One of the most pleasant announcements at E3 2015 was the reveal of Dishonored 2, the sequel to Arkane Studio's sleeper 2012 hit that Game Informer immensely enjoyed. In the days following the first trailer viewing at the Bethesda Showcase, we sat down with joint creative directors Harvey Smith and Raphaël Colantonio to find out more about the stealth action sequel. Here is what we know so far.
- Dishonored 2 takes place 15 years after the finale of the original game.
- The game starts with a day in the life of Empress Emily Kaldwin, a character that Arkane was intent on exploring more after the first game. "By the end of Dishonored, Emily was a very interesting character to us," Colantonio says. "She was the only thing good in the world actually worth saving. She was also a reflection of Corvo's actions, and some players figured out that she was Corvo's daughter."
- After another otherworldy usurper seizes the throne, Emily is driven out of Dunwall and becomes an outlaw. After a dramatic sequence players are then given the choice to continue to play as Emily or Corvo Attano, the hero from the first game.
- The game takes place in Karnaca, the capital city of Serkonos, which is known as the jewel of the south. Fans will remember that this Empire of the Isles country is also the birthplace of Corvo. The region is known for its warm weather, beachfronts, and spicy cuisine.
- Like Dunwall before it, Karnaca is in the midst of an epidemic. You may have seen the blood flies in the trailer. Like the plague rats in Dishonored, these can be a natural hazard. This species lays insects in corpses and hatches out of them. If they get into a certain distance of their lifespan they become harmless like a dung beetle, but if there are too many of them at one point in adolescence they become hostile. The more bodies you heap, better chance these hostile outbreaks happen. This can be used to harass guards.
- Each character plays through the same series of missions, but each has different perspectives on the world. By playing through the campaign with both characters you will learn different things. There is no swapping between characters; once you choose one you stick with it until a second playthrough.
- Emily and Corvo each have unique powers granted to them by The Outsider.
- Emily's powers include Far Reach (which allows her reach out and pull herself to another building like a grapple), Shadow Walk, and Mesmerize. She is also capable of crafting bone charms, and there are more than 400,000 combinations in the game.
- Corvo retains familiar powers like Devouring Swarm, Bend Time, Possession, and Blink.
- For Dishonored 2, Arkane is taking a new approach to upgrades. The last game offered upgrades that strengthened your powers. Dishonored 2 has powers, but from there it offers a bunch of skill trees that allow you to upgrade in asymmetrical ways. For instance, you could upgrade Far Reach to yank guys to you and assassinate them mid-air, grab objects with it, or pull objects.
- All powers have extensions like Daud's Blink that let you use powers in different ways
- Arkane believes this new approach to upgrades offers a lot of replayability. You could go really deep with three specific powers in one playthrough, then switch it up for another.
- If you've seen videos like this on the web, you know that talented gamers have found ingenious ways to string together powers to become unstoppable killing machines. Arkane says it's preserving the systems that allow for experimentation with the special abilities. "When we put an element in the game, we don't put it in the game and attach it to something," Smith says. "We make it general purpose work so you can attach it anywhere. The worst thing in the world would be if Blink had attach points. That would be the dumbest idea because it means you can only go if we want you to go. Of course it's better for the level designers, the producers, and the tech guys that think it's safer [if we took that approach]. For us, we say it is a power and it has a range. It's a squashed sphere, and you can shoot at a spot or empty air or a mantle climb icon or jump in midair and do it and the point is it's recombinant because it's general purpose."
- What you see in the announce trailer you can do in the game. This particular mission is called the Clockwork Mansion. Here you must kill the grand inventor of Serkonos or find another way to eliminate him in his moving house.
- Arkane isn't going into details yet, but it says that its technology base has dramatically improved. "You know how last time we had really strong art direction and okay technology? Now we have really strong art direction and really strong rendering tech," Smith says.
- For Dishonored 2, Arkane has enhanced the A.I. in a couple of ways. First off, guard search patterns have been revamped. In the first game they would follow bread crumbs but there were opportunities to trick them. Now they search for real. Several A.I. characters will get together and split up the territory to canvas the entire space. They will not recheck a spot another soldier has already investigated.
- The A.I also have increased situational awareness. For instance, if two grunts realize they are with an officer who has a ranged weapon, they understand that he should hang back and they should move forward.
- Dishonored 2 has a modified high/low chaos system that offers more granular, direct consequences.
- Some people said Dishonored wasn't hard enough, so Arkane is scaling the game to offer more of a challenge to these players.
- Both the Lyon and Austin and studios are collaborating on the game.
- Arkane says there is one new game mode that it plans to share details on at a later date.
Look for more info on Dishonored 2 as we move closer to the Spring 2016 release.