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Deathloop: everything we know about Arkane's time loop assassin sandbox

Deathloop - Colt
(Image credit: Bethesda, Arkane)

Deathloop, the next game from Arkane, the studio behind Dishonored and Prey, is an FPS set in the 1960s. Deathloop has a lot in common with Dishonored, and immersive sims like it. However, it's also a timeloop playground where your soldier-turned-assassin protagonist will run, shoot, and stab his way to freedom from a never-ending day on an island stuck outside time.

Colt needs to track down eight different targets to kill on the island of Blackreef. The whole place is stuck in a time loop, so if Colt dies or hits midnight without accomplishing his goal you'll be back on the street trying to take them down again. As you get to know Blackreef and its eight elusive visionaries you'll discover new places and relationships between events around the city to help you finally break the loop. Everything we've heard about Deathloop so far makes it sound like a Hitman-style sandbox puzzle with Dishonored's combat, which seems plenty rad.

Here's everything we know so far about Deathloop's story, characters, and trailers.

(Image credit: Arkane)

When is Deathloop's release date?

Deathloop will launch on  September 14, 2021, for PC via Steam and the Bethesda store, and also PS5. 

It was originally planned for 2020 but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. "This extra time will allow our team to bring Deathloop's world to life with as much character and fun as you've come to expect from our team," Arkane said. It was then scheduled to launch on May 21, but was delayed a second time to September 2021 for similar reasons.

So Deathloop is about a time loop?

Name clued you in, did it? Yup, Deathloop is about an assassin named Colt stuck in a loop of one single day. Apparently the only way to break out of the loop is to kill eight Visionaries, the keepers of the loop. The trick is, Colt has to kill them all in 24 hours or the loop resets. Oh, and dying resets it as well. One last thing: there's a rival assassin who will attempt to kill him while he's attempting to kill the Visionaries. No pressure, and all.

Here's some Deathloop gameplay

(Image credit: Bethesda, Arkane)

The first gameplay reveal for Deathloop showed off the slightly supernatural FPS running and gunning you know Arkane for. Colt has an extensive arsenal, and will need to use everything in it to hunt down his eight targets across the four districts of Blackreef. 

The second gameplay trailer explains a bit more about how Colt can solve the time loop problem. Each of the targets has their own schedules and personalities, and some can only be tracked down in certain times or places. Part of the puzzle comes down to learning the city itself.

"You can tackle any area of Blackreef at any time as you pick up clues and learn more about your targets," Bethesda says. "The districts are open, like what you might remember from Dishonored, but unlike Dishonored they aren’t tied to levels and can be openly explored whenever you want."

Bethesda also says each district has its own story that plays out during the day, whether you're there watching it or not.  You'll need to learn what parts of the story you can influence in order to draw out your targets. 

Deathloop's third gameplay trailer introduces another of the visionaries, Ramblin' Frank. It also shows a quick look at the ability Colt's rival Julianna has to transform into other NPCs. Most importantly though, it features a very catchy Bond movie-like theme song. Have a listen.

What abilities can you use?

Arkane explained in an interview with IGN that Deathloop will be borrowing "quite a few" of the supernatural powers you'll remember from the Dishonored games.

"As much as we wanted to do something very original with this game, we also wanted some familiarity," said game director Dinga Bakaba. "I think it’s something that will make players feel right at home."

Here are the Dishonored abilities that we've spotted Colt using so far, both in trailers and our hands-off viewing of a demo.

Kinesis: Lets you throw enemies around like ragdolls, hurling them through windows and off cliffs.

Definitely-not-Blink: Teleports you a short distance. Can be used to cross gaps, scale buildings, and get behind enemies quickly.

Absolutely-not-Domino: Connects enemies so they can be killed or knocked out simultaneously.

Arkane have said that Deathloop's biggest abilities come from items called "slabs" that many of the Visionaries possess. Grabbing the slabs for yourself will unlock their abilities for Colt to use. Kinesis, for instance, can be snagged from Alexis "The Wolf" Dorsey.

Who are the Visionaries? 

(Image credit: Bethesda, Arkane)

The Visionaries are ambitious twentysomethings who run what's called the AEON Program—a project to chase eternal life. They've used themselves as the eight anchors for a time loop to live forever, though it sounds like they all have their own motivations. They also have superpowers granted by trinkets developed by AEON scientists.

