Wednesday, February 08, 2023
Still deciding whether Hogwarts Legacy is a game I want to play, so I am watching a YouTuber I follow play the first 4 hours of the game. Now I only recently started another playthrough of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which uses the same "open world" "adventure" "RPG" keywords to describe itself as a game. But looking at Hogwarts Legacy actual gameplay for a few hours it is already blindingly obvious: This is no Breath of the Wild.
Unsurprisingly for a game published by Warner Brothers, Hogwarts Legacy is very much a cinematic experience. There is more animated dialogue and other cinematic scenes in the first 4 hours of Hogwarts Legacy than in the first 40 hours of Breath of the Wild. That is nice if you *want* a cinematic experience, but obviously comes at the expense of player agency. At least the first hours of Hogwarts Legacy feel a lot more linear, with a lot less freedom, than the first hours of Breath of the Wild.
Personally, I am not a fan of too much exposition. It is one of the first things you learn if you become a dungeon master in D&D or similar pen & paper roleplaying games: Players want to do things, not listen to the DM drone on for hours. If you just follow the script of the game, then why would you want to pay $60 for the privilege to do so, if you can get 90% of that experience by watching a stream for free?
The main domain of player agency in Hogwarts Legacy at the start is combat. After seeing more of that, I would describe it as "souls-like". If you liked combat in Elden Ring, but found the world and lore in that game thoroughly confusing and weird, Hogwarts Legacy might be the game for you. But again, Elden Ring offers a lot more freedom to the player than Hogwarts Legacy.
Of course I expect Hogwarts Legacy to open up a bit later. But it sure takes its bloody time to get to the bit where one would describe it as an "open world" game. And I also expect it to remain "cinematic", which necessarily limits player freedom.