Harry Potter is the spellbinding magical adventure that's taken the muggle world by storm, ever since its first book publication in 1997. Since then, the franchise has grown enormously, with seven books, eight movies, and thirteen #videogames; and that's if you forget about the numerous spin-offs!
However, many fans have raised concerns about the overall quality of the majority of the #HarryPotter games, with many of them failing to live up to expectations. The first two games, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets", both received good reviews overall with their fun, quirky, and hilarious gameplay. Both really captured the atmosphere of the first two installments in the Harry Potter franchise, which showed the wizarding world in a much lighter tone.
Unfortunately, later games didn't meet expectations, with many critics taking issue with the boring gameplay above all else. As the later games were meant to deal with the darker turn in the tone of the Harry Potter franchise, there was certainly the potential for the games to be great, but unluckily they just weren't up to scratch.
If the Harry Potter game series ever gets a new entry, therefore, it will definitely need to take a new direction. So, could an open-world Harry Potter game really work?
The Wizarding Open-World Of Harry Potter
The world of Harry Potter is not only beautiful, it's also huge. From the twisting cobbles of Diagon Alley, to the cavernous great hall of Hogwarts, the so-called "Potterverse" is packed with interesting and immersive locations.
This is one reason why an open-world setting would work so well for the Harry Potter games. Imagine if you could go to Diagon Alley to buy your wizarding equipment, getting your wand given to you by the mysterious Ollivander before heading to Quality Quidditch Supplies to grab your very own Firebolt broomstick (if you're as rich as the Malfoys, that is)!
After gearing up your character, you could start your very first day at Hogwarts. Maybe the Hogwarts Express could act in a similar way to the train in Red Dead Redemption, which allowed the player to sit through the journey as they watched the scenery go by, or simply to skip the journey and use it as a fast-travel system. So you could choose to buy Chocolate Frogs on the Hogwarts Express, or skip the journey completely? Well, there's one obvious choice there for sure!
Upon arriving at Hogwarts, players could take part in their very own sorting ceremony, being placed into a house based on the attributes they've chosen. And then the game would really begin, letting players loose in the Hogwarts grounds to wreak magical mayhem wherever they go!
Or of course, you could take the Hermione Granger route and actually study...that's always an option. Now, for an open-world Harry Potter game to work just like this, some rules may need to be slacked off slightly. For example, the game would be totally boring if players didn't have total flexibility and freedom of movement. However, if you're at school, you're kinda supposed to actually attend. I know right? Boring!
To solve this, there's two methods. Lessons could be compulsory to attend, and skill boosts and a good reputation would be the reward for attending them (the lessons themselves could possibly be magical mini-games). However, the player could choose to skip lessons, instead roaming the grounds and hallways of Hogwarts. However, this would slow down their skill gains, and could mean that they develop a bad reputation with the Hogwarts staff.
The other option is that the game could do away entirely with compulsory lessons. The reputation system could still be implemented, acting as an incentive to attend the mini-game lessons to gain favor with teachers and learn new spells. However, not attending wouldn't necessarily be punished, just discouraged, and players could lose their newly gained reputation in other ways (by dropping dungbombs in the corridors perhaps, those goddamn Weasleys!).
And of course, for the game to be truly open-world, they'd have to be able to travel freely between Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, and other areas in the Potterverse! This means the game would have to do away with forcing players to stay within Hogwarts, and though this may slightly break the immersion of the game, it would ultimately result in a richer and more rewarding experience.
You're A Wizard [Insert Player Name Here]!
One crucial aspect of a Harry Potter open-world game would be who the player controlled. Now, there's the obvious option of controlling the chosen one himself, but that would restrict players to following the story set in the books, and everyone knows that story already.
To truly succeed as an open-world game, it would need to forge a new story entirely. Not necessarily one which is canon to the Potterverse's already impeccable plot, but one which simply allows players to choose their own path. Therefore, it would probably work best if the game was set after the events of Deathly Hallows, but before the era when Harry's own child starts at Hogwarts.
This would allow the player to control their very own Hogwarts student, moving through the years at school and creating their own adventure! Of course, there would be a plot of some description, but the general idea is that the events of the game wouldn't intertwine too heavily with the events of the books. This would allow for total creative freedom, and give an open-world Harry Potter game the best chance of succeeding!
I Solemnly Swear I Am Up To No Good
Of course, if you're attending the one and only Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, you're going to learn a few spells. And what better way to use them than causing mischief and mayhem all across the school?
Now, players could choose the "goody two shoes" route, but most people would rather follow in the Weasley twins' footsteps and cause some chaos! The game could include Mr Filch and his cat, Mrs Norris, skulking around the school trying to catch you before you drop a dungbomb, or if you decide to roam the corridors for too long after dark.
Players could also practice their spells, dueling other students at a dueling club, or just jinxing the school bully with a slug-eating curse. The possibilities are endless!
However, one feature which would be undoubtedly be awesome is the ability to play Quidditch matches. This would take some hard work by the developers, but it would give players the chance to play the most exciting sport in modern fiction. Players could choose their preferred position (obviously Seeker), or they could control the whole team in a similar style to #FIFA. Buying a broomstick in Diagon Alley and using it to win the Quidditch Cup would be undeniably awesome, and it's an essential feature if a Harry Potter open-world game ever graces our consoles.
It would be a shame for the Harry Potter franchise's games to come to such a disappointing end, with the mediocre final installments burying the reputation of a game series with such a huge amount of potential. A new concept is needed, and if the releases of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child are anything to go by, we can be sure that J.K.Rowling is keen to delve back into the world of Harry Potter once again.
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