Back in 2012, Arkane Studios brought us Dishonored, a brilliantly well crafted stealth/action title in a surreal plagued world with an engaging story, a unique watercolor art style and excellent combat. It was well received and even made it to many players game of the year lists. It was begging to have a sequel and now after four years we’re getting one this year.
During gamescom 2016, me and other fellow journalists were welcomed to Bethesda to see a new gameplay presentation of the anticipated sequel.
Dishonored 2 takes place fifteen years after Dishonored. A lot has changed, the rat plague is over and we are introduced to a new playable character, but for fans of the first will know exactly who it is. It is none other than Emily Kaldwin all grown-up and out on her own mission of vengeance and along with a set of her own unique but familiar abilities.
We were shown two parts of the presentation. The first half follows her as she infiltrates a heavily guarded mansion, while the second follow Emily as she visits the Witches of Brigmore where things go awry. Just like Dishonored before, players tailor their own experience, and there is a number of ways to carry out your mission. Stealth, all out chaos or a combination of the two, both presentations showcased this in each scenario, and what we saw was only just one way of proceeding.
As Emily infiltrated the combat plays similarly to before. You still have your trusted blade, pistol, and ever useful crossbow, but from the gameplay shown it’s the refinements made to the combat that stand out. Not only that but with the new abilities introduced gameplay it feels more fresh, instead of just reusing the exact same formula as before. This is also reflected in visuals as well. As opposed to the Unreal Engine used before, Dishonored 2 uses Arkane’s own engine which is based off id Tech 5. This clearly worked in their favor as the visual fidelity is amped, with improved lighting, shadows, animations and more all while retaining the visual style of the original. It’s further enhanced, especially inside the mansion as we were shown cascading stairways and revolving platforms and rooms.
Far Reach, is Emily’s version of Blink. A shadowy claw reaches out to grapple upon objects for traversal, but unlike Blink it doesn’t teleport. Others showcased were: an ability to inflict killing move upon multiple marked targets and ability to become a shadowy creature and stealthily move without being seen, this was similar to Corvo’s possession ability, except now a lethal strike can made while using this ability. While weapons may be the same, although more could be revealed upon release, the abilities Emily has at hand are more unique, but are still familiar to that player's will easily grasp and use to their advantage. And just like before these abilities can be upgraded to further enhance the experience.
As Emily traversed through the halls of the mansion she encounters a new enemy. Built out of clockwork machinery, it wields blades and even after decapitated it still attacks with aggression. After they’re dispatched and with her target in sight we’re shown two possible outcomes, the assassination or non-lethal method, the later shown was like seeing the target get a taste of their own medicine as he’s strapped to one of his own contraptions and put through torture. It certainly felt like this added more depth to moral choices within and I’m sure there will be more impactful consequences as the story progresses, but we’ll have to wait and see.
The later half of the presentation where Emily takes on the Witches of Brigmore was more of a showcase of action. Stealth and chaos, Emily fights her way through before succumbing to ravenous attacks of the witches. It signified that certain actions, such as rushing in and striking may not be the best method to hunting your target, but it is certainly one way of doing it and with that, it was the end of the presentation.
Dishonored 2 is shaping up nicely and it will certainly be a welcomed return. It keeps the beloved formula and further enhances it with new abilities. As a fan of the original, the November 11th release date can’t come soon enough. I avidly look forward to returning to the universe and test my skills of assassination.