What ever happened to Meagan Foster? In the course of our Dishonored Death of the Outsider review, you won’t find out. Mainly because I want to avoid spoilers. What you may find, however, is my perspective on Billie Lurk and her pursuit of the mysterious Outsider. Brought to you by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda, Dishonored Death of the Outsider follows the events of Dishonored 2(review). Billie Lurk has a few new tricks up her sleeve to help navigate Karnaca.
For those that don’t know, Dishonored is a first-person action-adventure game that combines stealth mechanics with supernatural powers. The games offer freedom of choice through character action rather than narrative threads (mostly) and those choices, barring some major plot points, impact the game world.
Whilst Death of the Outsider certainly features less of the world-changing mechanic, it does include the usual “deal with the enemy as you see fit” aspect with various approaches you can take.
Review Side Quest
What supernatural abilities would you like to see featured in future Dishonored games?
Get in the Disqus or Facebook Comments at the end of the review. And please share this so other gamers can get involved, and enjoy the review.
How does it play?
Dishonored veterans will know what to expect. For those new to the series, Dishonored plays incredibly well. Death of the Outsider is no exception. The core of Dishonored’s charm is the ability to play your own way. Whether you want to slaughter everybody in sight or slip past them unnoticed, the abilities and your disposal and the freedom of navigation around its very own sandbox.
Billie has access to her own wrist-based crossbow and several tools. Some old favourites, like the stun charges, and incredibly useful new inventions such as the Hook-mines that can be switched from lethal to non-lethal at the hold of a button. Billie’s physical tool-set is an improvement, but that can’t be said for everything about Death of the Outsider’s changes to Dishonored 2.
Lurk: Moment to Moment
As Billie Lurk, the game will take you through chapters of the story. Each chapter (mostly) takes place in Karnaca, but the missions themselves tend to revolve around areas you won’t see otherwise. Either via stealth or by rampaging, the aim is to complete the main objective stated during said mission. There are often sub-missions that can be undertaken and hints to be gleamed from conversations between people, provided you remain unseen.
While in the more sandbox-like sections of Karnaca, you can undertake “Contracts”. Obtained from the Black Market, contracts offer interesting bonus missions that can be completed in exchange for gold or bone-charms. Gold is used to secure some very helpful upgrades at the aforementioned Black Market and bone-charms can provide fantastic bonuses for Billie’s various powers.
Bone-charms come in three types: standard, Black and Cursed. Standard bone-charms offer one specific bonus. Black bone-charms offer an often more-unique bonus than standard. Cursed bone-charms provide great strength at the cost of a stated penalty. I honestly didn’t find much use for black bone-charms beyond challenging yourself with a hindrance.
Powers That Made Me Sour
Death of the Outsider offers yet more opportunities to take on your opponents from above, below, head-on or pass by them entirely. Unfortunately for Billie Lurk, the powers she’s blessed with are clearly experimental. And those experiments don’t compare to Emily or Corvo’s load-out from Dishonored 2. Evidenced, perhaps, by Arkane’s inclusion of an “Original Game +” mode.
OG+ allows for a new playthrough with some Dishonored 2 abilities instead of Billie’s new ones. Personally, I find the time-stopping teleportation “Blink” far more effective than Billie’s new “Displacement”, which provides an opportunity for a strategic retreat when in its line-of-sight. Though it clearly has strategic value, I much prefer Blink’s think-on-the-move style to the arguably more methodical Displacement.
That said, Dark Vision’s replacement “Foresight” is incredibly useful. Essentially pulling Billie’s soul out of her body to examine the surrounding environment and mark points of interest, all without fear of being seen. The amount that can be marked is limited and it lacks the consistent benefit of Dark Vision’s constant pulse around the player before the mana bar burns out, but I’d like to see Foresight added to future Dishonored abilities in some way, even as a simple upgrade path.
Sadly, Billie’s final ability is her most disappointing. In theory, Semblance is a great inclusion: the ability to incapacitate anybody whilst taking their face, allowing Billie to impersonate them for as long as she has mana. Unfortunately, the mana bar drains so quickly as you move that Semblance is rarely worth the effort to use. It’s very situational in a way that abilities such as Domino or Possession were not. Dishonored’s best abilities allow for clever applications in any scenario, but Semblance always felt one-note and I rarely used it.
Stream-lining: Love it or Hate it
For better or worse, Dishonored Death of the Outsider does away with the upgrade paths for abilities in exchange for more accessible gameplay. Though I can appreciate that, and a standalone expansion is a smart place to experiment, I hope this doesn’t signal a change for future instalments.
