Dishonored 2: I can’t wait to kill The Outsider

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I hate The Outsider. Perhaps that’s too strong a word, but I’ve never liked Dishonored’s meddling god. I’ll explain my stance in some detail below, but before I do that I offer an apology to the large chunk of the Dishonored fanbase who will find my opinions here blasphemous and heretical. But I’ve held my silence for long enough and it’s time to admit it: I really really really really want to kill that equivocating little bastard.

Dishonored 2‘s Death of the Outsider [official site] standalone expansion should fit my tastes perfectly, and the hour I played of it was fantastic.

Before I get into my gripes about old goth-god, let’s do a brief rollcall of the best things about the mission I played yesterday.

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There are all new powers and gadgets, and the best of the former lets you take on the appearance of any other living person. I became a famous opera singer and ran around his (my) mansion, sliding down banisters and leaping across balconies. This caused dismay and confusion among the guards and servants, who kept asking if I was feeling quite alright. Then the power started to fade so I quickly ran into a bathroom and closed the door before the disguise faded. What is better than to kill one’s enemies? To impersonate them and start troubling rumours about erratic behaviour and sudden bouts of urgent toilet business.

I was back in Karnaca for this mission and the class warfare is simmering so close to the surface it’s bubbling out of the pot. Flipping the “Eat the Rich” slogan on its head, Death of the Outsider introduces a subplot in which aristocrats and rich industrialists gather in exclusive clubs and have the extracted blood of victims taken from the city’s underclasses siphoned into their veins. They’re not quite eating the poor, but they’re draining them right down to the last drop and using their blood as a drug. For the narcotic effect to take hold, the blood needs to come from a dying person, someone who is close to the Void, and it supposedly gives visions of that other plane. I, of course, stabbed the blood junkies in the face and neck while they were in a stupor.

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The Foresight ability, which allows you to freeze time and leave your body to scout ahead and tag people and items, would be really useful in some of Dishonored 2’s more sprawling levels. I’m hoping it’ll mean there are some complex structures and streets to explore in the new game, and what I’ve seen is promising in that regard. There’s no sign of the twists on familiar stealth and stabbing that we saw in the likes of The Clockwork Mansion and A Crack In The Slab so far, but Karnaca’s streets are complex and busy. It feels alive.

There’s much more but that can wait until we’ve played much more of the game, so we can see how it holds up as a whole. But I’ll move on to the most promising feature of all and it’s right there in the title.

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Here’s why I want to kill The Outsider.

Maybe I just don’t like gods very much but this particular one gets under my skin more than most. I find him condescending and smug, acting from a position of what I presume is great power and insight, but sharing only those aspects of that power that cause more pain and chaos than they resolve. Perhaps it’s also that he represents the most fantastical aspects of the Dishonored world, and I find that a distraction from the grungy reality, and messy class conflicts of the game’s urban settings.

He’s wrapped up in all that blood-siphoning horror as well, simply by nature of his attachment to the Void. That’s where he lives, as far as I understand it (and I don’t understand it particularly well at all), and even if he’s not responsible for the nasty ways in which people seek its power, he could at least slap them on the wrists. Instead, he’s poking around inside the minds of our player characters, seeming to cause trouble and strife simply to keep himself interested in human affairs.

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But, really, if I dig down into my feelings, it’s not really personal at all. I think I just want to relive some of those Trickster-killing enemies from Thief: The Dark Project. If there are going to be more chapters in the Dishonored tale, I’d love to see a world thrown out of balance by a proper shift in the powers that be. And if The Outsider has to die for that to happen, then I’m more than happy to do the deed.

Dishonored 2’s Death of the Outsider is due for release on September 15th.

46 Comments

  1. kwyjibo says:

    To kill the Outsider is the only thing I’ve ever wanted from Dishonorerd.

    Who wants to kill a king when you could kill a god? All these worldly matters seem trivial.

