Despite being a relative newcomer compared to the likes of Thief and Deus Ex, Dishonored has been an absolute game-changer for the vaguely-named ‘immersive sim’ genre. Its exquisite visual style, open-ended level designs, breathtakingly deep lore and creative special abilities have all rightly earned it its place at the top of a ludicrously elite pile.
Sadly, all things must come to an end. Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is intended to be the final entry in the series’ current story arc, answering questions and giving closure to the major players we’ve been following since 2012. On the whole, DotO wraps things up nicely, although its position as a stand-alone expansion to Dishonored 2 does present some minor quibbles.
Death of the Outsider does away with the royal focus of the previous games, focusing the events on long-running secondary character Billie Lurk. Following a reunion with an old ally, Billie’s tasked with taking down none other than the single most powerful entity that is behind all of the events of the Dishonored universe: the Outsider. Hence the name.
Dishonored has been an absolute game-changer for the vaguely-named ‘immersive sim’ genre.
Billie’s repertoire of supernatural skills is a lot smaller than Corvo or Emily’s, being given just three abilities alongside her array of gadgets to get the job done. Semblance allows her to steal a character’s face, making NPCs and security systems alike register her as a friendly for a limited amount of time. Displacement is Billie’s version of a blink, creating a marker that she can later warp to at the press of a button. Finally, she has foresight, letting her scout out the surrounding and highlight enemies or items.
Semblance is easily the highlight of the three. In one mission, while wearing the face of a guard, I watched another guard struggle to get through a security checkpoint they had forgotten the password for. Still looking like their pal, me and this guard rode a lift to the floor where the password was kept. At this point, I knocked out the unaware guard, took the password, then took their face. Returning to the guard at the checkpoint, it appeared as if nothing untoward had happened, I presented the code, and was let in without a fuss. This kind of approach has never been viable in Dishonored before, turning the game from Thief-style sneaking to a Hitman-style social approach that works amazingly.
I do miss the creativity of a well-planned supernatural assault that tag-teamed powers in interesting, novel ways.
Unlike previous Dishonored games, all the abilities are pretty independent from each other. The series has always prided themselves on combining abilities and tools (such as combining Corvo’s time-freeze and possession abilities to make an enemy shoot themselves in the face), but Billie’s abilities just don’t work in the same way. Their applications to the environment can be just as varied as ever, but I do miss the creativity of a well-planned supernatural assault that tag-teamed powers in interesting, novel ways.
Other than that minor detail, Death of the Outsider has easily the best stealth-ing of the whole series. Enemies seem a lot more intelligent (for starters they’ve finally learned to look up), and opting for running and gunning instead of clever sneaking is a less viable strategy thanks to Billie’s reduced skillset. Outsider feels like a slower, more considered approach to Dishonored, which is a direction I welcome with open arms.
Despite not having a “2” in its title, this is considered is a stand-alone expansion to Dishonored 2, rather than a full entry in its own right. That means the entire thing is a lot shorter than either of the previous games at a total of just five missions. Those five missions, though, are set in some of the biggest, most complex environments the series has seen yet. A beautiful, sprawling town can lead in to gigantic mansion full of a rat run of vents, lift shafts and tunnels, or a bank vault that is just as technically dizzying as anything Dishonored 2’s Clockwork Mansion threw at us.
That scale is let down by the game’s habit of reusing environments. The second and third mission are both partially set in the same location, while a later one revisit places seen in Dishonored 2, meaning only two of the five missions are set in truly new locales. On the one hand, seeing how these places change thanks to the events of Dishonored 2, and Billie’s actions earlier on in the game, is neat and helps flesh out Karnaca further.
On the other hand, Death of the Outsider is only slightly longer than Dishonored’s two Daud-centric DLC, and may potentially be the last time we see that world as we know it. In a full-length title it would’ve been less of a problem, but in a standalone expansion like this, I would’ve liked to have seen a bit more Karnaca and the Isles before we said goodbye to it.
Only two of the five missions are set in truly new locales.
Story-wise, this does an excellent job of tying up many of the loose ends of the entire series. As the name suggests, the game primarily explores the mysterious Outsider, his power, and his origins, but it also provides some much-needed backstory for other significant parts of the Dishonored universe. While spoilers are a big no-no, it does a good job of pulling the trilogy to a close in a satisfying way.
I will admit, Death of the Outsider took a while to really click with me. Its recycling of levels grated, and being limited to three relatively plain supernatural powers felt like a step back compared to the other games. But in its place we got the best, most concise story of the series, essential answers we’ve been asking for five years, and a stellar stealth game to boot. I don’t know if we’ll ever see the Isles again, but if this is the end, it’s definitely ended on a high.
A copy was purchased by the reviewer for the purposes of this review.
Platform: PC [reviewed]/Xbox One/PlayStation 4
Developer/Publisher: Arkane Software/Bethesda
Release date: September 15
- A wonderful conclusion to a long-running story.
- Expansive, complex level design.
- Overall stealth and AI improvements over Dishonored 2.
- Large amount of recycled content for its length.
- Comparatively boring powers.
A fantastic end to one of the best series in gaming. It improves on Dishonored 2 in almost every way, although I would’ve liked significantly more brand new content.