The next big installment of the Wizarding World was conjured in Salt Lake City
Potterheads, your days of wishing you could fly a hippogriff or “Expelliarmus” your rivals are over.
IGN calls it “a wonderfully executed Hogwarts student fantasy that kept me glued to my controller for dozens of hours.” GameSpew calls it “the closest any of us are ever going to get to actually attending Hogwarts.” Warner Bros. Games calls it “Hogwarts Legacy”—and it was created right here in Salt Lake City by Avalanche Software.
“Hogwarts Legacy” is an open-world RPG video game that teleports players into the magic of Harry Potter’s fantastical world. The game’s one-player journey allows its user to roam the realms beyond Platform 9¾ and live as a wizard in training.
If you’re still waiting for your wax-sealed letter to Hogwarts, this is it.
According to the game’s official website, “The story has players experiencing life as a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry like never before as they live the unwritten and embark on a dangerous journey to uncover a hidden truth of the Wizarding World.”
There is one catch to this Harry Potter game: Harry Potter doesn’t actually make an appearance. The game is set in the 1800s, long before J.K. Rowling’s first book takes place. But despite the absence of “the boy who lived,” the magic lives on.
“While remaining true to J.K. Rowling’s original vision, Portkey game developers chart new territory by creating fresh ways for fans to immerse themselves in the Wizarding World,” the game’s website states.
Gamers start a unique Hogwarts journey and make their own destiny rather than follow the footsteps of characters whose fates were sealed in the books. Players have the freedom to choose a Hogwarts house, customize their character and follow as many of the game’s numerous side quests as they desire. Although set in an earlier time than the movies, “Hogwarts Legacy” reintroduces many of the same magical creatures and locations that have spellbound lovers of the fandom for years.
Published under Warner Bros. Games’ Portkey Games label, some may be surprised to learn that “Hogwarts Legacy” was created in Utah. But why not? Salt Lake City hosts FanX every year. Utahns googled the query “Harry Potter” more than any other U.S. state in the past five years. And last year, a study from USDISH placed Utah in the iconic house of Gryffindor with only two other states.
“Hogwarts Legacy” was launched on Feb. 10 for PlayStation5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PC. The game is set to be released for PlayStation4 and Xbox One on April 4 and for Nintendo Switch on July 25. So far, it’s been met with widespread acclaim.
"While remaining true to J.K. Rowling’s original vision, Portkey game developers chart new territory by creating fresh ways for fans to immerse themselves in the Wizarding World."
“I’m in absolute love with the story of the game. Really just everything about the game is amazing,” says Jess Edmonds from North Carolina. Edmonds preordered the deluxe edition of the game to play it 72 hours early. She’s decided it’s one of the best games she’s ever played, at the same level as “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.”
“Avalanche did a fantastic job capturing the magic of the Wizarding World,” Edmonds says.
It’s more than spells and potions that make “Hogwarts Legacy” a magical experience, and the game’s surreality can be discovered in the tiny details hidden from the average eye. The music score alone took four years to perfect, as the composers worked hard to give different parts of the map and different plots of the storyline their own auditory personality.
Veronica, who lives in British Columbia, Canada, has enjoyed exploring the minuscule details of the game. Since discovering the Harry Potter books in fourth grade, she’s read all the books in the series, seen all the movies in the franchise, and played several earlier Harry Potter video games. With “Hogwarts Legacy,” she’s determined to take her time in enjoying the intricacies of the adventure.
“I love exploring the castle, making friends, petting all the cats,” Veronica says. “The seasons change with the game, so it’s amazing to see the beauty of late-1800s Hogwarts with different seasons. I’m just loving the experience and how vast the world is.”
Matthew Boehm, from Florida, grew up as a Harry Potter fan and loved listening to the audiobooks narrated by Jim Dale. He and his friend Jackie shared a love for the Wizarding World, and their go-to Saturday activity together was a Harry Potter marathon. In 2019, they even went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. It’s a fond memory that Boehm returns to, as Jackie sadly passed away in 2020.
“I will admit that ever since she passed, I hold this franchise even closer, as it’s one of the few pure memories I can still share with her,” Boehm says. “I wish I would have gotten the chance to share this game with her. She would have loved it.”
Through the stadium of “Hogwarts Legacy,” gamers around the world are catching their Golden Snitch—treasured memories, childhood nostalgia, everlasting friendship—and they’re not letting go anytime soon.