E3 2012: Dishonored Hands-On Preview – Blink and You’ll Miss Him
Written Sunday, June 24, 2012 By Dan WebbView author's profile
There’s been a lot of good buzz surrounding Dishonored to date. Rich saw it last year and was taken aback by it – so much so that it featured in our top 10 games of Gamescom 2011 feature. Then, when I saw it in London a few months back, I was equally impressed. Seeing a game and playing a game can usually be two different experiences however. Thankfully, that’s not the case with Dishonored, and had we been given a little more hands-on time with the title, it could have even taken home our Shooter of the Show award this year. Alas, it didn’t.
In a completely new mission that we hadn’t seen before, we were tasked with heading to the top of a huge facility on the cobbled streets of the London-esque Dunwall to abduct Anton Sokolov – one of the two big scientists in the game. Like every Dishonored level, there were multiple entry points into the building and admittedly, stood at the base of the facility in the streets below, it was a daunting affair. Do we go in through the front door? Find a passage on the roof? Well, half the fun is experimenting, right?
The thing when watching someone else play a demo is this: they’ve probably played the same section a good 100 times or so, and they make it look incredibly easy. That was genuinely our major fear when we picked up the controller with Dishonored, but surprisingly, considering the depth of the gameplay, after a few minutes of learning the ropes, thankfully it wasn’t as complex as we once thought it would be.
The powers – that form a major part of the game – essentially boil down to this: your ‘blink’ and ‘dark vision’ abilities don’t use much mana at all; everything else does. That means making use of those two abilities makes much more sense than using any other power, most of which you have to use wisely.
Bringing up the power wheel, we select blink and teleport up to high ground. It’s a power that incidentally doesn’t have a particularly incredible range, so you can’t just zip across the level in an instant thankfully, which is actually something we toyed with. In attempting to find a way through via the roof by blinking across the river, we ended up stumbling on a secret entrance of sorts into the facility. Had we not fallen in the water and swam towards a huge watermill, we’d probably have never found the secret passage nestled at the back of the mill, which can only be reached by riding the huge wheel over with the water. Blind luck? Hells yes, but we’ll take that as a win.
Once inside, we combined the dark vision – which allows us to see enemies through walls – with the blink ability to make our way up the stairs and into the office area of sorts without being detected. A quick blink onto a pipe in the rafters and we had a bird’s eye view of the area. Considering that you can only have one special ability mapped to the controller’s interface at any given time, being able to hotkey various powers saves a lot of time faffing around in menus. In fact, it’s a blessing, especially with blink and dark vision being so handy.
While up in the rafters it was a matter of planning our next move, although with the waypoint above us, it was admittedly a little bit baffling. We had to enlist the help of one of the Arkane devs on hand to show us the error of our ways. Apparently, we had to go down to go up. Makes sense, right? No, it didn’t!
Stood in the way of us and the exit was one solitary guard – or so we thought – and using blink we were able to get into a position right above him so we could aerial assassinate him with the knife. What’s that? Sounds like trouble? Uh oh. Apparently we weren’t alone and two guards were now alerted to our presence. It was a case of dispatching them before they could alert any other guards. In our haste we equipped the summon rats spell and while they were distracted, made quick work of them with our blade. Eager to get on with our objective before we were rumbled, we blinked back into position and headed on towards the objective.
Unfortunately for us, another two guards were stood right in the way of our progress, with seemingly no way around. As the one guard approached the door we were crouched behind, we opened it and before he could say, “Bob’s your uncle,” we possessed his sorry little ass and walked him down the hallway past his friend and into a small room. When around the corner, out of sight of his ally, we jumped out of his body – leaving him a little disorientated from the possession – and ploughed a knife into his neck. It was a gruesome but satisfying series of events. What’s that? You want us to go back and kill the other guy? Well, we did anyway… Just for shits and giggles. On our approach, opening the door alerted the guard and before he could react, we busted out the slow time power and slit his throat before he’d even taken aim.
Going back into stealth mode, we get to the roof and scout out the whereabouts of Sokolov in his lab using dark vision. Luckily for us – but not for him – his back was turned, so we creeped in, subdued him and threw him over our shoulder. Before we make our escape we loot his office, picking up health, mana, a rune – which we can use to level up our powers – and then head for the door we had once came in.
Honestly, getting out was easy and with relative ease we blinked from the roof of the huge facility to the church roof opposite, before blinking to another roof within a heartbeat from the extraction point. When the patrolling Tall Boy had his back turned we simply blinked behind him to take Sokolov to the extraction point down by the riverside, under a stone archway. We could have used whale oil to fuel an elevator to get out or taken a variety of other routes. There's a head-spinning array of options to consider.
Our first hands-on taste of Dishonored was short, sweet and easy, but it was also utterly brilliant… if I do say so myself. There are so many more powers we could have used throughout the mission as well, including the whirlwind, and we did all that without so much as firing a bullet, just how we like it. And that’s the beauty of Dishonored: you can play it exactly how you want, whether that’s quiet, loud or a mix of the two.
So if anything, Bethesda and Arkane’s demo at this year’s E3 did one thing and one thing alone: it confirmed our suspicions that Dishonored is shaping up very nicely. Very nicely indeed! Plus, it handles pretty damn fantastically to boot! Heartening stuff, we think you'll agree.
Dishonored is scheduled for an October 9th and October 12th release in North America and Europe respectively.