Yesterday (or early this morning, depending on your perspective) Bethesda and Arkane gave us the most detailed look at Dishonored 2 we've had so far, with a bunch of gameplay and a new trailer. We've combed through them to find some of the more fun and interesting bits, and what they may reveal about Dishonored 2 ahead of its release in November.
So this time you get to choose between Corvo Attano, the protagonist from the first Dishonored, or his daughter/empress Emily Kaldwin. The game starts at the anniversary of the previous Empress' death, wherein a fight breaks out and someone (assailants unknown) seizes control of the Dunwall throne. From the context of the gameplay shown it looks like you have to choose either Emily or Corvo; you can't switch between them like, for instance, you could with the Frye twins in Assassin's Creed Syndicate.
For Dishonored 2 both characters are 'fully voiced' and will react to events in the game. It's unclear what happens to the one you don't choose as your protagonist, but they definitely don't seem to be with you as you make your escape from Dunwall. We don't want to go ahead and predict their death but… y'know… it would thematically mirror the first game, that's all we're saying.
Look at this GQ motherfucker. You never really got to see him in the first Dishonored, and indeed him wearing a mask was a big thematic thing (because, really, doesn't everyone in that game wear a mask? And so on and so forth). It's interesting that for Dishonored 2 he, and Emily, seem to be much more characterised.
The gameplay footage focused on Emily, and at the conference Harvey Smith (Co-creative Director at Arkane Studios) described her powers as 'new' — which could be an indication that Corvo has powers similar to or the same as the ones he had in Dishonored — but we do know that both characters can upgrade their powers along new skill trees.
The powers we saw Emily use in the gameplay were: Far Reach, a grab and pull power that can be upgraded to snatch enemies; Mesmerise, which distracts enemies within range; Shadow Walk, the creepy crawl on the floor stealth power; and Domino, a passive skill which chains what happens to one enemy to others you select, i.e. if you stab one guy through the throat then a bunch of others will die too. Emily also used a Blink, or at least something which looked very similar to it.
We can also see from this inventory wheel that The Heart appears to be back too, although there's no indication who it might belong to yet — possibly the alternate protagonist if you don't choose them? Sorry, we'll stop predicting death now. Probably.
The majority of Dishonored 2 is going to be set in Karnaca, the capital of Serkonos (which is the most southerly of the islands). In Dishonored 2 it's ruled by the Duke Luca, whose brother was murdered in the Knife of Dunwall DLC in the first game. Karnaca is also where Corvo grew up — he was originally a member of the Grand Serkonan Guard before being sent to the Dunwall royal family as a political gift — so both these events could be referenced in Dishonored 2.
From the footage shown at the Bethesda press conference Karnaca looks a bit less bleak than Dunwall. Whilst they're both port towns Dunwall had a very cold and industrial feel, but from the E3 footage Karnaca seems a little more, dare we say it, mediterranean. There's evidence that they get a lot of their power from wind rather than whale oil, and further indicators of a regular fishing industry rather than a whaling one. Tall trees and decaying mansions also give a flavour of the southern United States — maybe New Orleans, Louisiana, that kind of thing. In a book found in Dishonored, Karnaca is billed as a holiday destination for the elite, and that the island of Serkonos in general has warm winds and sandy beaches.
Karnaca still has a definite industrial side, though. One of the key areas showed off in the E3 conference was the Dust District (with signs in the gameplay video revealing it was previously the Batista Mining District). The Dust District is victim to random dust storms that Emily comments are from the mines and which change visibility, and graffiti in a screenshot from the Dishonored website reads 'I broke my back in the silver mines'. There's also a lot of graffiti about taxes, and a building in the game had been seized. There's obviously some social discontentment going on, evidenced by the power struggle in the Dust Distrct between a 'militant religious faction', the Overseers, and The Howler Gang. Like in the first game, which side you choose and how you go about helping them will change the game endings (plural, which suggests there will be at least two).
We were introduced to the concept of automaton steampunk robots things in the E3 teaser trailer last year. The ones shown this year look slightly different, but it may be that there's more than one variant of them in the final game. In some shots it also looks like they could function as security measures that you can trip, like the sentry robots in Fallout.
Enemies in Dishonored 2 now look a bit more agile and intelligent than their predecessors, with more vaulting and jumping going on. From some of the fight footage, however, it does look like you're more robust in a melee situation, or at least have more abilities that make that an option, including what looks like some nice parrying going on. Emily also had access to some stealth weapons, of course, like mines and the ever-faithful crossbow.
This mysterious and obviously evil woman
She appears in the new trailer a couple of times, once cosying up to Corvo only to be rebuffed, and once pulling a goddamn sword out of her goddamn chest like it's no big deal. She's incredibly cool and has antagonist written all over her, so we're willing to bet she's involved in the conspiracy you're thwarting this time. There appears to be some sort of litter behind her so she could be a visiting dignitary from another state, or just rich and cool enough to have that kind of thing going on. Plus, the power of undeath she demonstrates indicates she's been given supernatural powers too. Which leads us too...
The bitch is back! As always one can never know what his real motivations are, but in this case it seems like he helps the protagonist once more, as well as sending them on what looks like a really cool mission with a timepiece that lets you see and travel between the past and present.
This takes place in a mansion that was abandoned after some kind of supernatural event and, given the context, we're going cards on the table right now that you cause the supernatural event, which then necessitates you using The Outsider's magical watch to go back and… cause the supernatural event. In any case, there's some ambient talk in the gameplay of a group called The Sisters of the Oracular Order, 'witchcraft' and someone struck with fatal injuries coming back the next day to fight again, so it could be that you're not the only person granted otherworldly powers.
This old dude and his boat
This guy bears a striking resemblance (at least in the function he plays) to Samuel Beechworth, the Loyalist boatman who ferried Corvo around in the first Dishonored game. He also says he'll take Emily back to 'The Dreadful Whale' (or possibly Wail) when she's done with her murdering. This could be an indication that, like with The Hound Pits pub in Dishonored, you'll get a home base of sorts to tool up in between missions. The Dreadful Whale definitely sounds like a pub name to us, although it could be the ship that brings the protagonist from Dunwall to Karnaca.
One of the biggest plot points in the first Dishonored was the rat plague ravaging the city. Karnaca doesn't have a surfeit of rats, but there is a shot in the trailer of insects that look like mosquitos (possibly called 'blood bugs'). This could tie in to a similar disease theme, or be used as part of your supernatural powers e.g. how in the first Dishonored you could send swarms of rats to attack people.
In the opening of the gameplay shown Corvo remarks to Emily that they'll 'Catch the Crownkiller', with some further expositional dialogue indicating that the Crownkiller is a serial assassin taking out Emily's political enemies. Although both Emily and Corvo disavow them, the nickname seems likely to be a reference to the killer appearing to help out the crown (unless they do something odd and involving a crown at every crime scene). When the gameplay shifts to a mission in Karnaca we see another bit of graffiti: The Crownkiller is watching!
This is interesting, since it indicates that the Crownkiller is now a known quantity in both Dunwall and Karnaca. It could be that by this point in the game the protagonist themselves is the target of a smear campaign painting them as the Crownkiller, which would be similar to what happened to Corvo in Dishonored.
All screen grabs taken from Bethesda's E3 showcase, and Dishonored 2's new trailer and official website