The Dishonored series has managed to introduce some great characters into the gaming landscape, from Corvo and his fight for justice, to Daud and his wrestle with his conscience and Emily as she fought for her Empire. Tying them all together though is one being, and one that some would call a god. The Outsider has bestowed fantastical powers on each of these characters, to help them carry out their tasks while killing or subduing those in their way.
However in Dishonored’s latest outing there is only one target, and that is the Outsider himself, a mission that falls to Billie Lurk to complete. Those of you who played Dishonored 2 may remember Billie as the captain of the Dreadful Wale, and a character with hints towards a dark past. In Death of the Outsider you get a true understanding of the character.
Before playing Death of the Outsider it is worth noting that the events of this expansion take place after campaign of Dishonored 2, and this game is filled with lore of what happened following that games events, so if you’re playing Dishonored 2, make sure to finish that first before diving in. With the general public perception that this is a standalone expansion, thanks to its low pricing and the fact that it arrives just a year after Dishonored 2, you might be forgiven for thinking it won’t take long to beat, when it is actually chock full of content.
The game has a total of five levels, but each acts as a small hub with Billie able to accept contracts for coin. These contracts can range from stealing a certain object, to killing a character in a certain way or rescuing someone. These aren’t all events that take only a few moments to accomplish, requiring just as much skill as the main missions do and expanding play time in the process. For example I spent a total of two hours in the second mission hub and that was without completing all the tasks at hand. In total it took eight hours to clear the story, but you’re looking at another four easily if you attempt each contract.
While there are fewer levels then than the first two entries in the series, Death of the Outsider is not a bitesized experience. Most of the game takes place in Karnaca, which you will remember from Dishonored 2, but introduces a few new areas in this city. While none of the stages reach the heights of the Clockwork Mansion level, each is very well crafted and produces its own sets of challenges to navigate around. There’s a mission that requires stealing something, forcing you to bypass a number of security measures. However, before you can even get into the location of the item, you must venture through the streets around it to find tools to help as well as scout various entry and escape points.
Billie Lurk is equipped to deal with these areas as she has her own range powers that are well suited to a career as a thief, smuggler, and assassin. The power that will get most use is Displace which is similar to Corvo’s Blink, but at the same time so much better. With Displace, Billie can mark an area where she wants to move to, but doesn’t have to transport right away. Instead it can be used tactically allowing Billie to enter a fight in a difficult area and then retreat instantly if need be, though beware that the range is not unlimited and the marker must be in Billie’s line of sight.
Billie’s other powers are Foresight, Semblance, and the ability to read the minds of rats. Foresight allows players to scout out an area and mark objects of interest as well as enemies, which works well when used in conjunction with Displace. Semblance allows Billie to take on the facade of people as disguises for a short time, while reading the minds of rats produces a lot of mission clues that can help with your approach.
Unlike the other Dishonored outings there is no chaos meter so the world isn’t affected by the number of people you kill or spare. I still found going for stealth felt more rewarding and Billie’s powers do feel more natural in this approach, though I wasn’t afraid to go lethal if the situation called for it. Magic regenerates fully as well, so there’s no need to worry about having enough reserves to pull off powers.
Of course Billie can fight if need be and has various lethal and non lethal tools at her disposal. She isn’t completely superhuman, even with powers and bonecharms granting bonuses, so a small group of enemies able to quickly cut you down if you don’t pay attention. There’s no standard upgrade path in this expansion either with the aforementioned bonecharms giving different traits to Billie, such as boosting health. When it came to battle items, the hook mine was the most entertaining as it dragged people in and flung them about.
Billie Lurk may possibly be the best protagonist of Dishonored. While Corvo, Emily, and Daud all have their positives, Billie comes across as the most human of the lot, which is partly down to the way she comments a lot more on the world around her and the situation. While her mission is the biggest undertaking of any of the main characters, Billie comes across as more grounded. Rosario Dawson’s acting of the character goes a long way towards that too.
Death of the Outsider’s plot is also a lot more contained, but that helps a lot with the pacing as well as ingratiating the few characters found within the experience. They are all the tragedies of their circumstances with all of their motivations being a lot more than two dimensional. There is no straight forward divide of good and evil, though some minor NPCs can fall on either side of the line if you listen to them.
Death of the Outsider might be smaller in scope (and launch price) than the first two games, yet Arkane has crafted a game that meets the quality of design found in those games. It takes the best bits of the series and improves them, putting together a story that feels personal despite its huge ambition and featuring what may be the best Dishonored protagonist yet. If Death of the Outsider ends up being the closing chapter for the Dishonored series, then it is a truly fitting conclusion.
Version tested: PS4