Games Inbox: Hogwarts Legacy for non-Harry Potter fans

The Wednesday letters page asks what the next Zelda will be after Tears Of The Kingdom, as one reader suggests a more colourful Soulslike.

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Non-fan service
I’ve been kind of surprised at how successful Hogwarts Legacy has been, as I thought the Harry Potter franchise was past its peak and a video game of it doesn’t seem like that obvious a fit, as it would be for something like Star Wars or superheroes. I had no intention of buying it, despite the positive reviews, but a friend had a copy on disc (remember those?) and as he was going to be away for a week I asked to borrow it.

Not being a Harry Potter fan I have to admit the experience has been confusing and at times underwhelming but I will say that overall I’ve enjoyed it. The open world is very good and I like that Hogwarts itself is very big and filled with interesting secret areas. With the talk of Castlevania at the moment this feels like how I’d want a modern version of that to look.

The combat isn’t very good though. I guess it’s not really supposed to be in a game about kid wizards but it’s pretty basic and the enemies are very repetitive. Maybe that is less of a problem for fans, who know exactly what to expect, but it was one of the major issues for me. The story was the other one, but while it’s kind of bland I kind of like the cheesiness of the villainous characters, especially Simon Pegg’s one, which were quite fun.

Overall, as a non-fan, I wouldn’t recommend getting the game at full price but cheaper, or as something to borrow, I’d say it was actually pretty good.

The next Zelda
Everyone’s looking forward to Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom, including me, but I wonder what’s going to come after? Obviously, it’ll be at least five years until the next mainline entry but what after that? More remasters/remakes or maybe something smaller scale that will be more like the older games?

The open world approach is great and all but I’m sure Nintendo won’t want to let the old school approach fade away either. And yet just keeping it alive with remakes seems like it wouldn’t be enough, they’d have to make new games as well.

I’d be perfectly okay with that, except I doubt they’re much quicker to make than the last two games, so how do they organise all that? Maybe it’s time to bring someone like Capcom back in to make a new game in between the Nintendo ones? I’d be up for it.

Developer microtransactions
After all the speculation it’s interesting to see what kind of money Sony actually has easy access to/is willing to spend and, predictably it’s vastly less than Microsoft. I’m sure they could borrow or redirect much more but I don’t think that’s the way most sensible companies usually operate.

Sure, Sony will probably buy a bunch more developers, but how many of those are left that anyone has ever heard of nowadays? They’re almost exclusively either indie or owned by another company.

The only publisher I could maybe see them buying is Ubisoft, who must be dirt cheap at the moment, but I don’t think they’d be particularly appealing. Their games have no particular association with PlayStation and I don’t think anyone but Ubisoft thinks making a dozen different Assassin’s Creed games at a time is a good idea.

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I hope that when Starfield finally comes out that we can hear about what id Software are working on next, as I believe they’re currently helping out Bethesda on their new game. That’s probably a good idea, given how bad the gunplay is in Fallout, but I really miss Doom and Quake and that memorably meaty style of id action.

Of course, brand new games are welcome but let’s face it, it’s going to be another Doom and Quake before it’s anything else. Especially as it’s obvious that Rage is never going to be a big franchise. We’ve also got that third Wolfenstein game to come, which isn’t id Software but shows Bethesda has got a lot on its schedule at the moment, and we’re not really seeing any of it at the moment.

Achilles heel
I would argue that as good as The Last Of Us show is the direction is definitely the weakest point throughout. I don’t know if they couldn’t get the people they wanted or something but I’ve found it to be consistently flat and uninteresting and, as the reader yesterday pointed out, often noticeably worse than the game during the same scene.

It’s the acting and writing that makes the series great, while also being the biggest difference between the game and show. I don’t know if they’ll get different talent in for the next season but I hope so as it’s the only thing that keeps it from being an all time classic, in my opinion. Although very curious who on earth they’re going to cast as Abby, both in terms of her size and the hate mail she’ll get.

Dark Islands
It is odd how almost all Dark Souls games have the same sort of dark, super serious fantasy atmosphere, as GC pointed out in the Wo Long review. Even the sci-fi one whose name escapes me [The Surge? – GC] didn’t really feel that sci-fi and was mostly set in a junkyard and kind of non-descript corridors.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with making your own Soulslike but it seems like most of them so far are so in love with the original games they just want to copy them as exactly as possible, without really adding anything new to the idea or trying to change the setting style.

If I was a dev I’d be tempted to make something bright and colourful that was also ridiculously hard, like old school arcade and console games where something like Rainbow Islands would look absurdly cartoonish but would be absolutely rock hard and actually really good in terms of gameplay. It probably wouldn’t sell, I guess, but I think an indie developer could make a success of it with the right sense of irony.

Ticking over
Concerning news about Wii U consoles failing due to not being turned on for a while. After reading the story I plugged in mine to check. Happily, no problems despite it not being turned on for about four years.

As someone who likes to keep their consoles, I’ll have to make sure I turn it on periodically. Hey, it might even encourage me to play the thing.

Oscar unworthy
Looking at the news on the record number of BAFTA nominations for God Of War it seems it’s enough to have a competently developed game boosted to high status by all the money in the world. I’m most surprised by the nominations for performances which, though competently delivered, look and feel like an amateur dramatic performance.

Seriously, drop back into the game and watch a few of the less bombastic scenes play out in front of you. The character movement and line delivery look and sound entirely like an am-dram stage production, with the performers clearly having limited props to play with, poor direction from the production team, and clear dissonance between character and world. Once you’ve noticed it, it’s almost entirely impossible to unsee it.

Side note: this is in a very similar way to how I can no longer play the Forza Horizon games as it appears the car is a semi-stationary object and I’m moving the world to fit the car and not the other way round.

It seems that once again Sony first party developers are in thrall of the team at the top of the tree (or under instruction) and are trying to emulate Naughty Dog whilst lacking the nuance and clear artistic vision of the people who must be leading their teams.

I mean, I get this isn’t the biggest deal in the world but when I keep reading about how well this game has sold and reviewed, and then it goes on to keep racking up numerous awards, I’m astonished that more hasn’t been made of its artistic and directorial shortfalls. I’m not trying to make a Marvel movie be a Citizen Kane here, but it seems to me that this game in particular is being rewarded for a lot of the stuff it gets wrong, rather than just the stuff it does really well. Huge budgets can hide a lot of issues, I guess.

Inbox also-rans
I imagine the Lego Super Mario announcement is going to be related to the movie but maybe Donkey Kong, Wario, and Waluigi as well? There’s no other big bad other than Bowser at the moment, as far as I’m aware. Come to that, are Wario and Waluigi even in the movie? Maybe they’ll be the post-credit teaser?

Personally, I hope Metroid Prime 4 is going to be a Nintendo Switch 2 launch game. I know it’s just a rumour but the idea makes so much sense, especially in being able to have the power to do an open world design justice.

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was inspired by reader Xane, who asks what famous game or franchise have you never played?

Many video games may be considered all-time classics but which ones have never played yourself? Did you avoid the game on purpose or is it just something you never got round to – or were unable to play because it was on a format you didn’t own?

Do you make an effort to play critically acclaimed games even if they don’t seem quite your sort of thing? Have you ever been surprised by a classic game because it was something different to what you assumed?

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time via email or our Submit Stuff page, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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