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Dishonored 2's director on giving Corvo a voice and avoiding the "Deus Ex Effect"

Learning to juggle isn't easy. Keeping three objects in rotation is truly a feat, even if its purpose is strictly to impress. Now think about what Dishonored 2 is trying to pull off: an immersive stealth sim with two different playable characters, each with completely unique abilities. The first game featured huge intricate environments with a ton of hidden routes, AI-powered NPCs, and exploitable tools—alarm systems, physics objects, and so on—all working in concert to tell a story and, through the magic of game design science, entertain. 

Now, with the addition of Emily's abilities, the toolbox has grown exponentially, allowing players to take on Dishonored 2's challenges in ways even the developers can't foresee. To get an idea of how Arkane is designing around such a player-first ethos, I chatted with Game Director Harvey Smith at PAX West. (Be sure to see Emily in action in the latest gameplay demo from Gamescom too.) We discussed how they're keeping the environments dense and meaningful, rather than just bigger for the sake of it, avoiding what Smith calls the "Deus Ex Effect", and how they're telling a story this time around.  

At only 11 years old, James took apart his parents’ computer and couldn’t figure out how to put it back together again. As an Associate Editor, he’s embarked on a dangerous quest to solve Video Games. Wish him luck.