Hogwarts Legacy is a 2023 action role-playing game developed by Avalanche Software and published by Warner Bros. Games under its Portkey Games label. The game, part of the Wizarding World franchise, takes place in the late 1800s, a century prior to the events chronicled in the Harry Potter novels. The player controls a student enrolled in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry who learns to wield an array of magical abilities and objects. With the assistance of fellow students and professors, the protagonist embarks on a journey to unearth an ancient secret concealed within the wizarding world.
Following their acquisition by Warner Bros. in 2017, Hogwarts Legacy marks the first release from Avalanche unrelated to Disney Interactive Studios and its products. The game's development commenced in 2018, while pre-release gameplay footage was leaked onto the internet in the same year. The storyline was crafted to unfold in a period untouched by established Wizarding World characters, offering players the opportunity to immerse themselves in their own distinct universe. Avalanche Software emphasised that while their rendition of Hogwarts is their own interpretation, it had been carefully designed to maintain a sense of familiarity and recognition.
When first officially announced in 2020, the game garnered significant anticipation. Prior to its release, it attracted controversy due to Harry Potter creator J. K. Rowling's views on transgender people and accusations of including antisemitic tropes, leading to calls for a boycott. Following some delays, it was released on 10 February 2023 for PlayStation 5, Windows, and Xbox Series X/S and on 5 May 2023 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It is scheduled for release on Nintendo Switch in November 2023. The early-access period of Hogwarts Legacy resulted in record-breaking viewership on streaming platform Twitch, making it the most-watched single-player game of all time on the platform.
Within two weeks after its launch, the game sold more than 12 million copies and generated $850 million in global sales revenue. As of 5 May 2023, revenue crossed $1 billion and 15 million copies were sold globally. Hogwarts Legacy received generally favourable reviews from critics, with praise for its combat, world design, characters, and faithfulness to the source material, but criticism for its technical problems and lack of innovation as an open-world game.
Hogwarts Legacy is an action role-playing game played in a third-person perspective. It is set in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and its surrounding areas, influenced by the Wizarding World franchise. During character creation, the player can choose their character's appearance, gender, voice, and body type. They may also choose one of the four Hogwarts Houses. As players progress through the game, their player character learns to cast spells, brew potions, and master combat abilities, eventually developing their own special combat style. Through in-game challenges, the player character can earn experience points to gain levels, which allows the player to access and upgrade different spells, talents, and abilities. These challenges come in the form of combat, quests, and exploration. Player characters are also able to establish friendships with interactable non-player characters (NPCs). As these relationships grow, schoolmates become companions who can accompany players on their journey, expand their abilities, and offer unique companion quests as players learn their stories. Each of the four Hogwarts Houses—Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin—also offers a unique common room; these rooms are only accessible for the player's current house chosen by the Sorting Hat. Accompanied by the choice of house, the player receives different exclusive quests. While house points for the four Hogwarts houses play a part in the game's plot, they are not influenced by player actions.
Next to experiences in Hogwarts castle, the player can explore familiar locations and areas such as the magic village Hogsmeade, Forbidden Forest or the Room of Requirement. Hogsmeade features establishments such as The Three Broomsticks Inn, a gathering place for villagers and students, the Hog's Head, an inn with a less favourable reputation, and Zonko's, a store selling joke merchandise. The Room of Requirement notably features environmental customisation elements; players can modify the room with multiple objects as they progress through the game. It can be entirely personalised, and its architecture changed. The room is used to place and take care of utility items such as brewing stations and planting pots, which also can be customised. Some of the magical beasts of the game can be held in a chosen "Vivarium", a separate place where the player takes care of them. Players will be able to tame, care for, and ride different magical beasts, including hippogriffs and thestrals. Other interactable magical creatures included are unicorns, kneazles, and puffskeins. Plants grown and acquired can be used in combat, such as mandrakes being used to stun enemies.
As the game features open world gameplay, players are able to explore the map as they please. The different areas present various activities and enemies, with certain aspects locked behind progression milestones in the main plot. During exploration, players have the option to obtain gear by searching for treasure chests. The Revelio spell supports the player's exploration by acting as a scan tool to discover secrets. To travel around the map, players can chose between various options. Players may use Floo Powder as a fast travel option or fly across the map with a broom after participating in flying class. Attending classes is one of the main elements in the game. Classes will be attended as a part of the story, advancing gameplay mechanics. Progressing through the game sees the interior and exterior of the castle change visually to match the seasons.
