Chaos Abounds When We Go Hands-On With Dishonored 2 [NYCC 2016]
Growing up in Dunwall, they used to call me "Billy Low Chaos." Technically I guess my name was Corvo, but I was just so smooth, calm and collected back then the name just stuck. It was all about getting in and out as quietly as possible, and with as few casualties too. Some were unavoidable, but that's the life of a bodyguard. You've got to make the hard decisions when you've been framed for murder.
With my return, it seemed fitting to hang up Billy's shoes and take up the mantle of a new silent hero. Given that Dishonored 2 allows players to live through the adventure as Emily Kaldwin, and that she's Corvo's daughter, it seemed perfectly apt. Then I played the game, and found that trying to be stealthy in an hour-long demo wasn't all that exciting. So I switched gears and started cutting throats. Thus Bloody Emma was born, and the world soon knew her terrible vengeance.
At New York Comic Con, I got to go hands-on with Dishonored 2 for the first time since it was announced. It's interesting how easily I was able to fall back into old habits from the first game despite Dishonored 2 having a number of differences. Most notably, Emily and Corvo have powersets all their own. I stuck with Emily for the duration of my playthrough this time, mostly because I spent dozens of hours with Corvo in the past, but also to see how her abilities freshened up the experience.
I'll be honest, I really wanted to stealth the hell out of this demo, but with such a limited amount of time, strategizing the best path to get in and out of the Clockwork Mansion just wasn't feasible. I also wasn't having very much fun as I was so concerned with trying to get a perfect run on my very first time with the game that I was messing up even simple things like hiding in the shadows. Once I learned to embrace the Chaos and go full aggro, Dishonored 2 opened up to me in ways I never got to see in the first game.
It's all about Emily's Far Reach power. Not only can you use it to get to ledges or areas you'd otherwise be unable to access, but you can use it to grab unsuspecting (or suspecting if you're in a pinch) enemies for a brutal execution. Imagine if you will having Spider-Man's webbing, only instead of flinging it at a person to yank them close, you also stabbed them in the throat. It's pretty much the best thing ever for stealth kills from a distance. The animation might give you some pause when the blade slips through an enemy's jaw, but it's hard not to keep doing it to people once you start.
No, seriously. I became addicted to grabbing people from across the room and making with the stabby. I typically always play non-lethal, super-stealthy when I can, and for the first game I probably put more hours into reloaded saves than actually progressing the story. I might just go full berserker in Dishonored 2 just to shake things up, but also because it feels so good to be so bad.
The added advantage of killing everyone in Emily's way during the mission --- oh right, I was supposed to be doing something besides killing fools --- is that the halls are empty. Instead of being on the lookout for that guard pattern, I could actually take in all the amazing detail of the homestead. It was a place filled with peril, but it is a thing of architectural beauty. Arkane Studios went in hard on the design and aesthetic of the world in the first Dishonored, but has significantly ramped up the detail and largesse in this sequel. I've only seen an itty-bitty portion of this new city, and it's already more extravagant than anything that was in the first game.
I was never nervous about the quality of Dishonored 2. The first game was strong enough that Arkane had a lot of good will, but it turns out they won't need any of it. It's not rare for sequels to live up to the original game any more, but that they actually surpass their predecessors in every conceivable way isn't a frequent occurrence. Dishonored 2 just might be that kind of sequel, and we'll only have to wait one more month to find out.
Dishonored 2 will be available Nov. 11 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.