Emily's all-new powers reflect her different personality, says Dishonored 2 lead designer

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When Chris visited Dishonored developers Arkane earlier this year, he told us the incoming follow-up is “very much a sequel to the original” and that we shouldn’t expect an overhaul. I’m totally fine with that, and the more I learn about what Corvo Attano and Emily Kaldwin will be doing in new setting Karnaca, the more excited I get.

In a new blog post featured on Bethesda.net, Arkane’s co-creative director Harvey Smith and the game’s lead designer Dinga Bakaba explore both Corvo and Emily’s characters. They detail how the events of the first game have impacted the sequel, and how this has shaped Emily in particular—a child in the original, now 15 years older and a playable character for the first time. 

“Jessamine’s assassination casts a shadow over both games,” says Smith. "It’s ambitious to bring two protagonists to the game and let the player choose between them, but we’re really excited that we did. When we approach a character like Emily, we need to know her history, her attitude, even her hobbies. But at a meta level as a game developer, we need to know what her pillars are, and so for Emily we arrived at: Dunwall, Empress, Assassin.”

Her playable debut means she comes packing an arsenal of all-new special skills too. Mesmerize summons an entity from “the Void” that “enthrals Emily’s foes, allowing her to eliminate them or simply waltz past them untouched.” Domino, on the other hand, links people together allowing them to be affected by one single action. 

“In a way you can say the Outsider marks people according to their personalities,” says Bakaba. “She’s an Empress. She’s younger. She has a different personality. So her powers reflect that. She has a lot of powers that allow her to subdue the will of others. Emily is pretty good at crowd control.” 

Corvo’s original powers return extended and enhanced, and he now has a power tree. Although a silent protagonist in the first game, Stephen Russell will voice him this time —who you may remember from the original Thief. “I’m super excited about our choice for Corvo,” says Smith. “We were lucky to get Stephen Russell, who was the voice of Garrett in the first Thief. It’s 15 years later, and he’s going out to protect Emily one more time. Stephen just nailed it.”

One thing I absolutely loved about Dishonored was its variety and choice—that it catered for both gung-ho and non-hostile approaches. With two playable characters that can now hold conversations, it seems Dishonored 2 is sure to handle this better still. 

Dishonored 2 is due to launch November 11.