    • NetharSpinos says:

      The idea of killing a God really doesn’t sit well with me. Not for any sense of religious zeal, but the idea that the true scope of a God’s power, their entire being should be inconceivable to mere mortals, that they should be above such trivial concerns as life and death. If one can simply “kill a God” then how is that different from killing a magical person?

      Also I’m not sold on the prospect of offing the Outsider, not only because I’m quite fond of him but also because in my playthroughs Billie Lurk is (or at least should be) unequivocally dead.

      • jonahcutter says:

        Gods weren’t always all-powerful throughout human history. They were powerful, and capable of giving life. But they often had limits. Including being woundable and killable.

        And outside of their own claims, who is to say the Abrahamic god, Yahweh/God/Allah is actually so all-powerful as well. There’s more than a bit of self-serving protection in making such a claim. “I’m all powerful so don’t bother trying to kill me. And just take my word for it.”

        And why they chose Billie Lurk over Daud as the player avatar is certainly a mystery. Not only is Daud a more interesting character (Billie’s background is kind of standard issue orphan angst) with more actual history with the Outsider to lend texture to the showdown, but they basically toss out the experience of every player who chose to kill her in Knife of Dunwall.

        Real weak choice by the writers to make Billie the final protagonist for the big showdown with the series biggest antagonist.

        • LTK says:

          I think you accidentally wrote ‘history’ where you meant ‘fantasy’, unless I missed something and we’ve had gods coming and going over the centuries.

          • titanomaquis says:

            jonahcutter was clearly referring to “history” in terms of the history of mythology.

        • Carcer says:

          If Billie surviving is an insult to those who killed her in Knife of Dunwall, why isn’t Daud surviving an insult those who killed him in Dishonored? Spoilers: Dishonored 2 already assumes they both survived. If there was a moment to get upset about your choices being ignored it was quite some time ago.

        • lyralamperouge says:

          This. Yahweh has a big mouth, but in the end most of his feats anyone else was around to see required great ritual on the part of his followers, and in fact required followers at all. The procession around the walls of Jericho for example was not the act of an omnipotent being, but a powerful one with rules and limits.

      • LTK says:

        They already decided that the Outsider was human once. I don’t know if anyone was actually interested in his backstory, but there it is. He may have godlike powers but he has a human mind. He’s not some ancient god of creation, so I wouldn’t expect him to be above life and death.

        Also, couldn’t Emily die in Dishonored 1 too? The thing with multiple-ending games is that you have to decide on what’s canon for the sequel. I prefer that over pussying out and saying “they’re all canon”.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        That seems pretty Judeo-Christian to me. God’s die all the time in other mythologies. Take the Norse myth cycle – pretty much all the gods die in the end, all in really badass metal ways. A solid end to the weird and funny soap opera that preceded. Also the gods’ mortality was essential in making them relatable, in my opinion. Bit like Jesus, I guess.

  2. Dewal says:

    I like the Outsider. We don’t know what he’s really after , he could just be this bored almighty guy that gives power to key people and watch what happens, with no care if it’s good or bad stuff. But he could also have a big plan and we’d discover than even the evil stuff that happened was for a greater cause.

    But in Dishonored 2 they made him a bit to godey, with a black aura and reverb in the voice, when in the first he was like a normal human (with black eyes, true). I thought it was a bit too much.

    But still, I hope he won’t die. Even though it would be the most effective way for Arkane to end the franchise.

    • maninahat says:

      I got the same vibe from the guy; that he’s some sort of Trickster type who passes the time by giving certain people deadly super powers and watching the results. That said, I really do want to kill him, because I’ve never forgiven him for being so contemptuously boring in the first game. He stands there, arms folded, blabbering at you for ages at a time and making smug, snide remarks. If it is going to be anything like Dishonored 2, you’ll probably get a chance to sympathise with him and deal with him in a (maybe kinder?) non-lethal way.