With the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Hogwarts Legacy, the developers included an arachnophobia mode that replaces the regular spider design. The new spider design features a more cartoonish look, removes their legs, and pays homage to the Harry Potter books with the addition of rollerskates on their feet.
Hogwarts Legacy is set in the late 1800s, taking place in several Wizarding World locations such as Hogwarts castle, Hogsmeade and the Scottish Highlands. The player takes on the role of a student (voiced by Sebastian Croft or Amelia Gething) starting their studies at Hogwarts in the fifth year. The player character possesses the power to control a mysterious ancient magic, and holds the key to an "ancient secret" that threatens the stability of the wizarding world. Their mission is to discover the reasons behind the resurgence of this forgotten magic and those who are trying to harness its power.
The player encounters various characters in the game, with the most relevant being their professors and fellow students. Professor Eleazar Fig, a wizard who teaches magic theory at Hogwarts, is a central ally throughout the player's adventure. Other characters the protagonist meets include Hogwarts students Amit Thakkar (Asif Ali) and Everett Clopton (Luke Youngblood), Professors Onai (Kandace Caine) and Shah (Sohm Kapila), as well as headmaster Phineas Nigellus Black (Simon Pegg) and Professor Matilda Weasley (Lesley Nicol). The protagonist is also able to build friendships with fellow students Natsai Onai, Poppy Sweeting and Sebastian Sallow, who take part in the protagonist's journey as companion characters. Antagonists featured in the game include Ranrok, the leader of the goblin rebellion, and Victor Rookwood, the leader of a group of Dark Wizards.
The protagonist receives a letter from Professor Weasley, which confirms their attendance of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as a fifth-year student, and assigns Professor Fig as the protagonist's mentor. Fig escorts the protagonist from London to Hogwarts via a flying coach. While investigating an unknown artefact, a dragon attacks them, prompting the two to reach for a Portkey hidden inside the artefact that teleports them to Gringotts. Using the Portkey to enter an old vault, the protagonist learns they can see traces of ancient magic. The duo is confronted by a hostile goblin named Ranrok before escaping to Hogwarts, where the protagonist is sorted into one of the four houses.
The protagonist learns various spells during classes, and goes on a trip to Hogsmeade with a companion, where a troll sent by Ranrok attacks them and is defeated by them. The protagonist also sneaks into the library and finds a book with missing pages. While Professor Fig studies the book, the protagonist locates the missing pages and finds a secret room below Hogwarts known as the Map Chamber, where they later visit several times with Fig and talk to the portraits of four deceased Hogwarts professors who refer to themselves as the "Keepers", whose goal is to protect the secrets of ancient magic from the wizarding world.
To reveal the secrets of ancient magic, the protagonist completes four trials left by the Keepers. The trials feature complicated puzzles and dangerous tasks that require the skills the protagonist has acquired, each leading to a Pensieve, a magical device used to store and review memories. The protagonist learns from the memories that Isidora Morganach, a Hogwarts student then professor with abilities similar to the protagonist, was in conflict with the Keepers, and left behind a hidden repository of ancient magic after using it to extract negative emotions, particularly from her suffering father. The Keepers realised that Isidora was inhaling the extracted emotions to increase her own power and failed to dissuade her, and one eventually used the Killing Curse to eliminate her. Through their other adventures, the protagonist also learns that Ranrok, the leader of an ongoing goblin rebellion against wizards, seeks to find the repository and exploit it for his own ends. To locate it, he collaborates with a group of dark wizards led by Victor Rookwood, a descendant of one of the Keepers.
