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Staff Blog: Things I Want From A Dishonored Sequel

Dishonored was my favourite game of 2012. The viscera soaked, plague-ridden streets of Dunwall were the perfect setting for the dark, dystopian nightmare that the game induced on the player. I say ‘the player’ intentionally, instead of ‘Corvo’. You see Corvo isn’t really a character at all - he is merely an interactive shell for the player to occupy and manipulate.

This situation changed in the recent DLC, The Knife of Dunwall, which cast you in the role of Daud, a fleshed out and interesting personality. Daud had arrived at an existential crossroads. Filled with regret, he had a choice - the choice I’m referring to is of course still the puppet master's - whether to kill, or to slip by - but this time, the person pulling the strings cared about their thrall.

This player choice was present in the main body of the game but, with Daud, the choice was arguably more impactful. Depending on perspective, you were either playing as the antagonist, and killing indiscriminately, because in your mind you’re playing as the bad guy. Or, you were trying to rectify sins of the past instead of adding to the piles of bodies in your wake.

Dishonored

The characterisation of our born-again protagonist seems like such a small change. It was also one that made sense, narratively speaking - since the player had already encountered Daud when playing as Corvo - but I would like to see more of this in the inevitable sequel. Arkane Studios can obviously craft interesting characters, so why not channel that talent into their next Dishonored-based project.

The Outsider is another mysterious and interesting character, and I felt he was also slightly underused in the main narrative. He was always present, on the fringes, influencing events with a whisper. I was always waiting for a revelation to happen with his character, a final, gut-wrenching twist - admittedly, one that never came.

Of course story wasn’t the focal point, but it’s one facet that can take even the most mediocre of games - Deadly Premonition, Spec Ops: The Line - and turn it into something special. Now imagine that applied to a game that’s the complete opposite of mediocre and it turns from something special into something completely essential.

Spec Ops: The Line

Another thing that was seen in the DLC, that was absent during the main game, was the ability to stop time during a Blink. For myself, a console gamer, this little tweak was an absolute game changer. Obviously a standard controller can’t compete with the accuracy of a pin-point mouse cursor, so this minor addition allows for accuracy, without the need of immediacy. This is another thing that definitely needs to make its way into the follow up.

Looking to a different sequel now, to a different game, and one that Dishonored doubtlessly gained some inspiration from: Thief. In this reboot of a classic stealth series, action is also witnessed from the first-person perspective. But in Thief you can see the character’s hands interacting with the environment.

This sounds like such a small detail, and it’s only an aesthetic one, but just think of how much more immersive a game is when you’re not a disembodied head floating around - hello, Gordon Freeman.

Thief

One thing Dishonored got right in this regard is with the head bob, and weighty camera shaking. Now just imagine that, but with the protagonist’s hands leaning against a nearby wall, or their fingers clutching the top of a waist-high wall as you peek over.

Think of the opening to The Knife of Dunwall, but interactive. For a good, recent-ish example of how much this technique can help with immersion, take a look at Mirror’s Edge. It sounds like such a minor change, but in a genre coined the ‘immersive sim’ the ‘immersive’ part should be perfected as much as possible.

The world that has been created deserves to be basked in, and coupled with the brilliant sound design it could lead to it being one of the most convincing first-person power fantasies ever created. Dunwall itself is a brilliant creation, inspired by Victorian London, the narrow streets and looming structures make for an interesting playground - and an original one at that - but the nature of the city as a closed-off residential area could sometimes feel a bit restrictive from a gameplay perspective.

I would like to see more open areas in the sequel, with more options for the inevitable infiltration. In my opinion, a more hub-like structure in the vein of Deus Ex: Human Revolution could work well, with the main missions in between more focussed, and more true to the original vision of Dishonored. With this structure we could also see some of the more exotic, far-off locations that are present, somewhere in the mind of one of the world designers.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

When it comes to the powers, all I know is that adding more would be a good thing. The problem that they face is that many of the powers which people would usually expect have already been replaced by one, God-like ability: Blink.

“Invisibility?” You can do it with Blink. “Super speed?” Blink. “Jumping really far, though?” Yeah, that’s Blink. “What about firing rats with lasers attached out of your eyes?” Now you’re just being silly... and I’m talking to myself.

Anyway, I have faith that Arkane Studios will make something brilliant, whatever they decide is best for the game. They are the game designers, after all, and I’m just someone who watches from the outside whilst they work absolute magic with something that will never make sense to me. Making games isn’t easy, and I applaud those who do. Keep doing what you’re doing, Arkane, and make brilliant games, I’m just cheering you on, like an excitable sports fan whilst sat on my sofa with pork scratchings dribbling down my chin.

kirkules | 10th June, 2013
Thom Whyte's picture
Thief vs. Dishonored > COD vs. BF

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