Ten games to play instead of Hogwarts Legacy

Spoiler Warning: There may be minor spoilers present for some of the entries on this list.

I confess that I was excited for Hogwarts Legacy when it was announced a couple of years ago. I wasn’t aware, at that time, of J.K. Rowling’s harmful and hurtful transphobic stance, and when the game was announced I felt that it had potential. Fast-forward a couple of years and a recent gameplay reveal video has got a lot of fans excited. I would probably have been among them a few years ago; while I was never really “in” the Harry Potter fandom, I enjoyed the books and films generally speaking. But I can’t support Hogwarts Legacy – nor anything else in the Harry Potter series any longer.

J.K. Rowling doesn’t have anything besides Harry Potter. She’s had limited success with the other titles she’s tried her hand at, so it’s the Harry Potter series that keeps her relevant – and it continues to be a major revenue stream for someone who’s already a billionaire. Any time the Harry Potter series gets attention, it amplifies J.K. Rowling, increasing her platform, her reach, and ensuring her harmful transphobic views are amplified, spread worldwide, and discussed at length. Moreover, it brings in money for her, some of which she donates to anti-trans activists and groups. I don’t know exactly what cut of the proceeds she’d get for Hogwarts Legacy – but it’ll be significant. If the game sells millions of copies she could easily rake in several million pounds from it.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

For some folks, Harry Potter is their biggest fandom and a huge part of their life. If you’re in that category, I hope you won’t consider this a personal attack. I know that J.K. Rowling’s statements have upset a lot of people, many of whom continue to consider themselves fans of the series. If Harry Potter meant a lot to you and you can’t abandon it, that’s your decision and I’m not interested in trying to change your mind.

I’m not going to re-hash all of the arguments surrounding J.K. Rowling and her transphobia here. I don’t have the time nor am I in the right emotional headspace for that. You already know what she’s said, why people like me find it incomprehensible and harmful, and reiterating all of those points would just lead to all of us getting upset all over again. Instead what I want to do today is offer up a few alternative games, titles that are just as interesting and exciting as Hogwarts Legacy but with hopefully less bigotry.

So without further ado, here are a few games you could substitute Hogwarts Legacy with if you’re looking for something fun to play but feel unable to support J.K. Rowling. Let’s jump into the list, shall we?

Game #1:
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

A game set in an established fictional world, but taking place hundreds of years prior to the events we know and love? That sounds an awful lot like Knights of the Old Republic! I can never fully put into words how much this game blew me away when it was released in 2003. After feeling disappointed with The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, Knights of the Old Republic went a long way to restoring my faith in Star Wars in general – and one of its story twists is perhaps the greatest that I’ve ever played through in any video game.

Knights of the Old Republic sent me off on my very own Star Wars adventure, and included all of the elements that a story needs to feel truly authentic. Whether it was Jedi Knights, beeping droids, or visiting familiar worlds like Tatooine or Kashyyyk, it was an incredible ride from beginning to end.

If you don’t mind waiting a year or two, a full remake of the game is in the works!

Game #2:
Red Dead Redemption II

It took me a while to get around to trying Red Dead Redemption II, but when I played through it last year I finally understood why everyone considers it to be a masterpiece. It’s a dark, bleak, yet incredibly beautiful experience, one which recreates late 19th Century America in a way that feels incredibly real. Characters feel like actual people with thoughts, desires, and motivations, and the narrative contains some incredibly emotional sequences that left me in tears.

Red Dead Redemption II is also one of the most visually stunning games I’ve ever played. Its open world has been crafted to perfection, and is packed full of minor details that make the experience an incredibly immersive one. I literally had dreams about Red Dead Redemption II while I was in the middle of the story, and there were times last year where I would want to just drop everything I was doing to get back to playing it!