After the protagonist completes all trials, they receive one final task from the Keepers: to create a special type of magic wand from the artefacts found at the Pensieves. Professor Fig sends the protagonist to Gerbold Ollivander the wandmaker in order to craft the special wand. As the protagonist leaves Ollivander's, they are ambushed by Victor, who proposes an alliance against the goblins. The protagonist refuses, resulting in a battle in which the protagonist manages to defeat him. Shortly after, the protagonist and Professor Fig find the repository intact, and the protagonist makes their choice between keeping the magic sealed away or absorbing the power for themselves. Ranrok then locates Isidora's repository and absorbs the ancient power, transforming himself into a dragon. Fig is mortally wounded, and the protagonist battles the dragon, ending the goblin rebellion by destroying Ranrok, and does as they chose earlier. Regardless of their choice, Fig dies, and Headmaster Black and Professor Weasley hold a eulogy in honour of him.
The protagonist returns to finish regular school studies, as the end of the school year is leading to the O.W.L. exams. They also continue to explore the castle's surrounding areas and go through adventures with companions Sebastian Sallow, Poppy Sweeting, and Natsai Onai if they haven't completed them already. The journey ends with Professor Weasley awarding the protagonist 100 house points for the extraordinary adventure, which ultimately leads to a win of the House Cup for their respective house.
Hogwarts Legacy was developed by Avalanche Software, which was acquired by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment from Disney in January 2017. In the same year, Warner Bros. established a new publishing label named Portkey Games, which was dedicated to managing the Wizarding World license. The game marks Avalanche's first project unrelated to Disney Interactive Studios and its products. The open world game was developed by utilizing the Unreal Engine 4. J. K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, was not directly involved in development. However, Warner Bros. acknowledged that her literary works served as the basis for all projects in the Wizarding World. Experts estimate the game's total budget to be $150 million.
Lead writer Moira Squier stated that the story was purposefully placed in a time period where no established characters of the Wizarding World franchise were around, making it possible to provide the player their own unique world in a setting similar to the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts eras. The writing team focused on creating a "diverse collection" of characters for players to potentially identify with them in a positive way. Although the main characters of Harry Potter are absent in Hogwarts Legacy, some, such as Nearly Headless Nick and Peeves the Poltergeist make appearances. The team also introduced a trans-inclusive character creator and the franchise's first transgender character, Sirona Ryan. Boston Madsen, environmental lead for the creation of Hogwarts, emphasised the importance of creating environmental elements close to the source material of the Harry Potter books. Madsen stated that even though it is Avalanche Software's version of Hogwarts, it is made to be easily recognisable. Game director Alan Tew also added that they aimed to go beyond the expected areas to let people discover new locations and undiscovered chambers. Tew and Madsen further explained that they endeavored to provide each common room of the four Hogwarts Houses as a unique experience to its members, which is further amplified by the addition of uniquely created music for each house. The overarching aim was to create a welcoming atmosphere that fosters a sense of nostalgia and belonging.
Lead designer Troy Leavitt stated that the studio had the flexibility to select the elements that fans were most enthusiastic about. He also mentioned that Hogwarts Legacy was designed to give fans the "wizarding world experience" they always desired while reading the books or watching the movies, without any particular agenda or message. Also working in game design, Troy Johnson elaborated that with the advancements in modern technology and gaming consoles, it was possible to create a competent game based on the Wizarding World. The open world of the game was intentionally designed to fulfill two primary goals: to allow players overall freedom while playing the game and to offer opportunities to craft a gaming experience that is highly personalised and can be enjoyed in their own unique way.
Artists Jeff Bunker and Vanessa Palmer explained that, during the game's development, they kept five specific tech pillars in mind: 4K graphics and visuals, 3D audio, activities and game help and the PlayStation 5 DualSense controller as well as fast loading times and activities. They referenced the usage of the Unreal Engine, the computing and rendering capabilities of the PlayStation 5, and the Niagara visual effects system to deliver visual effects for spells and magic.
The soundtrack was composed by Peter Murray, J. Scott Rakozy and Chuck Myers, including additional tracks by Alexander Horowitz. According to Myers, the development process lasted nearly four years. Audio production coordinator Nathan Ayuobi noted that while they took inspiration from composer John Williams' previous Harry Potter-related work, they concentrated on forging their unique style. In a behind-the-scenes video, composers Murray and Rakozy commented on the creation of the Hogwarts Legacy soundtrack. They explained that the challenge of its creative process was to balance the original composition with the existing music of the Wizarding World films. One of the songs, Overture to the Unwritten, was released prior to the soundtrack. The song was performed by the Seven Springs Symphony Orchestra & Choir as a live capture of a 54-piece orchestra.
