The wizarding world is easily one of the most recognizable ones in all of entertainment, which is why the hype for any game set in this universe is absolutely off the charts. It’s been a long time since fans have gotten a game that quenches their thirst for a game based on magic but Hogwarts Legacy is here to change that. Hogwarts Legacy is easily one of the more ambitious projects when it comes to games based on this universe, complete with an open world brimming with secrets to find and foes to fight.
Hogwarts Legacy mostly impresses with its high level of graphical fidelity and spectacular art direction, and we can’t help but dive deep into its many intricacies and see what’s under the hood. To that effect, we present a complete graphics analysis for Hogwarts Legacy.
Avalanche Software has used Unreal Engine 4 for its latest project, which might come as a surprise to many fans since so many developers are switching to the better and more feature packed Unreal Engine 5 for their games. But it’s also important to consider that Hogwarts Legacy was always supposed to be a cross gen game, which is why Unreal Engine 4 makes so much more sense than upgrading the pipeline to cutting edge technology.
Despite having been built on relatively older technology, Hogwarts Legacy boasts a comparable level of fidelity to games that use engines exclusively built for current gen hardware. Polygon counts are high across the board, the environments look fabulous with astute attention to micro detail, and the game makes generous use of taxing effects like alpha particles, volumetric fog among a slew of other things.
Of course, there’s also the world streaming technology that powers the open world – which seems to work well enough though issues can certainly pop from time to time which we will be discussing in further sections. That said, it’s also important to note that these visual features might be exclusive to the current gen console versions of Hogwarts Legacy, because we are yet to see how this experience would translate over to last gen machines when those versions release in the not too distant future.
Hogwarts Legacy allows players to customize their character through a character creator, which allows them to choose different shades of colours, shapes, and facial features according to their desires. The game gives you plenty of starting options in the form of pre made character models, but you can also fine tune your model according to your liking. As mentioned previously, polygon counts for characters are adequately high and the clothes that they don are physically based materials. The dresses also feature physics properties, so your overcoats and other loose fit clothing items will react according to your movements.
The hair rendering solution isn’t anything special, and while they are presented with some level of care with proper texturing – the shadows they cast and individual strands of hair are prone to flickering artifacts which can look distracting if you zoon in.. On the same note, the skin meshes are also pretty average with little in the name of distinguishing factors but it gets the job done. The faces rarely exhibit any emotions in cutscenes or gameplay, which isn’t surprising since a lot of the facial animations are computer generated like so many open world RPGs on the market.
Environment, World Streaming, And Lighting
While Hogwarts Legacy might not be the most sophisticated in terms of character models, it certainly shines when it comes to the environment. The world of Hogwarts Legacy looks supremely beautiful and detailed with great art direction visible all around. The asset quality for the environments is consistently high, and some environment objects react to the player’s presence. For instance, blades of grass will move when you step on them. But at the same time, your player character doesn’t leave behind any footprints even when walking on snowcapped terrain so interactivity within the environments can be hit or miss at times.
That said, we should also point out that the environments themselves have a lot of density as well. So forests will be dotted with plenty of trees all around, while an indoor are would be filled with a lot of context sensitive props. While this isn’t any technical marvel or anything, it certainly adds up to a richer presentation all around.
Shadow quality looks crisp thanks to the use of ray tracing, and objects faraway in the distance also cast detailed shadows which results in a pretty realistic looking open world. The water rendering looks good too, with reflections that shift according to the camera. Hogwarts Legacy also uses ray tracing for ambient occlusion, which works to great effect in indoor areas like the buildings of Hogwarts where areas less exposed to direct light are naturally darker than the ones directly in the light.
One of the more impressive aspects of the environment is definitely the sky. Hogwarts Legacy’s skybox looks absolutely gorgeous thanks to high fidelity clouds brimming with detail. If you look closely, you can also see beams of light peeping through these translucent clouds which culminate in the realistic feel. Sure, it might not match upto the high standards of the Decima Engine but it looks wonderful regardless.
As for the world streaming, Hogwarts Legacy does a mostly great job with its streaming tech and everything loads in and out of view without much hassle. The LoD swapping implementation works to great effect here, and it’s very rare to see pop in during normal gameplay. However, the game is susceptible to hitches every now and then so you might notice a split second freeze when blazing across the open world on your magical broom – but it’s rare enough to not be much of a hassle.
Animations and Post-Processing Effects
As mentioned in previous sections, animation isn’t the strongest suit when it comes to Hogwarts Legacy. The facial animations are stiff and unexpressive for the most part, but thankfully body animations fare a lot better with proper frames that blend into one another. That said, players might notice some weird animation glitches here and there such as when an NPC climbs over an obstacle or some other random situation out in the open world. It’s a rare occurrence, but players can expect to see such goofs more than a couple of times during their playthrough.
The combat mostly revolves around spells which are cast when stationary, so any inefficiencies in the animations doesn’t really hurt the gameplay in any major way. On the topic of combat, we should also mention that Hogwarts Legacy makes good use of alpha particles in combat where plenty of sparks start to fly with every cast spell.
PS5 Version’s Resolution And Frame Rate:
The PS5 version has five modes, with Quality Mode running at 1800p resolution and 30 FPS. It also improves draw distance and more graphical effects on PS5. Enabling Ray-Tracing Mode applies it on shadows and reflections, though it seems to generate a lot of shimmering on some surfaces. High Frame Rate Modes are also available for Balanced and Performance, though you can only enable them on 120 Hz displays. In terms of performance, stuttering problems persist in some locations. The frame rate can be unlocked too.
Hogwarts Legacy might not be the best looking game on the market, but it’s still a solid adventure with plenty to love. The environments in particular look great – thanks to beautiful skies, densely packed areas, and accurately lit indoors. In a similar vein, shadows and reflections look great as well – thanks to the use of ray tracing. Sure, there are some apparent flaws with the presentation as well such as robotic animations and the occasional loading but when you look at the bigger picture those problems don’t really affect one’s enjoyment in any particular way.
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