Saturday, February 18, 2023

"Hogwarts Legacy," is What Happens When Your Game is Controversial and Generic at the Same Time

"Hogwarts Legacy," was bound to be a lightning rod of a game. It takes place in a World created by J.K. Rowling, an author who in recent years made it quite evident she holds extremely transphobic views. People often discuss separating art from the artist, and I talked about this back in 2020 when her opinions became evident. Some folks absolutely love the Harry Potter Universe and choose to separate Rowling's hate from their adoration of the property (that or they don't care/actually share her views). Other people enjoyed Harry Potter in the past but have stepped away from it with Rowling's beliefs now being apparent. What about me? Well, I am totally open about having only seen the first movie and struggling to get through the fourth book as a teen--before seeing how big the fifth was and just giving up on the franchise entirely. I don't hate the Harry Potter franchise. I also am not enamored with it. I was already disinterested in the game because I just don't want to support Rowling. It isn't like Lovecraft being long gone, she's still actively tweeting venom at folks (imagine if Lovecraft could tweet). However, I did consider renting the game to play it and offering a review of sorts about how the actual title itself was, you know, doing some journalism. That said, the game sounds like every other bland open-world title lately with some magical window-dressing and little else.

When it comes to books, movies, video-games, comics, or quite frankly anything, I hate boring. I'll take, "Weird," over, "Decent but dull," any day of the week. When it came to a game set in the universe of Harry Potter (albeit in the 1890s before he existed) I wouldn't think the main problem it could have besides its associations with the person who birthed its Universe is to be bland. Then I read how you wander around an open world doing quests, collecting gear/herbs/ and so forth for crafting, fire off a wand like a third-person shooter when you're not doing stealth kills (without actually killing) and this sounds like all those, "Assasin's Creed," games I played. That or, "Far Cry." Oh, maybe, "Read Dead Redemption 2," with the past setting, or the, "Dragon Age," games with all the magic (or "The Witcher," franchise and many other fantasy titles). Hell, "Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild," is arguably the best open-world fantasy game ever, with little to match it in sheer enjoyment.

What I'm saying is there are tons of open-world games and, "Hogwarts Legacy," seems to draw from a ton of them without doing anything new, based on what I've read and seen from viewing gameplay videos online. I'm not sure I want to drop eight bucks to play the same game I've dabbled in before with little to make it unique besides the Harry Potter license. I can fight against evil goblins as Link. I can sneak around as one of many different eras of assassins. I can enjoy magic in plenty of games (I love casting magic in Elder Scrolls titles). What is the twist, "Hogwarts Legacy," gives us besides, "You know those books you loved before the author became problematic? Now you can explore that World in a generic action RPG set a century before the stuff you loved reading about!" 

According to the folks who have actually reviewed the game's actual gamey aspects, there is little of note there. Folks are just buying the game in droves because they love Harry Potter or perhaps want to own the, "Woke liberals." If any of these people have played an open-world title in the last decade or so however, they've seen this done, and by all accounts done much better--seriously, "Red Dead Redemption 2," and, "Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild," are the only two open-world games you really need from the last 10 years with, "Grand Theft Auto V," meriting a mention as well although it first came out in September of 2013 so it is the most long-in-the-tooth.

I understand how if this were the best game ever people who want to support trans rights could struggle with their desire to play it and try to argue there isn't, "Ethical consumption in capitalism," or some B.S.  In this case, however, ya'll ain't missing much by refusing to give Rowling's estate your cash. It is bizarre how people seem willing to excuse transphobia and overlook dull and uninspiring gameplay in the name of getting to wear a sorting hat and floating on a broom. Perhaps a day will come when Rowling sells the rights to the HP franchise and the idea of her profiting from new creations within the World is gone and allows people to feel better about being a student at Hogwarts. For now though, the, "Legacy," is tainted and apparently not even that fun.

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