Everything We Know About Dishonored

Gameplay

If you’ve played any of the titles in the Deus Ex series, you probably will know what to expect when you pick up Dishonored. The game is about assassination, but it’s also about choice, and how you approach each mission is up to you. You’ll often start far from your target and be required to infiltrate an area or building to find the person to eliminate him or her. How you get there is up to you.

Primarily there are two major approaches to every situation in the game — stealth and combat. By ducking down and remaining hidden behind objects, you can maintain stealth, sneak into various areas, and kill or incapacitate people without being seen. Guards will trigger alarms and draw each other into a fight to best Corvo, but if you can sneak around unseen, you can get more done more safely. This approach, as one might expect, is much slower than the direct approach, but often more effective.

Dishonored’s gameplay is very vertical, and Corvo has the ability to climb just about any ledge you can reach pretty much instantly. Pair that with Blink and an increased jumping capability you can unlock later, and you’ll be able to scale walls and reach rooftops in many areas. Every infiltration mission has a number of ways to go about it: often you can climb to the roofs, or slip in through the sewers, possess a guard, find a ventilation duct, or any of a number of other means of ingress. Exploration is greatly encouraged.

The game is mission-based, so you’ll be playing through levels as you progress. However, really all a given mission does is confine you to a (rather large) area of the city with your particular mission in mind. The area in which your mission takes place is open and you’re free to explore it, so again, a lot like Deus Ex: you’re getting small doses of an open world.

Lethal Versus Nonlethal

As mentioned, it’s possible to play through all of Dishonored with a nonlethal angle. How you play through the game affects it, to a degree, as well. Taking a “kill everyone in my path” approach, especially as it relates to innocent bystanders, increases the amount of “chaos” in Dunwall. Chaos is measured at the end of each mission.

Chaos has a palpable effect on the world. If you kill a lot of people, you’ll see more groups of ravenous rats roaming the streets, and there will be more plague victims running around. Chaos level can also have an effect on your targets; more chaos means they’ll be more on their guard, and may be in different areas of their target areas when you approach them. As the developers mentioned to us, this could be the difference between finding a target out in the open, or hiding in a safe room, waiting for you to show yourself.

In sneaking, you’ll have the nonlethal option to choke out enemies rather than out-and-out stab them. All of your assassination targets can present you with nonlethal approaches as well, usually accessible through side missions. The requirements for eliminating them in nonlethal ways is generally more difficult and more involved, so your ideas about the game will have to determine your approach.

We also know that how you play the game will ultimately affect the endgame. High chaos leads to a “darker” ending than low chaos. However, Dishonored is pretty dark regardless, so we’re not sure what this means yet.

Combat

Fighting guys is done with duel-wielding not unlike what’s seen in BioShock 2 or even The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. In your right hand, you always hold your sword, and this is the instrument with which you’ll assassinate folks quickly, as well as your means of most combat. When engaging enemies, you’ll need to block their attacks (timing is important, as well) and strike back when there’s an opening. You can flail around, but enemy AI is pretty damn good in a fight, and slashing haphazardly will get you killed. Dishonored’s swordplay can be unforgiving.

In your off hand — Corvo’s left — are where various other gadgets and powers and wielded. Corvo gets a number of cool steampunk items to use in a fight, ranging from grenades to shrapnel mines, a crossbow, and a flintlock pistol. As in BioShock 2, this is the hand that holds various powers, so if you equip your Blink ability, for example, you’ll be without your crossbow while you’re using it. Powers can be used together, but it requires some solid timing.

Health is measured in a bar and is refilled using red potions that can be found and deployed at will. Mana, the resource that dictates how much of your powers you can use, is dictated by a blue bar. Both recharge in increments over time, so if you use powers sparingly or avoid taking extensive damage, you’ll get some health and Mana back after a few seconds. Mana is refilled with blue potions that also can be deployed as needed.

Your powers and gadgets are aligned on a “Power Wheel” that can be activated at will and which pauses the game (on PC, you can also hotkey stuff to the number keys). So you can reasonably bend time, pull out a grenade, throw it, and blink yourself into hiding before your enemies know what the hell is going on. That’s the sort of thing Dishonored encourages, actually.

Getting Powers

Activating powers requires runes. You’ll find them scattered throughout the game, and Dishonored provides you with a tool called the heart (it’s literally a human heart with clockwork components) that will show you where runes are in relationship to you, but not how to get to them. Track down enough, and you’ll be able to unlock new powers.

Dishonored does a pretty good job of limiting your capabilities, so you’ll need to choose powers based on your play style. You’ll struggle to find enough runes to unlock everything, and each power or passive ability has two tiers to unlock. So you’ll need lots of runes to upgrade your powers or to unlock them.

Bone charms, on the other hand, bring you some passive abilities, like more effective potions or faster attacks. You start with four bone charm slots to equip them into, and they can also be located with the heart. The bone charm belt can be upgraded over time to add more charms.

There are more upgrades that can be purchased over time during the game, as well, to make your equipment more effective.

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3 Comments on Everything We Know About Dishonored

Rho

On October 6, 2012 at 10:07 pm

What is this “BioWare 2″ game you mention in “Combat” section?))) BioShock 2 maybe?

R.J.

On October 6, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Good to hear that the PC version has its own UI. When I’m playing on PC, I like to use lots of hotkeys. It seems silly not to take advantage of all those buttons. The randomization and the ability to create alternate ways of eliminating your target through side missions sounds good.

Phil Hornshaw

On October 7, 2012 at 10:43 am

@Rho

Derp, that’s exactly what I meant. Been writing too much about BioWare this year. Fixed.