Dishonored Pro-tips

Dishonored has been an amazing project to work on. Raphael and I have a huge appreciation for all my teammates, the people at Bethesda, and all the players who have poured their passion into our work. Here are some quick points that we believe will enhance the experience of playing the game.

* You can change difficulty whenever you want. If the game is too hard (or too easy), switch difficulty levels. Difficulty setting changes enemy damage, enemy visual perceptiveness, and player-character potion effectiveness.

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

* 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.

* Don’t forget to lean! If your body is behind something like a wall, you can lean out to peak ahead. We abstract that so that your body stays hidden.

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

* If you’re playing on the Xbox 360, install the game to the hard drive!

* For PC, you can map your powers, weapons and gadgets to a series of # hotkeys.

* On console, don’t forget that you can map D-pad hotkeys for 4 weapons, powers or gadgets.

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

* Eavesdrop on unaware enemies to absorb more background 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.)

* If you use combat, don’t forget to block and counter-attack while an enemy is off-balance.

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

* Set your brightness so the blacks are really black. The game looks dramatically better.

* Don’t forget to assign your bone charms. Review them periodically.

* If you like the experience, consider replaying with different powers and a different approach. During a second play-through you will know more about the world and discover new areas.

The team at Arkane is really thrilled about Dishonored and we hope that players enjoy it. Raph and I – along with everyone else who worked on the game – appreciate all the recent attention and we’re looking forward to hearing stories and seeing YouTube videos 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.

20 thoughts on “Dishonored Pro-tips

  1. I haven’t looked forward to a game this much since Skyrim. I’ve ignored all the press for the game for a solid year. Whatever the outcome, I hope this game sells for you and the design team.

  2. Harvey,

    If I absolutely hated Invisible War will I like Dishonored? I love Deus Ex, System Shock 2, etc. There are so few games in the FPS RPG genre I don’t want to pass one up, but I got burned hard by your last foray into this (DX:IW). Am I assuming you applied lessons to this learned from Invisible War? I don’t like to hold grudges so if you say this is worth it, I’ll take your word for it because I want to play it but I’m scared.


  3. Don’t be scared.

    Games are massively complex undertakings, where many moving parts must come together in harmony for success. Sometimes, as with Deus Ex, we are successful. At other times, as with DXIW, it doesn’t work out as well. Then once in a while it’s a complete disaster. It’s a multi-part team effort with some intangible qualities thrown in so it’s very hard to predict which ones will work and which ones won’t.

    While your tastes might vary, I can assure you that Dishonored is good. Raf and I, and the entire team at Arkane, are thrilled with the game and the reception. We’re all still playing it, actually, which is always a good sign.

    Personally, along with the first Deus Ex, it’s my favorite project so far.

  4. Harvey,

    I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to respond and that says a lot about your character. I’m sure it’s unfair to pin you as the sole person responsible for Invisible War and I apologize since as you said it’s the work of a large number of people, but other than Warren (who supposedly had a reduced role in IW), we didn’t really know anyone else’s names. You were kind of the “rock star” developer of the project as it were.

    And obviously nothing can undo your amazing work on the original Deus Ex, which to this day is one of my favorite games of all time (also, what did you think of Human Revolution? I’m still playing through and love it.)

    I don’t think you were with Arkane then, but Dark Messiah of Might and Magic was an imperfect but good game so between the two of you it looks like this will be something special. I just picked up Dishonored, thanks again.


  5. Crazy, I was the other way around! I enjoyed Bioshock somewhat but really felt it was a poor successor to SS2. I actually enjoyed Dead Space more as a SS2 successor (and hear it actually started development as SS3).

  6. Hi Harvey, I just wanted to say congratulations on Dishonored! It is amazing, I’m so glad you had a chance to make something like this again (although for the record I liked Invisible War 🙂

    I think it’s taken me something like 13 hours just to get to the third mission because I keep exploring and trying different ideas. I liked the 451 safe combination 🙂

  7. So I wanted to give my impression of dishonored so far: I really like it. It is however extremely obvious how much you liked Bioshock based on the graphics, UI design, style, item highlighting, how the traps work, the powers, etc. Almost seem TOO Bioshock like, but so far I actually like this much more than Bioshock, probably because it has the Deus Ex elements of interacting with people and a large variety of sidequests.

    Hell, perhaps I would have even liked Invisible War if it wasn’t called Deus Ex. Though I have to admit I did not like what was done with the story or dumbed down gameplay, if I didn’t go in with the first game in mind perhaps it would have been better. But alas that is impossible.

    I have to say this really feels like Bioshock + Human Revolution = Dishonored. And despite my feelings towards Bioshock, I feel like so far Dishonored is very much working for me.

