Viktor Antonov hasn't built a world like this before.
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It's easy to underestimate the humble door. You open it, you go through. Sometimes, you must find the key first, and for many games, that's the whole extent of the player's interactions with doors. They're something to get past, something that cordons off one bit from the next bit. A simple structural element, of special interest to level designers, but not the ones who turn the knobs.
Arkane Studios has confirmed that its superb first-person assassination series Dishonored is "resting right now", with no further instalments seemingly currently planned.
Summer landscapes can be taken for granted as bright and breezy backdrops to games. However, what spring started, summer finishes. Following on from the rebirth of spring, summer further fuels and invigorates the landscape. Lands become majestically colourful, gorgeously lush and bursting at the seams with life as the peak of the growing season and life cycle are hit. Bright sunlight basks the land in glorious light and stretches the days, while vivid foliage spreads as far as the eye can see, punctuated by glorious flowering plants, laying a carpet of life over the land. These are the hazy days of summer, indeed. Life breeds life and swathes of landscape are transformed, covered in lush foliage and colour, while the land becomes more productive, increasing interaction and function.
If you're looking for an expert on immersive sims, speak to Randy Smith.
Titan Comics has announced the imminent release of a new Dishonored 2 graphic novel, and it's due to arrive on February 20th.
There may be spoilers for the Dishonored series of games ahead.
Arkane co-founder Raphael Colantonio has expanded on his shock decision to leave the Dishonored and Prey developer, suggesting he's burnt out by years of triple-A development.
Arkane Studios founder Raphael Colantonio has departed the company he created back in 1999.
Let's Play videos can be appealing for a variety of reasons. Sometimes you watch them because you like the personality of the presenter. Other times you want to get tips or tricks and seek a video walkthrough. And often gameplay videos are engaging because someone is trying to pull off a particularly impressive challenge, like, say, playing Dark Souls 3 with a controller made from bananas, or speedrunning a title to near perfection.
Arkane Studios is known as the developer of "immersive simulations" - worlds you sink into, wallow in, made up of intricately interlocking systems tied to exotic abilities, which can be manipulated to resolve a scenario any number of ways. But perhaps it would be more accurate to describe the Lyon and Austin-based company's creations as "emersive" sims, frameworks you struggle to break free of, using tools that aren't quite under the designer's control.
Dishonored 2 will have a free demo available beginning 6th April for PS4, Xbox One and PC.
Dishonored 2 begins by throwing you in a locked office against your will, trapped and unarmed. An open window across the room teases the possibility of escape, so - once you're done rifling through the room, reading discarded notes and idly spinning a globe - you climb onto the ledge outside. There, you are teased with a vista of smokestacks and gothic spires. You can taste freedom, but a huge pipe blocks your path. You head back inside, and it's only then that you realise there's another window, closed, just across the room. Open it up and slip outside, and that promise of freedom is fulfilled.
"Most [players] struggle for a while," says level design director Christophe Carrier. "When they find that these windows can be opened, they often react like 'Of course, how didn't I think of it before? For them, it became some kind of unconscious guideline for the entire game that is: 'I should try things that I assumed were not possible'."
The resulting freedom can be discombobulating; today, players are hardwired to seek out alternate routes solely for collectibles, rather than to move through a level in an unexpected way. Dishonored 2's trick is no more than a modern variant on old school side-scrolling platformers would reward you for moving left along the screen at the beginning of a level before venturing right.
We knew Dishonored 2 would get a series of Custom Difficulty options, allowing players the ability to tailor the game's challenge to their liking, but until the patch launched we didn't know exactly what this would entail. Now that the update is live, we can offer a full detailed list of all 22 variables you can set.
Dishonored 2's second update is coming to Steam as a beta on 18th January before arriving fully on all platforms 23rd January.
This impending patch will allow players to restart any mission they'd like from the beginning, a feature the game was commonly criticised for missing.
