In most new MMORPGs the quest system is the primary way in which the player is able to get considerable experience and items and go beyond being part of the core game loop and being THE game loop. This has resulted in what is very a theme-park and skinner box experience, which is further exacerbated by the fact that you often only have one level in these games.
This is not the case in Hegemony.
Non-linear Quest Lines
There is only a loose story with Hegemony as in there is in a way a semi-main storyline (the advancing through social ranks gets more complex and lore-based) but much of the quests are locational.
Quests advance the lore of the location as well as unlocking quality of life in the area, for example achieving a certain rank in the militia allows you to pass the Alpine pass for free, aiding a wounded hunter makes him share his secret hunting locations with you, and others unlock utility buildings such as a bank closer to an endgame encounter.
Quests sometimes have self-contained storylines and series such as the Verweigerer questline.
Quests do give some experience where it makes sense and not excessively, we find that rewards in the form of either unlocked content and quality of life improvements as better incentives to creating quests, where quests are not a chore and a must do, but an enjoyable thing to do.
Other times quests are prerequisites for other quests, or make the completion of other quests easier than just doing that quest without finishing a side quest.
Reading Between the Lines
Quests are not straightforward and are designed to make the player actually read the dialogue, read between the lines to understand the story/character of NPCs as well as advance the lore. Oftentimes you would have to read between the lines to advance in a quest to figure out what to do, and it is a greatly satisfying moment when things click together and you have a dawn of realization on what is going on why something is happening.
The player is not the hero in Hegemony. You are not a knight in shining armour that everyone is waiting for to solve all their problems. Instead the player can be likened to Bronn from Game of Thrones, an opportunistic bastard taking advantage of situations to acquire wealth and position far beyond the restrictions of the social class he was born into.
Players are still given the choice sometimes of acting “Honourably” and playing more of a hero narrative, but more often than not, the player is punished for it as the player can choose the easier option and still yield most times the same result.