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.