Dishonored 2: hands on with Arkane’s ambitious sequel

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Dishonored 2: hands on with Arkane’s ambitious sequel

Lethal protector or merciful guardian? We decide the fate of a potential threat in an inventive gameplay demo

Arkane StudiosDishonored 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 Dunwell 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 Dunwall, which 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

Few details have been overlooked. 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.

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  • Looks good but when will the next firmware update be out? The new one is awful.

  • I thought the game was set in Karnaca, not Dunwall this time. Super stoked anyways

  • Just last I was reminded by Deus Ex (not to mention MGS1 which made me truly passionate about games in general) how much I love stealth games and how it is by far my favorite genre.
    Really have fond memories of this predecessor too (besides the fact that I played the game meticulously stealthy, going so far as to check up on all my ‘body stashes’ so as to make sure none of the unconscious bodies ever got discovered, only to lose out on the trophies for being ‘discovered’ in the very intro of the game during the introduction of the story – So I do hope their trophies are better designed this time around).
    Absolutely loved the stealth (and besides the fact you can go for a more action orientated play style, it’s definitely and clearly primarily designed for a stealth approach, as the combat felt a bit clunky, not unlike Deus EX. Not that I mind at all, I would certainly recommend the full stealth approach to anyone in these kind of games to get the most out of the experience) and the blink ability! All in all much like Thief, but more accessible and fun IMO. Felt like playing a truly stealthy Assassin’s Creed at times. Loved the atmosphere. Can’t wait for this.

    • And forgot to mention the city does really feel like its own character. Has some of that wonderful Bioshock vibe going for it.

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