Dishonored is one of my favourite games of all time, so Dishonored 2 has a lot to live up to. Saying that, the first few hours already have me hooked like a massive chunk of whale meat. Despite my love for the series though, I understand why some struggle with it. It's best approached a certain way - especially the first time. If you're playing Dishonored like Thief, reloading each time you're spotted, you're missing much of what makes the game special.
Will Dishonored 2 end up on our best PC games of 2016 list?
Dishonored 2 isn't like most stealth games - it confidently switches between action and stealth, seamlessly blending the two better than any other game. Where most stealth games take your power away once spotted, Dishonored gives you the tools to survive in combat, though you still need to play clever. It takes a while for that to settle in.
You need to really get into the game's mindset and play by its rules, and that's when the brilliant emergent gameplay to happen. There's nothing better than botching an attack, only to improvise and scrape through an encounter in a surprising way.
To help get us all in that mindset, Dishonored 2 co-creative director Harvey Smith has released some top tips for becoming a supernatural assassin to be feared. I've added a few comments to some of the points (in italics), to provide more context.
Here are the suggestions, straight from his personal blog:
- Play stealthy or full assault-style, or mix up sneaking and combat. The game supports all these approaches because our team – especially our game designers and gameplay programmers – were tirelessly committed to this core tenet.
- There's a reason Smith chose this as his first point - it's key to enjoying the game. There are multiple ways to approach any situation, whether you're clearing an entire room with an explosive whale oil canister, throwing a guard through a window or bypassing the sentries entirely. Experimenting with the systems will lead to a more enjoyable experience.
- Always look around for alternate pathways: Side alleys, back doors, unlocked windows, overhead balconies, rooftops, tunnels (for rats), or water-ducts (for fish).
- Just because your objective marker is pointing to a door, it doesn't mean it's the only option.
- In sword combat, don’t forget to BLOCK! (And counter-attack while an enemy is off-balance.) Play through our little Tutorial, which also sets up the fiction a bit.
- The tutorial is great, and it gives you a chance to see Corvo from another perspective.
- Note that for almost all the combat moves, we’ve added nonlethal versions. (Combat choke, drop attack, slide takedown, et al.) You can play the entire game without killing.
- You could play the first game without killing, of course, but now your options are expanded. The combat choke is a fantastic way to control a brawl - you can even throw people from this position, be it through a window, into a wall or at their ally.
- Change difficulty whenever you want. If you’re an advanced player or really into stealth, play on Hard.
- Try playing the game with stealth. Sneaking, playing non-lethally, or even ghosting the missions adds even more tension and drama to situations.
- Our stealth model is mostly based on enemy view cones and occlusion. Darkness only matters at a distance, making you more hidden. Up close, enemy facing and field of view matters most. (Stay behind them or behind something that blocks their line of sight.)
- Use Blink or Far Reach to pass enemies quickly, moving between cover or vantage points to slip by.
- Don’t forget to lean! If your body is behind something like a wall, you can lean out to peek ahead.
- You can now peek over things, not just side-to-side!
- Peep through keyholes before opening doors.
- Or if you're planning on an assault, blow up the door.
- Look up! Go vertical when you can, along ledges, rooftops, pipes, etc. You can often sneak past an encounter that way or find an alternate entry or path.
- Even tiny light fittings can be perched upon if you need to get out of sight of a passing enemy.
- Unless you’re trying to get a Ghost Achievement for never being detected, resist the temptation to immediately load a save if you get busted while playing stealth. Play it out and see what happens.
- Improvisation is much more fun than torturing yourself trying to attain perfection. At least on your first run.
- Distract enemies with sound by throwing a bottle or setting an alarm clock.
- Or a body. You can also hit a wall with your dagger, or fire an arrow.
- Eavesdrop on unaware enemies to absorb more information related to the world and the events unfolding around you. Sometimes eavesdropping updates your objectives. (Similarly, listen to street speaker announcements and read posted signs.)
- Often characters have followup lines if you hang out and listen to them (or click on them further). You’ll absorb more about the world this way.
- Notes and lore books also add a lot of background info on the world and events.
- Use the Heart to locate Runes and Bonecharms. But it will also speak, giving you more details about the history of a location, or about characters in the world.
- The Heart also changes its dialogue based on how you play, and depending on which character you're playing as. You can point it at people and squeeze to get a little factoid about them. It's usually rather dark.
- Don’t forget to assign your bone charms. Review them periodically. And this time, you can create your own via Bonecharm Crafting.
- If you’ve played the game once or twice, and you really want a new experience, play the game without supernatural powers. (Say “no” to the Outsider.)
- Now it's basically Thief. Reloading saves is okay here.
- You can turn off the HUD UI, including goal markers. If you’re a minimalist, experiment with that.
- Set your brightness so the blacks are really black. The game looks better. (Check out the calibration options screen.)
- Quicksave is your friend.
- This is key: If you like the experience, consider replaying with different character, powers, and a different approach. During a second play-through you will know more about the world and discover new areas. Seriously, a second playthrough really contextualizes your understanding of the game. Highly recommended.