Exploring the Empire of Isles: What We Want in Dishonored 2
Warning! Spoilers for Dishonored and its DLCs, The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches, to be found herein. If you haven’t finished those, why are you even here?
The story of Dunwall, the diseased, half-magical, half-steampunk city that serves as setting and centerpiece of Arkane Studios’ Dishonored, is finally at an end.
With The Brigmore Witches DLC launching last week, the tales of Corvo (the royal protector who stopped a coup) and Daud (the assassin who started it) have both been wrapped up. The fate of the empire’s capital city has been decided by many a quick blade and quicker bullet. At this point, a sequel to Dishonored is almost a foregone conclusion; the game was a financial and critical success by all accounts, and its creators have fashioned a vast, deep world that harbors plenty of curiosities that still need exploring.
Where will the Dishonored franchise venture to in the future? The Empire of Isles comprises many more places than Dunwall; that much is made clear by the huge amount of lore players can unearth throughout the game. Having played through Dishonored and read more than our fair share of in-game books about life in the rest of the Empire, we compiled a quick list of what we we’d like to see Arkane do as it heads into franchise country.
5. Dude, What’s the Deal with All These Rats
The Rat Plague in Dunwall cripples the city and very nearly destroys it over the course of Dishonored. It literally devastates the population and turning them into “Weepers,” while also ravaging its economic and political landscape. Players who take on Dishonored and keep the deaths to a minimum (while making other key choices) can pave the way for the combined efforts of scientists Sokolov and Piero to eventually rid the city of the plague. Indeed, the “good” ending of Dishonored suggests that, through the player’s efforts and under Emily’s leadership, Dunwall enters a new golden age.
But we never do find out where the Rat Plague actually came from, or why only Dunwall is affected; as Dishonored begins, Corvo is returning from a mission to seek help from other cities, suggesting that they aren’t similarly afflicted. Documents and information found throughout the game and its DLCs raise weird questions about where the plague came from — namely, that it seems to originate within the city and radiate out, rather than having come to Dunwall by ship or some other means.
It appears that something, or someone, is behind the Rat Plague in Dunwall itself. That said, Dishonored never provides an explanation (at least to our knowledge). Given the supernatural spookiness surrounding The Outsider, Corvo, Daud and Delilah, not to mention Sokolov’s scientific advances, it seems possible that the Rat Plague was created by a person. That person might commit more heinous acts in a future story.
Update: It was pointed out to me on Twitter that Hiram Burrows is responsible for the rat plague, according to an audio log I must have missed. To which I say — dammit. I was finding contemplative studies from scientists about the movements of the rats through Dunwall as late as The Brigmore Witches, and liked the idea of it being an unsolved mystery. Hey Arkane, do us a favor and unsolve that mystery.
4. Adventuring Through the Isles
The Empire of Isles consists of four main land masses: Gristol, where Dunwall is located; Tyvia, the northernmost island; Morley, north of Gristol, and the source of the Morley Insurrection against the empire; and Serkonos, the southernmost island, from which Corvo and Daud both originally hail. Each island is known for various attributes, and there are a few books scattered around Dishonored that cast some light on those locations. Serkonos has a tropical climate and is bustling with tourism, for example, whereas Tyvia has a prison in its frozen wastes that doesn’t even bother with walls — prisoners are free to leave and try their luck walking back to civilization. No one makes it.
There’s a ton of diversity left in the Empire of Isles, and that’s not even counting whatever makes up the rest of Gristol, the largest of the islands. Serkonos in particular sounds like it would be a fascinating place to hang out in and murder folks, especially given the population of pirates that purportedly resides there. We also wouldn’t mind getting a closer look at how the whale economy works by spending some time at sea. Not only are there plenty of new places for Dishonored to go — the ability to explore multiple locations would really open the franchise up.