If you haven’t already tried out the two new pieces of story-based DLC for Arkane Studios’ stealth-action game Dishonored, The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches, then we highly recommend doing so. For those who enjoyed creeping through the rat-ridden city of Dunwall, the DLC chapters allow you to do so as Daud, the murderer of Empress Jessamine Kaldwin and the leader of mercenary band the Whalers, as he tries to redeem himself by saving the soul of young Emily Kaldwin.
Whereas Corvo Attano, the protagonist of the main game, joined the ranks of mute player characters like Master Chief and Gordon Freeman, Daud continually comments of his surroundings and reflects on each mission after it is complete.
In an interview with Rock, Paper, Shotgun, co-creative director Raphael Colantonio was asked whether he would consider repeating what he did with Daud in future additions to the Dishonored franchise, or if he’s still ultimately married to the appeal of a silent protagonist:
“[Daud] is not a silent protagonist, so we wanted to bring that aspect of his personality. It is funny in a way that people tend to play Daud differently than they play Corvo. They feel more inclined to role-play. We’re glad that’s the case.
For us, Daud had just had to have a voice because he was so well defined by Dishonored. So we decided to riff on that and go deeper. Play with the character. With Corvo, we just wanted to make sure it was the player… Are we gonna go with a silent protagonist or not? Doing that with Daud was a way for us to test a little bit. See if people like it. So it will also depend on what we hear from players [after they finish Brigmore Witches].”
One of the most common criticisms of Dishonored was that despite ostensibly being a stealth game that offered and even encouraged the player to take a non-lethal approach wherever possible, many of the supernatural powers on offer were designed for noisy and bloody creative kills. Those who were going for a ‘ghost’ approach were limited to tranquilizer crossbow bolts and suffocation as the only means of non-lethal takedowns. Colantonio admits that this is largely due to the non-lethal approach being something of an afterthought:
“The non-lethal thing in Dishonored 1 started as an easter egg almost… We wanted to find a way to complete the game without killing anyone and make it super hard, but we wanted to stick to it. This survived all along throughout the design process, but it didn’t become a big deal until our second E3 when everyone got to play. Then we realized that everyone was super excited about the fact that you could finish the game without killing anyone… For future games, we’ll definitely make sure we try to support it better.”
A different game with the same gameplay design elements as Dishonored actually sounds a whole lot more desirable than a simple sequel. Firstly because the player’s choices affect the outcome of the game, and therefore a sequel to Dishonored would face the problem of deciding which ending in particular it would follow on from. Deus Ex: Invisible War also struggled with this problem, and ended up trying to be a sequel to all of the available endings in Deus Ex – a messy and ultimately unsuccessful tactic.
A spiritual successor, on the other hand, could be to Dishonored what Bioshock Infinite was to BioShock: a new setting and all-new characters with a story that continues to explore some of the themes of the previous game, with a very similar gameplay style. A followup to Dishonored could also be done in the style of The Elder Scrolls series: set in the same world, but in a different country or continent. Colantonio suggests that this might be where the future of Dishonored lies:
“That’s actually how we designed Dishonored from the beginning. The lore is actually way bigger than the game itself. There are a few places we could go and explore given the opportunity. Definitely the islands around, but also all the big continents. Anything is possible.”
Dishonored was part of an increasingly rare breed of AAA game that comes with a singleplayer campaign only, without even so much as an obligatory tacked-on multiplayer. When asked if Arkane would ever consider including multiplayer in the future, Colantonio replied that he wouldn’t rule it out, but it’s not a priority:
“We might be interested by multiplayer. And this would not necessarily be the traditional multiplayer approach. But primarily, we are storytellers. That’s the part we like. So as long as multiplayer does not go against that — which is unfortunately often the case with multiplayer because you have to remove any story bits because they go at odds with the strict values of multiplayer — [we're interested].
“But yes, generally we’re more into single-player. Someone playing at their own pace, which is another thing that goes against multiplayer values. In multiplayer, there’s a group, so everyone has to worry about going forward or being shot at. But we’re also keeping an eye out for ways to do multiplayer the right way.
Implementing a decent story in a PvP multiplayer environment does present a lot of challenges, more so than a co-op campaign or even an MMO. It could be interesting, but there doesn’t really seem to be a huge amount of grass roots support for a multiplayer version of Dishonored; if anything, most gamers seemed to be pleased about the fact that all the developer’s resources were being poured into the singleplayer campaign.
Dishonored fans – tell us what you’d like to see Arkane Studios do in a continuation of the series. Multiplayer or no multiplayer? Silent protagonist or talking protagonist? Stealth or action?