  8. Hi Harvey, just completed the game. I mostly-ghosted my way through Very Hard mode and really enjoyed it. Definitely going for a second playthrough soon.

    Just wanted to ask, is there any chance a level editor will be released to the public? I realize that it would probably involve additional licensing costs since it’s Unreal, but it would add a lot of replay value over time (just look at how active the Thief community still is today). I love the art direction, mechanics and level design in Dishonored and I’m eager to try my own hand at it.

  9. Happy to hear that; I hope you guys can make it happen. Bethesda seems pretty supportive of modding. Keeping my fingers crossed.

    Thanks for the reply, and for the great game 🙂

  10. Harvey, Dishonored is amazing. I’m so glad that there are still games like this that reward you for using your brain to take advantage of the systems in interesting ways. I’ve had some pretty hilarious and intense moments with the sandbox already (just finished the Campbell mission). Had you guys considered adding a non-lethal trap? I’m doing a mostly non-lethal playthrough, so I haven’t been able to take advantage of the spring razors.

  11. Thanks from all of us; team effort consisting of many different talents. No comment on additional/considered tools and gadgets. But thanks so much for playing and commenting.

  12. So far, on the second mission and I’m REALLY, REALLY enjoying the game. A lot. The systems really interact with each other and the combat and powers are inmensely satisfying. However, it has a couple of defects that prevent it from being a masterpiece.

    First and foremost: Why are so, SO many objects (like pots and dishes and buckets and other stupp) completely integrated with the physics system and yet i can’t pick them up or throw them? I would have loved a little bit more of enviornmental combat, especially when the potential is already there. THe stuff i can pick up and throw is just too little.

    Stealth is too easy, waaaay to easy. It’s partly because the game is just so generous. THere are many many MANY items lying around the level, like, 30 or so elixirs and remedies. ANd too many bolts and darts and waaaaay too many rewire tools and grenades and spring razors, more than even necessary. So when i try a different kind of stealth approach it isn’t out of careful planning but out of capricious playfulness. What i mean is that the game’s “economy” doesn’t encourage intelligent use of resources but just wanton wastefulness. Though when combat actually starts i will be using most of those items, because the combat is brutal. REALLY brutal and interactive, i love it. So the ammount of items never really forces you into a situation in which exposing yourself may actually be a danger. There’s more than enough sleepdarts to take out 90-80% of the guards. More than enough rewire tools to rewire all walls of light and ALL alarms. SO there’s never this tense situation in which i must deal intelligently with the fact that i can’t rewire that wall so i have to find another way around. There are too many elixirs so there’s never this tense situation in which i can’t blink (love the powers, BTW, it’s just that they become a crutch) and that causes pure combat, at least for me, to become the most satisfying and challenging way to play. And that’s not right because i love stealth games. The first Deus Ex had a whole lot of tense moments in wich the perfect solution was not available (but could be available on another playthrough), i miss that.

    All of this could be corrected with a simple toggle in a patch, something like “scarcity on/off” or an easy way to access the game files…. in short…. HARVEY I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE MODS FOR THIS GAME!!! (Or at least a patch with the option to reduce the ammount of items)

    Think about it.

  13. Harvey,

    I’ve worked in gaming for a decade as a composer and sound designer. Ironically, I’ve never really played games very much because I found the action/adventure/shooters to be boring and the quirky types to lack any visceral payoff. The majority of my gaming was playtesting for my job, and not much more.

    After seeing the Dishonored trailer the week of its release, I immediately drove to my local game store and bought it. That was 3 months ago. Since then, I’ve beaten dishonored on every difficulty level (except easy) over 50 times. I’ve done Low Chaos, High Chaos, Ghost, Clean Hands, etc.

    I’ve played trials of countless other games hoping that they deliver the incredible experience of Dishonored only to be disappointed and finding myself returning for yet another playthrough. And even after all this time I’m still making new discoveries and trying new strategies every time I play.

    I’ve always believed in the power of gaming to become the ultimate artistic medium, and in my opinion Dishonored has firmly established it as just that, and set a very high bar in the process. It is truly a masterpiece of creative and thoughtful design that captures every aspect of what makes gaming so great in a way I’ve never experienced before. I eagerly await future releases of this franchise, it is truly an historic achievement in creativity. Impressed doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about it.

    Wally Scharold

  14. Dear Harvey Smith,

    I want to tell everyone who worked on Dishonored and your publisher a big,big THANK YOU.It is a masterpiece in every aspect.Thank you for making Dishonored real.
    It has a very personal meaning for me (most people won’t get this,but I think you will),and I will be haunted by Dunwall for years to come.

    Thank you guys for being so amazing,keep rocking on.

    -Nina Masteroff

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