In December 2022, the release of the soundtrack was announced to happen in February 2023. It was released as two digital double albums totalling 75 tracks, Hogwarts Legacy (Original Video Game Soundtrack) and Hogwarts Legacy (Study Themes from the Original Video Game Soundtrack). The soundtrack was also released on vinyl, being mastered by James Plotkin and distributed by Mondo. On 25 June, the Hollywood Bowl hosted a concert in celebration of the ten-year anniversary of The Game Awards, featuring a range of video game music from recent years, including Hogwarts Legacy. The music was performed by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. The event was presented in partnership with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and conducted by composer Lorne Balfe.
Before any official statement on the development or release of Hogwarts Legacy, gameplay footage leaked in 2018. Hogwarts Legacy was officially announced at a PlayStation 5 event in September 2020, with a planned release for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S in 2021. It was delayed twice, first to 2022, and later to 10 February 2023. The game's PS4 and Xbox One versions were also delayed twice from its February 2023 launch to May. A Nintendo Switch port is scheduled for release on 14 November 2023. It was originally scheduled for 25 July 2023. The game was made available in three versions, namely: Standard Edition, Deluxe Edition, and Collector's Edition. The Deluxe Edition includes an exclusive mount, a clothing set and a new battle arena location as additional content. The Collector's Edition includes the former's content as well but also features a steel case, a box and a "floating wand" collectible. Buyers of the Standard edition also have the option to upgrade to the Deluxe Edition by buying the additional content separately. Early access was made available to people who had pre-ordered the game's physical Collector's Edition or Digital Deluxe Edition on console or PC on 7 February 2023. The game made several lists of the most anticipated games of 2023: CNET, CNN, Den of Geek, GameSpot, IGN, PC Games, NPR, Polygon, Time, VentureBeat, and VG247. The game was nominated for "Most Anticipated Game" at the Game Awards 2022 and for "Most Wanted Game" at the Golden Joystick Awards 2022. To promote the game, a specifically designed DualSense controller, the "Revelio Controller", was released at the game's launch in the U.S. and UK as a limited edition.
During the game's development, lead designer Troy Leavitt drew significant criticism in February 2021 due to a series of social media posts and videos where he expressed support for cultural appropriation and Gamergate. Amid the controversy, he resigned from his roles at both Avalanche Software and the Hogwarts Legacy project. He emphasised that his decision to leave was not influenced by the negative feedback he received. Warner Bros. did not provide any comment on the issue. Following the release of the first gameplay trailer in March 2022, the game received criticism for basing it in the Goblin Rebellion era of Wizarding World history, with the game's storyline focusing on the player suppressing a goblin rebellion. The Wizarding World lore surrounding goblins has previously been accused of being based on antisemitic tropes. The criticism stemmed from the belief that the game's core message was that the minority goblin group should be considered the enemy for rebelling against their oppressor and fighting for freedom and equal rights.
However, the portrayal of goblins in both the game and the larger Harry Potter universe has been defended by some. The non-governmental organization Campaign Against Antisemitism argued that the depiction is consistent with how goblins have been portrayed in Western literature over the centuries and is not evidence of malice on the part of contemporary artists. The statement also commended Rowling for her tireless efforts in defending the Jewish community. In an exchange with The Times of Israel, Travis Northup of IGN disagreed with the idea that the game contained antisemitic tropes. He pointed out that the story did not feature a group of goblins controlling banks or attempting to seize power, but rather focused on a single goblin who rebelled against the Wizarding World's demand of denying magical access to his kind. Jewish comedian and political commentator Jon Stewart, who was previously reported by several media to have made the same accusations, retorted the next day that he was misrepresented and that he did not think the goblins' portrayal in Harry Potter or J.K. Rowling herself were antisemitic. He added that antisemitic tropes are so ingrained in society that they are almost impossible to spot.
