With Hogwarts Legacy releasing next month, we sat down with some of the bright minds behind the game to discuss its conception. Moira Squier, Chandler Wood, Alan Tew, Troy Johnson and Boston Madsen gave us their take on this epic project.

Story development with Moira Squier

Your Hogwarts Legacy is what you make it, but there are several storylines running through the game to move your journey forwards, from new characters to mysterious Ancient Magic – and even a few familiar faces from the Harry Potter stories. Narrative Lead Moira Squier has a deep history with the Wizarding World, having worked on earlier games you’ll remember from your younger days – and now, she’s headed up a team of talented writers to help make your Hogwarts adventure as real as possible.

What were your immediate thoughts when you came on board this project?

For years, we wanted to do this: an open-world RPG. But it just never worked until now. The content wasn’t there, the tech wasn’t there… we weren’t ready for it, but now it’s right. And when they asked us to help on the game – I thought, what a privilege. It’s like a dream come true, I wanted this game myself for decades.

We really wanted to pick a time period where there were no heroes, no Newt, no Harry - it’s you. We wanted to make sure it’s close enough to our time period that the language was still familiar enough that we weren’t in medieval times or something, but we were far enough away from a few things the fans know. So, Voldemort isn’t going to pop in tomorrow, for example!

It’s your own complete world. And the Victorian era is gorgeous from a design perspective. So, it allowed us a lot of creative leeway.

How different is late 1800s Hogwarts to 1990s Hogwarts? (Harry’s era)

It's pretty similar in a good way. This castle, the design team did an amazing job. We’d see things in the films cutting from place to place, but in the game, you see everything. You can run, you can fast-travel, but most of the time you just wander around the castle – going, “what’s that?” Maybe there’s a puzzle to solve… maybe there’s a picture, maybe there’s a room you didn’t know existed before. I’ve been watching people playing the game and going, “wait, what’s THAT room?” And I’ve played the game for so many hours I can’t count. It’s familiar, you know you’re at Hogwarts, but the detail, the intricacies and the explore-ability is just greater than anything we’ve ever done before.

How was it helping to create new characters with the writing team? And how was it introducing new ones?

All the writing team got together and would pitch ideas. We wanted a diverse collection of professors, students, vendors in the shop, etc. People called upon their own experiences. Hopefully you play the game and see a character and go “That’s like my sister”, or an uncle, or anything like that. And we really wanted to tie it to the familiar world – so you’ll hear there’s a Weasley, a Rookwood… Professor Black is a known character as a portrait in the books, so fleshing him out, we really loved.

[For the new characters], we have Everett and Sebastian and Poppy and all these great personalities and backstories and really feel like friends to me. I think everyone did a really good job with that – and the characters will put you in predicaments where you have to react to. You compensate your friends, and they compensate for you and it’s a real relationship.


Combat with Troy Johnson

Duelling will be a key feature in Hogwarts Legacy, with players getting the opportunity to combine spells they recognise, or even use other techniques against foes, such as strategic uses of plants and potions. We’re sure you all remember Professor Sprout utilising Mandrakes at the Battle of Hogwarts!

What are all the different ways we can use combat in Hogwarts Legacy?

The wonderful thing about our combat system that we really wanted to emphasise and offer the players is “play your way”. Are you the type of witch or wizard who wants to go into combat and be masterful at spell-casting? Do you want to learn every different spell? Do you want to learn different combinations and express yourself that way? Or do you want to invest ahead of time by growing plants and brewing potions? And taking that time and making sure you put in the effort so that when you get into battle you can just dominate the battlefield with those tools instead?

Or do you want to be using the Dark Arts? Do you want to learn the Unforgiveable Curses? Do you want to have that raw power fantasy of Dark magic to destroy everything in your path?

What are some of the spells we know from Harry Potter that will be effective for us in the game?

Do you want to use the Disillusionment Charm to sneak up behind everybody and use Petrificus Totalus to knock people out one at a time and thin that field before engaging in combat? it’s totally up to you. We wanted to make sure we gave that fan fantasy to anybody no matter who they were and how they wanted to play.