Furthermore, the update will add Custom Difficulty settings, allowing players to tailor the challenge to their liking. This feature will include 20 different sliders to tweak such variables as how long it takes sleep darts to take effect, how easy you are to spot when leaning, and how many soldiers will typically bombard you upon being detected.
2015 for me was dominated by a single game - The Witcher 3. Nothing came remotely close to CD Projekt's dark fantasy masterpiece. It was everything I hoped it would be and so much more. This year, it's been far harder for me to pick a favourite. I agonised over my best games list for a silly amount of time, and even now I'm not entirely happy with it.
Part of the problem is, when I look back upon 2016, I don't really think about specific games at all. Instead, my mind conjures little moments and individual scenes from about half a dozen titles. I think about the mesmerising gears of Dishonored 2's clockwork mansion. I think about wandering the detritus-strewn streets of Mankind Divided's Golem City. I think about the little puff of confetti that accompanies the opening of any ride on Planet Coaster. I think about how I killed a man in Hitman by moving some pencils around on his desk. I think about Trico's feathers.
2016 for me, was all about the little details. And I don't think this is accidental. This year has seen a marked shift in the priorities of developers.
Dishonored 2 now has a New Game Plus mode allowing you to continue powering up your character (or characters) on a subsequent playthrough. Yay! But it's not that simple, as some things don't carry over. Here's what you should know before beginning:
With 2016 looking increasingly like one long, unending augury of the coming apocalypse, I feel suddenly inclined to confess a sin or two. Here's one: I never finished Dishonored.
Dishonored 2's highly requested New Game Plus mode is now in beta for PC and will arrive on all platforms Monday, 19th December.
This will allow players to begin a second campaign carrying over their powers and upgrades from the first. Better yet, you can select a different character for a subsequent playthrough and thus have access to both Emily and Corvo's unique skills.
You'll keep all of your Bonecharm Traits and Runes can be reassigned, should you want to re-spec your character in this encore adventure.
For all its alluring, intricate world-building (those misty whisky tumblers, the squeaking bench clamps, the crackling electric cables, the perfect uniforms), and distinguished design, there's a part of my brain that recoils when presented with a game like Dishonored 2. It may indeed be possible to enter Karnaca as a kind of aristocratic Rambo, clattering through doors and windows without restraint, head thrown back in deafening laughter while you fire a pair of muskets into the enemy throng. But I can only ever play as a benevolent creeper, clinging to shadows, choking out guards with a whispered "sorry", before gently laying their limp bodies on a nearby banquette, and, of course, stopping to save my progress every few feet. Being spotted in a game like Dishonored 2 is, for me, a fate equal to death: it forces me to load my game in order to maintain the façade of a perfectly clean score sheet.
Here's what's clear: big console game sales are down. Titanfall 2, Watch Dogs 2, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Dishonored 2 and more all failed to even match the sales of their predecessors at launch. People I've spoken to in the UK retail business are in panic mode. The PS4 has been a huge success. Xbox One is doing well. What's going on?
I've seen plenty of theories, some better than others. Writing on Eurogamer's sister site, Gamesindustry.biz, Rob Fahey puts forward one of the better ones: that the rise of digital means fewer physical game sales are in people's hands to trade-in. Certainly in the UK, which has a huge pre-owned video game market, that makes a lot of sense.
Fahey also suggests more and more games are designed to keep us playing week after week and, as a result, we're not interested in playing as many new games. Think Destiny or Minecraft or FIFA. Again, I agree this plays a part. I played Destiny for pretty much two years solid, tuning in each week to the detriment of trying out new games.
Dishonored 2 is known for giving players a multitude of ways to eliminate opponents and YouTuber Cosmic Contrarian has put together the following video suggesting 80 possible methods of eliminating the villainous Kirin Jindosh.
Dishonored 2 is not short on things for you to read as you slink about the place. Just as unconscious guards get stuffed into bins and back alleys, Karnaca is stuffed with letters, notices, diaries and edicts to peruse when you aren't knifing an unsuspecting guard in the spleen. These random texts even, as I was surprised to discover during the game's third mission, contain the occasional recipe.