Game #3:
Kena: Bridge of Spirits

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is another visually beautiful game, so much so that at one point I had to put down the control pad and just stare at the amazing scenery! It’s also an incredibly fun adventure game that I felt recaptured the feel of older 3D platformers. It wasn’t always an easy experience, as there was relatively little hand-holding, but it was incredibly fun and incredibly rewarding.

Considering that Kena: Bridge of Spirits was the debut game from brand-new developer Ember Lab, I’m even more impressed! I crowned it my “game of the year” for 2021, and with good reason. It was one of the best gaming experiences that I had last year, and even though I have a growing list of unplayed games… I’m sorely tempted to go back and revisit it!

Game #4:

If a supernatural adventure is what you’re after, look no further than Control. I found the game to be incredibly atmospheric as protagonist Jesse explores a hauntingly bleak world. I definitely got sucked into the spooky world of Control, and this could make for a really fun game to play around the Halloween season thanks to the supernatural tone and some spectacular level design.

Control is also an incredibly accessible game, with lots of different options to customise and tweak the experience. One of my favourite parts of Control were the full-motion video sequences, presented in-game as recordings and clips to collect as Jesse explores deeper into the heart of the ancient and deeply unsettling building. These little snippets of lore, presented in a fun way, added so much to the experience.

Game #5:
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen

It’s been a few years since I played Dragon’s Dogma, but if I recall correctly the game has a surprisingly deep and rich magic system – something you might be looking for in an alternative to Hogwarts Legacy. Dragon’s Dogma always felt like a second-tier game; the kind of title that didn’t quite break into the uppermost echelons of gaming. But it was a fun time nevertheless, and a fun adventure to play through.

The Dark Arisen version – which is available for PC, Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 – combined the base game and all of its DLC into a single package, and as a slightly older game (Dragon’s Dogma was originally released in 2012) it can be picked up quite inexpensively either second-hand or during Steam sales.

Game #6:
Elden Ring

Elden Ring is categorically not “my thing.” These kinds of difficult-for-the-sake-of-it games are simply unenjoyable for me, and as a result I have skipped Elden Ring. But I’d be remiss not to include one of the biggest releases of the year on a list like this, and many fans of the Souls-like genre have hailed it as an instant classic and the new benchmark for future titles to live up to.

Elden Ring uses an open world, it has magic, fantasy elements, and monsters to fight. It was originally billed as a game with input from A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin, though he appears to have made a limited impact on what seems to me to be another Dark Souls-inspired title. If you’re into games with punishing levels of difficulty, Elden Ring could be the one for you.

Game #7:
The Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim

So you want to enrol in a special school to learn how to wield magic while at the same time exploring the world and going on adventures? Then why not join the Mage’s Guild in Skyrim? Or, come to that, why not do the same in Oblivion or join House Telvanni Morrowind as well? The entire Elder Scrolls series is set up perfectly for players who want to create mages, witches, necromancers, and all other kinds of magic-using characters!

Skyrim is certainly showing its age by now, even if you pick up one of the special enhanced deluxe anniversary editions that have been released endlessly over the past decade. But it’s still a beautiful game that’s fun to play, and many of its questlines and stories have a magical side that might just make up for skipping over Hogwarts Legacy.

Game #8:
Jade Empire

Jade Empire is a fun BioWare adventure game that I feel doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Released in between Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect, it tends to be overlooked. Its Chinese-inspired setting is really interesting, though, and the game is populated with fun characters. There are magical elements to the game, too, although there’s a pretty big focus on martial arts-inspired combat.

Jade Empire tells a fun story, and I found it easy to get lost in its world when I first picked up the game on the original Xbox. If you’ve played other BioWare titles before then the format will be familiar – but the setting and the story are unique. I’ve always hoped that BioWare would revisit the world of Jade Empire… maybe one day!

Game #9:

GreedFall is another game that can feel overlooked, perhaps a game that didn’t quite break into the top tier when it was released a couple of years ago. It can feel like a title with some heavy-handed themes as it looks at the issue of colonialism – not always perfectly, I should say – but laying atop some of those deeper themes is a fun adventure in a well-constructed, lived-in world.

