Tobold's Blog
Friday, February 10, 2023
Bought at launch

Hogwarts Legacy was clearly a game I was on the fence about. But in the end I decided to buy it today, on launch day. At full price, because I don't trust cheap game keys on launch day. I read up some more about mouse and keyboard controls, and that is something that seems doable. I was also a bit worried about "souls-like" combat, which might not be very enjoyable to me, but then realized that unlike Elden Ring, Hogwarts Legacy has difficulty settings, and I can adjust the combat difficulty to my reaction time, which is slowing with age.

I watched that Hogwarts Legacy stream further, and about 10 hours into the game, the world opens up a lot more. Now Hogwarts Legacy for me will be the open world game I play between a replay of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and the upcoming Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. I don't think it will stand the comparison very well. From all that I can see, it is a lot closer to the Ubisoft style of open world games than to the Zelda open world games. Pretty, but with less soul.

So why did I still buy it? Part of it has to do with the complete failure of the boycott. I fully expected there to be some version of something we have seen often before: High critic ratings contrasted by low user ratings, with the low user ratings being motivated by something other than the actual quality of the product. Instead it turns out that the user ratings on Metacritic for Hogwarts Legacy are actually *higher* than the critic ratings. Hundreds and hundreds of positive ratings from people who really like the game are completely drowning out the protests by the boycotters. And while a few woke trolls are harassing streamers of the game, on Twitch Hogwarts Legacy is the most watched single-player game at launch ever. Hogwarts Legacy is the biggest game release of 2023 up to now, and certainly already a contender for various Game of the Year awards. So the game felt both like something I shouldn't miss, and like something where me buying the game makes a political statement against harassment and trolls. Of course that is as weak a political statement as the failed boycott is, but I want to put my money where my mouth is and be on the right side of history here. Gamers should sometimes stand up against political activists from both sides and tell them to fuck off and leave us alone to our fun.

Personally I don't expect this to be my game of the year. But while the Ubisoft style of open worlds are sometimes a bit formulaic with too many collectibles and checklists of things to do, they can still be fun if you aren't a completionist. I had fun with several Assassin's Creed games, although I think the only one I ever finished was Black Flag. I think I can spend a few weeks in the Wizarding World and enjoy myself, without taking the game too seriously. I mean, even Elden Ring was a decent enough experience for me, once I decided to visit it more like a tourist than with any idea to "git gud" and beat it. Hogwarts Legacy sure is a lot more accessible and there are so many different sub-activities and mini games that I'm likely to find something that is fun to me.

My wife bought it. I think it looks like a good game, a solid delivery from WB, but my complete lack of investment in the Harry Potter-verse prevents me from caring one bit. The whole controversy reminds me of many years ago when Orson Scott Card was being boycotted by some people because of his staunch anti-gay religious views. The difference is that back then I think people were still generally more aware of the fact that it was okay, perhaps even necessary, to separate the author from his or her works, or to read them in an informed manner otherwise; but that calling for a boycott and trying to suppress a work was still the greater evil no matter how well intended one might think they were.

Your comment about Breath of the Wild vs. Ubisoft style open world games makes me wonder, though. I could never get far in BotW, it just leaves me bewildered and annoyed at all the cutesy little Nintendoisms, but I've played and finished pretty much every Assassin's Creed except for the insanely large ones (Odyssey, Valhalla). I fail to see less soul in BotW than in AC....but I think not growing up on a diet of Nintendo probably makes a difference? Not sure. Maybe I just don't like the cutesy Nintendo style.
but I think not growing up on a diet of Nintendo probably makes a difference?

I didn't grow up on Nintendo either. The Wii was my first Nintendo console, the Switch my second. I didn't play any Animal Crossing before the Switch version. I did, however, play a lot of JRPG, so I don't mind the cutesy style.

I think the most important difference between a Ubisoft open world and Breath of the Wild is how in an Ubisoft-style game, the discoveries are explicit goals. You know you have to find 12 thingies in this section of the map, it is marked on your HUD, and you have some quest log with a percentage score of discoveries to make. In Breath of the Wild it only tells you how many thingies you *already found*, but not how many there are still to find, unless you look that information up elsewhere. You go to an interesting looking mountaintop, discover something out of place, solve a riddle, and voila, one more Korok seed found. You aren't told that there are 900 of them, you aren't expected to find them all, in fact you can't turn in more than about half of them for added inventory slots.

But I can see how somebody might prefer the more directive Ubisoft way with more indications on the HUD about collectibles and such.
I think I'm going to wait for a sale. I've grown to dislike Ubisoft style games over the years so I figure when I do play this I likely will never replay it so I might as well wait for an inevitable "definitive" edition arrives in the future with DLC and whatnot to make the most of the one playthrough I'll do.

Let us know if you run into any issues with the PC version.
I'm not interested in the franchise or open-world games in general (and I have unplayed games out the wazoo) so I'll be giving it a miss. But it looks pretty. And the combat is supposed to be good, which is far from always a given.
I rend to play Ubisoft with HUD stuff off when it is allowed (Ghost Recon for example lets you play in a more organic "find it yourself" mode" for example) but I can see what you mean about BotW. It may ultimately just be a stylistic/thematic difference for me....I like being the rogue pirate dude or the Medjay assassin in Egypt more than I like being a halfling/elf thing in a quasi-anime universe.

I've been warming up to the style slowly, though. Bravely Default II is a lot of fun, and its super cutesy, almost to a fault (the voice acting is so professional it doesn't match the chibi characters well at all).
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