27 September 2016

Hands on with Dishonored 2

As with Just Cause 3 last year, Dishonored 2 pretty much single-handedly sold me on my ticket to attend this years EGX. I'm a big fan of Arkane Studios' Dishonored, the 2012 steampunk-esque (whalepunk?) stealth game that combined excellent world-building, satisfying mechanics and brilliant level design to deliver something that I've replayed more times that I care to admit, and the opportunity to play the sequel was simply too tempting to pass up.

The mission I played is one that takes place around about 4 hours into the game, tweaked slightly so that those unfamiliar with the first game still have a fighting chance of completing it. Choosing to play as either Corvo Atanno (the protagonist of Dishonored) or Emily Kaldwin (the now grown-up princess from the first game with abilities of her own), players are are tasked with infiltrating the mansion of genius inventor Kirin Jindosh in order to put a stop to the development of his automated clockwork soldiers, while also rescuing an old ally who is being held prisoner deep within the mansion.

Having been told that Corvo hasn't changed all that much from the way he played in Dishonored, I chose to play as Emily, who has a different set of abilities to Corvo. As far as mobility goes, her Far Reach ability acts as a more aggressive version of Corvo's Blink ability - not only can it be used to get from point A to point B near instantaneously, it can also be used to drag enemies closer to you to be dispatched quickly and out of sight. Likewise, her Shadow Walk ability feels similar to Corvo's Bend Time - she transforms into a smoke-like creature that moves quicker than normal and is much harder for enemies to detect, making it useful as a way to get through heavily fortified areas without being noticed.

The biggest difference in play style seems to come from her Domino ability, which allows her to link multiple enemies together so that what ever happens to one of them (such as being knocked unconscious, sliced in half or blown to smithereens) happens to the rest of them at the exact same time. This ability means that Emily is much better at quickly dealing with multiple enemies than Corvo is - it will be interesting to see how this affects the way that each character deals with certain situations.

Beyond that, Dishonored 2 is almost exactly the same as Dishonored, and I mean that in the best possible way. The mansion in which the mission is set is a great example of the kind of level design that made Dishonored so fun to play - there are multiple paths that can be taken depending on how you want to approach things, which when combined with the kind of imagination that bought the world of Dishonored to life in the first place helps create a location that begs to be explored in depth.

Not that I had the opportunity to do that. The nature of the demo I played meant that I only had a limited amount of time with Dishonored 2, meaning that I didn't really manage to play it the way I would have liked - slowly, methodically, as with as few casualties as possible. Dishonored wasn't a game to rush through, and the fact that I had to do that with Dishonored 2 just to see what the demo had to offer is a shame.

Still, other than a handful of technical issues (which are pretty much to be expected in this kind of demo) my time with Dishonored 2 has done nothing to put me off a game I've been looking forward to for quite some time. If the rest of Dishonored 2 manages to be as instantly engaging as the mission presented here, then I'm sure that fans of Dishonored will not be disappointed by a sequel that seems to understand what drew people to the game in the first place.

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