by Preston Dozsa
previewed on PC
The Dishonored series stands out as one of the most inventive franchises in recent memory, providing plenty of methods through which you can complete its challenges and levels. But rather than providing additional DLC for Dishonored 2, which was released less than a year ago, Arkane Studios’ next dose of Dishonored will be the stand-alone Dishonored: Death of the Outsider. It may have a new protagonist and be smaller in scope, but after playing through a hands-on demo of it at PAX West, but it plays just like the Dishonored games we know and love.
If the name Dishonored: Death of the Outsider has not clued you into what the goal of the game is, it’s simple: Daud, the assassin who killed Empress Kaldwin in the first game, has made it his mission to kill the Outsider, the malevolent force behind much of the supernatural powers in the game’s universe, with the help of his protégé Billie Lurk, whom you play as. It is a lofty goal in the universe, and though we do not yet know how they will achieve it, the powers and gadgets at your disposal will greatly help you along the way.
Importantly, Billie has her own suite of supernatural powers that are not directly tied to the Outsider himself, so she does not need to drink potions to recover mana, instead relying on a cooldown timer. While this does mean you cannot spam the same abilities in quick succession, it also means that Billie will always have access to her powers after a short time.
One of these powers is known as ‘Displace’, which is Billie’s version of ‘Blink’, the teleport ability for Corvo in past games. With this, Billie can create a marker of herself that will allow her to teleport to it at any time provided she is within sight and distance of it. While she can use it instantly, the ability to walk away from the marker and teleport to it at her own time provides plenty of new options for dealing with enemies or escaping from them depending on the situation.
Billie also does not possess the ‘Dark Vision’ ability that previous protagonists had. Her version is called ‘Foresight’, which enables you to enter a spirit form and float around an area, marking objects on the map while doing so. For example, I entered Foresight to quickly look around a mansion to find any upgrade materials, which I marked on my HUD alongside some guards so that I could see the threats I would face along the way. It may fulfill the same function as Dark Vision, but Foresight is an interesting variation that was fun to experiment with.
Lastly, Billie has the ability to change her face to that of another character in order to disguise herself as them to reach new areas. It may be powerful, but it constantly drains mana when used and requires that the character be alive before you steal their face, necessitating it’s careful use if you want to make the most of it.
Combined, these powers encouraged a cautious playstyle where the emphasis was on proper scouting and information gathering, which were the two objectives in the demo. That said, that was not how I chose to play through it, instead pushing forward with mines and guns to cut through the guards that sought to prevent my infiltration of a local mansion. There were no penalties for going the chaotic route, and it was a relief to see that the powers I had worked perfectly well with my high chaos style of play. A highlight was when I created a marker with Displace near the ceiling before charging a group of guards, at which point I activated Displace to come crashing down on one poor sod’s neck with a dagger.
The one downside in my time with the game was that I was unable to play through the entire mission that it was set in. I accomplished one objective, which required finding the correct audiograph to unlock a safe, but could not see the full scope of the level to understand why I was doing what I was doing. That context would have been great for someone who was thrown into the thick of things and encouraged to experiment with the tools I was given. And while that experimentation was fun, some structure would have been appreciated.
But as it stands, my brief time with Dishonored: Death of the Outsider reassured me that this stand-alone adventure fits in perfectly with the Dishonored universe. The plot may still be up in the air, but from a gameplay perspective, it’s safe to say that more Dishonored is certainly not a bad thing.