The fact that we’ve reached 2020 without a genuine Harry Potter RPG on consoles is as dumbfounding as Hermione Granger marrying Ron Weasley. J.K. Rowling’s iconic wizarding world has been a huge part of popular culture for over two decades now, but outside of a couple turn-based titles for the Game Boy Color, we’re yet to receive the Hogwarts simulator that an entire generation’s been waiting for.
That will change soon, I hope, as whispers of a Harry Potter RPG have been swirling for several years now – in fact, a concept trailer even leaked online in late 2018. From what we know, the title is in development at Avalanche Software, and is set during the 1800s. A blurb which accompanied the early footage stated that you’ll “embark on a journey through both familiar and never before seen locations” as strange events brew in the Forbidden Forest.
In my opinion, there have been some fairly good Harry Potter games over the years; I enjoyed the Philosopher’s Stone on the PS1 and was even quite fond of the Half-Blood Prince on the PlayStation 3. I was even able to appreciate Wonderbook: Book of Spells for what it was, despite that game attracting an awful reputation among hardcore players due to a rather misjudged E3 presentation a lifetime ago.
But none of these games are a substitute for the Harry Potter RPG that I’ve been designing in my mind for years now. There are a dozen directions that publisher Warner Bros could take this, but I’m imagining something akin to Bully, where you must divide your time between main missions and high school lifestyle activities. I don’t want a sweeping plot about the fate of the wizarding world, but something more personal, albeit with high stakes for the characters involved.
I think the game designs itself in so many ways. Classes could be determined by the house you select, with Gryffindor representing courage and bravery while Ravenclaw favours intelligence and creativity. Depending upon how the plot is structured, I’d expect Hogwarts to change depending on the season, with Christmas decorations being erected for Yule balls and students acting more agitated around the time of their OWL tests.
There is potential for a service-driven experience akin to Destiny or Fortnite, where real-world events could be reflected in the game. However, I personally would prefer something more structured and single player-focused, although I do think there’s the potential to build upon the ideas explored in Quidditch World Cup to create a fully-fledged sports-based online multiplayer mode. This needs to be handled correctly, of course.
I’m not expecting an enormous open world; I’d prefer the entirety of Hogwarts to be explorable, and have it densely populated with secrets and interactive objects. Trips to locations like Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade would obviously be entertaining, but I’m happy for the emphasis to be placed on the school itself as that’s obviously always going to be the star of the show in a title such as this. I guess it will largely depend upon what Avalache’s budget can afford.
With regards to combat, I think wand-based battles lend themselves well to a third-person shooter-style approach, although obviously I think the magic can be utilised in other ways. I’m imagining a game where you need to use different spells to solve puzzles, but potion brewing could also be a fun way to augment your hero with buffs and perks. I imagine forging relationships would also be important, and it’d be nice if you could pick which of your pals you can fight alongside.
To be honest, I could write thousands of words about what I want the Harry Potter RPG to be, and I’m sure that many of these ideas are jotted down on a whiteboard somewhere in Avalanche Software’s office. We know that Warner Bros was planning an E3 2020 press conference prior to the coronavirus spoiling everyone’s fun, and we know this game was going to be a part of it. It’s a primary source of my PS5 excitement at this stage, and I can’t wait until it’s unveiled.
Are you looking forward to learning more about the Harry Potter RPG? Do you have any ideas for this game that you think Avalanche Software has to implement? Wave your wand in the comments section below.