Why the world of Hogwarts Legacy is like colored cardboard (Part II) / Habr

Why the world of Hogwarts Legacy is like colored cardboard (Part II) / Habr

In the last article, I talked about the design of the world: navigation, reactions to player actions, activity inside and outside Hogwarts. In this part, I will talk about immersiveness and communication with peers.

Choice and Role

From the very beginning, the game puts us in a strange situation – we enter the 5th year as a 15-year-old teenager. The hero has no past, preferences, prescribed background. This version of the “naked” character is used for playing, associating actions with the player’s beliefs and becoming during the game. Narratively, these themes are perfectly emphasized by the hero’s adolescence with maximalism, rash decisions, and expressive emotionality.

You can divide player actions into two parts: CHOICE and ROLE. I will explain their difference:

A CHOICE is a narrative that emerges in the mind. The ability to set the appearance, choose the voice. He equates fake elections with his own preferences: he put on make-up, chose a smoky voice, a nasty character, and you think he’s like the Joker.

A ROLE is the player’s ability to do something that the world will react to, that will change it. It works not only in the player’s head, but is also reflected in the game through: options for answers in dialogues, choice of faction, style of passage. Role example: Our hero chooses a tough answer, then betrays an associate by backstabbing him. For this, the faction of the slain comrade declares it a hunt, the moralists’ attitude worsens, and merchants refuse to trade with the hero.

At Hogwarts, it’s one-sided. Everywhere CHOICE: appearance, clothes, wand, broom, faculty, one of the two answer options in dialogues. ROLE is present only prepared: the killing of the fence mentioned by the students, the location and design of the living room depending on the choice of the faculty, 5-7 changed dialogues after the selected lines (which do not affect anything further). There is nothing that significantly affects the game. Associations with the character are minimal, age problems are not emphasized, and society’s reaction is zero:

Immature hero and mature gameplay

While playing The Witcher, Valhalla, and Horizon (games with a similar gameplay structure) in parallel, I noticed that the main characters of these games are adult dudes, and the hero of HL is a 15-year-old immature teenager. At the same time, the gameplay features are available as an adult: a dangerous world to explore, no parental/teacher restrictions affecting the fate of the decision. A dissonance arises, because there are no justifications for maturity either in terms of plot or gameplay. The dragon attack at the beginning, killing the troll and GG’s special gift could have been the turning point, but then we need backstory to learn about our hero. When the hero does not represent anything, the player does not know if he changes or not.

During the game, the hero also does not transform. Does not show character through words or actions, does not choose one cup of scales over another. GG’s motivation is unclear neither at the beginning nor during, – The desire to help is not a motivation, – GG has no personal problems for the reasons described above. The plot moves forward because it has to, not because the characters move it. It sounds funny, because the story of a nameless hero saving the world, told a million times, is made with such obvious holes.

Hogwarts Legacy Script Notebook

Looking at the current gameplay, you can see that they merged one with the other. School life in one quest stands next to another quest with an adult decision, and it is unclear which life our hero has: a teenager or an adult.

Studentship

This word is associated in the college/institute/school with conversations with teachers during the exam, getting drunk with fellow students afterwards, walking on the night streets and getting the particularly lucky ones to the hospital or the police. With alcohol and a brawler, of course, I exaggerate. I’m talking about the fact that being a student leaves an imprint for the rest of your life. This does not happen to our hero. We are introduced to professors who do not influence the plot or life of GR; They give a couple of lessons of seven subjects, after which the training ends; A dozen characters are superficially introduced, where only 3 have separate quest chains. There is no competition for the best faculty, there are no Quidditch games, there are no holidays, classmates are mostly kind and fluffy, it sucks. Students have no daily schedule and restrictions: run around the castle at night, enter classrooms, cast forbidden magic. With lessons, the same disaster – they don’t give a house, you can’t fail classes, you don’t need to take exams (in the game, there is only a cut-scene from the exam). Teacher challenges, like fulfill the conditions for opening a new feature and try it out… Are these lessons in a school of witchcraft and wizardry? WHERE IS THE STUDY?! Am I a Hogwarts student or what?

I was hoping to see interesting interactions in the living room during the passage, but there are none. Only a beautiful interior with a unique style and groups of characters reading the text. There is no other way to call it, 9 out of 10 phrases are without context and sound like: John lost a rat, it’s a shame; Carey blew up the table in Potions class, how ridiculous; Mom sent sweets, cool. Moreover, the characters speak the text to each other without creating a dialogue. The spectacle is funny, as if people do not hear each other and… As in life.

Let’s fantasize for a moment: the evening. We weave at the end with the rest of the faculty in our wing after potions class. We solve the puzzle for the entrance and go inside. In the living room, the girls in the corner are whining about the upcoming difficult exam, the boys are looking at a picture of the best Quidditch player, discussing the game with Gryffindor. We continue to our room. Two neighbors, whom we already know, greet us at the door. Conversations begin about how it was difficult to get potions today, that the professor is a complete asshole and … Here we intervene in the conversation and play the role of a sufferer, a joker or a bully:

2-3 such elections for the entire conversation. They do not affect the future, but give information about the character of the characters, future lessons, attitude to learning. For example, the professor does not like Gryffindors…

Let’s move to the conditional end of the school year. Our faculty won the cup, it’s time to celebrate! Each faculty has a unique quest with a celebration at the level of Witcher drinking in Caer Morhen:

On the occasion of victory, we secretly pass a butterbeer through a full lady. We enchant the instruments to play pop music and begin to break away. Three hours later, at night, when half of the faculty has gone to sleep, we decide to walk around the castle as three of us under the chauffé. In the eastern wing, we meet Peeves, who takes it upon himself to run forward through the castle. Of course we agree, we even make bets. During the run, another one happens around the corner. He raises the alarm, the competition is cancelled. Now is the time to knock down and hide. Barely hiding, the game gives a choice: find the missing classmates in the castle or leave them to their own devices.

