I look at TLOU2 the same way i look at The Last Jedi and the Rise of Skywalker. The new SW trilogy movies aren't innovative or risky in anyway and the direction it took with legacy characters and story plot took a massive nose dive compared to what the audience would have preferred or liked. I am a huge SW fan and i am quite vocal on the approach the new movies took. Its nice to add new characters weather they are male or female but to just slaughter old favorites just to push a motive is far from acceptable in my books, this is something i hated with the new SW films. They killed off majority of the old characters and pushed in the new characters without justifying the causes or at least showcasing the audience they actually cared about them. Example: They made Luke Skywalker a coward and it took a TV series to re-justify his character.
I hear the same arguments with Joel, many TLOU fans liked him, he was a badass, yet was killed off so quickly and carelessly which was one of the major factors in the criticism by the public. Its not because Abby is a female, because the other main character Ellie is also a female that is a fan favorite, its the point of killing Joel and now we have to like the new character without a choice. The same thing happen with Halo 5, when everyone was forced to play Agent Locke instead of the chief, it wasn't because Locke was black, it was the fact that gamers wanted to play their hero and Locke hasn't done enough to earn his place just yet.
It really comes down to good timing. I agree some of the criticism based on TLOU2, SW and Halo 5 is quite ridicules however that's just fanboys using the negativity to their own egos, however we cannot let that blind us on the real issues with these games and movies.
The older characters actors wee pretty old. Killing them was the right thing to do, as they were also old in narrative context. Harrison Ford was specifically direct on his demand to only play Han Solo again if it was the last time.
Both Han and Luke had nice ending arcs for me, I don't see exactly what make people mad about them, and I'm also a Star Wars fan. I'm just sad Leia was the only one who couldn't get a more satisfying end, as Carrie passed away before most of the movie was filmed
I also think people get too invested on fictional arcs and characters and starts do get too stressed out with small things. People play new IPs and with new characters all the time, I don't get why the concern to play a different character in the same franchise. Like, I understand Lara Croft is the face of Tomb Rider since the beginning, but why exactly would be so hurtful to play another character? I just wonder
Azzanation has made a great analogy by relating some of the criticisms that TLOU2 an Star Wars sequels have faced, even recognizing that some of them were overblown, but the fact remains that both Sony and Disney upset a significative part of their audience by making some weird decisions upon already well constructed stories, it isn't that people get too invested or obsessed on fictional arcs and characters as you say nor that everyone is against change, the thing is that when you are making changes just for the sake of making changes, you may end up instead doing a disservice to that stories, worlds and characters, for example, aside from all the points Azzanation has already mentioned, my grandpa who is almost 90 years old and isn't a "hardcore" Star Wars fan, could only say after watching The Force Awakens: "WTF i just watched, they just basically recycled the plot of the original Star Wars, not only that but it's as if all the things the old protagonists made in the previous three movies amounted to NOTHING", and that is basically why lots people started to grow more and more annoyed and later disgusted with those sequels, that kind of disservice lands hard on people that doesn't just dismiss the things they are watching, playing or reading as mere afterthoughts. When you say : "The older characters actors wee pretty old. Killing them was the right thing to do, as they were also old in narrative context", we aren't saying that you can't kill or retire their characters in some way, but when you take characters that were supposed to have very high relevance inuniverse at their historic and lifetime periods, then proceed to invalidite every single achievement they had, and on top of that you kill them or so it seems just for the sake of it that is a disservice, as a users from other forums put it: "Yep. Nobody cares that he died. They care that we were given a random old man on a rock with zero relation to Luke and zero likability, who then proceeded to die in the most awkward, meaningless way." or other user goes with "It's not who lives or dies, it's how they're treated as characters, and how they do or do not ring true to the original trilogy. That's all this has ever been about for me."
As for the angle OP was originally discussing, i think JWeinCom, Mnementh and others have already discussed in great detail exactly why a game like the Last of Us 2 while not a bad game, the changes it made didn't necessarily break any creative molds but instead played it safe and it even looked like a disservice to some of their fans:
"the reasons to dislike TLOU2 are similar to the backlash to Metroid Other M. The game decided to characterize important characters in new ways, and it didn't sit well with everyone. But that doesn't mean these directions were bold or brave and creative"
"Basically you have to make some choices, if you progress a series to new hardware and changed societies. I don't see bold creative choices in TLOU2, just an adaption to the zeitgeist"
"TLOU2 was a creatively safe game, as it used well-tested gameplay, pushed visuals according to the general direction of the industry and adapted plot and characters according to the mainstream zeitgeist. That indeed is safe."
And i'm with Leynos with this:
"The term "hardcore gamer" is cringe and needs to be dropped from the vocabulary of people. I hate the term in general but found it laughable at the general use of it since the 7th gen usually means the exact opposite. Imagine someone goes to a movie and comes out saying "I saw Avengers so I'm a hardcore movie fan!"
Hardcore gamer belongs in the same trash bin as ___ Killer (remmeber terms like "Halo Killer" ?) and Casual gamer."