Easter eggs with Chandler Wood

Chandler Wood is Community Manager at Avalanche, who spoke to us about some of the little details we can expect to find in this gargantuan game. But naturally, we don’t want to give too much away, so we’ve asked Chandler to be cryptic!

Not giving too much away, can you tease any fun easter eggs players can discover in Hogwarts Legacy, if they know where to look?

We may have a lot of little things throughout the game that people may recognise. I would say to look out for a certain sea creature who may want to be fed toast… especially if you’re part of a particular house! Just hanging around the Black Lake, there may be something you can find. I would also recommend, in the Forbidden Forest, finding a certain lake, and keeping an eye out for maybe something there that may call back to iconic moments in the franchise!

There’s so many little things going down off the grounds of Hogwarts. You may find a shed that, in our time, holds some tools to help upkeep the grounds… But at some point the shed will may become someone else’s home...


Look and feel with Boston Madsen

Boston is a Senior Environment Artist on Hogwarts Legacy, helping hone the beauty and craftmanship of Hogwarts and the world around it.

What were some of your favourite easter eggs to work on?

I love the books and there’s a lot of little lore pieces. I’m really, really glad we have the house hourglasses, as I don’t think we really got to experience those very clearly in the movies. I thought they turned out beautifully, the design.

And there are people that show up in portraits referenced in different parts of the books and there are little areas that show up in J.K. Rowling’s writing to look out for.

Do you have any tips on how we can interact with the game to find anything special?

Definitely tickle the pear! Also maybe knock on some barrels. And if you are not of a certain house, go see what happens when you go hang out in front of another house's common room!

What’s one tiny detail you think nobody will notice?

Honeydukes candy wrapping! In the 1800s, the concept team and the artists on Hogsmeade put a lot of time into thinking of what was authentically 1800s – so we couldn’t use cellophane or plastic. We had to use materials that might be used then. That’s a tiny, tiny detail that I love the authenticity. We’ll see if people notice!


Direction with Alan Tew

Alan had the enviable job of Game Director on Hogwarts Legacy - but even Alan admits that he still finds things during the experience that surprises him!

What is one tiny detail in the game that you think nobody will notice?

OK, I’m going to be coy, but I got really excited about this. You imagine I’ve played the game many times. But I still find things I didn’t expect or didn’t realise. One day, I was wearing certain items - you can adjust your fashion, do what you want to do – but I was shocked, my jaw dropped when a character commented on how I looked! It made me laugh.

Another thing is the stained-glass windows going into the Great Hall, that actually change with the seasons. I discovered that as we were doing other things!

If you could drag one character from Harry’s era and put them in the game, who would you choose?

I mean, maybe as a friend, just because I love the character so much, I love the idea of having Luna as one of the characters I could hang out with in the universe. I’m a proud Ravenclaw.

What are you most proud of?

It is so hard not to answer: the castle itself, Hogwarts! It’s a massive challenge to bring the school to life. Most games don’t start with a building larger than most game cities! And just plop you right in the middle of the game. So, Hogwarts is really big, it’s got to be something that feels like home. It’s got to be something you keep coming back to. Every little detail needs to please fans, it needs to have a great gameplay space, there are so many places that need to be familiar. It’s impossible for me not to be incredibly proud of the job that the team did. Just bringing it to life, making it feel alive. When all the music hits, and all the visuals hit, and you’re just in that place and it’s that thing you always dreamt of when you read the books? Like, to actually be there? Sometimes it just has that feeling. And I can just drop the controller, it just doesn’t matter. I’m just blown away that I’m there. And I just love that feeling. And I just think the team knocked it out the park.

Hogwarts Legacy is scheduled to launch worldwide for PlayStation®5, Xbox Series X|S and PC on February 10, PlayStation®4 and Xbox One will launch on April 4 and Nintendo Switch on July 25.

Visit the official website for more details – or visit our page here, where you can catch up on all the latest updates and trailers, and learn how to link up your Harry Potter Fan Club account for some extra in-game goodies.