We can't kick off a Dishonored 2 platform comparison without first discussing just how remarkably poor the PC version is. We're not going to dwell too much on this because the backlash against the product is already intense enough, but let's put it this way - we've tested the title with an overclocked Core i7 4790K paired with Titan X Pascal and remarkably, it has trouble hitting 60fps at 1080p. Clearly, a fundamental re-evaluation of the PC version is required beyond the brace of patches seen so far. It's stunning to think that this title actually shares technological underpinnings with Doom 2016 - a title that runs maxed-out at over 100fps at 4K on the same hardware. Things do seem to be improving (the first patch could see the same Titan-powered system trough out at 38fps in full HD resolution) but the product had no business shipping in that state.
Of course, the fact is that there's no game-changing improvement in the PC version's visual make-up - it's the usual array of additional refinements to image quality, but that said, taken together, they do make a difference. You can operate at higher resolutions, ramp up shadow and ambient occlusion quality, while texture quality gets a bump - aided and abetted by far superior streaming. That's most likely down to hardware though - an SSD really should be part and parcel of any modern gaming PC.
Provided that Arkane can get the PC version into shape, it should prove to be the definitive release, but as things stand, we're a long way from that and the console versions are looking pretty good. The scalability of idTech makes its way into Dishonored 2's Void engine, meaning that the major difference between all console builds is - inevitably - resolution.
I've been enjoying Dishonored 2 a lot recently, so I thought I might start a playthrough as Corvo on our YouTube channel. That's about as involved as the thought process got, really - I can't really promise you anything more high-concept than that. If that's not a deal breaker, however, then have I got a video for you.
UPDATE 25/11/16 09:55am There's an ongoing price-matching battle between different retailers, and Amazon has now nudged down some prices and increased a couple of others. Dishonored 2 and FIFA 17 are now down to £29.99, there's a pound off the 1TB Xbox One bundle with FIFA, Forza and Force Awakens, and Just Dance 2017 is now unmissable at £19.99. Titanfall 2 is down to £28 - but that's nowhere near HMV.
What a confounding beast Dishonored 2 is. Like its predecessor, this is a game that gives players lots and lots of ways to murder people, then shames them for doing so. After every level it offers you a rating based on your conspicuousness and kill count. "Taking lives will cause Emily (or Corvo) and their allies to grow more cynical. Too many deaths will lead to higher levels of bloodfly infestation and a darker final outcome for the story" it tells you, wagging its schoolmarm finger in disapproval.
Dishonored 2 will get a New Game Plus mode as a free update next month, allowing players the ability to replay the campaign with their suped up character.
The speculative fiction of videogames is generally no more capable of predicting the future than horoscopes or US election polls. Occasionally, though, a game predicts future events with the spooky foresight that would have gotten you burned as a witch in the 16th century.
UPDATE 19/11/2016 12.14am: Bethesda has confirmed that the mobile versions of Bethesda Pinball will be out on 8th December, while the rest are still on track for the 6th.
I wanted to save everybody in Dishonored 2. Not just from death - though during my first 25 hour playthrough I did, indeed, try to leave as many people upright as possible - but from themselves. If the strongmen, aristocrats, crooks and paupers of balmy Karnaca have anything in common, besides leathery complexions and comically oversized hands, it's that none of them are beyond redemption. Each villain in the game harbours a few, fitful sparks of virtue, a glimmer of promise you may detect while eavesdropping from a windowbox or rifling through diaries for hints about routes and hazards. All of them deserve a second chance, and in a handful of cases, you're able to give them that chance. Providing, that is, you are patient and attentive, and providing you resist the siren song of the game's more spectacular and corrosive abilities.
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Dishonored 2 offers many nifty tricks up its sleeve, but perhaps its most entertaining is that players can avoid fall damage by creating a doppleganger of themselves to cushion their landing.
