Post updated at 1:30am 2/6/2023. See update below.
The most highly-anticipated game of 2023 (so far) is almost upon us. Hogwarts Legacy, despite being enmeshed in a near-constant state of controversy, is already breaking sales records on PS5 and Xbox Series X, and unless the game is a massive disappointment, it’s looking like one of the biggest games of 2023 by a long mile.
The open-world Harry Potter game allows players to explore the magical school Hogwarts as a young witch or wizard as they attend school, fight monsters, fly on broomsticks and cast spells—all in a fantastical open-world. The game takes place a hundred years before the events of the Harry Potter books, which means you won’t run into familiar characters, only familiar fantasy.
Gamers excited to hop onto their broomsticks can do so a few days earlier than the game’s February 10th release date. If you pre-ordered the game’s physical Collector’s Edition or Digital Deluxe Edition on console or PC you’ll get 72 hours of early access. Here’s the exact time you can apparate into the game’s early access period based on your platform of choice:
Early Access On Steam And The Epic Game Store
PC players will be able to dive through Platform 9 and 3/4 and board the Hogwarts Express at 10 am PST / 1pm EST on Tuesday, February 7th. This is for players globally, so you’ll want to double check what time-zone that is based on your region. This translates to 6pm UTC.
Early Access On PlayStation And Xbox
It’s a bit different for console players as the 72 hour Early Access begins at midnight local time on February 7th. Whenever the clock strikes midnight and the carriage turns back into a pumpkin and the dress into rags, lose your glass slippers and hop into the game. The only time-zones that differ here are those west of EST. So 9pm PST / 10pm MST / 11pm CST on the 6th, and then 12am EST on the 7th (at least, that’s what the below map appears to convey despite the Hogwarts Legacy tweet’s text):
Brief Thoughts On The Rowling Controversy
Hogwarts Legacy has been shaping up into what looks like a very good game (I had many doubts early on but I’ve come to be pretty excited about the game). The controversy around Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has put a damper on things, but I believe you can purchase and enjoy the game whether or not you agree with Rowling’s politics. In fact, I urge you to play the game (or not play it) with total disregard to the pop culture wars that everyone has become embroiled in surrounding all things Harry Potter.
A few more details about Early Access and launch times for Hogwarts Legacy players. The game won’t be available on Xbox One or PlayStation 4 until April 4th, 2023. It’s not coming to Nintendo Switch until July 25th. None of these platforms will gain any kind of Early Access as a pre-order bonus.
Another interesting note, given the brief mention of the J.K. Rowling controversy above, is the fact that the Hogwarts Legacy Subreddit banned any and all discussion of the author in the lead-up to the game’s release—which is probably a wise decision. Here’s the mods’ reasoning:
In recent months the mod team has experimented with easing up on our previous “topic embargo” disallowing all discussion of JK Rowling. However, this no longer feels possible. Regardless of your personal feelings (or lack thereof) towards her, we will be limiting these conversations for the following reasons:
The three reasons listed are:
- Allowing conversation about JKR quickly spirals into bigoted language towards LGBTQ+ individuals. For primarily the dignity of LGBTQ+ users but also for the longevity of the subreddit at large, we cannot provide any kind of opportunity for this language to start in the first place.
- Users who rally behind JKR under the guise of “keeping things about the game” are still taking conversations off topic from the actual game. JKR does not need anyone to come to her defense, and this subreddit especially does not need to be a platform for that.
- Users who actively engage in an “us vs. them” mentality with comments about “Twitter activists”, “woketivists” etc. merely feed into this dynamic which they claim to hate. Comments about how you enjoy trolling people on other social media platforms, or how you are buying extra copies to troll the critics, is still trolling. This content breaks subreddit rules and will be removed.
Defending JKR is not the purpose of this subreddit, and it has taken the greater community dialogue in this subreddit more off-track than her critics ever have.
Users who genuinely feel conflicted about buying the game and would like to talk that through in good faith will be able to continue to do so in our Boycott + Ethics megathread for the time being. This thread will continue to be monitored by the mod team. Comments which are not made in good faith or are otherwise unconstructive will be removed. Comments which use derogatory language, in this thread or anywhere else on the sub, will be removed and the user will be banned, with the duration/permanency at the mod team’s discretion.
The mod team firmly believes LGBTQ+ individuals are deserving of dignity, respect, and inclusion.
Any users who cannot behave in the same way should find a different place to discuss Hogwarts Legacy.
tl;dr All discussions about JKR, positive or negative, are once again disallowed. Let’s keep our focus on Hogwarts Legacy and all the great work done by Avalanche.
Given how badly any conversation about Rowling, her position on trans issues, and anything even tangentially related to that subject spirals out of control, I think this is very wise. I’ll probably avoid any further discussion of these issues for the time-being as well, and focus on the game and whether or not it’s any good—which I genuinely hope it is! I’ll have my impressions up soon, as I’ll be playing on both PS5 and PC this week before launch.
I thought I would update this post now that I’ve had the chance to play the game a few hours before Early Access begins on consoles (and a bit longer if you’re on PC, unfortunately). I have to say that already I’m smitten. I’ll have proper impressions up later and a full review down the road (this game is huge) but for now, I can honestly say this is the most fun I’ve had in an RPG in years—at least in an RPG that isn’t a Dark Souls / Bloodborne / Elden Ring game.
Honestly, this game gets off to such an incredible start it’s exceeded all my expectations. The opening act is really, really strong. You have mystery, action, magic, endearing characters, mini-games, spells to learn and classes to go to. There’s a fascinating mysterious plot that kicks off right away, but you almost forget all about it as you enter Hogwarts, sit with the Sorting Hat to pick a House and then head off to class, to Hogsmeade, and to all the adventure you encounter along the way. The teachers and students are all really fascinating to talk with—and I say this as someone who is often bored or at least antsy when it comes to dialogue-heavy games.
I made a couple videos of my early hours with the game. This first one is the character creation:
This second video is Part 1 of my playthrough which lasts from the opening scene through the title screen (when you first arrive at Hogwarts). I’ll be posting more gameplay videos as I go, with Part 2 going over your first day at Hogwarts.
I designed my character—Wyatt Harbottle—to look like a younger me, though I never dressed this snazzy as a Fifth Year when I was at wizarding school (or, rather, when I was daydreaming about the idea of knights and wizards and princesses needing to be rescued from evil dragons).
The game is beautiful, by the way. These aren’t the best graphics out there, but for a multiplatform game of this size and scope, I’m really impressed with how good everything looks. And on PlayStation 5 at least, so far it’s running without a hitch. Apparently some people have experienced glitches but I haven’t seen any.
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