An unforgettable rich emotional story

Quests and peers

Dissonance is also supported by quest design. The game lets you develop concerning FRIENDSHIP through quest chains with 3 characters – Natsay from Gryffindor, Sebastian from Slytherin, Poppy from Hufflepuff. They were registered more carefully, because take a direct part in the plot. In Sebastien’s story, for example, the motivation is to heal his own sister. But his wishes are supported, because do not believe in the existence of medicines. The problem is aggravated by the conflict with the uncle, who reprimands Seb for trying to help his sister. The reckless antics and mistrust of the character have a ground beneath them.

Let’s take any other teenager who participates in the quest. Everyone you meet gets to know the hero according to the principle: “I heard about you somewhere” → “I have a problem” → “help me”. All. They are devoid of a long-playing narrative, it is not interesting to communicate with them, talk to them, follow them. There is no lingering affection, conflict, or friendship.

In most quests, it is revealed only in conversations. Only they are linear and do not affect anything, and character traits or problems rarely intersect with the gameplay: a silent character gives a task to explore a dangerous area and fight with goblins; a cheeky killer stealth mission and lockpicking. It is worth completing it, the student will disappear from the game forever, because he does not give more quests.

It’s as if Avada-Kedavra was used

Now let’s take The Witcher, where 2/3 of the villages are filled with problems, quests associated with them, fate dependent and independent of the player’s actions. On the bulletin board, a certain hunter Nellen asks for help in finding his wife. This problem is not made specifically for Geralt, but for a character who needs help.

During the investigation, and not the typical collection of items, we learn more about the situation, see options for the results. Depending on our decision, the ending will change. This will affect the hunter, the sister of the missing wife and the village. Without a sister, for example, Nellen, left without relatives, will go and hang himself in grief. Without a hunter, the village will become more difficult: there is no one to refresh the skin for sewing clothes, there is nothing to feed the children. Even if it is not reflected in the game, the result of the decision appears in the head. And this makes you think and weigh decisions, better immersing the problems of a particular village.

Do you know what envy leads to?

A little about teachers

The situation with teachers is strange. They have a character, a vibe, they have a prescribed background that influenced the principle of learning. For example, Abraham Ronen (a spell teacher) gamifies classes because he was raised by a strict father who did not allow him to have fun during his own studies. This scripted character idea works, but doesn’t reveal itself. After 3 lessons, Abraham does not give a personal quest, does not encourage for an identical approach to learning. Or there you go, Matilda Weasley, Deputy Headmaster. Her duty is to watch over the students, but you won’t find her in the school halls. She does not answer for using forbidden spells or foraying into forbidden wings of the castle at night.

The only activity I saw during this time was when Madam Kogawa (broom flying teacher) scolded the students who released the snitch from the box on the street. If the snitch that was released turned out to be a registered character, the moment would be cool.

The missing button

Let’s talk about interacting with the world. 95% have played or watched a walkthrough of The Witcher. The games are full of catchphrases that are memorable:

  • Surprise of a beggar in Novigrad – “Mermaid’s tits! But you will make a beggar better than me!”

  • Mother’s saying of the Bloody Baron – “Well, you want to send me to hell? We ask for mercy.”

  • The song of the child from the White Garden – “Quiet in the fields of the Nilfgaard country, Emgyr-emperor made in his pants!”

These phrases occur when visiting locations or cutscenes and cause a smile, laugh, surprise. With this, the developers imperceptibly build the image of the location: the mood, atmosphere, and cultural level of the place are read.

Because of such situations, we remember places

And it is effectively complemented by the simplest mechanic that supports immersion – the button to interact with NPCs. It is used for:

  • Statement of attitude towards Geralt: “freak, stray, master Witcher”;

  • Stories about the place: “Welcome to our sorter”;

  • Indications of the character’s mood: “I’ve become old, I don’t remember a damn thing”;

  • Sound reproduction: “Ts-s!”

This interaction works in context with the environment. The place becomes overgrown with details and is remembered through the possibility of interaction. Hogwarts Legacy doesn’t have that. The game world is not responding to us again.

Sociability

I will develop the theme of interaction with the characters. In the AC series of games, for example, character reactions depend on type, location, player actions, and the specific part of the game. Type on YouTube: How NPC react Assassin’s Creed. See some videos comparing the response of each part of the AC. Here’s what NPCs react to:

Also, the crowd is divided into types with their own trees of behavior: drunkards sneer at a threat with a weapon, but bards immediately understand that it’s time to knock with their lute. There is no reaction at Hogwarts. The world around the hero is like an attraction when you don’t have money – you can watch, but you can’t ride. The hero is not embedded in the world. There is no chemistry of society, where students are divided into: ChSVshniks (pure bloods), backs (dirty bloods) and stories surrounding their conflicts. There is on this topic video at StopGame, where the game is compared to Bully. Factions and the chemistry of society are present in it.

Resume

  • As such, I will play almost ZERO in the game

  • The subject of studentship and age is not raised in any way

  • Quests and peers in the game are like colored cardboard

  • Play Bully, you might like her more

I don’t say goodbye

I will be grateful if you like the article. More on my blog: VK I TG
He was recently washed, smells of lilac and gooseberry.

Related posts