      • fish99 says:

        He’s there to deliver lore on the characters you’re about to meet and to give you some insight on the choices you face. Also his appearances are pretty short, so even if you don’t care for the story he’s not really a major hindrance.

      • Traipse says:

        I must admit that the Outsider never really worked for me in either of the Dishonored games. It’s such a great concept — vastly powerful trickster god plays with mortals for entertainment — but the actual execution always ended up being “guy with emo hair spouts exposition in between each mission”. After every Outsider bit, I’d be thinking “Seriously? That’s the best you could do with the concept?” The “black eyes” thing isn’t enough to make him feel alien or inhuman or godlike, so he just comes off as a normal-seeming person who likes to hear himself talk a lot, and occasionally grants magic powers.

        You know a game which did the “vastly powerful trickster god” thing a lot better? Thief: The Dark Project. The cutscene where the Trickster is first revealed, with the eye stuff, is one of my personal favourite “oh shit, what have I done” moments in gaming, because it’s clear that you’ve just made a deal with the Devil and lost hard. In Dishonored, there doesn’t seem to be any downside to dealing with the Outsider. He’s not menacing at all, just irritatingly cryptic.

        So I think that’s why I’d like to kill him — hopefully, to make room for a better character.

        • KwisatzHaderach says:

          Totally agree. While I like the concept of giving a god a very human feel, it never clicked for me in Dishonoured. Looking at TW3’s Gaunter O’Dimm, the master of mirrors, I still get goosebumps thinking of how you meet him early in the game as a peasant and much later he turns out to be a witty and scrupulous mephisto who trades souls. That was such masterful writing…

          • fish99 says:

            He is human though. You find out from a book in D2 that the Outsider used to be human who became trapped in the void when he died and that somehow gave him his powers. If you want a justification for why there’s no moral dimension to his acts, well there it is.

            You can see why people in that world would think he’s a god, but he’s really not, he just has immortality and extraordinary powers.

    • gwop_the_derailer says:

      Excerpt from the Spirit of the Deep

      Spirit of the Deep, Siren of the Dreams.

      I walked for hours along the coast, leaving Dunwall behind me until the lament of the waves drowned all other feeling. I wept, knowing you would not come to me, my love.

      You rule my dreams, where I behold with senses I do not possess in waking life the dark splendor of your home in the deep. There the ocean rests on your back like a sleeping child on his father’s shoulders.

      In these sleepless nights of despair, you appear to me not as the mighty leviathan, but as a young man, with eyes as black as the Void.

      The Outsider is a whale.

      • TheAngriestHobo says:

        Interesting. Good catch! I actually like that interpretation a lot more than any sort of plain-jane “he’s a dark god” fantasy bullshit.

  3. Booker says:

    I actually have an issue with this premise. To me, the outsider has always helped the protagonist, either with his insights during missions and of course always with granting his powers. I can’t remember him doing a single thing that was bad. He is more like a passive observer anyway. So I don’t really get the motivation behind someone wanting to kill him at all. If anything people owe him for him making them more powerful than they ever would have been without him.

    But Dishonored is another one of these games that are so good because of their gameplay, not because of their story and characters. Story and ending has always been super-short in Dishonored. There is barely any payoff for never killing anyone etc. It’s totally about the journey, not a payoff at the end…

    • Dewal says:

      Even though I said previously that I really liked him as a character, I would understand why people in the game would want to kill him.

      Sure he “help” the protagonists while giving them powers and advices. But look at the protagonist he gives them to !
      – A cruel and ambitious woman (Delilah).
      – An assassin (Daud)
      – A man/woman that lost everything and may want vengeance Corvo/Emily)
      – ??? (don’t know about Billy)

      And most of the powers are about sneaking and killing, when he could as well give healing powers to doctors or prescience powers to good rulers… if he really wanted to.

      • Booker says:

        No matter how you play, Corvo and Emily both always end up stopping the actual bad guys.
        Even Daud redeems himself (he tries to stop Delilah in the Dishonored 1 DLC). So you could even say the outsider gave him powers to fix his Delilah error.
        So ultimately, the outsider has done much more good than bad.

