Somewhere, at some point, I pointed out the weirdness of Hogwarts Legacy not a kind of reputation system. It’s a school setting where reputation is everything and you have four distinct houses that align pretty nicely with various points of the D&D alignment system. It would’ve been awesome for your reputation to adjust dynamically according to your actions, for students to react to you accordingly, and for narrative possibilities and outcomes to change depending on whether you were a golden student or an absolute scumbag.
The lack of that kind of depth, along with annoyingly gated story progression, is the main reason why I didn’t get very far with Hogwarts Legacy. Now, however, plucky YouTuber/Dataminer GrandTheftDiamonds (via PC Gamer) has uncovered files in the game that suggest quite heavily that the game was going to have a morality system, but clearly this got scrapped later in development. That’s a hell of a shame, because not only would the game have been much better with it, you can actually feel such a system’s absence from the game.
According to the file found by GrandTheftDiamonds, the morality-like system would take the form of ‘House Points,’ and the files show clear numerical values for various actions you could take and how they would’ve impacted your House Points. It looks like bullying was a thing for a start, with you losing 20 points for bullying, and gaining 20 for intervening. You could lose 5 House Points for mocking kids in the corridors, while the Killing Curse, Avada Kedavra, meanwhile, lost you a whopping 100 House Points.
The below video should start at the point where he discusses the morality system.
Fooling around and stealing things in class would lose you points, and there was a whole category of “crimes” you could commit, such as stealing and even extortion. In the final game you can raid childrens’ dorms, take everything from their chests, and no one will bat an eyelid. It makes every potentially clandestine action feel kind of trivial, and the visually rich environment of Hogwarts less like a boarding school with its internal system of rules and principles, and more like a toyroom where you can do what you like with impunity.
The weird thing about all this (apart from the fact that it clearly would’ve made the game way better) is how in the lead-up to launch, the devs were at pains to come up with reasons why the game was better off without a morality system, and never admitted that it’s actually something they tried to do. When Lead Designer Kelly Murphy spoke to Games Radar about why the game didn’t include a reputation system, he said: “It was important for us to give players who sought out to be a Dark Witch or Wizard an opportunity to do so… 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-judgement by the game creators. If you want to be evil, be evil.”
Does that really jive with anyone, or reflect your experience of Hogwarts Legacy? Sure, being able to play the villain is part of a good old-fashioned roleplaying experience, but for the “ultimate roleplaying experience” you need a world that reacts to you accordingly, whether you play as the Second Coming of Voldemort or as a proto-Potter. If there’s no consequence for your actions other than a student going ‘Hey, cut it out’ then instantly forgetting your transgression, then you don’t get the satisfying feedback for those actions, and the idea of ‘playing evil’ or ‘playing good’ is basically redundant. Hogwarts Legacy doesn’t let you ‘be evil,’ in fact it completely trivialises actions that would be seen as evil, such as the ‘Unforgivable’ spells, the use of which has zero effect on the story, or how you’re perceived by your peers; it doesn’t give you horns like going bad in Fable, either.
Murphy did address the ‘Unforgivable’ spells issue in the interview too, saying that having a morality system that punishes players for casting “Unforgivable” spells “would be too judgemental on the game maker’s part.” Sorry, what? Too judgemental of Unforgivable spells and Killing Curses? What kind of amoral, chaotic institution is this iteration of Hogwarts? If I use a quote-unquote Unforgivable spell, then I want to feel the gravity of doing so. It’s hard to imagine that any school today would be so lax about you running around setting fire to cats in town (which you can do with impunity) or casting paralysis spells on your fellow students; let alone an English boarding school in 1890—a golden epoch when freakshows and corporal punishment and insane asylums still existed.
“The body’s still warm. There’s a killer about!”
Now, I’m not saying that Hogwarts Legacy should include spankings from teachers—that’d be going a bit far—but given how discipline, rules, and reputation are such a big part of school life, it’s bizarre how the developers actually contemplated including this stuff, drew up a system for it and everything, then left it on the cutting room floor.
Hogwarts Legacy is a beautiful game visually, but beneath the gloss it’s an open-world playground not unlike your typical Ubisoft open-world game, and doesn’t really explore the emergent drama that happens in school life. That House Points system would’ve fixed that, really allowing you to express yourself and build a reputation for yourself, and I’d be fascinated to know why they didn’t go ahead with it.
NEXT: 10 Games To Play If You Love Hogwarts Legacy