Dishonored 2 Pro-tips

Dishonored 2 Pro-tips

Way back in October of 2012, I posted some tips on playing the original Dishonored. So many things have happened in the intervening 4 years that it seems like a lifetime, living in France and working with Arkane Studios. I’ve been at Arkane for 8 years now – it’s been a meaningful chapter in my life.

In support of Dishonored 2, here’s an update, with quick points that will enhance your experience:

* Play stealthy or full assault-style, or mix up sneaking and combat. The game supports all these approaches because our team – especially our game designers and gameplay programmers – were tirelessly committed to this core tenet.

* Always look around for alternate pathways: Side alleys, back doors, unlocked windows, overhead balconies, rooftops, tunnels (for rats), or water-ducts (for fish).

* In sword combat, don’t forget to BLOCK! (And counter-attack while an enemy is off-balance.) Play through our little Tutorial, which also sets up the fiction a bit.

* Note that for almost all the combat moves, we’ve added nonlethal versions. (Combat choke, drop attack, slide takedown, et al.) You can play the entire game without killing.

* Change difficulty whenever you want. If you’re an advanced player or really into stealth, play on Hard.

* Try playing the game with stealth. Sneaking, playing nonlethally, or even ghosting the missions adds even more tension and drama to situations.

* Our stealth model is mostly based on enemy view cones and occlusion. Darkness only matters at a distance, making you more hidden. Up close, enemy facing and field of view matters most. (Stay behind them or behind something that blocks their line of sight.)

* Don’t forget to lean! If your body is behind something like a wall, you can lean out to peek ahead.

* Peep through keyholes before opening doors.

* Look up! Go vertical when you can, along ledges, rooftops, pipes, etc. You can often sneak past an encounter that way or find an alternate entry or path.

* Unless you’re trying to get a Ghost Achievement for never being detected, resist the temptation to immediately load a save if you get busted while playing stealth. Play it out and see what happens.

* Distract enemies with sound by throwing a bottle or setting an alarm clock.

* Eavesdrop on unaware enemies to absorb more information related to the world and the events unfolding around you. Sometimes eavesdropping updates your objectives. (Similarly, listen to street speaker announcements and read posted signs.)

* Often characters have followup lines if you hang out and listen to them (or click on them further). You’ll absorb more about the world this way.

* Notes and lore books also add a lot of background info on the world and events.

* Use the Heart to locate Runes and Bonecharms. But it will also speak, giving you more details about the history of a location, or about characters in the world.

* Don’t forget to assign your bone charms. Review them periodically. And this time, you can create your own via Bonecharm Crafting.

* If you’ve played the game once or twice, and you really want a new experience, play the game without supernatural powers. (Say “no” to the Outsider.)

* You can turn off the HUD UI, including goal markers. If you’re a minimalist, experiment with that.

* Set your brightness so the blacks are really black. The game looks better. (Check out the calibration options screen.)

* Quicksave is your friend.

* This is key: If you like the experience, consider replaying with different character, powers, and a different approach. During a second play-through you will know more about the world and discover new areas. Seriously, a second playthrough really contextualizes your understanding of the game. Highly recommended.

Special thanks to my dear friend Raphael Colantonio and everyone at Arkane (in my heart forever), along with all the talented people in the Zenimax group who’ve supported us along the way.

We appreciate all the support from players and our community (!), and like last time we’re looking forward to hearing the stories and seeing the media created by everyone ranging from methodical explorers and stealth players to crazy speed-runners using their supernatural powers to blaze through second or third play-throughs. Take care and have fun.

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Favorite Games – 2014

Memorable Videogame Experiences in 2014

Hitman Go – Such a pleasant surprise. Elegant, tight and cohesive. Sometimes a game’s presentation is part of the pleasure, which is certainly true here.

Sir, You Are Being Hunted – Humor, atmosphere, and taut moments of evasion. As a player, you might secure a moment’s rest, but then you’re imperiled again (by aristocratic British robots, no less). Just hearing the music gives me chills.

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls – What a recovery from the game’s initial launch. Revised tuning, new modes, and everything I love about the pace and tactical twists of that game, racing along together in co-op.

Queers in Love at the End of the World – Powerful in concept and execution, everyone should play this ultra-short, but tender and apocalyptic text adventure game. It still haunts me after playing through it off and on since release.

Monument Valley – I’m not the biggest nostalgia retro videogame person to be honest; my formative games were not the classic Nintendo titles that seem to drive so much indie game art and mechanics. So while I look cautiously toward games like this, Monument Valley pivoted my expectations and won me over with charm. The art style and the fixed camera, composition-driven perspective instantly re-frame my mind, taking me to a dreamy place beyond reality, a place with class, for lack of a better way to put it. The M. C. Eschereque puzzles are interesting and well paced, ramping up from an almost nurturing starting difficulty. Bravo all around.

Desert Golfing – Not normally my type of experience, but the minimal aesthetic and physics-driven gameplay are truly standout. I still don’t know if the levels/holes are fully procedural, but I have played nearly 1000 holes (with a 2.8 par, I think), and I admire the game so much for what it does.

The Talos Principle – As others have said, the game elevates itself through the great integration of themed narrative. The philosophical ground is mostly familiar, but solidly built and relevant. The way it’s interwoven with the navigation of the game is a lesson for all of us making games with story and characters. That doesn’t even touch on the brilliant puzzle design, which is supported by a set of interesting, consistent game mechanics that often feel like they enable improvisation. Puzzle games normally frustrate me, and the Talos Principle instead – even at its hardest – feels like it’s expanding my mind through epiphany. It’s emotionally moving with well-engineered interactivity.

Honorable Mention

State of Decay – Technically released in 2013, but I played it late in the year and into 2014. (Plus, the DLC kept me going through parts of last year.) Noteworthy on a personal level, despite “zombies, apocalypse,” because of the desperate improv moments it gave me, combining tools and tactics to pull something off. Also, I just want more games that mix home-building and home management with action.

Mountain – When you’re in the right state of mind, this can be really reflective. It’s a boundary-pushing take on what interactive media can deliver.

Luxuria Superbia – This is another late 2013 entry, but I played it during 2014. I’d always kind of laughed off the idea of a videogame that could evenly partially capture sex, which I perceive as more full-bodied, multi-sensory, and deeply related to all the personal psychology firing off during the act. But Cara Ellison‘s critical writing on the subject sent me looking for this game. Playing it with (or for) someone else is a breakthrough experience in terms of what games can evoke, parallel to flirting and touching.


It was another interesting year for game criticism too. As usual, Critical Distance is a treasure trove of thought, summing up the year better than I ever could.


Big Jack is Dead

My novel is now on sale. In the US, the Kindle version is $5.99 and the paperback is $11.00. Thanks for reading. Big Jack is Dead – A visually striking Southern Gothic novel.