. We also got to check out the training room in the clock tower, where you can practice combos and improve your spell-casting skills.

Here’s what we learned about combat in Hogwarts Legacy:

  • There is a basic attack on the right trigger
  • Holding the right trigger will open your currently selected “spell diamond”, letting you use the face buttons to cast 4 different spells
    • Players will be able to earn 3 additional spell diamonds over the course of the game
  • The player gets a warning halo over their head when they’re going to be attacked
    • You can deflect spells if you time the input correctly
    • If you hold the deflect input and time it successfully, you’ll be able to reflect the spell and stupefy your opponent
  • The player and enemies will be able to create shields, and specific spells (that match the color of the shield) will be needed to break it

Additionally, we got a tiny bit more info on how the talent system works — you’ll apparently be able to “advance, grow and change” spells by spending talent points on them, though what that will look like remains to be seen.

The showcase ended with a sneak peek of the grounds outside the castle, and a promise that we’d soon get to see more of the world around Hogwarts. It sounds like the next showcase (or at least one of the upcoming ones), will cover the open world outside the castle, which should give us a lot more info about what it will be like to actually play the game. Until then, you’ll just have to keep rereading the books and rewatching the movies!

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Unabashed FromSoftware fanboy still learning to take his time with games (and everything else, really). The time he doesn't spend on games is spent on music, books, or occasionally going outside.

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