We all know that making games is very hard, but the truly unsung heroes of game development are the ones tasked with making new games run on older machines they were never designed for. Sometimes it goes surprisingly well, like Titanfall Xbox 360, and sometimes it’s so insurmountable that last-gen editions are cancelled entirely, like Gotham Knights.
One last-gen edition that seems to have gone over pretty well is Hogwarts Legacy, which just released its PS4 and Xbox One versions on May 5, three months after PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S.
Some predictable concessions were made in contorting this 2023 open world sandbox (which had plenty of performance issues on PC at launch) to run on 2013 boxes, like lower-res textures and fewer decorations littering the walls of Hogwarts, but Avalanche Software has also made several clever architectural changes in the name of compatibility, some of which are arguably prettier than what we got on PC.
As conveniently highlighted by Redditor Euden, the biggest changes in Hogwarts Legacy PS4’s version are in Hogwarts Castle itself. The dozen-or-so footbridges between towers that usually open up to the world are closed corridors on last-gen, swapping fresh air for windows and ceilings that don’t exist elsewhere. An understandable alteration to limit the game’s loading demands, but Avalanche seems to have made the best of it—a few of these new tunnels are lined with beautiful stained glass windows that I’m a little jealous of.
Here’s the bridge to Ravenclaw Tower, for instance:
The last-gen bridge isn’t as bright as the PC/PS5 and it’s hard to beat that view, but I love the ornate moodiness of the blue windows. I can’t think of a better appetizer for the Ravenclaw common room itself. Avalanche did the same treatment for the Slytherine bridge, too:
I’m not the only one enjoying last-gen Hogwarts. “How come Ps4 bridges are prettier??? cries in ps5,” commented user Environmental_Poem68.
“Ok but these stained glass bridges slap,” added Captains_Log1701.
“They’ve done a really great job. The PS4 version looks just as awesome, if not even better in some places. (I love the ambience of the stained glass),” wrote Lluluna.
To each their own, of course. The stained glass corridors look nice in isolated comparison pictures, but the catch is that darn near every hallway, bridge, and antechamber in Hogwarts that previously loaded the outside world is now sealed up, as if Hogwarts is having a permanent snow day.
Scroll through Euden’s other PS4/PS5 snapshots and you’ll also spot doors all around the castle that don’t exist in the current-gen version. Hallways that you can usually see all the way down are interrupted by loading doors as the PS4/Xbox One struggle to render a new chunk of castle. Some doors that usually open as you walk up to them now require a full loading screen to transition from one place to another (an unintended throwback to old PS2 Harry Potter games).
When you do hit one of those loading screens, you should probably go grab a snack. According to Digital Foundry, loading the open world or fast traveling across the map can take anywhere from 40–70 seconds. Those are Skyrim PS3 levels of slowness, yikes.
But credit where credit is due: Hogwarts Legacy is largely the same game on PS4 that it is on a modern PC. It runs OK for consoles (a choppy 30 fps), achieves the same large-scale sandbox, and still captures the intricacy of Hogwarts’ quadruple-stacked towers, hallways, and classrooms. I won’t be trading down to the PS4 version of Hogwarts Legacy anytime soon, but I’m impressed that Avalanche pulled it off. Now, for that delayed Switch version…