Sequels are usually the place for studios to refine the backstories of their main heroes. While Dishonored’s original assassin is returning for the sequel, Arkane took the opportunity to turn Empress Emily Kaldwin into a playable protagonist as well. Last time we saw Emily she was a young princess in need of rescue. In Dishonored 2, she’s grown into a capable assassin who can stand toe-to-toe with even the toughest of the royal guard. Here’s how she grew from feeble princess to fearless empress.

Quick Stats

  • Full name: Emily Drexel Lela Kaldwin
  • Height: 5’10”  
  • Eye color: dark brown
  • Birthdate: 2nd Day, Month of Rain, 1827
  • Birthplace: Dunwall, Gristol
  • Voice actor: Erica Luttrell (Keesha Franklin in The Magic School Bus, Darla in Fallout 4)

Powers

  • Far Reach – Similar to Blink in that it lets Emily travel short distances relatively quickly. Far Reach isn’t actually a teleport skill, so enemies can see Emily when she moves. Emily can also use Far Reach to grab objects and enemies and bring them closer to her.
  • Dark Vision – Allows Emily to see enemy movement through walls.
  • Mesmerize – Emily conjures a strange tear in the universe that consumes the attention of nearby guards.
  • Domino – Using a psionic tether, Emily joins up to four enemies together. Whatever happens to one afflicts the others.
  • Shadow Walk – Emily transforms into a small, etherial shadow creature, which can move relatively unseen through environments and rat holes, or be used to perform perfect assassinations.
  • Doppelganger – This clone of Emily is perfect for distracting guards or setting up terrible chain reactions in conjunction with Domino.

Head here for a deeper dive into Corvo and Emily's powers.

Background History
Empress Emily Kaldwin is well-educated and accustomed to a position of privilege. However, her personality was influenced by an early tragedy.

Creative director Harvey Smith on Emily’s relationship to Corvo:
“They’re father-daughter, so obviously there is a bond there. We hint that she has responsibilities as Empress, but as the senior person he has strong views about how things should work, but at the end of the day she trumps them, so it’s a father daughter relationship, but also one where she’s in charge, so it becomes complicated. Also there’s another layer there in that Corvo is marked by the Outsider and has a secret that nobody else knows, and Emily can sense that he is keeping secrets from her."

As a girl, Emily dreamed of going on adventures with pirates and sea monsters, and loved digging up treasures and rare artifacts. The original Dishonored tells the sad story of how Emily’s mother was assassinated before Emily was kidnapped in a plot to overthrow the empire. In the canonical ending, Emily is rescued by Corvo, who brings her back to Dunwall where she begins her new life as a monarch.

Haunted by these traumatic events, Emily can occasionally be melancholy and dramatic. Thankfully, she developed a keen mind despite her hardships, and grew into a capable leader.

“Dunwall is better under Emily,” says creative director Harvey Smith. “It’s not crushed by the rat plague anymore. It’s still a big, dirty industrial city filled with corruption, but it’s better under Emily. There are no walls of light or tall boys or arc pylons. She drained the flooded district and restored it as a financial quarter. Every year, she has the city celebrate the anniversary of her mother’s death in a giant celebration.”

The Assassin Queen
By day, the young Empress administers over bureaucrats and court officials, mediating disputes, negotiating treaties, and occasionally silencing insurrections. At night however, Emily trains with her royal bodyguard (and father) Corvo Attano. Knowing that at any moment she could face an assassination attempt similar to the one that killed her mother, Emily constantly seeks out new thrills by running through the alleys and along the rooftops of Dunwall.

“She’s different than Corvo because she’s an Empress,” Smith says. “She was born in a palace. She had the best education. She had the best clothes. She always had the best food…so it’s a little weird that the empress, who was formerly the richest person in the world, is picking pockets and looting rooms? She’ll say things like, 'I’m on the ropes here,' or, 'look at what I’ve been reduced to,' and acknowledge the ridiculousness of the situation.”

In Dishonored 2, Emily’s greatest fears become a reality, and she is hit with another conspiracy to overthrow the throne of Dunwall. However, unlike her mother, Emily escapes to fight another day and travels south to the city of Karnaca, in search for information behind those who displaced her from her kingdom. Only those who choose to play as Emily when the game releases this November will find out if she’s strong enough to live up to her father’s legacy.

For a deeper dive into the city of Karnaca, as well as an profile on Corvo, and exclusive interviews with the team be sure stay tuned to our Dishonored 2 cover hub throughout the month.