Twisting Time And Space: Dishonored 2 Gameplay Trailer

Bethesda’s E3 showcase wrapped up this evening (LA time) and I was there, in an enormous hangar, as new things were announced (Prey! Quake!) and more details of the games we’ve already played or heard about were released. The pick of the crop was Dishonored 2 [official site], which had that rarest of things: an E3 showing that involved an actual dev walkthrough of a mission and the new character abilities. Beats even the shiniest of trailers. You can see a trailer below, captured in-game, along with thoughts on the wonderful time-twisting mechanic.

Harvey Smith was onstage to talk us through two separate missions, pieces of which can be seen in the trailer. The first showed off the verticality of the new city, which is inspired by south Mediterranean architecture, spilling down from a hill to the coast.

Each mission in the game, Smith says, has a strong theme running through it. In this mission, the extremes of the environment, which make the original game’s bridge seem like a puny thing, are backed up by dust storms, which occur randomly, affecting visibility for the player and enemies alike.

It was the second mission on show that made me almost break my pledge not to join in with whooping and applause. Set in a ruined mansion, abandoned for several years, it introduces time distortion. The player has a device that looks a little like a fan made of glass. Held in the left hand, it can be unfolded at will, so that several panes of glass take up space on that side of the screen. The environment as seen through the glass is from a different time, showing the mansion in its heyday, with guards roaming the corridors.

Pushing a button causes the player to shift to that time, so that the view through the glass now displays the other period. By manipulating the device, it’s possible to watch guards on their patrols, switch into their time to kill them, and then slip back into the abandoned version of the level, all the while spying on the reactions of other guards through the panes of glass.

If that sounds confusing, it’s because the twisting of time, live, within a first-person level, is as initially mind-boggling as the first view of Portal’s portals. It also looks empowering in the way that all of Dishonored’s spatial manipulation was the first time around, adding a new dimension to the kinetic stealth.

There’s lots more to say about Dishonored 2 and I’ll be following up with more words as soon as I can find a quiet moment. There aren’t very many quiet moments at E3. Don’t be surprised if this winds up being the most exciting game of the show though, not only because it looks astonishingly good, but because it’s an actual thing rather than an advertisement for an idea.

It’ll be out November 11th.


  1. Lars Westergren says:

    Everything I see about this looks fantastic. So happy Thief got a worthy successor.

    • Emeraude says:

      I’d say Dishonored is more Deus Ex than Thief when looking at its DNA.

  2. Raoul Duke says:

    Amazing looking sequel to amazing game: 10/10

    Use of awful cover of timeless song: 0/10

  3. karthink says:

    Looks like they’ve kept the Outsider as the same droning figure from Dishonored. That’s a shame, because (i) he was a really boring character, and (ii) the Leviathan’s influence could have taken basically any form. Both visually and in Arkane’s writing.
    If the idea was to, say, accentuate his eldritch nature by making him seem plain and normal in the backdrop of the Void, they failed. He was just boring.

    Some of it is Bethesda’s fault for hiring celebrity voice actors instead of–or in addition to–spending money on better voice direction. In Dishonored everybody just stands around and spouts their lines, Star Wars prequels style, with no body language to speak of. I’d be surprised if that has changed.

    It also looks like there will not be a way to equip anything else in the sword hand. Mechanically, it’s much easier to combine powers if you can equip two at once. Or if the button for selecting the power actually fired it so it wasn’t a two press affair.

    • karthink says:

      As an example of a very similar character written and performed much better, I’m reminded of Gaunter O’Dimm (Master Mirror) from The Witcher 3’s Hearts of Stone. He’s the same trope: mysterious, malicious, supernatural entity masquerading as human who appears and fades at will. But the facial expressions, voice performance (he actually has range) and animations make him much more interesting than the Outsider.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Now that you mention it the Outsider didn’t do much for me in the first game. Is it a corrupted Gaia that can possibly be healed, a primeval trickster god, or literally Satan disguised as one of the previous two? That part of the lore was alright, but when you stood face to face with him he mainly felt smug and full of himself.

      I would have preferred something amorphous or shapeshifting, and a lot more intimidating.

    • Aitrus says:

      Well, the interactions with the Outsider sure look hella more cinematic, going by that trailer. Hopefully no more awkward close-up dialogue cutscenes with him.

    • mashkeyboardgetusername says:

      I feel like I’m the only person that thought the Outsider was done well. He was precise but kind of creepy. Apparently the voice actor’s changed though, so we’ll see how that works out.

      • Emeraude says:

        I liked the character. Found it somewhat refreshing that you kept waiting on some twist, and no, he was exactly what he was pretending to be. Some bored otherworldly entity waiting for a good show.

        And not caring one bit about being the one giving it.

        • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

          The Outsider is basically just a dark-haired supernatural Joffrey.

          • Arkayjiya says:

            He’s not though, sure he gives power for his entertainment but he’s also a hidden idealist. He’d actually like for you to use them for good, but his cynicism doesn’t allow him to say so.

        • Emeraude says:

          If the Outsider is close to anything regarding GoT, I’d say it’s the audience.

    • gunny1993 says:

      He was a budget G man without the odd speach pattern that made him seem otherworldly

  4. KenTWOu says:

    What surprised me the most is that they used its own engine for Dishonored 2. Not Unreal engine, but the Void engine. Although, it could be a branch of id Tech. Anyway, E3 demo was really great.

