Dishonored 2 deepens the story of Corvo and Emily

Motivations and family intrigue play into the next installment of the popular franchise.

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Arkane Studios' Harvey Smith revealed something at E3 that fans of Dishonored had suspected for some time. Empress Jessamine Kaldwin's daughter Emily was also the daughter of lord protector and protagonist Corvo Attano. With the move to Dishonored 2, Corvo and Emily move on from the Empress's assassination together, 15 years to be exact, but with separate motivations as her death still weighs heavily on both.

Both characters are playable this time around, but the focus has been placed on Emily and how she handles being Empress, under the watchful eye of Corvo, who has unified the titles of Royal Protector and Royal Spymaster in Dunwall for the first time. We knew her as a child, and how Corvo's activities in the first game played into her mindset and emotions, depending on his chaos level. “We got contacted by so many players who told us that they literally changed the way they played after they came back from a particularly violent mission and saw that Emily had posted up these disturbed drawings in black crayon,” Smith said in discussing the project. So the team broke her character down into more detail to give her more depth in Dishonored 2

“When we approach a character like Emily, we need to know her history, her attitude, even her hobbies,” Smith said. “But at a meta level as a game developer, we need to know what her pillars are. And so for Emily we arrived at: Dunwall, Empress, Assassin.”

The team looked at her upbringing, her intelligence and even her early training at Corvo's hand. While she has lived a privileged life as an Empress, she has another avenue open to her. “Corvo assumed that some day Emily’s enemies would come for her with knives out,” Smith said. “So she has the potential in Dishonored 2 to become an assassin.” 

And when developing her character, the team relied on the pillars established for her in everything from her attitude and powers, to her clothes. She wears finely tailored garments and carries weapons that look as if they were made by the finest craftsmen in the Empire of the Isles. Even her powers from the Outsider reflect a royal nature and her ability to influence a crowd. 

“In a way you can say the Outsider marks people according to their personalities,” says Lead Designer Dinga Bakaba. “She’s an Empress. She’s younger. She has a different personality. So her powers reflect that. She has a lot of powers that allow her to subdue the will of others.” One such power is Mesmerize, which allows Emily to entrance her enemies to eliminate them or move past them unnoticed. Another is Domino, which links a group of enemies together so they can all be affected by a single action.

While Emily has been the focus as a new playable character, Corvo has not been ignored. His original powers return, but with some enhancements. “You now have upgrades you can acquire, and you have a power tree,” Bakaba said. “I think players will have an interesting experience playing the game once with Emily and once with Corvo, because different powers mean different solutions to problems and a different experience.”

And this time around, Corvo gets a voice. If you ever played the first Thief game, you will recognize it as the voice of Garrett. "We were lucky to get Stephen Russell," Smith said. "Stephen just nailed it."

While the story has not been fully revealed, Smith has said that Emily has had something taken from her, forcing her to leave Dunwall for Karnaca.  “At the beginning of Dishonored 2, she loses everything and she’s on the run,” he said. “This is also Emily’s first exposure to the way the rest of the world lives." And although we don't know the cause of Emily's forced departure, we have already speculated that an old antagonist may be making a return.

As for Corvo, he is going home. “You can literally visit his home neighborhood when you play Dishonored 2,” he said.

So even though both characters will visit many of the same locations and encounter many of the same people, they will be coming at the situations from totally different perspectives. "That was something important for us to get right,” Smith said.

Dishonored 2 is scheduled to come out on November 11 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. 

Contributing Editor

From The Chatty

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    July 28, 2016 7:00 AM

    John Keefer posted a new article, Dishonored 2 deepens the story of Corvo and Emily

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      July 28, 2016 7:04 AM

      Ohhh yessssss!

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        July 28, 2016 7:34 AM

        Damn right, I'm so pumped for this game

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          July 28, 2016 11:25 AM

          Same my body is READY! I can taste it, Dishonored 2 is going to own.

          Shit 2016 is turning out to be one heck of a gaming year.

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      July 28, 2016 7:16 AM

      I'm going to be severely conflicted about which character to play first when this comes out. I just finished replaying Dishonored and I hate to think about playing the sequel without Blink.

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        July 28, 2016 7:32 AM

        Except with Emily you'll get the ability of Wink, so that you wink at enemies and they bust out laughing and say, "Oh, you're incorrigible," and then walk off chuckling.

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          July 28, 2016 7:35 AM

          Actually, she is royalty, so her wink probably means you lose your head, or something else.

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        July 28, 2016 11:34 AM

        Emily is the more stealthy one I think? I don't remember where I read/heard that. Makes the choice pretty easy IMHO.

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        July 28, 2016 11:48 AM

        On one hand, it feels like this is very much Emily's story. On the other hand, Stephen Russel.