EGX 2016: Dishonored 2 Builds on the First Game's Strengths, But Has the Same ProblemsRevenge still might well just solve everything
I loved Dishonored. With its interesting whalepunk setting, open-ended objectives and fun to use abilities, I’ve gone back to tear up Dunwall again and again over the years. Getting the chance to try out the first playable demo of Dishonored 2 at EGX 2016 was definitely something I couldn’t pass up on.
If you’re a fan of Dishonored, Dishonored 2 is going to be exactly what you were hoping for. I really enjoyed my time with it, but the section of a mission I played disappointingly didn’t seem to fix some of the problems of the first.
Astounded by the level of detail and visual polish there was
Dishonored 2 moves away from Dunwall and over to Karnaca on the island of Serkonos. Where the first game was inspired by British Victorian and Gothic architecture, Dishonored 2 is placed firmly in a sunny Mediterranean landscape. The demo was on a timer, but I still took time to peer out over the city and was astounded by the level of detail and visual polish there was. I thought Dunwall had a grim prettiness to it, but Karnaca comes along and blows it out of the water.
My mission was to take out Kirin Jindosh, an inventor hidden behind his sprawling clockwork mansion and mechanical guards. I was also tasked with saving familiar face Anton Sokolov, who was tucked away in the prison below the mansion. As we were playing in a closed booth, the booth assistant guy told us we probably wouldn’t have time to complete both missions, which I immediately took as a challenge. I was going to get as much Dishonored 2 in my eyeballs as possible, flimsy convention stools and dubious PR reps be damned!
I was playing as Emily Kaldwin, the little girl from the first game all grown up who has been imbued with supernatural abilities. The other side of the booth had people playing as the first game’s Corvo Attano, as both will be playable in-game.
Alongside the usual crossbows and bullets, during the demo Emily had three different powers to play with. Far Reach is similar to Corvo’s blink ability, giving a quick dash in any direction. However, it trades the invisibility of Corvo’s blink for the ability to violently pull enemies from far away.
It trades the invisibility of Corvo’s blink for the ability to violently pull enemies from far away
Shadow Walk lets Emily turn into a shadowy monster that can creep past enemies undetected. It’s incredibly fast and I felt it was somewhat overpowered, but it was a good way of escaping from Clockwork Guards in a pinch.
The last ability is Domino, which can be used to connect enemies together. If one of them dies or is knocked, the effect is carried across to the rest in the chain, killing or knocking out all of them as well. It’s Domino which gives the biggest clue as to Emily’s playstyle, as it encourages a bit more creativity in how you tackle enemies than any of Corvo’s abilities.
A stunning example of level design
The mansion was a stunning example of level design, with various switches moving and transforming various rooms with a complex network of clockwork contraptions. Trying to get your bearings in a house that is always moving is difficult enough, but when there are guards and clockwork soldiers hiding behind every wall things get a bit more complicated.
Due to being told I wouldn’t be able to finish both objectives I decided to go with the “whatever works” approach. I’d try and be stealthy when I could, but if I got into a fight it was time to rock and roll. It made for some interesting moments, especially when I was trying to haul Sokolov’s unconscious body out of the mansion.
With him on my back, my ability to fight was slightly impaired, so I used the mansion against enemies. I’d get their attention in one room, dash past them to the switch and close up the room, trapping them somewhere else entirely. There was a major feeling of triumph when this all went to plan, even if I did get lost and had to go back the way they were later on. It’s these little moments of genius that make Dishonored so great, so it was nice to see them not be tossed out for the second game.
My single concern with Dishonored 2 became more apparent after I had saved Sokolov. Time was against me now, so I decided to storm my way through and take Jindosh the messy way, and I realised the mana system is just as limiting as it was before. Dishonored has always tried to encourage creative kills by mixing and matching equipment with the abilities, but then it’s put a very low mana limit on your abilities for the sake of balance.
The mana system is just as limiting as it was before
Using all the fancy abilities to kill in cool ways is fun, but it puts you at a disadvantage later on if you get caught with no mana. At one point I pulled off a really cool multikill which involved dominoing all the enemies together and then using far reach to take one of them out, killing the rest. However I then didn’t really have enough mana to deal with a clockwork guard in the next room so I had to just run up and explosive-bullet it in the face. I hope the mana cost of abilities is lowered, or an unlimited mana mode can be unlocked after completing the game, because I want to play with all these awesome systems but just can’t due to the constraints.
Escaping the mansion after killing Jindosh and saving Sokolov though (take that, booth assistant!), I was relieved that Dishonored 2 is set to be just as good and maybe even better than the first. The location is fantastic, the level design complex, and Emily’s abilities make her feel just as good, but also very different, to Corvo.
I really want to replay that level to see if I can do it more sneakily. November 11 can’t come quick enough now, when Dishonored 2 launches on PC, Xbox One and PS4.