During yesterday’s State of Play (17 March, 2022), Avalanche and Sony showcased a 20-minute special on Hogwarts Legacy. 14 glorious minutes were dedicated to gameplay footage on the PlayStation, and the game itself looks magnificent.
But, as I’ve mentioned before, any Harry Potter media must take strength from its story. In this post, I’ve put together the plot details revealed in the gameplay video for Hogwarts Legacy, and provided additional information backed up by years of Harry Potter fandom. Let’s dive in.
Ancient Magic will be the Focus of Hogwarts Legacy‘s Plot and Story
The premise of Hogwarts Legacy is outlined at the very beginning of the trailer. You’re a new student (starting in your fifth year), with a special knack for “powerful ancient magic”.
You’re a new student at the famed school of witchcraft and wizardry with the unique ability to manipulate powerful ancient magic hidden in the wizarding world. You’ll need to uncover what’s behind the return of this forgotten magic and who is seeking to harness it to destroy wizardkind — as you may be the one that decides the fate of the entire wizarding world.
Ancient magic in the Harry Potter universe refers to old magic, the kind that witches and wizards don’t usually control but are inherently in the reality of the world. For example, Harry’s mother’s sacrifice that saved his life was a form of ancient magic imbued into the love between mother and son, not requiring Lily to cast a spell or use a wand.
Ancient magic is only referenced a few times in the Harry Potter books. In Goblet of Fire, a library book Harry and Hermione consult while researching the first task states:
Dragons are extremely difficult to slay, owing to the ancient magic that imbues their thick hides, which none but the most powerful spells can penetrate.
— Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
It’s also thought that the Department of Mysteries, whose employees are known as Unspeakables, is concerned with the confidential research of ancient magic. Several topics of the rooms include love, time, and of course, in the case of the one containing the veil, death.
Hogwarts Legacy‘s Story Alters Ancient Magic in Harry Potter Lore
It’s strange that the player will be able to control and use ancient magic in Hogwarts Legacy. There is a scene in the video where the player casts an extremely powerful spell using ancient magic that causes a massive lightning effect.
You can even use the mysterious, powerful magic your professors do not understand to obliterate your strongest foes.
The idea of ancient magic in Hogwarts Legacy will likely be different from what it is in the books. While ancient magic is subtle and powerful in Harry Potter lore, the game’s ancient magic will probably be “magic plus”. The concept that there is a “return of this forgotten magic” further indicates that Hogwarts Legacy is taking ancient magic to be something quite different.
Ancient magic will play a big role in the character’s progression, and also in the bigger mystery. It’ll be the key to accomplishing certain tasks, and also an integral part of the story surrounding the character themself. It’d be great to weave this into the character’s backstory, not least in answering the question why they started at Hogwarts as a fifth-year student.
In Hogwarts Legacy, this stronger version of magic will be what sets the player character apart from others, giving them a feeling of true power and heroism. Like how Harry was imbued with ancient magic when his mother died to save him, giving the player character this similar trait will make them the “Chosen One”. Can’t get much more Potter than that.
Who is Professor Figg in the Story of Hogwarts Legacy?
Our next story tidbit comes at a scene of the player character in a moving vehicle with two men. One of them, with greying hair, is Professor Figg.
The magical abilities you learn to master through your schoolwork will soon become tested, as you unravel a dangerous mystery by working alongside the accomplished and yet enigmatic Professor Figg to try and discover if the rumors of a mounting goblin rebellion hold any weight — and if the safety of Hogwarts lies in the balance.
This same professor is seen fighting alongside the player against a group of goblins. A red bolt from his wand shows he means business.
We have some clues for who Professor Figg is. From his name, he’s likely related to Mrs. Figg, a nearby resident of the Dursleys. In Order of the Phoenix, Mrs. Figg reveals herself to be a Squib (person of magical descent who has no magical abilities). In fact, Dumbledore had tasked her with watching over Harry as he grew up on Privet Drive. Mrs. Figg also testifies at Harry’s hearing at the Ministry of Magic in that same book.
I’m a Squib, as Mundungus knows full well, so how on earth was I supposed to help you fight off Dementors?
— Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Professor Figg could be one of Mrs. Figg’s magical ancestors. Whether he’s into cats or Kneazles as much as she is remains to be seen.
Given context clues from the gameplay video, we can also narrow down what subject Professor Figg might teach.
Hogwarts Legacy is set in the late 1800s. It’s refreshing to see a brand new cast of teachers and students, though I will always miss seeing Professor Snape in the Potions dungeon.
There’s a witch with long ginger plaits who teaches Herbology, and a lilac-gowned eccentric-looking Gilderoy Lockhart precursor who teaches Charms. A white-haired witch conducts Defense Against the Dark Arts classes. The Potions professor wears a green tie and walks with a limp.
