Home | News | Reviews | Previews | Hardware
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider
Score: 85%
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Arkane Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/Stealth

Introduction:
Supplementary content, due to its very nature, is more prone to the natural highs and lows of game development than standard releases. Itís so often marketed as a piece of something, and whether it was lopped off the core experience to serve the bottom line or not, we have a tendency to view them differently than we do most releases. We generally donít hold them to the same standards as the base line package because, in most cases, the price of entry is substantially lower. Ultimately, when it comes to benchmarking with these releases, we tend to judge them among their peers. Expansions are compared with other expansions. Map packs with map packs. Cosmetics with cosmetics. And so forth.

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is a continuation of Arkane Studiosí philosophy when it comes to downloadable content, an approach I consider to be the smartest and most noble in the industry. Here is a standalone experience that requires no previous knowledge (or purchase) of its franchise that at once enriches the world established over the last two games and experiments with the ideas and themes that make Dishonored great to begin with. That being said, heavy spoilers follow; you have been warned.


Penitent Vengeance:
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider takes place after Dishonored 2, but narratively depends far more heavily on the downloadable expansions from first Dishonored. Anyone whoís up to date on the series should have a pretty good idea why. Toward the end of Dishonored 2, your rescuer, the one-armed, one-eyed "Meagan Foster" turned out to be none other than Billie Lurk, former protťgť of Daud, the individual responsible for assassinating Empress Jessamine Kaldwin at the beginning of the first game. Dishonored, being one of those exceedingly few games that makes your choices matter, settles with exactly the right approach to canon by establishing Daud as the central figure of a redemptive arc. He has been used to do horrible things, and though he neither seeks nor desires forgiveness or recognition, he has an honest desire to set things right. At the time of Death of the Outsider, Daud has arguably done just as much to protect Emily Kaldwin as her father Corvo Attano hasÖ and nobody knows it. And though Billie betrayed him in The Knife of Dunwall, he forgave her.

Whether or not Billie is square with the Kaldwins, she ultimately proved a great asset to Emily and Corvo in their restoration to power. But once she stumbles upon a lead that hints that Daud is not only alive but held captive in Karnaca, she immediately takes action. The Dreadful Wale may be falling apart, but Billie owes the man a life debt, and thatís putting it generously. Soon after rescuing the grizzled old void-powered killer, she becomes enveloped in a plot to take down the individual responsible for everything bad that has happened to not only them, but countless others. Of course, Iím talking about the guy whoís name-dropped right in the title, the black-eyed figure known only as the Outsider.

The plot is standard Dishonored fare, though obviously the stakes appear to have been raised substantially. I was personally less interested in the main arc than I was in the characters; this is largely thanks to the excellent voice cast superbly led by silver screen veterans Rosario Dawson and Michael Madsen. These are the opposite of phone-in performances from Hollywood talent: they are the benchmark.


Same Void, New Gifts:
The basic controls and core mechanics from Dishonored havenít really undergone any drastic changes over the years. You still run, jump, slide, and mantle with fluid grace, and you dual wield between a bladed weapon and some variant of gun, a throwable/deployable weapon or a Void power. The latter is where the mechanics have most notably shifted around to lay the foundations for different, unique playstyles. Over the first gameís lifecycle, Corvo and Daud didnít differ too heavily when it came to powers. Things changed with Dishonored 2; Emily was where the real divergence happened. While there certainly were some analogs and equivalents when it came to locomotion and combat, there were also some really clever, fresh tools at her disposal.

With the introduction of Billie as a playable character, things get even more diverse and unique. Yes, the Outsider pays our troubled anti-hero a visit, but in this particular instance, he decides to take instead of giveÖ which, in and of itself, ends up being a gift. I wonít tell why or how, but all you need to know is that Billieís got Void powers. The first and most important of Billieís powers are in service to the stealth, which in my opinion, is where Dishonored succeeds the most. I remember being almost shocked at how aware and intelligent Dishonored 2ís enemies were, and how difficult it was to make it through the entire game without killing anyone or being detected. Well, Death of the Outsider uses the same model for delivering that challenge, but gives you different and (initially) fewer options with which to surmount it.

Three powers in particular stand out above the rest. Displace is the Blink/Far Reach analog; it differs here in a few ways. If you're within a specific range and have line-of-sight to your destination, you can plant a marker. At the touch of a button, Billie teleports to that marker. Foresight is basically Dark Vision but in many ways better; think of it as an out-of-body experience that freezes time, highlights objects of interest, and allows you to go anywhere, provided you have enough energy. Finally, there's Semblance, a face-stealing ability that has extensive stealth applications and a really awesome-looking effect to go along with it. Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is at its best when you're using these powers successfully in tandem, along with the weapons and tools at your disposal (some new, some not so new).


Conclusion:
Apart from new mechanics, locales, and assassination missions, you've got the requisite open-world activities that help pad out the release's length. Exploration is as joyfully liberating as it ever was, and just as rewarding, too. Take, for instance, special side missions called Contracts. Each mission features a few special tasks that Billie can undertake for some coin; they're well worth the time and effort, provided they fit in with the style of play you've opted for.

Of course, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider prides itself on this; as always, there's any number of ways to play. You can be a supernatural slayer or a merciful soul, or anything in-between. This certainly amps up the replayability factor.

I wouldn't recommend Dishonored: Death of the Outsider until you've played the series and its DLC in sequence. You could approach it as a standalone experience, but you'd be doing yourself a disservice and depriving yourself of some much-needed context. There's a keen sense of finality to this game, and given Arkane's statement (that this "era," so to speak, is drawing to a close), it should be experienced that way. It sounds to me like whatever comes next for Dishonored is going to be extremely bold, creative, and game-changing. I can't wait to see what it is.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

Related Links:



Windows Elder Scrolls Online: Horns of the Reach Sony PlayStation4 Nioh: Bloodshed's End


This site best viewed in Internet Explorer 6 or higher or Firefox.