Dishonored 'Knife of Dunwall' preview: Corvo's mirror
by Steve Watts, shacknews.com, Mar 28, 2013 8:00AM PDT
Much as the game allowed you to choose your own play style, Dishonored always felt to me like it was meant to be a stealth game first and foremost. Corvo was such a nimble and capable assassin, I tried to avoid direct combat and usually only got into it by mistake. By contrast Daud, the star of the upcoming Knife of Dunwall downloadable content, is a mirror reflection of Corvo. His superficial similarities hide a much more aggressive approach.
"We didn't know that we were specifically going to do Daud as a DLC from the beginning," the DLC's creative director, Ricardo Bare, told Shacknews. "But very early on we had the character of Daud and we deliberately saw him as a darker image of Corvo. As we started to get toward the end of Dishonored and talked about what ideas might be exciting as DLC content, Daud came up very naturally. He was probably the most often mentioned idea."
As soon as my time with the DLC began at PAX East, I noticed the shift with one of his new abilities: Summon Assassin. The ability eschews any illusions of subtlety and calls one of Daud's followers to wreak havoc. This takes the fight directly to enemies, coming with a lot of noise and mayhem. Though it can be used stealthily by creating a distraction, I found it much more satisfying to call them in as backup when I took foes head-on. Bare noted, naturally, that this isn't the ability to invest in if you're attempting for a non-lethal playthrough.
The Summon Assassin ability is also complemented by another new skill, the Arkane Bond. Daud can share his abilities with his assassins, so choosing your own upgrade path shapes theirs as well. Though my demo wasn't long enough to see the effects of this myself, Bare mentioned a few examples. The Shadow Kill ability, which turns downed enemies to ash, will let your cadre of enforcers do it too. If you freeze time, your assassins can continue to move around in frozen time with you.
Daud also carries new equipment. I was particularly fond of the Wrist Bow, which allowed for the use of special darts to kill or render enemies unconscious from a distance. I also invested in quite a bit of the new Choke Dust, which could be used to obscure escape during sticky situations, render tougher enemies less capable of defending themselves, or disorient them when launching into an attack. Bare also told me about arc mines, small portable versions of the arc pylons that shock enemies. Best of all, like the spring razors they can be stuck on rats and let wander around the stage shocking everyone in sight.
Corvo's relation to Daud is intentional, as Bare says his character arc is the direct opposite of the Dishonored hero. "Daud is coming in with more backstory than Corvo," Bare said. "He's got a past as a very brutal assassin. Corvo started with more of a clean slate and he could have turned dark; Daud is sort of the inverse." Daud's path started very dark, Bare says, and he can continue down it or "turn a corner."
That means that the DLC, like the original game, will have two very distinct endings based on High and Low Chaos, with minor variations based on how you perform in missions. Given how easy and exhilarating it was to fall into using Daud's tools for their natural (brutal) purposes, I imagine many players will be making Dunwall extremely chaotic.