        • Dewal says:

          I have three questions for you :
          – Why did Delilah get her powers ? She’s a frigging witch (and an ambitious murderess even before having powers).
          – Would have Daud been able to kill the Empress without his ?
          – How about all the guards or innocents killed in the way ? In the “wrong” endings of the first game, it either end in chaotic anarchy or Emily being a tyran. (Even though in Dishonored 2 it would seem that the good ending is the canon one)

          And I don’t remember well about Granny Rag, but she didn’t seem that nice.

          So no, I don’t think the Outsider “do good”. He gives power and shit happens.

    • His Dudeness says:

      He might be “evil” person in his grand plan – destabilize all world around, for fun or something. Trixter, just a trixter. Like a Sheogorath, but more darkly and powerfull.
      But I like him, maybe he is just something like a neutral-chaotic god and have fun in some social experiments with people and stuff like a plague.

      • Booker says:

        I don’t think that’s true at all. If he was actually trying to destabilize anything, he would be doing a truly terrible job. Both Corvo and Emily ultimately bring order and bring the real bad guys to justice.

        It would be much easier to argue that there can only be a sinister motive behind killing him, since he is usually giving powers to people who are trying to right wrongs. Something they probably couldn’t do without.

        • Carcer says:

          Usually giving power to people who are doing good? In all of the games, some of the major antagonists are others who are similarly “blessed” with the mark of the Outsider. Daud, Delilah, Granny Rags – all of these people do Bad Things. The Outsider gives power to people he thinks are interesting, and have the potential to cause great change. He doesn’t particularly seem to care whether they do good or bad things with them. Spoilers: he only gives the protagonist so much help in Dishonored 2 because Delilah has somehow stolen some of his power (I believe the exact wording is that she “made herself a part of him” somehow) and he can’t deal with that by himself.

          He’s really, unambiguously evil.

          • fish99 says:

            Nope, he also gives power to Corvo and Emily, and if you play the game low-chaos-no-killing they only do good with those powers, and you get a different ending to the game.

            From reading your posts here it seems you actually don’t know you can beat the game without killing anyone and that doing so changes the story. You might want to look up the good ending video for D1.

  4. pH101 says:

    Help me out here because I should love Dishonoured 2 but somehow I found the last one a real slog to get through. It might be that I’m just not patient enough and really I’m an FPS whore at heart. I was raised on a strict diet of Doom and latterly Counterstrike after all. But I played Dishonoured 2 free trial and loved the first 3 (I think?) maps up to and including the asylum/hospital. The production values are amazing and the game-feel, sound and animation superb. The world building original and interesting. Sorry, there’s a little game design buzzword bingo but it’s true.
    So I took the plunge and bought it on sale, but soon after fell out of love with it and I couldn’t figure out why. Here are some of my thoughts, none of which are that original and possibly echo a previous post made here on RPSso forgive me.

    Basically they overcomplicated it. Are there too many powers? I seem to have a choice paralysis. I think maybe I prefer a stripped down toolset. Give me fewer powers and I would probably enjoy it more. Even none – possibly I prefer the dark mod experience to this. But the powers are cool, it’s just whatever I do, I have strong FOMO by not using one of the others.

    This feeling extends in a larger sense to playing stealthy or death harbinger. Whichever way I chose, I miss the other option. Yes I can replay, and yes that’s the freedom of it, but it’s still there. I know it’s been noted before, and it echoes my experience. More importantly, the violent way is always the “wrong” way. I find it sort of frustrating to be given these excellent tools of death only to be lectured hard on them when I use them. I am an adult, I know killing is wrong… but this isn’t real and I want to cut lose (literally?) without a moral lesson at the end it. If it is wrong, don’t give me all the tool with their beautiful animations and gamefeel that encourage me to use them. It’s like laying out a table of amazing food and sweets and then slapping my hand every time I eat anything. It’s just frustrating and patronising.

