Dishonored 2 has a layered and deeper approach to level design

4 min read

Dishonored (2)

Level design may be just one of the most unappreciated jobs in game design. Not only do developers and art teams have to create a world that looks fantastic, they have to arrange all of those pieces into a shape that suits the flow of gameplay. Gameplay that usually has people racing past intricately constructed stages and utterly ignoring the beauty around them.

Man, I feel bad for developers. Anyway, if there’s one game that nailed atmosphere and the flow of progression through multiple levels, it was the first Dishonored game. It’s one of the highlights from that first game, a testament to the sheer genius behind every move and moment of stealth and guile. Naturally, Dishonored 2 wants to up the ante for their levels.

“When we make the level, we build the basics first; the main buildings, the balconies and the apartments and then on top of that – well it’s kind of a layer,” lead level designer Christophe Carrier said to Eurogamer .

While I’m talking I’m realising that it’s a layer but we are digging deeper into it and we add or remove things. Entrances, new paths, and of course we had to deal with the no power players so that they have an experience that is as fun as all the other people.

I try to play the game in no power [mode] as much as possible to give the player the same fun as if they were using the powers. And it’s more difficult of course, but it’s as fun I think. For example, somewhere where you could go by blinking or far reaching, you have to find the way to go up or down and it’s more hidden – you have to search your environment and I think for a no power player, it’s fun to have to find solutions like that.

It’s not a puzzle per se, but the pleasure comes from ‘Yeah, I found it! That’s where I have to go with no powers.’

Dishonored (1)

And yes, each level in Dishonored 2 will be filled with content that you’ll probably miss out on through your first playthrough. Content which you can always revisit later, as that’s part of the charm in Dishonored 2 says Carrier:

You know, the thing that is really awesome for us is to see players talking to other players saying ‘what did you do? I went there but had to do this – no! You could do this and you know, take this window’ and they go ‘oh I’ll try this next time’ and that stuff we call the coffee machine talks… in my work, when I hear that, I’m so happy to hear that from players; that they’re not playing the same game. That’s one of the things I love about working on Dishonored – that you can see everyone is doing something different, but they have equal fun.

You know at Valve they have an entirely different perspective. They say – as far as I remember, it was a long time ago – they say everything we do should be seen by the player. Right? And I totally respect that because you put a lot of work into a game so you want to show everything you’ve done. For us, we have to accept that some players will never see an entire part of the level – so that’s different.

But, at the end of the day, it encourages replayability – because when a player hears from other players that they didn’t see the same thing, they have the feeling that they probably missed something – or maybe that it was an entirely new way to do a level and it’s like playing an entirely new game, I’m not sure, but this kind of thing is really fun.

Dishonored 2 drops later this year, so remember remember the 11th of November.

Last Updated: October 5, 2016

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