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Hogwarts Legacy Has Major Control Issues

All the spells we want, and yet there are just too many to handle.



We need to talk about the controls of Hogwarts Legacy

Despite all the controversy, Hogwarts Legacy is already one of the best-selling games of 2023. With more than 12 million copies already sold, the game is clearly a hit among the fans of Wizarding World and gamers alike. Fantastic graphics, great combat, and arguably the best visual realization of Rowling’s world to ever grace any screen yet all help culminate in a game that deserves almost all the praise it has gotten thus far… and I really mean almost.

Unfortunately, Hogwarts Legacy has one glaring issue that has drastically affected my overall experience with the game in a negative way–an issue that all stems from a truly boneheaded control scheme and a steadfast unwillingness to compromise on said controls.

Hogwarts Legacy truly offers one of the best gaming experiences of the year thus far. The iconic castle, Hogsmeade, the Forbidden Forest, and the entire grounds have all been created in a way that is even better than what most Harry Potter fans could have ever imagined in a video game. The RPG mechanics give the player the perfect amount of agency to mold their witch or wizard to their liking, making Hogwarts Legacy a wizarding world adventure that can really be lived in. Spells and the combat system are interesting and offer a wide variety of ways to play. Don’t get me wrong, the game is well-designed and would be great were it not for sometimes how it plays.

Image: Avalanche Software

Hogwarts Legacy is like a 1990 Dodge Viper; it looks amazing, clearly utilizes all the horsepower of the hardware on which it is played, offers a metric ton of fun, and has all the makings of an all-time classic. But just like how the 1990 Dodge Viper was missing even the most basic creature comforts like anti-lock brakes and traction control, Hogwarts Legacy falls apart at the point where the player interfaces with the machine. Despite so many interlocking mechanics that work so wonderfully together within such a magical world, the entire experience is dragged down by what can only be described as a god-awful control scheme.

Admittedly, the game having so much to do does make the task of mapping all those controls to the limited inputs of a gamepad a daunting one; but the hierarchy of priority of inputs is simply baffling. The simple quick attack being mapped to the right trigger makes plenty of sense, it is the go-to attack that is used during cool-down periods on the more complex spells. But the right trigger also being used as a modifier button to alter the commands of the face buttons to then be used for more complex spells is just clunky.

Had that modifier been mapped to a different button, it could be held down during combat scenarios when on the offense to have complex spells at the ready while still having the right trigger free to cast quick attack spells at will. What’s even more baffling, though, is the fact that the “iron sights” zoom is mapped to the left trigger and the ancient magic throw mapped to the right bumper are hardly used at all. So while the right trigger is bursting at the seams with responsibility, two other shoulder buttons sit idle for the vast majority of the time.

Hogwarts Legacy controls have problems - combat and flying
Image: Avalanche Software

Unfortunately, the clunky controls aren’t grounded as they take to the air as well. Some people make the argument that truly good flight controls haven’t been figured out yet, but I would respectfully disagree. Games like Grand Theft Auto V and Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown have fantastically intuitive yet simple flight controls that could have practically been copied and pasted into Hogwarts Legacy. But instead of imitating one of the most popular games ever made, Avalanche Software decided to try and reinvent the wheel.

Allowing for the right stick to simply control the camera would be far too simple, instead, it is allowed to control the camera on the horizontal axis while changing elevation on the vertical. So while the controls could have been essentially exactly what Grand Theft Auto V has been doing for nearly ten years, we push forward on the left stick to move forward while holding the right trigger to go faster, the left trigger to go even faster, and control our elevation not with the pitch but with a simple press forward or backward on the right stick for up and down respectively. Put simply, the flight controls are a complete disaster that is only less of a problem than the combat controls because of their comparative lack of significance in game.

There have been great games with terrible control schemes; The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater are two of my favorite games ever, and they both launched with control schemes that were a streak of sour in an otherwise buffet of dessert. But in the case of Hogwarts Legacy the controls are so bad that they interrupt the game entirely.

The layers upon layers of inputs that are piled onto the face buttons and modified with the right trigger make the combat not only downright frustrating but also significantly difficult on any difficulty setting above easy. There are games like Bloodborne and the Batman Arkham series that create difficulty through intricate systems interwoven with one another to make a beautiful storm of chaos to be overcome, but Hogwarts Legacy is not one of them. The game’s combat features time-based counters, context-specific attacks and defenses, and a variety of enemies large enough to fill the runtime of the game but those individual ingredients are prevented from culminating into a masterpiece dish by the abysmal controls. 

Hogwarts Legacy controls have problems - combat and flying
Image: Avalanche Software

And the worst part about this entire problem is that there is no way of effectively fixing the standard controls. Avalanche Software didn’t see fit to devise more than one control scheme, so the player doesn’t have any actual options to change what they have been given. A button remapping feature to allow the player to take the initiative of creating their own control scheme is also unavailable.

And for witches and wizards that have ponied up for the Xbox Elite controller or the Sony DualSense Edge and have the ability to remap their controls at the system level, the controls are devised in a way that even that level of customizability isn’t enough. With so many commands mapped to the right trigger, it doesn’t matter what buttons are remapped to. The problem will simply continue to persist in a new home. To accidentally design a control scheme so convoluted and unintuitive that it can’t even be remedied by system-level button remapping is so unlikely that I am convinced that it must have been done intentionally which is even more puzzling because I am left asking myself “why?”

Much like the 1990 Dodge Viper and my ex-girlfriend, Hogwarts Legacy has major control issues. We have gotten to a point where developers have, for the most part, settled on the basics of what makes a good control scheme and as a result, controls almost never stand out anymore. In 2023, games that have bad controls typically are accompanied by bad mechanics and bad gameplay, but Hogwarts Legacy is a rare–and perhaps fantastic–beast. Hogwarts Legacy is a good game that could have been great had the developers not spent so much time practicing the cruciatus curse on whoever was put in charge of designing the control scheme. 

News writer and Xbox reviewer. Patrick lives in Minneapolis Minnesota with his wife and their dog Ghost. Patrick studied economics at the University of Northern Colorado and is particularly interested in the market dynamics of the video game industry. When he's not working Patrick can be found walking Ghost through downtown MPLS, binging The West Wing on repeat, or playing hockey. You see everything Patrick does right here on



  1. TheAlexWalters

    March 3, 2023 at 3:45 pm

    It’s so strange how people can have wildly different viewpoints after doing the same thing. One of the things I love about this game is how easily it controls and how I think it’s the best magic system around. I’m getting older and I have a degenerative nerve disease that makes it increasingly harder to play games like this or a Souls like because my hand eye coordination is such a mess. This just feels so smooth to me that I’m loving it. That, and it’s one of the best game’s I’ve played in a very long time and I’m not even close to being a Potter fan. Shame about Rowling’s involvement shadowing this game because my guess is no DLC or sequels no matter how well it does. People really need to quit twitter.

  2. Dissapointed

    March 4, 2023 at 9:37 pm

    Well written and I couldn’t agree more. The controls ruined this game. When the simplest of things, like selecting an icon in settings becomes a point of frustration, you know there’s a problem. How did this get pass QA? Fortunately xBox series s allows to return digital downloads.

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