Dishonored 2 is a lovely game, but it's also very familiar. Even with the addition of an entirely new protagonist, the core experience is largely unchanged from the first (not that that's necessarily a bad thing, mind). Anyway, with that in mind, you might be tempted to skip Dishonored 2's tutorial.
Dishonored 2 has failed to match the UK launch sales of its predecessor.
Bethesda's stylish stealth game sold 38 per cent fewer copies last week than the original Dishonored shifted back in 2012.
Some of this difference will be soaked up by the larger proportion of digital sales today (UK numbers company Chart-Track only counts physical copies). But only a small portion of it.
I've been enjoying Dishonored 2, but I find it really, really tough.
UPDATE 01/12/2016 7.03pm: There's a new PC patch out for Dishonored 2. It's currently still in beta, but you can check out the full patch notes on Steam.
Dishonored 2 has finally arrived and to mark our arrival in the arid, sun-bleached streets of Karnaca, I'll be playing through the first four hours of the PS4 version from 1pm GMT.
Editor's note: Dishonored 2 is out shortly, and we've just got our hands on final code. We'll be bringing you our full review early next week, but before then here are impressions culled from the game's opening hours.
There are labels on Steam's Dishonored 2 and Planet Coaster pages that clearly state the games use Denuvo's Antitamper piracy protection.
Dishonored 2 is less than a fortnight away from launch, and Bethesda has now detailed its PC system specs.
Last night, Bethesda laid clear its policy on media reviews from Dishonored 2 onwards. In a short statement on its official site from global content lead Gary Steinman - himself a former games journalist - Bethesda announced that you won't see any reviews before the launch of its games because it will continue to send out code to publications a day before release. It's not a particularly surprising statement, even if Bethesda deemed it shocking enough to put behind an age gate.
It is anti-consumer, though, and riddled with inconsistencies. "We want everyone, including those in the media, to experience our games at the same time," reads the statement, knowing as well as we do that final code for Skyrim Remastered is currently in the hands of many 'influencers' and has been for some time. Bethesda claims it wants you to get the game the same time as everyone else, at the same time as announcing a pre-order bonus that lets people play a day early. Where to find the truth in that message?
It's not unknown for publishers to favour preferred publications when it comes to supplying review code - as recently as last week 2K elected to hand out Civilization 6 code to a handful of sites while the rest of us had to wait until a few short hours before its official release, which meant getting a review up of a game of Civilization's scope and size at launch was impossible for those outside the chosen few.
Last week, Aoife and I paid a visit to Bethesda's offices in London to get hands on with Dishonored 2; we had a couple of hours to fully explore the clockwork mansion level as we learned how to use Emily's powers and got reacquainted with Corvo now he's learned to talk.
A new trailer has been released for Dishonored 2, giving us a better look at the powers available to protagonists Corvo and Emily - as well the ways in which they can be combined to deadly effect.
The trailer, which boasts a body count rivalling that of your average Rambo movie, spends much of its time focusing on the powers of Emily Kaldwin, who is playable for the first time in Dishonored 2. While some of her powers seem to be direct answers to Corvo's - far reach being a restyling of the iconic blink ability, for instance - others are more exotic.
For instance, as you can see in the trailer above, Emily is able to summon a doppleganger to draw guards toward her, then swap places with that figure in order to continue the fight from there.
So far we've seen a lot of Dishonored 2's new playable character Emily Kaldwin. We've seen her supernatural tendril powers that pull enemies apart and enable her to stalk through levels and transport almost instantly from place to place. She looks like a lot of fun (and I haven't had that kind of malevolent fun since The Darkness).
But Dishonored 2 has another playable character of course, which is one of the flashy new things about it, and that character is Corvo - he who you played as in the first game. Finally in this new trailer we get a look at him in action.
