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This year has been a treat in the gaming sense, but still lacking in titles that bring stealth to the forefront of their design. Usually it would be a safe bet banking on Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed annually launch to deliver on that, but with the publisher taking a break it could open the doors wide for someone else to take up the mantle. Someone, or something, like Dishonored 2.
Dishonored as a franchise is different in many ways, but so very similar on a mechanical level. Sure, you’ve got mystical powers, the harvesting of whale oil and a beautifully stylized world to go with it, but there is a lot Dishonored does to try and appeal to your more base, stealth craving sense.
If you’ve been itching for a stealth title this holiday season, here are a few reasons Dishonored 2 might just be able to scratch that.
An engrossing, fantasy tale
Stealth titles usually dabbled in fictionalized settings often, because they allow the game to break free of real world rules. Assassin’s Creed achieves this by putting players in a variety of different time periods, but Dishonored 2 scales this back. Instead of many locales, Dishonored 2 introduces players to a different part of the fascinating world the first game was set in.
There’s a little more colour, influences from renaissance architecture and touches of the franchise’s signature steampunk technology all wrapped into one. This sets the stage for another tale full of espionage and political intrigue, as Corvo and Emily fight to reclaim the throne that was so brutally wrestled away in the first title.
Level Design is key
The key to a great stealth game is great level design, and what we’ve seen of Dishonored 2 seems to be taking that to heart. Case and point, Clockwork Mansion. A sprawling structure that twists and turns at the push of a button, revealing new routes, hidden areas and various ways to get to your target. Not unlike some of the best in the genre, which all allow you to tackle your objective in different, creative ways.
Each room has several entrances, each assassination different approaches. Dishonored emphasized this in its first journey, and only seems to be expanding on it with its sequel. While not every building with break apart and come back together like Clockwork Mansion, you can expect some ingenious ways to scurry around to present themselves should you look hard enough.
Powers and Equipment Galore
Stealth titles like Assassin’s Creed give you many weapons and tools to get the job done, each integrating into your style of play. Dishonored 2 is no different, except that in place of certain items you have Arkane powers instead. These are double too, since both Emily and Corvo feature different sets of abilities to choose from. Emily, for example, can link enemies to the same fate, taking out a group with one swing of the sword. Corvo, by contrast, retains many of his abilities from the first title. Abilities such as blinking short distances, and now even slowing down time in the middle of them.
These add to an arsenal already strong with guns, crossbows, bombs and traps, each giving you more choices in the way you approach missions. You could plant some traps to keep wandering guards off your back. Take the offensive and engage in full on swordplay. Or just slink around your foes and put them to sleep when they get too close. There’s a tool for nearly every situation, which just helps you play to your strengths.
Stealth is remarkably open-ended
Having all these toys to play with doesn’t mean much if you’re just trying to get by undetected, but that’s where Dishonored 2 keeps things fresh. Certain powers cater directly to those trying to get by without a whisper, while others fuel the need to slice every throat in a room. Both Emily and Corvo have an array of tools available to them that make your style of play the one that the game caters to, meaning you can truly let loose without fear.
Of course, there are narrative and mechanical repercussions for which ever route you choose, and you might find yourself with some unwanted attention should you favour going in loud consistently. The first title manifested this through its rat plague, which would grow exponentially the more bodies you started piling up. The same might not occur in this sequel given the time difference, but expect there to be some tangible cause for whatever effect you choose to have on this world.
There’s some side content too.
The draw of Ubisoft’s open-world games (and often their hindrance too) is the wealth of content to tackle outside of the game’s main missions. Dishonored to for all intents and purposes is a more focused title, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some light side quests to engage with. These quests offer you rewards in the means of coins, resources and upgrades, which will only benefit you in tackling the main story missions in the ways you want.
Missions are connected with smaller, explorable hubs, which litter your vision with objects just out of reach. Often you’ll have to double back to find some, perhaps with a newly obtained power or better sense of how to get around. If you’re the completionist type, this will fit right into your fancy.
Bonus: Dishonored 2’s cloak game is strong
Let’s be real for a second: the only reason any of us even play Assassin’s Creed is to see just how gorgeous this year’s outfit is, right? Right, so now that we’re on the same page, there’s a strong case for Dishonored 2 even encroaching on this turf this year. I mean, have you seen Emily’s Assassin Outfit? With that little bandana that slips over her nose and mouth when she’s ready to get super serious. It’s just badass in every sense.
That’s not even looking at the new upgrades Corvo has made to his own lengthy garment, fitted nicely with his signature steampunk mask that would absolutely terrify me if I turned around and saw it. It’s a pity the entire game is in first-person, because I’d love to see both assassins struggling their stuff while making guards look like punks in their outfits. But at least you’ll know how great you look while your target is bleeding in your arms. Still not only me, right?
Dishonored 2 is out this Friday on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
Last Updated: November 8, 2016