Hogwarts Legacy was released in February 2023 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S and PC. It more than lived up to the hype that a blockbuster video game set within the Harry Potter universe was bound to generate, with fans eager to explore the wizarding world in a new way.
The game - set in the 1800s, long before the events of the Harry Potter series - allows players to create their own character who attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and presents a rich, immersive experience that allows players to live out their own Hogwarts adventure.
But though the focus so far has rightly been on the shinier, current-gen consoles, there are still millions of gamers around the world who have as yet been unable to make the pricey switch to the newer machines, and are still playing on last-gen consoles like the Xbox One and PS4.
So will Hogwarts Legacy ever be making an appearance there, and what about the humble, relatively underpowered Nintendo Switch?
Well, good news! There are indeed plans to bring Hogwarts Legacy to last-gen machines at some point in the future, though it is slightly more complicated than that. Here is everything you need to know about it.
How will it perform?
In Hogwarts Legacy, players are able to attend wizarding classes, learn spells and potions, and explore the school’s grounds and surrounding areas, such as the Forbidden Forest and Hogsmeade Village. It also features a branching narrative affected by the player’s choices and actions.
It’s an ambitious game to say the least, with hundreds of hours’ worth of content to uncover and explore, branching side-quests and spectacular wizarding duels just some of the highlights from a bumper pack of features.
Thankfully, the relatively new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S consoles were on hand to help developers Avalanche Studios realise their artistic vision, and help Hogwarts Legacy run at relatively smooth framerates and at relatively high-resolutions.
Sure, the game ray tracing implementation - a technique used to create realistic lighting effects by simulating the way that light behaves in the real world - isn’t the best, but with plenty of graphical options in the game’s settings menu, players are able to play around until they find a visual feature set that suits them.
That’s all very well and good on the new consoles, but what of the older PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles - not to mention the humble Nintendo Switch - which are significantly less powerful than their current-gen counterparts? How will the game run on those machines?
At the time of writing, Avalanche have not officially revealed any screenshots or footage from the last-gen versions of the game, so we don’t really have any idea of what graphical cutbacks could be made to get it running on the ageing hardware.
When can I play it on PS4 etc?
Hogwarts Legacy’s last-gen versions were always slated to release later than the current-gen iteration of the game, with Avalanche obviously wanting to pour their resources into making the current-gen version of the game the best it could be.
But a number of delays to that version mean it is now arriving slightly later than was originally confirmed, and earlier this month, Warner Bros. Games announced that the last-generation versions will now be on sale from Friday 5 May 2023.
The release date for the Nintendo Switch version of the game will drop even later: it is currently scheduled to arrive on Tuesday 25 July 2023.
Could (or should) the last-gen version be cancelled?
The delays have had some gamers stuck on last-gen machines fearing for the worst - could these versions of the game eventually be cancelled outright?
Nothing of the sort has been suggested either by Avalanche or Warner Bros. Games at this point, but while a lot of titles launch on both old and new platforms during a generational shift, the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S have had particularly protracted cross-gen periods.
In order to put the age of the last-gen hardware into perspective, the PS4 and Xbox One will celebrate their 10-year anniversaries in 2023. New, ambitious games like Hogwarts Legacy that are forced to operate within the limitations of technology that is 10 years old are either severely limited on new hardware, or painful to play on older machines.
While some games, like Forza Horizon 5 and God of War Ragnarok, played nicely even on the more outdated technology, others, like the last-gen versions of Cyberpunk 2077, were considered complete catastrophes, and it appears that even players are beginning to recognise the challenges and consequences of cross-generational development.
What about the Nintendo Switch version?
That’s before we even consider the Nintendo Switch, which although newer than the PS4 and Xbox One, was less powerful than both of those consoles owing to its portable abilities.
Some recent, big budget video games launching on the Nintendo Switch have opted to go down the ‘cloud gaming’ route, which allows players to play high-quality video games without needing a powerful console, as the heavy processing is done on a remote server with the game streamed over the internet to the player’s device.
When playing a cloud game, the device sends input commands to the remote server where the game is running. The server then processes these commands and sends the resulting game footage back to the player’s device in real-time, allowing them to see the game and play it as if it were running locally on their device.
However, cloud gaming requires a stable and fast internet connection, as any lag or delay in the transmission of data can affect the player’s ability to play the game.
We would expect that if Avalanche were planning to go down the cloud gaming route with this one they would have already made that known by now, but it is possible that were they to hit a snag in the development of a Nintendo Switch version, they could ‘cancel’ it and switch to cloud-based tech instead.
Again, this is all speculation on our part, and until anything is officially revealed by the development studio, gamers and Potter fans will be waiting with baited breath.
Where can I pre-order the last-gen versions?
If you still feel confident that a last-gen Hogwarts Legacy is something you would like to experience, you can pre-order the game through Game.co.uk. Simply click on the links below to be taken through to the pre-order page for your platform of choice.