  5. tanith says:

    *Dishonoured 2

    • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

      I know right? They spend 5 minutes looking at E3 stuff in America and they start using their horrible spelling! We’ll have to send them to special boot camps when they return.

  6. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    Well, you can’t say these games aren’t stylish. Also, was that Delilah, or just someone else wearing a rose/vine inspired outfit?

    • CallMeIshmael says:

      That was most definitely Delilah, and – if the poster included with the collector’s edition is anything to go by – she’s now calling herself “Delilah Kaldwin.” That’s a thing.

  7. int says:

    Best thing about Dishonored 2: Corvo is voiced by Garrett himself, Stephen Russell.

    • njury says:

      People seem to care a whole lot for the voice acting. It is never something I have made a huge deal of myself. I have no idea who Stephen Russel is.
      Is it the immersion that makes this such a huge deal for many people? It’s not that I don’t think it’s important, I just don’t really think about it. Never thougt about it playing Dishonored or Witcher even once.

      • fish99 says:

        So if you watched a new Simpsons episode and all the voices were different that wouldn’t bother you?

        Of course it’s not really relevant here because Corvo never spoke.

      • int says:

        I don’t literally mean it’s the best thing about it. I was being hyperbolic.

        But as a fan of Thief and Mr. Russell’s performance in those games I was very happy to hear his voice in Dishonored 2.

        • heretic says:

          Agreed, Thief’s voice acting was just amazing – have really great memories of Stephen’s work.

          Actually for a game where the graphics have not particularly aged well (how many polys were the characters made of… not many!), the hand drawn interludes and narration really gave something special to the game.

          Similarly in Dishonoured I though the Heart was very well voice acted.

  8. Ben King says:

    This time travel mechanic sounds really similar to a fun student project called “The Void” that you can download as a free Source 2 mod. It featured localized time-travel where you could summon a ~3 meter sphere of space that exists in the distant past- need to get through that collapsed doorway? You open a sphere to 100yrs ago when the doorway was still there, and simply walk through it. Check it out guys it’s cool:-). I’m excited to see a different take on time travel here in dishonored!

  9. fco says:

    look cool but, does anyone else feel a bit weirded out by all the face-stabbing?

    maybe i’m getting old, ’cause if they even dedicate a section of the trailer to this, it must be that people actually want this

    • Renegade says:

      The first game’s trailer was pretty heavy on the face stabbing as well. link to

    • JazzTap says:

      Yes, also weirded out. ‘Here is a place, containing a variety of NPCs with interesting motivations and pasts and straightforward badassery,’ it says, ‘and also a bunch of targets for you to murder’.

      But then, given this core gameplay loop and a lethal option (there are other power fantasies, but they require branching dialogs, management interfaces, etc.), the issue is unavoidable. There’s even less narrative space for non-person patrolling guards than there is for non-person beasties, barbarians, and abominations.

      And the first game did good things with that. (I could verify for myself if I hadn’t bounced off after the first mission.) So at least they brought the talking heart back.

    • Josh W says:

      In the first game, I swapped the block/counter button and the attack button, so that your options on a two button mouse are weird magic and defence. Also, when you get behind people, hitting the block button rather than attack means you can grab them and knock them out. No face stabbing required.

      I found the game was better for it, as I was spending my time out-manoeuvring these guards anyway, brutally killing them just seemed a waste. Much better to be a smug shadow.

  10. Ben King says:

    I think what caught my attention was not so much th time travel, as viewing the alternate time line through magical glass like in Void. It was a game tool that really felt genuinely magical, and dishonored has a game world that I can totally see that kind of trickery fitting into, but I really wonder what mechanic or plot device they’ll use to limit it’s usage- it seems like the sort of thing that would require designing two separate mirror levels for the entire game which strikes me as… Unrealistically ambitious. Also CMON RPS-ers! why are we in the comments more interested in soundtrack/voice actors/kill-animations than in brilliant and exciting new game mechanics!? Time travel! Imagine the trickery we could commit and mysteries we could unravel about the game world with a little crystal window into the past!

    • Aitrus says:

      Yeah, it’s only possible in one level, on account of some crazy magical event happening at this manor that caused it to be abandoned.

      • Aitrus says:

        *One level that they have announced, at least. It’s always possible there will be an unexpected chance to use the tool again.

  11. Gilead says:

    I hope Dishonored’s story/character motivation makes sense when combined with its level design this time.

    I think the only really good mission in the first game was the Lady Boyle one, which forced the player to explore before he could assassinate her.

    The other missions felt torn between levels structured to reward a Thief-like ‘explore everything, read everything’ playthrough and all the mission objectives, character and story working against that by encouraging a ‘find the target, kill the target, get out’ mindset.

    • Ben King says:

      I think I agree about the Lady Boyle mission as being one of the gems. I had a similar problem with the whole notion of “multiple paths” where presenting me with a glut of options just meant I spent a lot of time exploring each one not accomplishing much rather than just committing to one play style (but that’s really my own problem as a player…) I feel like strictly choosing the nonlethal options in each assassination mission DID force the player to explore each level thoroughly in a way that meshed well with my desire to hunt down all of the world building snippets of story and character.