Egor Serling
"Egor is a self-proclaimed pseudoscientist, and someone who just can’t get no respect," Bethesda says. "Egor craves a contradictory kind of legitimacy: he wants to be left alone and viewed as a preeminent genius, but he also wants to be adored and invited to parties. And when neither of those things happen… Egor turns violent."

Aleksis "The Wolf" Dorsey
Aleksis is an odd dog, obsessed with wolves. He thinks he's earned the title "Alpha" with his social and business prowess. He wants to be everyone's favorite friend, partner, and partier. You can find Aleksis throwing a big wolf masquerade party every night that can be infiltrated, a bit like Lady Boyle's party from Dishonored.

Ramblin' Frank Spicer
Deathloop's State Of Play trailer from February showed Colt hunting down radio DJ Frank Spicer. It looks like he hangs out in his heavily-guarded studio that you'll need to find a way into.

(Image credit: Arkane)

Julianna Blake
Julianna is a special case among the Visionaries. Unlike the others, who have stories and schedules that play out with or without Colt's interference, Jules' sole goal is killing you. She'll chase Colt all over the island, looking for a chance to take him out. Juliana can take on the appearance of any NPC, further complicating your attempts to avoid her. And if you've got multiplayer enabled, she can be controlled by another player.

We've also seen the names Harriet Morse, Dr. Wenjie Evans, Charlie Montague, and Fia Zborowska, though Bethesda hasn't said more about them yet.

There's multiplayer? How does that work?

Think Dark Souls, Watch Dogs, or any other game that allows for invasions. Other players can drop into your game, taking on the role of rival assassin Julianna Blake. That's definitely sure to throw a wrench in your plans for the current loop.

You can keep online play turned off, Bethesda says, in which case Julianna is controlled by the AI. Her goal is to hunt Colt down to keep him from breaking the loop.

(Image credit: Bethesda, Arkane)

What kind of guns does Deathloop have?

As an assassin, Colt obviously has quite an arsenal. We've already deciphered some of his magical abilities, but he carries plenty of good old-fashioned guns and other weapons too. Here are the ones we've seen so far, courtesy of a Game Informer video.

  • Machete: This one just makes sense. It's sharp and you can backstab people with it.
  • PT-6 Spiker: A precision rifle for stealthy kills from afar
  • Rapier: Nope, not a sword. This is a single-barrel shotgun with some range
  • Strelak 50-50: A machine gun for after you've blown your cover
  • Heritage Gun: A rifle that seems to have explosive ammo
  • Limp-10: Looks like an SMG, loud and light.
  • Sepulchra Breteira: A long-range sniper rifle
  • Tribunal: A snazzy-looking pistol
  • Vopat Trencher: Another shotgun
  • The Fourpounder: A pistol with a kick that Colt can dual-wield

In addition to his personal weapons, Colt looks to have some other gadgets too. The same video above also gives a glimpse at some kind of deployable turret, hand grenades, and a remote that can deactivate alarm systems. 

(Image credit: Arkane)

Deathloop's Déjà Vu song is on Spotify now

Here you go. Now you don't need to watch that third trailer over and over again just to hear it.

It's composed and performed by Sencit Music and the artist FJØRA, the tune is a conscious Bond homage as well as the perfect accompaniment to the game's retro-futurist aesthetics. It's honestly just fun to listen to.

What does Microsoft's Bethesda purchase mean for Deathloop?

At the moment, it seems not much at all. Microsoft will be honoring Deathloop's limited-time console exclusivity on PS5. And if MS handles its PS5 games the same way it has with Minecraft for years, you can expect any future DLC and patches to come to the platform the same as Xbox.

This is a win for Game Pass subscribers on PC, as Deathloop will likely launch day one on the service. It'll be a bit awkward having a first-party game come to PC Game Pass and not Xbox, but that's business for ya. Deathloop will also launch on Steam and the Bethesda Store.

Lauren loves long books and even longer RPGs. She got a game design degree and then, stupidly, refused to leave the midwest. She plays indie games you haven't heard of and will never pass on a story about players breaking games or playing them wrong.