Today, on September 1st, 2015, Harry Potter’s first born son James Potter will ride off on the Hogwarts Express for his first year at the famous school for witchcraft and wizardry. Year after year, muggles and wizards alike eagerly await news that Warner Bros. is finally developing a worthy Harry Potter game that does not make the same mistakes as the previous licensed incarnations. While there were some good games, such as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, today’s gaming landscape and developers look significantly different than those of the PS2 era. Here are seven reasons why a Harry Potter video game made by today’s standards would be magical.
Quidditch is the wizarding world’s most popular sport. Whether it be the Quidditch World Cup final between Ireland and Bulgaria or a slug fest between inter-house rivals Gryffindor and Slytherin, Quidditch matches in Harry Potter lore are both exciting and unique. The PlayStation 2 Harry Potter spinoff, Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup, is a solid homage to the series sport. Given how far console gaming has come since the days of the PS2, wouldn’t it be great to have a giant, open world Harry Potter game where, as you’re taking a break from the numerous stories and side quests, you could partake in a Quidditich match?
6) The characters!
The characters in the Harry Potter series have always been great. Dumbledore, Professor Snape, Hermione, and Peter Pettigrew are just some of the rich characters that J.K. Rowling created over the years. Characters in video games aren’t the best, especially when adapted from popular licensed properties, but the addition of rich characters would further the appeal of the game. I also wouldn’t put it past the creators to attempt to make entirely new characters. The personality, charm, and depth of the characters in the Harry Potter universe is rarely matched, and it would be quite the delight to see such strong characterization come to a medium where character development is one of its biggest narrative challenges.
5) It wouldn’t feel like it was directly connected to a Harry Potter movie.
The next Harry Potter movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is scheduled for release December of 2016. There will probably not be a big budget video game attached to the film, unlike the slew of Harry Potter games that were released over the years. A standalone Harry Potter video game sounds great, but even if it was an adaptation of The Boy Who Lived’s time at Hogwarts, it wouldn’t feel shoehorned or forced, since the eight film franchise ended way back in 2011. It would feel like a standalone video game project that recognizes the time and care needed in order to craft a piece of art.
4) It would be a refreshing change of pace.
When I mean it would be a change of pace, I am referring to how open world games are developed and creatively conceived. Games such as The Witcher 3, Fallout 4, Batman Arkham Knight, and Grand Theft Auto V were all created with a mature mindset and target audience. However, these games all show an incredible attention to detail in big, dark open worlds. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an incredibly detailed place, but it is also filled with all kinds of color and magic, as you are just as likely to see a talking portrait as you are to walk through a group of ghosts. I welcome this kind of open world, as I’m a bit sick of everything being so dark and bleak.
3) The potential for a deep combat system
If I found some equivalent to the Elder Wand and was able to conjure the perfect Harry Potter game with a few simple spells, I would create a combat system that blends the crafting of Fallout 4 with the precise button mechanics of the Batman and the loot system of Borderlands. In short, it would have to combine the importance of crafting and mixing potions with an interactive environment and responsive jinxes, curses, and charms. I’d love to take part in an exciting shootout with Malfoy, Snape, or even Death Eaters amidst rubble and homemade cover systems. You could have a wheel that lets you change to different spells with varying effects. Spells such as Stupefy, Expelliarmus, Protego, and Impedimenta could be used in the thick of battle, while more particular spells, such as the Patronus Charm, Wingardium Leviosa, and Diffindo could be applied to more particular circumstances. You could also be tasked with learning or finding different potion recipes, which you could then brew to help you in battle, such as Liquid Luck or the Polyjuice Potion. If the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is rich in detail, then its playstyle should be similarly intricate.
2) Possibly playing at Hogwarts
A Harry Potter video game does not have to be set at Hogwarts. The appeal of the Wizarding World is that there is magic everywhere. Books fly off stands in Diagon Alley. Wizarding villages all across the world are home to pubs with butterbeer and gillywater. Even the Forbidden Forest is magical, as a home to various magical creatures and long forgotten enchantments. However, Hogwarts is the epicenter of magic. It is home to hundreds of students trying to master spells, potions, and wizarding studies. All that magic cooped up in one place means that it eventually has to spill over, as Hogwarts is often described as such. As mentioned before, Hogwarts is such a deep, magical, but also intricate world that it would be foolish not to at least try to create a video game sandbox based off of its likeness.
1) The wizarding world would make for a very creative open world.
“Deep customization options.” “Addictive loot system.” “Responsive combat mechanics.” These are all popular buzzwords that can be found in some of the year’s best and most unique games. “Open world,” used to be one of these buzz terms, but nowadays it seems that games are knocked if they are not an open world affair. A truly open world Hogwarts would probably have to include several procedurally generated rooms and actions, as magic is unpredictable in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In order to truly capture the feel of this open world, as described in J.K. Rowling’s books, the film series, and art work released, it has to be a magical world where anything is possible. Video games are heavily scripted, and more oftentimes than not the developers will have a firm grasp on what can and cannot happen. It will take some serious developers to implement technology that can create this world, as the world is too memorable to not adapt.
Liam Crossey is the Executive Editor of Features for The Game Bolt. Follow him on Twitter for too many retweets.