Hogwarts Legacy became a subject of contention in response to Rowling's controversial views on transgender people. Her detractors called for a boycott of the game as a means of showing solidarity with the transgender community, and to impede the financial benefits she would receive from its release. Others felt that Hogwarts Legacy could be separated from the views of its universe's creator. On behalf of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and in light of the controversy, President David Haddad stated that Rowling has the right to hold her personal viewpoint. Several weeks before the game's launch, actor Sebastian Croft, who voiced the game's protagonist, distanced himself from Rowling's views. Writing for GameSpot, the transgender YouTuber Jessie Earl wrote that those on each side of the debate should come to their own conclusions, and that, while it was not wrong to want to play Hogwarts Legacy, those who did should not claim to be supportive of the trans community. Conservative observers declared the boycott unsuccessful; The Telegraph noted that it had the opposite effect, and failed to garner the attention of non-activists, while Fox News claimed the game had beaten cancel culture. According to PC Games, the sales figures attest to the ineffectiveness of any boycott efforts aimed at Hogwarts Legacy.
Shortly before the release of Hogwarts Legacy, a website was created with the sole purpose of targeting Twitch streamers who played the game. The web tool in question filtered accounts streaming the game. While the page was taken down soon after, some streamers had already been harassed. Following Hogwarts Legacy's early-access release on 7 February 2023, some content creators and streamers were criticised and harassed by others opposed to Rowling's views for promoting and broadcasting the game. As a result, some streamers ultimately decided to not stream the game at all, with Polygon noting that it occurred either in favour of ongoing protests or for fear of harassment. Despite the efforts to boycott the game, its viewership on live-streaming service Twitch peaked at a record-breaking 1.28 million concurrent viewers on 7 February. As a result, Hogwarts Legacy became the most-watched single-player game of all time by peak viewers on the platform and garnered a Guiness World Record.
By joining the Harry Potter Fan Club and linking the WB Games account, players were able to receive free cosmetic items. PlayStation versions of the game include "The Haunted Hogsmeade Shop" as exclusive content and the recipe for the "Felix Felicis" potion as a pre-order exclusive. The former consists of an additional dungeon, cosmetic set and the feature of owning an in-game shop, while the latter allows the player to reveal gear chests on the map. Accompanied by the launch of Hogwarts Legacy, the Dark Arts Pack was released as either a part of the Deluxe and Collector's editions or as downloadable content (DLC) for users of the regular edition. The DLC consists of an exclusive mount, a clothing set and a new battle arena location. The Dark Arts Battle Arena expands the two available battle arenas available in the base game. Since the early access release on 7 February 2023 up until 24 February 2023, players were able to receive five free cosmetic items exclusively through Twitch Drops. As part of the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One game versions, Hogwarts Legacy players have access to the "Professor Ronen cosmetic set" comprising seven extra cosmetic items, obtainable through Twitch Drops. As of February 2023, shortly after release, game director Alan Tew stated that the team focused only on the launch, and did not yet plan to release additional content.
According to review aggregator Metacritic, Hogwarts Legacy received "generally favourable" reviews. As per OpenCritic, 89% of 155 critic reviews recommend the game.
The environments and visuals were lauded by critics, with the majority of praise for the recreation of Hogwarts castle. GamesRadar+ complimented the world as being faithful to the existing Wizarding World lore, and Destructoid appreciated the overall presentation and positive synergy with the universe. Other reviewers echoed these points, with NME writing that the world was probably "the best representation for fans". Further praise was directed at the castle's level of detail. Push Square highlighted the level of atmosphere and visual presentation, finding it made aimless activities like walking around Hogwarts enjoyable. The surrounding areas set in the Scottish Highlands received similar plaudits, though some thought that other areas were not as engaging.
The gameplay elements received mixed reactions. PC Gamer praised Legacy's "simple but harmonious systems", such as its take on wizard duels and building a personalised living space in the Room of Requirement. Eurogamer Germany lauded the attention to detail in motivating the player to explore the world. They highlighted the "atmospheric" music and were impressed by the design of some of the game's quests and puzzles. Destructoid complimented the range of activities and unlockables, but found the game "unremarkable" overall and contributing to the experience being "wrapped in a flawed open world shell". NME similarly wrote that the game design felt dated, attributing this to its long development cycle. The Guardian criticised the experience as "competent but unspectacular". While praising the presentation as "enchanting", they felt that progression made the game feel more derivative of other open-world examples. GameRevolution described Legacy as fun but forgettable Harry Potter fan service, writing that features such as attending classes and creating potions lacked sufficient depth. However, the combat was generally praised. PCGamesN called it the game's strongest aspect, and The A.V. Club deemed it as the most interesting feature, calling more challenging fights "legitimately thrilling". GameSpot described the combat and spells as giving "a great sense of power" for the player, though criticised the spell-selecting controls and the "uninteresting" enemy design; Game Informer similarly lamented the enemies for lacking in variety.
