Sunday, September 04, 2016
Arkane has been keeping its cards rather close to its chest when it comes to Dishonored 2, showing few glimpses of the game since its initial announcement during E3 last year. But for Gamescom, the developer afforded press a relatively extensive look at new protagonist Emily Kaldwin kicking ass and taking names, as she's trapped within the inner workings of the villainous Kirin Jindosh's fiendish clockwork mansion, “a testament to engineering” according to its nefarious creator.
Bearing in mind that in Dishonored 2 you can still play as original protagonist Corvo Attano, albeit a bit older, greyer, grizzlier, and packing a few fresh tricks up his sleeve alongside his formidable blades, Emily Kaldwin presents a whole new set of skills to be mastered. These are more than amply demonstrated as Emily strives to escape the whirring cogs, gears and moving contraptions that make up the intricately crafted interior of the mansion.
Set upon by Jindosh's clockwork soldiers, Emily whips out her flintlock pistol and wrist-mounted crossbow, using the doppelgänger ability to create a clone of herself and distract the mechanical foes. Using her Far Reach ability, Emily can grapple to high areas, scoping things out before striking. Like Corvo, she has a short sword, used in this instance to wrench off the heads of the whirring enemies, before jamming it into the clockwork soldiers' wires and gears, neutralising them in showers of sparks and crackling electricity.
Watching as Emily slides between their legs to confuse them, bounding to higher ground to launch aerial attacks is pretty spectacular, pointing to a character who is more than well-equipped to take on any and all foes of varying shapes and sizes. Emily's mobility seems to be geared more towards grappling and using her Void Walker powers to get the jump on enemies, whipping them into the air and in some cases tearing off limbs in brutal finishing attacks. She's fairly uncompromising if you choose to play through Dishonored 2 aggressively.
As for traversal, Far Reach is essentially Emily's version of Corvo's Blink, slowing time as she lines up her grappling point. We're shown some of this as she reaches a balcony overlooking the sprawling city of Karnaca stretching into the horizon below, beginning a descent scaling the outer walls of Jindosh's vertiginous mansion. Peering through a keyhole on the lower levels, Emily busts through the door and beats a path to the sneering creator of the clockwork mansion, strapping him into a chair for some impromptu torture.
Again, like the first game, Dishonored 2 offers you total freedom of choice in how you deal with enemies, including key characters like Jindosh and others you'll encounter at various junctures throughout the game. At this point, Emily can either kill Jindosh off in suitably sadistic fashion or spare him, simply subjecting him to some painful therapy in the chair. Either way, you can exact your revenge in whatever way you see fit.
Jumping forward, the next section of our demo sees Emily visiting the Royal Conservatory, home to a coven of witches; disciples to the first game's mysterious Delilah. Here we're shown more combat prowess, as Emily lops off the witches' heads and limbs, cutting some in half in a blade-whirling bloodbath. Of course, diving in with sword, gun, and powers primed is all well and good, but both Emily and Corvo also have the ability to possess several enemies at once, as well as a whole range of other supernatural skills that enable you to adopt a stealthier route if you prefer.
You'll already be well aware of this if you played the first Dishonored, and in that respect, Dishonored 2 promises the same degree of player agency, if not a much greater degree. And therein lies Dishonored 2's biggest strength; to present you with all of the tools to complete objectives in any way you want and push at the envelope while you're at it, discovering new methods and solutions. It's something that's become a speciality for Arkane Studios, also extending to its reboot of Prey. For Dishonored 2, marrying narrative and open-ended gameplay once again ensures that we'll be in for one hell of a treat when the game launches later this year.
Dishonored 2 is out on 11th November.