It's real. Arkane is making Dishonored 2 and it's due to come out spring 2016. There's a new city, a new main character and lots of other new things like robots and magic tentacles and a mansion that can turn itself inside out. There's only the debut trailer to go on, but we've used the power of stopping and zooming to unlock as many facts as we can and learn more about this highly-anticipated sequel. Here's what we know.
You can play as Emily or Corvo
That game of hide and seek with Emily Kaldwin in Dishonored 1 proved to be excellent training for a career in murder. The young empress' transition from curious child to badass assassin is set up by a few scenes and exchanges in the first game. She shows an interest in sword fighting and hand to hand combat, and her primary father figure happens to be a notoriously skilled killer. By nature or nurture, she's got the skills.
I love her design. Arkane has avoided the classic overdressed protagonist problem, which layers the hero in an abundance of straps, gadgets and cloaks until they look as if they don't belong in their own game world. Emily's wearing a simple coat, but she looks immediately cool.
Of course, we can play as Corvo too, but we don't yet know how that will work. Will we pick which one to play at the start of each mission, choose at the start of the campaign, or switch between both characters at will? Corvo and Emily will have different abilities, but I'll wager not that different, given how difficult it would be to design levels for wildly varied traversal systems. I'd expect the divide to be similar to the Corvo/Daud movesets in the first game.
There's a new city called Karnaca
This map was one of the first images ever released of Dishonored. It was a clear statement that Arkane created Dunwall within a wider fictional context. The new city is another coastal settlement called Karnaca, and you can find it on that old map on the island of Serkonos, south of Dunwall. Also, I'm sad because now I know Dunwall's island is called "Gristol" I can't un-know that fact.
Dunwall was all about the whales. Their explodey oil provided power to Dunwall's machines, and served as the city's principle source of wealth. Whales, and whale oil, are notably absent from the new city, which replaces Dunwall's whalepunk with a sunny colonial vibe—in fact, the cut and colour of the guards' uniforms seem to reference British colonial attire. Here they are executing civilians in front of some expository graffiti.
Let's take a closer look...
Dukes and Crown Killers
"Death to the Duk"? What did the duck do?? It wouldn't be Dishonored without some political strife, and as Emily is running around rooftops killing people, it's probably safe to assume that she isn't in power. Consider the first words of the trailer: "It's happened again. Someone's pulled the rug out from under you. An empire at your feet and you've lost it all." According to Bethesda, you've been deposed by an "otherworldly usurper". Is this "duke" responsible, or is he merely the political miniboss who rules Karnaca?
Also, there's this.
Are you the "crown killer"? The final words of the trailer, spoken by Emily's target, could give us a clue: "If you kill me, you become the assassin we claimed you were!" Perhaps the usurpers have launched a smear campaign to undermine Emily's rule, and now she wants revenge. Alternatively, the Crown Killer is what folks call the otherworldly usurper currently in charge and the message is a warning to the poor souls trying to survive his tyrannical reign.
Technology has moved on
Dishonored 2 takes place 15 years after the first game. The robots that Emily faces are a significant leap from Dunwall's stilt walkers. It's really neat that she doesn't fight the robots directly, but evades as quickly as possible to set a trap—Dishonored is great at letting you play cleverly as well as aggressively. The addition of robot enemies could provide some extra resistance given that it's unlikely that they can be possessed. I wouldn't be surprised if they were resistant to crossbow fire too.
As well as robots, ordinary street lamps line the streets and if you closely at the establishing shot of the new city wind farms and electricity pylons are clearly visible. This is great news for whales.
Oh look it's him
Meet our trailer narrator, wittering on about purpose and power. It's Loki-with-loadsa-belts, The Outsider! He's Dishonored's In-fiction game designer with a mischievous edge. Likes: dropping into heated political scenarios to give people weird powers for laughs. Dislikes: using a normal sentence when he could use wibbly ambiguous portentous one instead. In Dishonored 2 our ghostly troll has seen fit to give Emily weird tentacle powers to tilt the balance of power
It's interesting to note that the scale of Dishonored 2's story seems to extend beyond the walls of Karnaca. The Bethesda blurb on the Youtube video suggests that "the choices you make will have significant impact on the world." The Outsider also says "what you decide will ripple across the years". Will Dishonored 2 repurpose the first game's chaos system, or give us new ways to affect the status quo?
Welcome to WTF Mansion
Dishonored's world has lots of mad inventors but this place takes it to another level. For the discerning mad scientist, this twenty-bedroom property with excellent views can transform into a mechanical doom-lair at the crank of a lever. Do you have an assassin problem? Slightly confuse them with a house that can rearrange itself according to your whim! The house could be a level concept for one of Dishonored 2's missions. It's easy to imagine manipulating the controls to open different paths to the target.
Pop collars are in
Do you even pop? Necks are cold and fashion is here to save the day. Art director Victor Antonov has moved from Dishonored to Battlecry, but a lot of the groundwork his team did in Dishonored is present in the clothes and the slightly caricatured facial construction of Karnaca's inhabitants. The city looks very different to Dunwall, however, which will make for a significant shift in tone. The industrial gloom of Dunwall gave Dishonored its distinct flavour; how will Karnaca feel?
Anton Sokolov gets a cameo
Dishonored's truculent Alan Moore-a-like inventor Anton Sokolov has pride of place on the wall behind our target. It makes sense that Karnaca's mystery tinkerer would be inspired by the figure who invented the sinister military gadgets that kept Dunwall's population in check. It's possible that the target is trying to accomplish a similar feat in his own city with his shiny new robots. There are bound to be dozens of little nods and references to Dunwall and the events of the first game—this is just the beginning.
Birds are the new rats
The grossest part f the video showed some horrible bird things flying out of an intestinal hive. The rat plague is gone, or has mutated, and this is the disgusting result. Will swarms of these birds swoop down to eat corpses you've left? Can they be summoned or possessed? If you do a high chaos run, will the ending basically be Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds with eviler birds? "Yes", "summoned", and "no", I'd guess. This is the only sign of the horrible nature in Dishonored's world. Hopefully there will be fewer acid-spitting plant sections.
You've got tentacles
The Outsider has seen fit to imbue Emily with tentacle powers so that she might take revenge on those who have wronged her like an awesome avenging octopus. The odd thing about the new power is that Emily carries no momentum from tentacle transportation. When she tentacles in to her target's office, she doesn't slide or have to stop herself from hurtling forward. That means it's functionally very similar to Corvo's blink. You can even use it to break a fall.
Emily also has Corvo's ability to stop time, and you clearly see the Outsider's mark when she uses it in the trailer.
Also, you can turn into a shadow monster. 'Scool.
For all the advanced technology on show in the trailer, a crossbow is still a good way to kill quietly at range. This one looks fancier than Corvo's, and Emily manages to fire twice, apparently without reloading. Her folding knife looks identical to Corvo's—though it's tricky to tell. The gadget she uses to destroy the robot is clearly an arc mine, however. If robots are going to be more of a staple villain, the arc mine could be a more prominent part of your arsenal.
That's all for now. Are you excited about Dishonored 2? I am, to the extent that I might just play the first one over and over until spring arrives.