There are magic spells in GreedFall, with an entire character class built around the use of magic. The game’s character creator is pretty basic, but if you can look past that limitation the actual customisation options are quite extensive. It’s a fun game, and well worth a play especially considering that it doesn’t ask full price.

Game #10:
The Last Of Us Part II

I honestly didn’t expect to be putting The Last Of Us Part II on any list… ever! I didn’t enjoy the game’s story at all, as I felt it tried to be too smug, too clever, and the way in which it hacked away at some of the most basic fundamentals of storytelling – the need to have a clear protagonist and antagonist – meant the whole narrative collapsed. But if you’re really looking for a game to throw up a middle finger to a transphobe, The Last Of Us Part II could be right for you!

Despite my story complaints, the gameplay in The Last Of Us Part II is excellent. Its third-person stealth/action style is an iterative improvement over its predecessor, but it’s well-executed and feels very smooth to play. There’s also a sense of scarcity, with ammunition and supplies being hard to come by. This makes for an experience that requires a lot of thoughtful planning; rushing in guns-blazing usually doesn’t work.

As one of the few games I can recall to feature a transgender character in a major role (voiced by Star Trek: Discovery’s Ian Alexander) I felt it was worth including The Last Of Us Part II on this list.

So that’s it!

Those are ten games that I think could be worth playing if, like me, you plan to skip Hogwarts Legacy when it’s released later this year. I tried to look at titles that are in the third-person action or action/adventure space, as well as titles with magic or supernatural elements. There were plenty of other games that I could’ve included if we broadened those criteria, though, so this is by no means an exhaustive list!

I had a conversation with a friend recently, and they expressed the opinion that they would play Hogwarts Legacy as there aren’t a lot of games that would give them a similar experience. While it’s true that Harry Potter and the Wizarding World are somewhat unique, there are plenty of games – as well as novels, films, television shows, and other entertainment experiences – that draw on many of the same themes and use the same kinds of storytelling elements. Hogwarts Legacy, just like the rest of the fictional setting that J.K. Rowling created, is not irreplaceable.

That being said, I’m not here to try to force anyone to play or not play a particular game. I just wanted to contribute something positive to the overall conversation surrounding Hogwarts Legacy, and perhaps show off a few titles in a similar genre or similar space that players who are weighing up their options could consider as alternatives. If that applies to you, I hope you at least found my suggestions interesting! And if you still plan to go ahead and play Hogwarts Legacy, I genuinely hope you have a good time with the game.

Hogwarts Legacy is the copyright of Portkey Games and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Harry Potter and the Wizarding World are trademarks of Warner Bros. Entertainment. All titles on the list above are the copyright of their respective studio, developer, and/or publisher. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Hogwarts Legacy – a new game set in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I’m no longer interested in Hogwarts Legacy. To see why, click or tap here.

When Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was published in 2000 I picked up the book on launch day and by about four o’clock the next morning I’d finished it! I did the same for at least two of the subsequent titles (I think Order of the Phoenix was too long to read in one sitting) and though the Wizarding World of Harry Potter isn’t my favourite franchise it’s always been enjoyable. As a Brit there’s also a vague sense of pride over a property like Harry Potter – in an entertainment landscape so dominated by Hollywood and the United States, I’m glad that a British franchise has achieved such acclaim and a worldwide following.

I didn’t plan to cover today’s PlayStation 5 event. They announced their pricing – which is identical to the Xbox Series X at $499/£449 in case you were wondering – but unless that had been a huge surprise in either direction I had no plans to follow the online presentation. However, one announcement changed that: Hogwarts Legacy.

Two Hogwarts students seen in the trailer.

Hogwarts Legacy is due for release in 2021, and despite debuting at PlayStation’s event will also be coming to PC, Xbox Series X, and the two current-gen systems too. It’s an action-adventure game set in an open world based on the famous school introduced in JK Rowling’s books, but in a whole new era: the 1800s.