    More in the overcomplicated vein. I far prefer the levels which are simply large areas you pick your way through. The gimmick levels – clockwork mansion, time travelling – I didn’t like them at all, however technically impressive or clever and interesting in concept they were. Because they added yet another layer, which obfuscated the core experience of sneaking around and killing or possibly avoiding people that is what I really want.

    All the runes and crafting. Does the game really need this? I am not convinced at all.

    At some point I will play through again and probably enjoy it more (like with the first dishonoured) but I found it a slog, right after the asylum, in all the “special” levels.

    I won’t go into the technical state of the PC version (port?) suffice to say – still quite bad post patch, with some occasional stutter on an nvidia 1070.

    Anyway, as such I am very much unsure whether to get Prey, which is still on sale. And I have hitman season 1 to do, and perhaps it will suit my tastes more given the smaller toolset and, I believe, lack of lecturing.

    I think Deus Ex mankind divided suffers in some ways from similar faults – I just think AAA devs need to know when to draw the line with these skills and features. Sometimes less is more. Don’t get me started on Breach too. And it’s a shame because they splurged so much money on them, they can’t (or may not) even afford to make any more of them, when in reality, the game could have been better, and sold more, with less expenditure.

    edit. what a rant. Anyway. Ability to disguise yourself is a good skill and glad to hear its coming. Might even tempt me despite my worries above.

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      mcjamieuk says:

      I can sympathise somewhat with the choice paralysis – in my case, though, it was more that I didn’t bother ‘buying’ any of the fancy new ones, happy as I was with the first couple. That had the handy side-effect of leaving me with plenty of runes to spend on exactly the power I thought I needed whenever I did find myself desperately stuck – before promptly returning to the core powers that had got me that far. Also completely ignored the crafting.

      I did like the two missions mentioned precisely because they added the extra layer of complication – I love the wider areas that you were free to explore, but that makes a change all the more intriguing, and prevents it from potentially becoming a bit repetitive.

    • poliovaccine says:

      Putting the other stuff aside, I will say that I actually think it really works well, the way you’re given flashy murder abilities but they’re always the “wrong” approach. It wouldnt be temptation if the choice was obvious, after all. Many folks, myself included, were a bit exasperated at Bioshock’s framing the save-or-eat-the-soul-of-little-sisters thing as being some tough moral dilemma. I can appreciate the way they actually created a difficult choice here.

    • hayesy says:

      I love dishonored / dishonored 2 although I am more a fan of stealth than FPS. But you can playthrough killing everything in sight if that’s how you want to play. What the game gives you is some consequence for killing everything. If you play that way the world becomes a little darker as you progress. (but not by much in my opinion) I think this adds something to the game and I don’t see it as a moral lesson just consequences to your actions. i think its cool.

      • pH101 says:

        If you play stealthily you are treated like the golden boy/girl, but if you play violent you are constantly told off and made to feel bad. Ok.. well maybe you should feel bad. If you killed a lot of guards. But then the designers should feel bad for giving us the weapons too. Perhaps if you play with killing it is assumed you don’t care.. maybe that’s true. Or maybe like me you are just better at whipping out the headshots than crouching behind pot plants, and understand these are NPCs with not enough depth to warrant preserving their virtual life… I dunno. I guess I will go an dplay hitman and get back to you. After dishonoured 2 I got DOOM and am having a blast. But I enjoy TDM and Deus Ex, Deus EX HR. Go figure, as they say.

        • Daymare says:

          If they’re just NPCs with no depth to warrant preserving their virtual life, why do you care what other NPCs in the same game tell you about your actions?

    • Booker says:

      “Even none”

      When I played the game as Emily, I was given the choice if I wanted the powers or not, so playing the game without any powers is already an option.

      • pH101 says:

        Yes you get that choice. I realise that. But then you miss out on the cool features. I just think there are possibly too many for my tastes. I don’t have a clear answer. I love a lot about the game and hugely respect it. I’m purely trying to understand why I found it a slog. It may be I just need to replay now I am more used to what is possible, I dunno. Or perhaps I just don’t have the patience for stealth full stop, I can’t figure it out. A lot’s been said on the matter. Fail states, how or if you can recover from them, save scumming, snowballing. I guess I think if I played minimally, I would like to think selfishly that it was designed for that. I’m not sure how easy it would be to play dish. 2 without powers. On a slightly different note I think in a blog about this Tom Francis said one solution is to have quests that overtly labelled stealthy or not to reduce this feeling of if you have done it right etc.

        • Daymare says:

          Compared to many fully-fledged RPGs you don’t have that many skills. You don’t have to take all, or any at all. Many synergize well together, tho.
          But then if you go stealth/no kill like me your choices narrow down a bit.

          Maybe I didn’t mind because I was coming from the likes of Dark Souls, Skyrim or Diablo-likes, where the choices are vastly more numerous.

          Anyhow, I can empathize: I stopped playing FEZ when I realized that there’s tons and tons of branching levels. Such a weird game, I was enjoying it quite a lot up until that point. Suddenly I stood there, thinking: What? Where should I go? Why should I care? How much bigger will this become? And then I stopped, never to return.

      • Carcer says:

        Unless my brain has completely deserted me you get the choice as Corvo, too. Remember that Delilah removes his mark in the opening scenes; I’m pretty sure you can refuse to be marked again in the later sequence with the Outsider.

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    Lars Westergren says:

    Sounds like a Peter Thiel kind of party.

    Love Dishonored, hope Arkane gets to make all the games.

  6. Spacewalk says:

    There’s only one reason to kill the Outsider: to tick the achievement off the list.

  7. Dilapinated says:

    Er, short the near-death hallucinations, “rich people paying through the nose to get injections of blood taken from poor people” is already a thing.

    link to technologyreview.com

    You’re welcome for that daily dose of dystopian realism. I’m sorry.

  8. fish99 says:

    “but sharing only those aspects of that power that cause more pain and chaos than they resolve.”

    Depends on your playstyle doesn’t it? Playing pure stealth the outsider (twice) gave Corvo the power and insight to fix a thousand things wrong with the world and make it a hugely better place, and almost entirely without killing anyone. He even helped Daud reject his violent past.

    Also I don’t think he’s supposed to be a god in the literal sense, he used to be a man and got himself trapped in the void somehow which gave him his powers.

    Sure other characters have done some very nasty things with those powers, but that doesn’t make the powers themselves or the granter of those power necessarily evil. Playing a blood-thirsty murderous Corva/Emily is your choice.

    • fish99 says:

      *Corvo

      Stupid 5 minute edit limit.

    • Carcer says:

      Frankly, I think you are necessarily evil if you randomly grant powers to people and then watch with amusement when they turn out to be murderous assholes. He could be selective and choose to grant powers to noble individuals who would very obviously do good with them, but he doesn’t; he chooses people who will have significant impact on the world. Remember that Corvo in Dishonored is a disgraced bodyguard turned assassin and the Outsider regularly expresses some surprise when he doesn’t take the lethal approach to solving his problems; and in DH2, he’s mostly using the protagonist to solve a problem of his own making. Even in the DH1 DLCs, he just points Daud and Delilah at each other to see what happens.

      • fish99 says:

        Corvo is NOT a disgraced bodyguard turned assassin. He is the Royal Protector who is framed for the murder of the Empress. If you decide to murder half of Dunwall that’s on you, but you can play the entire game without killing anyone, including your assassination targets.

        So the Outsider does grant powers to someone noble – if you play the game as low chaos, that’s exactly what Corvo is (and Corvo/Emily in the sequel). In low chaos Corvo has a tremendous positive effect on the world, leading to a golden age of peace and prosperity (according to the end movie).

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