Dishonored 2 is a 2016 action-adventure video game developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It is the sequel to 2012’s Dishonored. After Empress Emily Kaldwin is deposed by the witch Delilah Copperspoon, the player may choose between playing as either Emily or her Royal Protector and father Corvo Attano as they attempt to reclaim the throne. Emily and Corvo employ their own array of supernatural abilities, though the player can alternatively decide to forfeit these abilities altogether. Due to the game’s nonlinear gameplay, there are a multitude of ways to complete missions, from non-lethal stealth to purposeful violent conflict.
Dishonored 2 was developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. After having co-directed the first game,Harvey Smith worked as director of Dishonored 2.Though the first Dishonored was developed by both Arkane teams in Lyon, France and Austin, United States, its sequel was developed largely solely in Lyon as Arkane Studios Austin were focused on developing 2017’s Prey.Both studios collaborated on the game, and playtested each other’s builds.The game runs on Arkane’s “Void” engine, as opposed to Unreal Engine 3 that was previously used in Dishonored. The Void engine is based on id Tech 6, though the majority of the original engine was rewritten.Arkane removed unneeded elements from the engine like the mini open world and overhauled the graphics. The new engine is intended to improve in-game lighting and post-processing to help the game’s visuals,and allows the game to visualize subsurface scattering.
Dishonored was not developed with a sequel in mind, but ideas for one began to emerge during the development of its downloadable content. Harvey Smith called the decision to play as Emily as intuitive at the start, with Emily having been a child in the original game.The impact that Emily had on players in Dishonored, which changed how the game was being played, made the developer decide to continue her story and give her more depth in Dishonored 2.Although this meant moving the timeline along, Arkane did not want to go too far for fear of losing the series’ gaslamp fantasy / steampunk aesthetics.The choice to include Corvo as an alternate player character was itself a later decision.
In contrast to the first game, it was decided that both Emily Kaldwin and Corvo Attano should be voiced in Dishonored 2.The developers had previously experimented with a voiced player character with the assassin Daud in two pieces of Dishonored’s downloadable content, The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches. Voiced player characters allowed the developers to draw attention to things on-screen via dialogue, and Arkane found them better at making players more emotionally invested.As Corvo had been a silent character in the first game, Arkane wanted to avoid going against any broad assumptions a player may have made about his character while also giving him a more assertive personality, which Smith remarked as an increased challenge for the writers.Originally, the player was to have access to all the powers regardless of what character was chosen. However, instead the team chose to limit them, and have the character’s powers “reflect their lives or their time in the world”.
Arkane was influenced by some criticisms of the first Dishonored.Although the difficulty was not considered a major problem, a sizeable number of players had complained the first was too easy, and thus the harder difficulty settings were reworked.The chaos system of Dishonored, considered as merely a binary ersatz meter, was intended to have more depth in the sequel.The altered chaos system, where different individuals grant varying amounts of chaos, was implemented due to how many players used the Heart in the original game. As the Heart would reveal secrets about whomever it was pointed at, players would use it to decide which non-player characters to kill and which to leave be or spare.Also intended to yield additional improvements was the upgrade system, which would for the first time level up based on a skill tree. Bone charms were made into craftable items, with 400,000 possible combinations available.While taking into account the intricacies of how supernatural abilities would be used, designers faced increased difficulty in relation to the play-style where the game is traversed in their absence, noting the accommodation of the play-style in a way that would not cancel out the other as a challenge.
As Arkane’s Austin studio had left to work on Prey, Arkane Studios Lyon had to rebuild the AI team and begin work on the AI “from scratch”. In addition to their own individual AIs, the guards in the game respond to a master AI that assigns them roles and helps them react to and work with each other.
With Dishonored 2, developers wanted to make the game’s characters more representative.Arkane tried to give more key roles to non-white characters both to match the “melting pot” nature of the Empire and create a realistic world, and to ensure any potential player could find themselves reflected in the world.Elsewhere, characters exist who are not heterosexual, though developers wished this to feel a natural part of the world rather than “draw a big sign” around them. Emily’s sexuality itself is deliberately never specified in order to allow for players to impose their own interpretations. The first Dishonored had received some criticisms about giving women limited types of roles. From Dishonored’s downloadable content onwards, Arkane attempted to address these concerns and reach a more “plausible balance” in the world. This trend continued for Dishonored 2 which has women in a wider range of roles, including as guards.