I absolutely love this premise. Taking an established world but telling a new story with new characters is something every franchise will eventually have to do in order to truly succeed. Though there have been attempts – such as the Fantastic Beasts film – to tell stories in the Wizarding World beyond Harry Potter and Voldemort, the franchise is still very much “Harry Potter.” Moving beyond those familiar characters is a great thing, as it will give fans of the setting an original and wholly different experience. As I wrote recently, this is something that the Star Wars franchise needs to do too!

A fantastic beast!

There’s still a lot that we don’t know about the game, and I don’t like to jump on the hype train too soon, but this will be the first game set in Harry Potter’s world to tell an original story and the first to deliberately exclude the main characters from the books. That’s significant, and I’m really hopeful right now that what results will be a great game.

As I watched the trailer I was struck by a couple of similarities to a favourite game of mine from the early 2000s – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Not only did that game take an established fictional setting and tell a story set generations before the original story, it also featured a light side/dark side system, which – unless I’ve misunderstood the marketing – Hogwarts Legacy may be offering too. We know that within the Wizarding World there exists such a thing as dark magic, and it seems as though the new game will allow players at least some degree of choice regarding whether to stay in the light or to follow a darker path. That worked exceptionally well in Knights of the Old Republic, and I see no reason why it wouldn’t succeed here too!

Fighting a dragon.

The Harry Potter books – and the films and games they were adapted to – were the story of a select few characters. Harry Potter himself is arguably a somewhat bland “everyman” type, but even so, playing one of the older Harry Potter games still felt like taking control of this character and living his story. Hogwarts Legacy claims to offer players the chance to “be at the centre of [their] own adventure,” and for fans of the franchise I can hardly think of anything more exciting!

In a way, I can understand why some may feel a little disappointed at the 19th Century setting. One part of the Harry Potter stories is the division between the real world where us muggles reside and the magical world beyond. While for the most part the action was away from the muggle world in all previous stories, part of what made them relatable was the idea that everything could really be happening right now. Taking a big step back in time changes that dynamic at least a little, and while that can be a good thing that opens up many new opportunities, it also denies players the opportunity to take their young wizard into today’s world. I don’t think that has to be a problem – games like Red Dead Redemption II have done great things with an 1800s setting – but it is worth noting.

Hogwarts castle.

Attending Hogwarts should be a lot of fun! But one aspect any game set in a school has to get right is making lessons feel enjoyable and natural parts of the story. Spending a lot of time in a classroom or having to follow a schedule could work if those levels offer players enough to do, but there’s always a risk that fictional school classes can end up feeling like a bit of a drag or an obligation, especially if the tasks are mundane. On the basis of the limited marketing material released so far, Hogwarts Legacy is billing itself as a game that offers players a lot of choice and freedom, and hopefully they’ve found a way to make school lessons gel with that. If the player character is a student – as seems to be the case – having total free roam of the school all the time with no obligation to attend lessons wouldn’t work for story reasons, and I think getting this balance right will be crucial to the game’s success.

Familiar elements from the films seem to be returning. Hogwarts itself looks to be very much in line with its film depiction, and toward the end of the trailer there was even the familiar musical sting – Hedwig’s Theme – that accompanied the films. The first film in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was released in 2001, so it’s not unfair to say after almost twenty years that an entire generation of kids grew up with this portrayal of the Wizarding World. Playing on that nostalgia should win support for Hogwarts Legacy, and the visual style seemed to be very much in line with the films across the board.

It’s been a while since I was so excited for a game that was only just announced, and even longer since I was even vaguely interested in anything set in the Wizarding World (sorry Fantastic Beasts!) This has been a strong start for Hogwarts Legacy – let’s hope it can live up to the hype!

Hogwarts Legacy will be released on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X in 2021. Hogwarts Legacy is the copyright of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Portkey Games. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.