Arkane / Bethesda (studio)
15 September 2017 (released)
21 September 2017
Now it's felt like a long time since I've had my Arkane fix of lateral gameplay featuring multiple choices and engaging problem solving. This year we've had the wonderous slice of surrealism that is Prey back in May and only less than a year ago the fantastic sequel to Dishonored was released. Now we've got an extension of both Dishonored games that act as a true ending of sorts or more so a conclusion to some big questions rose before. Namely, what's going to happen to the Outsider?
Well from the title, you might've guessed not so well.
Death of the Outsider is what many could consider Half Life episode 1&2 were to Half Life 2. Indeed, this is certainly fleshing out certain characters and their stories but is more to the point brings a sense of closure. There were several plot elements left open from the previous game and now it's nice to finally wrap everything up this series has offered. We take on the role of Billie Lurk, the one eyed bad ass voiced by awesome Rosario Dawson, who's embarking on a final job given by her old mentor Daud, the infamous assassin who killed the empress in Dishonored. Billie is tasked with one final job and one that will define everything about her as a person, Billie is to kill the ominous being known as The Outsider. What follows in classic Dishonored fashion is a series of engaging and beautifully crafted events where the player's choices reflect the outcome. From robbing a bank, to breaking out said mentor from captivity while using a method of skills and powers to overcome various problems.
Billie will explore new regions of the Isles with her own skills and supernatural powers in order to rescue her mentor Duad, steal a rare knife with unspeakable powers and of course, venture into the void to find The Outsider. What is on offer with this expansion is a surprisingly lengthy campaign that dives deeper into the lore of the Outsider and Billie, while granting as a fix for Dishonored fans. There are compelling themes in play and Billie herself is a very interesting character that you’ll be able to connect with on an emotional level. Her anger and bitter hate is focused on a symbol that possibly represents all that is wrong with the Isles, making for a great conflict to observe. There are a few stands out missions, notably the bank robbery being one of the best. Yet there’s nothing here on the scale of the Clockwork mansion from Dishonred 2 and even the climax falls a little flat.
Dishonored is a series famed for its depth in decision making based on a gathering of information and player instinct. Where player actions grasp more depth than the typical stealth or action approach and instead there's added layers and complexities to your choices. What is clear is the vast scale of choice and each play style has multiple paths within them to create a versatile series of encounters. With one playthrough you'll never quite find all those answers and instead replaying or experimenting is key to branching gameplay. This is the same with Death of the Outsider as Arkane have refined their traditional sense of complex level design and interesting choices on a smaller scale without compromising the length or engaging nature.
The new areas of the Isles are still vast in detail, engrossing with small details and elements that make the world truly immersive. Each location is crafted with altering terrains, hidden paths and observation points to encourage an enjoyable stealth experience. Each location is captivating in nature and exploration is enriching for its lore and mini stories sown within the fabrics of the game world. What Death of The Outsider does well is to bring you the same experience the previous Dishonored games have done with their world building and immersive nature and refined it in a smaller scale.
However it's the gameplay and sense of freedom that draws players in as each action has a defining reaction capable of altering the narrative and game-play experience. Being a mass murdering psychopath is fun but never gave the same sense of reward or satisfaction as working out the perfect methods of evasion. But doing bloody murder has its upside but later on it makes it difficult to go unnoticed. There is a learning curve and entering the first main area will be something or trial and error as you learn you way around the map, has always been this way but quickly enough you'll grasp a true understanding of the world, it's logic and layouts. Mass murdering is a good practice run but figuring out the many problems before you in calm and calculated manner feels more of an accomplishment. However being a mass murder helps figure some of these problems out but are more like a practice run. Death of the Outsider encouraged my sense of stealth more so than any other stealth based game and I don't tend to enjoy stealth based games. Understanding the beautiful flow each mechanic has with one another comes with ease after a couple of hours and you'll find the stealth and evasion aspects so much more satisfying wholesome than just going on a rampage.
Even though a good rampage is never a bad thing.
On the whole, there's not many new innovation to this conclusion as Billie will only harbour 4 powers with weapons and upgrades feeling fairly limited in comparison to the first two games. However there is enough here to experiment with during your 20 hour play through and enough to avoid any feeling of repetition. Yet some new powers or more weapons could've added greater depth to the stealth and combat. However the various tweaks into the many subsystems and mechanisms behind them are a great change of pace. The void energy now recharges over a short span of time, meaning you no longer have to go out and scavenge for exlixirs to replenish it. This allows players more time to engage the world but also enforces a sense of planning and management with the void energy. Mechanically speaking, Death of the Outsider is refined and more attuned than the series has ever been.
Overall Death of the Outsider is a compelling conclusion to the series and ends everything on the highest note possible. There's plenty which could've been expanded upon but this is a beautifully refined adventure that encourages player engagement and allows total freedom in action while producing fascinating reactions. The only major downside is that we may not see Dishonored in this light again but I know if this is the end for Dunwall and our characters, this is definitely the end best fitted for it.
++ Compelling gameplay with freedom of choice
++ Great narrative and interesting characters
+ High replay-ability
- More powers and weapons could've been added
An Xbox One copy of Death of The Outsider was provided by Bethesda for the purpose of this review