The game's narrative divided critics. Some praised the developer's handling of the narrative to tell an original story while in a setting that felt overly familiar. Windows Central deemed the story "engaging", while the writing of the more detailed side-quests was positively highlighted by Video Games Chronicle as "sit[ting] comfortably with the best of the series". Hardcore Gamer praised the story as "gripping", but felt it faltered towards the end. PCMag in particular criticised the decision to have the protagonist act out a "Chosen One" role. Other reviewers found the narrative to be lacklustre, and at times illogical.
The characters were mostly well-received. Windows Central described them as interesting, noting that they added depth to the world. CNET complimented them for being well-written, and positively remarked upon their ethnic diversity, which was echoed by PCMag. IGN praised the companions for their characterization and roles. The cast performances received similar compliments; PCMag wrote that their quality made conversations feel natural. On the other hand,Video Games Chronicle considered certain NPCs outside of Hogwarts to be lifeless. Hardcore Gamer wrote the protagonist's rivals, Ranrok and Rookwood, failed as compelling antagonists, and were inferior compared to other established Harry Potter villains.
Reviewers were critical of Legacy's technical aspects. PC Gamer experienced brief but frequent pauses at doors, as well as frame rate drops during uneventful moments. Eurogamer Germany noted shading issues, and "stiff" facial expressions on character models, and CNET thought that their eye movements occasionally felt unnatural. Many noted that the game's performance was affected by a number of technical issues, including slow loading of textures, frame rate inconsistencies, visual glitches, clipping objects and inconsistent lighting. GameStar reported performance problems overall while reviewing the PC version, especially in areas with many NPCs, but noticed the game's first patch alleviated some of these issues.
As a result of the controversy surrounding Rowling, some publications chose not to cover or review Hogwarts Legacy, and the internet forum ResetEra banned all discussion of it. In its own review, Wired gave the game the lowest possible score, stating that it was mediocre and harmful. The review, which was noted as politically-focused, drew criticism. In response to the controversy, the studio added that the development focused on creating a rich and diverse world that would represent all groups of people. According to PinkNews, transgender character Sirona Ryan's inclusion was dismissed by some activists as insincere, while unnamed sources involved in development allegedly stated that the character added nothing substantial and was solely created to avert criticism.
On 23 February 2023, Warner Bros. Discovery announced that the game had sold more than 12 million copies and generated $850 million in global sales. As of 5 May 2023, the game accumulated a total of 15 million copies sold worldwide and crossed $1 billion in total revenue. On Steam, Hogwarts Legacy reached a peak of over 489,000 concurrent players during its early access. By that, it became the second-highest player count peak for any single-player game, behind only Cyberpunk 2077 with over 1 million concurrent players. After its release, the game peaked at over 879,000 players, placing it as the game with the eighth-highest concurrent player peak overall.
Due to Steam's rules on separating pre-orders and official releases, Hogwarts Legacy occupied the first four spots on the platform's sales chart at some point during its first week of release. In Europe, Hogwarts Legacy's launch sales placed it as the sixth biggest launch for a video game since the creation of the European Monthly Charts. In the UK, analysts compared the first week sales to Elden Ring, noting that physical and digital sales are up by 80% and 88%. It remained at the top of the UK physical charts for four additional weeks. In Japan, Hogwarts Legacy debuted atop the software sales chart, with the PlayStation 5 version selling 67,196 physical copies. The game remained one additional week at the top spot and, as of 2 April 2023, accumulated a total of 161,842 physical copies sold. Legacy sold more than 600,000 copies in Germany within a period of two and a half weeks, making it one of the most successful games of both 2022 and 2023. In the US, the game topped the monthly sales charts of February 2023.
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