We catch a glimpse of a ghost in nightclothes teaching a class, which I expect is Professor Binns teaching History of Magic, as he does in Harry’s parents’ years, and his own.
Professor Binns had been very old indeed when he had fallen asleep in front of the staff-room fire and got up next morning to teach, leaving his body behind him.
— Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
We also hear voiceover of a lady instructing students on broom safety, whom I imagine to be the Flying instructor.
By process of elimination, we can guess what position Professor Figg holds at Hogwarts. The notably missing core class is Transfiguration (and also Astronomy, but that’s boring as Muggles can also study it). But considering third years and above have options to study Care of Magical Creatures, Arithmancy, Divination, Muggle Studies and Ancient Runes, there are a number of more likely occupations for our enigmatic professor.
Given the focus of the story on ancient magic, I’d guess that Professor Figg teaches Ancient Runes, Transfiguration or something made up for the game.
Hogwarts Legacy‘s Historical Goblin Rebellions Replicate Those in Harry Potter Lore
In the State of Play video, a Daily Prophet newspaper headline shows the threat of goblin rebellion. The newspaper’s front page reads, “Ranrok’s Goblin Rebellion: Truth? Or ‘Gobbledegook’?” This would appear to be a central conflict of the game. The goblin in question, Ranrok, appears multiple times, looking suspicious. In-game voiceover states:
Ranrok’s loyalists are capable of so much more than people realize.
In Harry Potter lore, goblins rebellions were common mainly in the 17th and 18th centuries, decades before the game’s setting of specifically 1st September 1890 on the article. These rebellions protested the mistreatement of and discrimination against goblins by witches and wizards.
Like Professor Figg, the goblin Ranrok is a new character for Hogwarts Legacy. Previous goblins in the Harry Potter series have included Ragnok, who worked at Gringotts, and Ragnuk, who famously crafted the Sword of Gryffindor. But no Ranrok.
The goblin Ranrok seems to have formed an alliance with a wizard wearing a top hat. These two characters are up for primary antagonists of the game. And the conflict is probably related to the main character’s ability to manipulate ancient magic. In the gameplay video, Top Hat Dark Wizard asks Ranrok at one point:
Who is this child? What are you not telling me?
Focusing on a goblin rebellion is an interesting take on the Harry Potter franchise, but also a tricky one. It’s difficult to separate the handling of an entire race as evil in video games, if only for simplicity and understanding in the story. See the orcs of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor.
With “powerful goblins” and “dark wizards” mentioned in the video, I hope the individual characters have more nuance in the game for a more compelling story.
Hogwarts Legacy‘s Plot Reveals a Connection to Merlin
Finally, there are multiple references to Merlin in the State of Play gameplay video for Hogwarts Legacy. There appear to be puzzles located in and around Hogwarts created by the great wizard himself.
Be on the lookout for enchanting magical puzzles that may very well have been designed by Merlin himself when he was a student at Hogwarts.
Merlin did indeed attend Hogwarts, and was famously a part of Slytherin house during his time at school. The expression “Merlin’s beard!” is wizarding vernacular throughout the Harry Potter books. Harry even finds Merlin’s Chocolate Frog collectible card on his first ever trip to school on the Hogwarts Express.
For eagle-eyed fans, there’s also the name “Merlin” in one of the stained glass windows during a History of Magic lesson in the Hogwarts Legacy State of Play video.
The Merlin connection in Hogwarts Legacy could be more meaningful. Merlin, or whatever he left behind for the player to discover, may have clues to ancient magic. On the other hand, I like the idea of the Merlin quests and achievements being separate from the main story, as their own little bonus easter eggs and more difficult puzzles to solve and secrets to uncover.
Hogwarts Legacy‘s Success Rests on the Game’s Storytelling
Narrative design in video games is an important task, especially for a book-based world like Harry Potter’s. For Hogwarts Legacy, developing ancient magic as a separate entity different from what it is in Potter lore may be the cleverest thing the designers have done so far.
Using ancient magic as the lynchpin of the story, and being able to design freely around it without being boxed in by previous conceptions, can only lead to a stronger narrative. The same can be said about the 1800s setting and the plethora of new characters to meet.
There will always be the burden of expectation in creating media based on pre-existing fictional worlds. For Hogwarts Legacy, it is great to see that there are anchors for the story. Hogwarts castle, Hogsmeade village, and minor characters like Nearly Headless Nick and Peeves ground the wizarding world nicely without feeling like inserts or fan service.
All in all, I’m not worried about Hogwarts Legacy‘s combat, progression system or environment design based on the State of Play gameplay video. The game delivers on the atmosphere of the wizarding world, and for the first time in a Harry Potter I’m actually excited to cast spells and fight.
Hogwarts Legacy‘s success rests on the strength of its story. With the details we’ve received and their connections to known Harry Potter lore, I have every hope the designers will do the beloved wizarding world justice.