Recently, publisher Bethesda Softworks and developer Arkane Studios hosted a press and fan preview event in San Francisco for their upcoming game sequel, “Dishonored 2.” Hype for the game has been building for a while. It’s been a few years since players first visited the game’s chaotic realm of the Empire of the Isles. I had a chance to join in and see for myself what made this interesting event and game tick.
The “Dishonored 2” preview event was hosted in the heart of the gray Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco, at a brick, wood and metal grate-heavy smokehouse and brewery. The location had a decidedly steampunk-ish feel, which was no doubt intentional. In the pit of the brewery, a few dozen high-powered PCs set up for “Dishonored 2” connected by a plethora of wires to headphones, game controllers and video stream recorders and solid-state drives were set up for the media to play first, then streamlined into gaming rigs and headsets when the fans came in later.
Staffers walked around to ensure press folks had a good grasp of the gaming concepts involved in “Dishonored 2,” as folks dove into the game, recording video of their play sessions and mastering the game controller.
Behind the play area, inside the barrel room, costumed characters from the game series, swag stands and networking space was set up for the fans as they lined up to check out the early preview. Food and drink tickets were also the order of the day, once the fans made their way inside.
The sequel to the popular 2012 action-adventure “Dishonored” begins around the midway point of the game, with the Clockwork Mansion level, and a choice of two characters: Emily or Corvo, who were both available for play in the demo. Like a carnival ride about to stop at a spooky stop, the level begins with a railway ride climbing through part of the city Karnaca, until the player arrives at an ominous mansion facade, where the mission awaits: rescue an old friend, Anton Sokolov, while taking on a devious inventor, Kirin Jindosh, who resides within.
The Clockwork Mansion, the namesake for the level, is beautifully designed in a steampunk Victorian style. It’s made to confuse and confound with its changing floors, ceilings and walls — most of which are activated by switches. This changing level design adds considerable replayability and secrets. After playing over an hour on this level, in pursuit of finding captor and captive, I was still finding hidden paths, rooms weapons, items and items to read or collect. Conversely, though, the text on-screen and voicework was mostly similar for both characters, until Jindosh addresses them by name and title when he approaches either from down a hallway.
Emily and Corvo were both playable, but Emily was clearly the star with her full suite of abilities. Two of her abilities stood out in particular. Firstly, Shadow Walk, enabled smoke-like invisibility and speed and also Domino, which created a chain reaction effect to multiple characters in a vicinity after the effect is inflicted on the targeted character. Corvo, with his more limited range of abilities, was easier to use like a tank, slamming into enemies with a small but effective set of skills.
To see some of that level demo in action, check out about eight minutes of footage by YouTube user Volound.
With so many ways to replay even a single level with a midgame set of abilities, the full “Dishonored 2” game experience should reignite a fire for many gamers that was first enthusiastically lit in 2012.
The “Dishonored 2” road show was to stop in Los Angeles on October 3, 2016, and in New York City on October 6, 2016. Registration information is available via this link.
“Dishonored 2” is scheduled to be published on November 11, 2016, for Windows, Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4.