Bethesda had us fooled. Here we were yesterday, our hope sprung eternal that an Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim trailer was headed our way, after the developer teased an image of what looked to be a Nord (and perhaps his Thalmor captor) and a sure foreshadowing of upcoming Skyrim DLC. In search of Dawnguard, we let down our guard, and now we’re sprawled on floor. Picking up our jaws.

As it turns out, our suspected Nord is actually Corvo, the protagonist of Dishonored — the steampunk stealth action game from Bethesda and developer Arkane Studios that captured our attention when it was announced last July. Other than the possible prison-cell homage, its industrialized setting bears little resemblance to Bethesda’s sprawling mountainous provinces in The Elder Scrolls (or its nuclear dustbowls in Fallout, for that matter) and it sets the stage for a breathtaking debut trailer.

Clocking in at over four minutes, the computer generated Dishonored debut trailer has plenty of time to show off the unique gameplay elements at players’ disposals over the course of its singleplayer campaign. Take a look:

Dishonored is a lot of things on the surface, but it’s a revenge tale at heart. As Corvo, players assume the role of a former legend — one of the Empress’ finest bodyguards — who has since been framed for her assassination by the power hungry Lord Regent and thrown into prison with the rats. Here, we see how he’s set free (or sets himself free) thanks to a shadowy character that bestows him with his “mark” — most likely the source of  his supernatural dark powers. Only now can Corvo embark on a quest for vengeance and overthrow the oppressive government in the city of Dunwall.

As a huge emphasis is put into letting players manipulate the world around them in Dishonored — letting them slow time with magic or possess a swarm of rats to distract an enemy — Bethesda has mentioned that the story can be completed without killing a single soul. With the first-person gameplay alluded to in the trailer, though, good luck convincing a Buddhist monk to not take advantage of the luscious lethalities at their disposal. Sure, Corvo can be seen darting across rooftops, sneaking past guards or avoiding their gaze as he approaches the mansion of a compassionless noble/industrial baron. Once in position, however, everything from stealth assassination, throat-slashing swordplay, time-warping bullet dodging, wrist-mounted crossbow firing, and casting powerful spells to break windows and doors is on full display.

Dishonored Debut Trailer Bethesda Combat

In addition to the combat system, there’s plenty left to pour over in the trailer regarding the bipedal enemy mechs, the murderous reign of oppression on the poor by the presiding government, and the scheming faction that appears to have our backs — for now. How does it all factor in to the bigger picture: the city of Dunwall and the Pandyssian Continent? Those questions will hopefully be answered soon by Bethesda, but until then, the trailer will likely stand as the watermark for Dishonored’s compelling vision.

Ranters, what are your thoughts after viewing Dishonored’s four-minute cinematic? How do you plan on approaching combat in the game when you don Corvo’s infamous mask?

Dishonored is still projected to release later this year for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.

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