Dishonored 2 will be a 12 to 20 hour game with a wide variety of endings
Dishonored 2 co-creative director Harvey Smith revealed new details in a Q&A during a preview event for the game held in Los Angeles on Monday, October 3. Among the information Smith shared was the expected length of the game, how the different endings will work, and the more complex ways Dishonored's "chaos" system will work in this sequel.
Here are some of the highlights of what we learned about Dishonored 2 during the question and answer session.
Q: Does the game's Chaos system work the same way as in the first Dishonored?
Smith: "It's more nuanced. Our strategy for sequeling the game—it's not as obvious as it sounds by the way, having worked on other games that were sequeled, it's hard to get exactly right, and we feel very happy with the way Dishonored 2's come out. What we tried to do was bring back the core elements that people liked the first time, but deepen them or make them bigger and better in some way. That's why we have new combat moves for instance. Two protagonists, two cities. It's the things you liked before, but they're back.
"And then we try to take the four or five things that people disliked about the first game and try to redress those. Like the endings being too binary, we tried to fix that. So the way Chaos works this time: the more people you kill, the darker lines of dialogue will be. People get cynical around you. Bloodfly nests...an apartment that's inhabited in one playthrough, it might be full of dead people and bloodfly nests in another playthrough. Which is its own form of gameplay, because you can loot bloodfly nests, you can get around them in different ways.
"The endings are more driven this time by branching decisions you make along the way, like who you kill and who you side with. And then for every one of the endings there's a High and Low Chaos coloring to it. You'll see, it's a hybrid system. But it's much more nuanced than it was last time."
Q: How many endings will there be?
Smith: "It's really hard to answer that because it's four stages, the ending is. And each one has a different number. Like there's four or five variations of the first stage, the ending in Karnaca. Three or four of the ending in Dunwall. And then there's a couple for one of the characters that's your ally and then there's one for another character that's your ally. But then there's different voice parts for all of them, because The Outsider reflects more how you played in how he talks about it.
"And like I said there's a more optimistic and a more cynical cast to each one of those. So just by the power of procedural content its many combinations. In fact we only had to do four, five, two, one, with different voice variations, but you can have the first version of the first stage, the second version of the second stage. It's permutations, right?"
Q: What are some of the gameplay differences between Corvo and Emily?
Smith: "They have their own fighting moves. Our lead designer Dinga Bakaba teaches capoeira, the Brazilian martial art, and he has classes full of men and women, a lot of women do capoeira. And they fight differently based on body weight and what tricks work. And so he worked with the animators a lot to get Emily feeling very athletic and capable. Corvo is older, and has a different fighting style. So when you see their animations for assassinations, those are all separate. Their combat animations are separate. So when you inhabit one bodily you feel different based on your avatar.
"The biggest part is their mechanics. Her crossbow's tuned one way, his crossbow is tuned another way, at the start. They can be upgraded in different ways. We now have a Masterwork-level upgrade, where at the end of the pistol and crossbow and sword I think also, differentiates it one way or the other. So they start with different tunings for their weapons, but the big way is the mechanics surrounding their supernatural powers. Obviously Corvo has all the powers from the first game back, with new trees under them for upgrading them. Whereas last time you might have had Devouring Swarm, and it worked faster with more rats, this time you can have two swarms, you can have a swarm that follows you, you can have a larger swarm, and you can take all of those. So you can have two large swarms that follow you.
"But Emily by contrast has Mesmerize and Domino and Shadow Walk, she has a completely new set of mechanics that can be combined emergently and experimented with in ways we didn't even anticipate. So really the way they feel as characters, the way they move through the world, the way they fight, the way their weapons are tuned, and their supernatural powers."
For more on the differences between Emily and Corvo, check out our hands-on gameplay videos comparing the two.
Q: Percentage-wise, how much of the game is spent in Karnaca and how much is spent in Dunwall?
Smith: "It's always hard to talk about the length of the game because as soon as I tell you something somebody will be like 'Ha ha I finished it in eight hours!' or whatever. I said recently we were thinking this would be a 12 to 15 hour game, a little bit longer than last time. QA tells us that on average new people spend 16 to 20 hours in it. Especially if they play with stealth and they explore and they understand the story and all that. But a lot of people approach it not with stealth but with assault, and those people clear it a little...they play through once, they get it, and that's it.
"One of the four or five things we wanted to redress, something that some players complained about, was to make it a little bit longer. So we probably added, depending how you count missions, maybe a mission and a half. And we also added, to each mission, more like a little urban area before, like we did with Lady Boyle's Last Party. So when you talk about the game, you talk about some stuff in Dunwall and some stuff in Karnaca. And all the missions are a little bigger because of the urban stuff, and the maps are bigger with fewer loads. So that's the full context for it.
"Again depending on how you count missions, two of the missions happen in Dunwall, and probably, depending on how you count it, eight more happen in Karnaca.
"Exactly counting the missions even in Dishonored is hard. Like we have a mission called 'The Good Doctor.' But to get there you have to have this huge overland route through this big dock land part of Karnaca. And it's like your introduction to this city on the far south edge of the world. We just count that as its own mission called 'On the Edge of the World,' because it has a briefing, it has a stat screen at the end, and then you transition to 'The Good Doctor.' So before you get back to The Dreadful Wale, your boat, your little HQ, you actually do two missions before you come back."
Q: How prevalent are the Clockwork Soldiers in the game as a whole, and how are they different as enemies from humans?
Smith: "The Clockwork Soldiers were created by Kirin Jindosh, and they're really prevalent in his home and another spot. They make a few appearances across the game. And one thing about the playthrough tonight is people were having a lot of problems with it. Because if you played from the start of the game you'd be okay, you'd power-up slowly, you'd find your style. If you were playing Emily you'd have these powers. Maybe you'd be doing bone charm crafting, upgrading your weapons in the black market shops. You'd be in good state for a challenge.
"But what we've been doing is dropping people into the Clockwork Mansion with no prep whatsoever, and they were just getting slaughtered. So one thing I can tell you is that we had an upgrade that you normally won't have unless you find it and you figure out upgrades in the black market shops and you get to the Masterwork level, and it's called The Grinding Blade. And you can either optimize your sword at some point for fighting against magic users and witches or against mechanical and electrical things. And so we have The Grinding Blade, which is the mechanical/electrical one. And so it means that you can just attack the Clockwork Soldiers and in fact assassinate them if they are unaware.
"But normally, they're impervious to that kind of thing. And mechanically as a package the way they work is, they have vulnerable parts all over their body but they're covered by wood, so you can try to break the wood away, either with a focused strike or a ranged weapon or whatever, and then you attack the vulnerable sections underneath, which are little tanks of whale oil.
"If you take off enough limbs, you can take them down. That requires taking off the wood panels, and most of the Clockworks have four arms. Tonight we took some of them out of the level, we gave you The Grinding Blade, and we actually changed them so they had two arms and not four. They're a lot more trouble when they have four.
"But you can do things like drop-attack them and take their heads off, in which case they will attack anything they hear, whether its friend or foe. You can break a plate on their back and then there's a tank you can destroy. You can use electrical mines, the arc mines. You can use explosive bullets if you've got those.
"One player earlier killed Jindosh in an interesting way, because from a distance she shot off the head of one of the Clockwork Soldiers so it was blind but could still hear. And then Jindosh heard her and ran toward her, and it killed Jindosh."
Dishonored 2 will be released on PC, PS4, and Xbox One on November 11.
Here's some new gameplay from the LA preview event, featuring us hands-on with the game playing as Corvo: