Dishonored 2 Preview: Welcome Back

By building on everything that made the original great, Dishonored 2 is shaping up to be fantastic. Read on to learn more. 

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There was a moment during my hour-long demo with Dishonored 2 that I had a distinctly wistful feeling, finding myself excited to be back in this twisted world while stalking aristocratic maniacs with supernatural powers. It was like being away from a familiar place for a while, then later coming back to find a few changes had been made, but everything was essentially the same, all the way down to the Arc Pylons and ghastly whispers of otherworldly abilities.

The world of Dishonored is unique unto itself, blending together elements of science fiction and fantasy with flavors of Victorian and Steampunk ideas. It’s twisted and sub-human, recognizable enough, but unhinged just enough to put you on edge. It’s the same brutally violent gameplay as before, combining a mix of traditional weapons like swords and crossbows with the abilities to teleport, possess, and even link targets together.

But there’s a bit of the unknown in here, too. Which is fitting, considering it’s a sequel to the original and thus attempts to build upon the ideas put forth in the first installment. The biggest change is the inclusion of a second playable character in Emily Kaldwin--whom I played as for the entirety of my demo--the Empress who has mysteriously fallen from grace and taken up a similar mantle to her mentor Corvo Attano by becoming a vengeance-seeking killer.

Some of Emily’s abilities are shared in tandem with Corvo, albeit with slightly different names or applications. Her “Blink” ability is more of a grappling hook that can be used to reach further away places, warp quickly out of harm’s way, or whip an enemy up into the air and send them crashing at your feet. She also has the same arsenal as Corvo, but a new shadow walking ability gives her temporary invisibility and the chance to execute a lethal takedown on an unknowing enemy while approaching them soundlessly in a creepy, ghastly form.

During my demo, I explored a location called The Clockwork Mansion, an amazing level set inside a home whose creator had built it in such as way as to allow for the very walls and floors of the home to rearrange at the pull of a lever. This acts like a quick set change in a stage play or a moment taken out of Christopher Nolan’s Inception film, which is especially driven home once I pull away and examine as the walls and floors reshuffle around me.

Beyond looking great, it’s also applicable in some inventive ways. Platforms moving around open up new pathways and opportunities to explore inside the house, and the entire aesthetic helps to bolster the image of the powerful madman who created it. It plays like one massively dangerous labyrinth, filled with all number of messed up murder opportunities and steps to re-trace and solve.

Emily’s takedowns are just as brutally efficient, and play nicely into the overall mechanics presented in the game. Adhering to the framework of typically celebrated platformer developers, Dishonored 2 gives you the toys and allows you to roam freely, labeling the objectives on the map but not forcing the player immediately down one specific way. I had some difficulty sneaking through the area hidden beneath the home’s main floor, attempting to utilize as many of my abilities as possible to re-enter the house and quietly dispatch of the guards before anyone could notice.

I tried everything; turned into shadow form and whipped one ill-fated guard up and down into the large body of water, warping from one ledge to another as I tried to get a better vantage on the him and the other guard standing near him. Eventually, I threw one man off into the depths, leapt to the next one to bury a dagger in his neck, disposed of the one other guard looping through the kitchen, and abandoned my first objective in favor of fulfilling the second.

That’s the beauty of Dishonored 2; it doesn’t make demands, simply lays out what it needs and allows you to go about completing the objectives on your own and in your own way. Add in a handful of new, useful powers and a seemingly interesting set of all-new characters, and Dishonored 2 is shaping up to be the ideal sequel; a game maintaining the elements that made the original great, while building on it to make a more solid and concise experience as a whole.

Dishonored 2 will release on November 11.

Contributing Editor

From The Chatty