Dishonored 2: Hands On With Arkane’s Ambitious Sequel

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Dishonored 2: Hands On With Arkane’s Ambitious Sequel

Arkane Studios’ Dishonored 2 is destined to be one of my favorite games of 2016, and not just because I loved the 2012 original. This stealth-action sequel is upping the ante on its predecessor in seemingly every way, pitting a pair of supernatural assassins against treacherous usurpers in a violent, vivid world.

Dishonored 2

Based on my hands-on experiences this week, the game is, quite simply, a bigger, better take on the original. Where Dishonored had one playable character, the sequel has two — papa Corvo and daughter Emily — each blessed with unique supernatural abilities thanks to the touch of the mysterious Outsider.

These supernatural abilities can alter the core action and stealth gameplay in some startlingly inventive ways. Sure, Corvo can instantly Blink past threats, even Possess a rat or fish to evade detection. But Emily can use Domino to invisibly bind multiple foes together, then take them all out with one blow, or use Shadow Walk to melt into the darkness.

Overall, the game’s scope feels bigger, more ambitious, and more varied than before. I played through a full mission set in the ominous Clockwork Mansion, an ornate death trap where walls and floors can shift and rotate like blocks in a murderous Rubix Cube. I was sent in to rescue a hostage and terminate (or compromise) mad inventor Kirin Jindosh before he finalizes an army of lethal Clockwork Soldiers.

Dishonored 2

True to Dishonored 2 form, I instead chose to remove Jindosh as a threat without killing him — I dosed him with a tranquilizer dart, then zapped away his intelligence using an experimental machine located in his laboratory. How merciful!

The choice between using lethal or nonlethal means to deal with your targets is central to the Dishonored experience, and I was pleased to learn that Dishonored 2 offers a larger arsenal of nonlethal takedown options.

As before, Dishonored 2 features a “Chaos” system that introduces consequences if the player racks up the body count, and which can ultimately alter the game’s ending. At the event, Creative Director Harvey Smith indicated that Dishonored 2 would feature a wider array of ending “permutations” as a response to fan feedback from the first game.

What’s more, Smith indicated that the consequences for slaying evil NPCs will be less severe — empowering morality-minded players to police the thoughts of natives using the Heart, a mystical artifact that reads minds and reveals secrets.

This revenge tale takes place in the deliciously morose, macabre city of Karnaca, which like Dishonored’s Dunwall, is as much a character as Corvo or Emily. The levels are positively riddled with fiction — notes, book excerpts, paintings, and audio recordings create a snackable narrative that I found endlessly fascinating. The Arkane team continues to design some of the most detailed, most interactive levels seen in modern game design, and I applaud them for it.

Dishonored 2

Seemingly no detail has been ignored. New character animations help the combat and traversal feel more grounded, more physical, in a way I’ve not seen outside of games like Mirror’s Edge.

Thus far, Dishonored 2 is shaping up to be one hell of a love letter to fans of this genre — it’s due out this November for PS4. Leave any questions in the comments!

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  • So ready for this, it looks stunning, and seems to be building greatly on the original.

  • This game looks like it’s shaping up really well. Should be a lot of fun for everyone out there who likes first person stuff.

    Kind of a pity that part isn’t optional, as I’d love to watch the character doing all this crazy stuff… but oh well, I’m not hurting for stuff to do ;)

    • Seluhir, i too generally prefer the third-person view or at least the option, but I took a chance on Dishonored 1 and was absolutely blown away! If you never tried it, make sure you do!

  • I know that the first one was the PS3 PS+ game of the month last year, but any chance it’ll be for the PS4 sometime soon? It’s fairly cheap, but I have Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Last Guardian, Nioh, FFXV, FFXII, and World of Final Fantasy on my pre-order radar, so my money will go there first. Don’t mean to sound like I’m nagging for a free AAA. I’d like to experience it, but I carefully choose where I place my money.

  • Cannot wait for this, and the events they’re doing in LA next week have me pumped even more!!

  • Its awesome to see another Dishonored game which have civilians and guards doing more than just staring straight ahead and just walking. The huge issues with First Person games is that the main characters is usually silent it like we’re 4 gens back into video games , heck even 4 gens ago quite a few games the protagonist talks . Now that Corvo is out of FP he’s talking . This is getting annoying because we play games to take a break from reality instead most FPS places us inside another one , well we don’t have a connection to the stories but the main characters does . Use your head developers.

  • I’m really excited for this game!… However, c’mon, we get punished for killing again? In the first game, the lethal powers were the cooler ones and it was kind of a nuisance trying to avoid killing if I decide I don’t want the punishment. *Sigh* Price you have to pay I guess. Otherwise, good looking game

    • It looks beautiful, but I just don’t care for their attitude about this. Stop punishing people for wanting to experience the content you yourself made for them!

  • Is it confirmed that Corvo is Emily’s dad?

  • Killing people gets you a bad ending again? I really was hoping they would move away from the morality stuff this time around.

  • I saw some peeps play the “Clockwork Mansion” level. Let me just say, as someone who wasnt fond of the first Dishonored, it kind of got me hyped to try Dishonored 2.

    It was really really neat.

    The level design was top notch, the characters were interesting, and the skills at your disposal seemed to make tackling the objectives in a variety of ways, simple and smooth.

    Ill probably wait for a general opinion of Dishonored 2 is before checking it out, but from what ive seen so far, it looks quite promising, and more interesting than the first game.

    That Clockwork Mansion is pretty friggin cool.

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