There’s a much heavier emphasis on equipping bone-charms for their bonuses as a result of Billie’s abilities being static. Unfortunately, Billie lacks the passive abilities that enhanced the Dishonored experience for me. Shadow Kill, for instance, made a lethal play-through fantastic by turning enemies to ash as they died. It’s entirely possible that Billie has a bone-charm somewhere in the game to that effect, but as the bone-charm effects are (mostly) randomly generated, if that one does exist, I’ve never found it.
For the sake of clarification, the bone-charm locations are set. It’s the abilities that each one has that’s randomly generated. In my visits to the Black Market, a place that sells various ammo upgrades and useful items, each loaded save resulted in new charms being sold.
But It’s Still Dishonored
My personal gripes with the new powers and character enhancement approach aside, Dishonored Death of the Outsider still has all of the key Dishonored DNA. That smooth stealth, the multiple approaches that can be taken; it’s all thoroughly the murderous (or stealthy) charm of Arkane, and it plays a vital part in the Dishonored story.
None of Billie’s powers are bad, per se, they just aren’t as good as her main-game counterparts’. I’m all for trying new things, and there’s a place for Billie’s three new skills, but she could certainly have done with the traditional upgrade paths, evolving her supernatural gifts in to something more useful.
Presentation and Graphics
Dishonored Death of the Outsider, like previous Dishonored games, is like a gritty graphic novel come to life. I’ve always enjoyed the grim, steampunk/cyberpunk fusion of its art style. Its story is mostly told through in-game interaction and dynamic storyboards.
The Karnaca region is revisited and it still poses a bright, sunny juxtaposition to the dark, seedy nature of the people that reside in it. There’s very little to say that hasn’t been said about Dishonored 2, but as always, the voice acting is pretty good. Rosario Dawson returns as Billie Lurk (formerly Meagan Foster), Michael Madsen as Daud and Robin Lord Taylor as the Outsider.
While I wouldn’t say there’s a lot of music that stands out to me personally, it’s all well-suited to the environments and situations. As always, the sound design is excellent. The clash of swords, the zap of stun charges and the multiple other moments that often go unnoticed serve to make Dishonored look and feel pretty amazing.
Dishonored Death of the Ousider has the features typically expected of single-player action games: multiple difficulties that affect enemy perception and strength, a new game plus (called “Original Game +”) to use select Dishonored 2 abilties in a new play-through. Outside of that, there’s nothing of note, but there’s plenty of replay value to try new approaches.
Granted, there’s no real reward for doing so, but I personally enjoy the game-play so much that I often re-run missions in an effort to remain undetected. Given Billie’s weaker abilities, there’s less joy in a lethal run, but it’s still a handy exit strategy should things go horribly wrong. Or a valid tactic in general if you don’t like stealth that much.
Death of the Outsider: A Story Worth Playing
The main attraction of Death of the Outsider is its story. For Dishonored fans, the name alone should be inviting. The Outsider; giver of the powers found in the void. The man that gave Corvo his redemption after being falsely imprisoned over the Empress’ death in Dishonored 1. A true enigma that players have never been able to explore. Revered as a God by many in the Dishonored universe.
Now, Billie Lurk will pursue the Outsider at an old friend’s behest. But what will she do if and when she manages to reach him? Can he even be struck by mortal hands?
Handling the Outsider plot is a bold move by Arkane. Especially as a standalone product. Truthfully, I feel as if the Outsider deserved an entire game dedicated to him. But having completed the game, it’s safe to say Arkane does the story justice. I walked away fairly satisfied with the narrative. There are many questions that still need to be answered but the future of Dishonored, if there is one, could go in any direction from here.
Should I play this?
Death of the Outsider is an important piece of Dishonored’s universe. If you are invested in the story of Dishonored, it’s a vital game to play. Otherwise, it’s a fairly standard follow-up to a much better game. If nothing else, Death of the Outsider’s lower price point might help introduce people to Dishonored. Then again, with the amount of deals going on, I’d recommend playing Dishonored 2 if you’ve yet to do so.
Gamers who should…
Dishonored fans hungering for more content and story will likely find satisfaction here. It’s entirely possible that said fans will enjoy Billie’s powers more-so than I do. There are few games that play as well as Dishonored games, so even the least impressive entry is still a great one.
Gamers who probably shouldn’t…
Newcomers to Dishonored should avoid Death of the Outsider. It’s a sequel to a sequel that answers vital questions about the over-arching story. If you’re not a fan of stealth-based games and/or murder with a hint of supernatural power, also give it a miss.
Dishonored and Dishonored 2 are, obviously, similar games. Honestly, as I’ve stated, there aren’t many games *like* Dishonored. It’s a fairly unique experience. I encourage everybody to give it a shot. I just don’t advise starting with Death of the Outsider.
|The Good||The Bad||The Bugs|
|Great gameplay||Disappointing abilities||Nothing of note|