It looks as though Corvo's abilities from Dishonored 1 carry over into Dishonored 2. He can blink, slow/stop time, summon rats, blast people with wind and so on. Forgive me but I can't see what, if anything, he's doing that's new - but perhaps you can? He does something to a pair of robots that's unfamiliar...
The latest news from our desk-buddies on the Gamer Network events team is that EGX 2016 will host the worldwide debut, in playable form, of Arkane's Dishonored 2. The show, which takes places at NEC Birmingham in a couple of weeks' time, will mark the first time anywhere that members of the public will be able to get their hands on the game.
This month's EGX will offer the world's first public hands-on with Arkane's stealth adventure, Dishonored 2.
Gamescom appointments are, by and large, a hurried affair. Get in, ask questions, get out, write up. Everyone, from developers to journalists to exhibitors, has a harried look in their eye and half a mind on where their next caffeinated beverage is coming from. So, sometimes it's nice to get a chance to sit down in an air-conditioned room and have a slightly longer, more relaxed chat about a game you're genuinely looking forward to playing. In this case, it's Dishonored 2, and I spoke to co-creative director Harvey Smith about, well, pretty much everything to do with the game, to be honest. The thought processes that led to the sequel, the reasoning behind having Emily and Corvo as dual (but not intersecting) protagonists, the nightmare that is designing levels that can be played not only with different sets of powers but also no powers at all, and certain incidents that may or may not involve drowning chambermaids.
Bethesda has released an all new Dishonored 2 gameplay video demonstrating just some of the ways you can get the drop on your enemies.
As seen above, you can transform into a shadowy monster and rip your opponents limb from limb like Jackie in The Darkness. You can parry a sword strike to behead an attacking guard. You can slide around robots and warp about until you get the right angle to mount them from above before snapping their shiny metallic necks.
Dishonored 2 lets players play as returning protagonist Corvo Attano or his surrogate daughter Empress Emily Kaldwin, whose life Corvo saved in the opening moments of the first Dishonored after the two enjoyed a playful game of hide-and-seek before all the parent-slaying and murder-framing kicked off the plot.
We've decided to take a slightly different tack with our E3 awards this year. Rather than pick a single game of the show, or nominate games to other sub-categories based on genre or achievement in some specific area of technology or design, we've simply picked five games that particularly impressed us this week and presented them with our Editors' Choice Awards.
Dishonored 2's first gameplay footage has been revealed at Bethesda's E3 press conference tonight.
Creative director Harvey Smith showed us several minutes of gameplay. This sequel is set 15 years after the original game and lets players choose between two playable leads: series stalwart Corvo and his former charge, the Empress' daughter Emily Kaldwin.
The gameplay demo shows us a host of new powers like a Mesmerise spell that distracts enemies, a telekinesis power that pulls people and objects towards you, and a Domino power that makes it so various enemies share the same fate. Knock out one of them and they'll all lose consciousness.
Dishonored 2 has assembled a helluva cast to bring its characters to life.
Dishonored 2 will be released worldwide 11th November 2016 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, Bethesda has announced.
The gameplay world premiere will happen at E3; evening time 12th June if you live in the US, or wee hours of the morning 13th June if you live in Europe.
We haven't heard a great deal about Dishonored 2 since it was announced at E3 last year. We know you can play as either returning hero Corvo or Emily Kaldwin, the Empress' daughter, though.
Aoife, Johnny, Oli and Tom are all over in Los Angeles right now, taking in all the delights of E3 which kicked off in earnest last night with Bethesda's conference. There was Fallout - lots and lots of it - plus a proper look at Doom and the pleasant surprise of a Dishonored 2 announce. Oh, and something about Battlecry too, if that's your thing.
Last night, at the end of its E3 press conference, Bethesda gave attendees a pack of three Funko Mystery Minis vinyl figures for free - one each for Doom (demon), Dishonored (Emily Kaldwin) and Fallout (Power Armour).
Bethesda has made Dishonored 2 official - and this time you can play as either Corvo or the Empress' daughter Emily Kaldwin.