Hogwarts Legacy (opens in new tab) will have more than 100 sidequests, and it won't just give players something different to do when they need a break. Narrative director Moira Squier told our colleagues at GamesRadar (opens in new tab) that the way players take on those sideline activities can have an impact on the main campaign.
"The main storyline is complicated and engaging, and involves a variety of different characters and viewpoints, but by giving the player choice moments throughout the game, we allow them to tell their own version of that epic story," Squier said.
"Even the sidequests, of which there are over 100, allow the player to manipulate the main campaign by virtue of the experiences they've had. Interacting with someone in a sidequest will impact how you interact with them in the main storyline, and vice versa. The order in which the player chooses to complete these quests will impact their story and game. Everything is interconnected."
These comments from the studio are just vague and rehearsed enough to be unsatisfying (don't you love to "manipulate" a game with your character's "experiences"?), but nevertheless it's interesting that Hogwarts Legacy allows the player to express themselves with darker magic: Players who want to embrace evil are free to do so, and aside from a bit of occasional NPC stinkeye, they will apparently not be punished for it.
"It was important for us to give players who sought out to be a Dark Witch or Wizard an opportunity to do so," lead designer Kelly Murphy said. "This is the ultimate embodiment of role-playing: allowing the player to be evil. Additionally, this was important because it comes from a place of non-judgment by the game creators. If you want to be evil, be evil."
That extends even to the so-called Unforgivable Curses (opens in new tab), a trio of spells so sinister and forbidden that, by the time of the Harry Potter novels, using any of them meant a one-way trip to the Azkaban prison for life. In Hogwarts Legacy, however, it's apparently not so much of a big deal.
"Characters will react visually and audibly to seeing the player cast an Unforgivable, but we don’t have a morality system that punishes them for doing so—this would be too judgemental on the game maker’s part," Murphy said. "But, should the player continue these actions, the world will reflect back knowledge of them."
Given that the Harry Potter novels are a very straightforward tale of good vs evil, I can't help but feel that judging the use of these particular curses by literal children would be more appropriate. I mean, we're not talking about a Leviosa gone wrong here: These spells are dedicated to mind control, torture, and murder. They're literally called Unforgivables—a moral judgment is baked right into the name.
Lots of other games give players the option to pursue an evil path, it's true, but with consequences for actions: Shitty behavior leads to shitty outcomes. (One could argue that maxim doesn't seem to apply to the Potterverse, though—despite the backlash against Harry Potter author JK Rowling's persistent transphobia (opens in new tab), Hogwarts Legacy remains the most wishlisted game on Steam (opens in new tab).)
Hogwarts Legacy is set to launch on February 10.