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Dishonored 3 is the only exciting thing on Bethesda's leaked 5-year plan, and I'm worried

I will also give you Ghostwire: Tokyo 2, that game owned

A key art short of Corvo from Dishonored, in his clockwork-skull mask with hood up, and his arms forming an x shape in front of his chest. One hand holds his knife, and the other has the mark of the Outsider glowing on it
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

Overnight, in what Edwin called an "unredacted document oopsie" related to Microsoft trying to buy ActiBlizz, two things have been revealed that interest me. Well, three. Firstly, Phil Spencer capitalises "Gaming", which I hate. Secondly, as noted in that linked story, Phil Spencer wants to buy Nintendo and, in pitying also-ran brackets, Valve, which has some of the same energy as me walking into an estate agent and demanding a six bedroom house with a new fitted kitchen and a hidden library. And thirdly, according to a release schedule from a presentation dated 2020, Bethesda and Zenimax have planned out their next few years of games in depressing MCU presentation-style. Boy, are the next couple of years going to be whelming.

As is predictable now, it is largely a list of sequels and remasters, many of them dated quite optimistically, it must be said. This document pegs Starfield for 2021, for example, and obviously that didn't happen. There are also two unnamed games on there for this year (Projects Kestrel and Platinum; 2021's Project Hibiki we know refers to the surprise-released Hi-Fi Rush) and it seems unlikely they're going to appear before the end of the year. We know The Elder Scrolls 6 isn't coming for at least another five years. They're going to remaster Oblivion (but not Morrowind, the weird cousin everyone else likes most, but whose parents aren't sure what job to give them in 2023). And they're going to make Dishonored 3. I'm excited about that! But also fearful.

Was Starfield worth the wait? Liam and Alice B discuss this question - and more - in the video above.Watch on YouTube

The Zenithesda plan is a litany of safe bets, because that's the culture of games now. It costs loads to make a big game, so for a company with shareholders it makes more sense to make and remake the same things over and over again because that will yield profit more reliably than taking a big swing with something weird or new. Even Starfield is largely a remake of other Besthesda games and concepts. If you take a swing and miss, as with Immortals Of Aveum, a chintzy fantasy that didn't do everything right but at least tried and demonstrated a developer having ideas, you might not get a second chance. You might have to lay off almost half of your staff.

Jak, protagonist of Immortals Of Aveum, get's all cross and his face tattoo and eyes are glowing blue
Jak the Immortal, we hardly knew ye... | Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Electronic Arts

So. We remake. We serialise. Dishonored 3 is a sequel in a series I do at least really like. It's weird, specific, imaginative, and the systems that allow you to run around using stealth-magic to gut people (or knock people out if you're doing a low chaos run, I don't know your life) work very well. But it was also wrapped up pretty well in the Death Of The Outsider expansion, a game about removing the very source of your stealth powers, one way or the other. Death Of The Outsider showed the world itself moving away from superstition and mythologising and towards technology and rationality. So do you make it a prequel? Do you just ruin it? What do you do?

That's fear the second, but that's a kind of pearl-clutching fear about my art. My other fear is more concrete, which is that this 2020 plan was made before Redfall came out and shat the bed (I maintain Redfall could have been great, but it wasn't - but I still had more fun playing that with a friend than I did playing hours and hours of Diablo IV). Bethesda were already unsure about doing more Dishonored, but now Arkane have a black mark against them in the profit ledger.

A stately home interior, showing a guard in shards of glass from another timeline in Dishonored 2
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Bethesda Softworks
The player holds up their hand to cast a spell on two guards in Dishonored 2
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

"But Dishonored is a tried and tested series from a tried-and-tested studio," you might rightly point out. And thanks to this leak, I can point out to you that Microsoft is so risk averse they decided not to bring Baldur's Gate 3 to Game Pass, and described it as a "second-run Stadia PC RPG" in a leaked email. Why should I, writing on a PC site, trust a video game company that uses "PC" as a pejorative term - despite the fact that it provides the operating system for a vast majority of PCs! I am looking a couple of years into the future and I see Arkane being sunsetted, or massively downsized and turned into a developer that makes Starfield DLC. Although at least that might mean the Starfield DLC was interesting, I suppose.

If I sound down, I am. I'm having one of those days. If it is revealed that Kestral or Platinum are brand-new Arkane games, or some weird cool different thing that's all jagged and strange, and that hasn't been rounded down by the forces of market-trends-windsocking like a beach pebble in a whirlpool, you can bring me back to this article and rub my nose in it and tell me to take my business outside. But I woke up today unconvinced that we live in a world willing to make the next Dishonored game, either metaphorically or literally.

(They should make infinite Ghostwire: Tokyo sequels though, that's the exception that proves the rule).

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Alice Bell avatar

Alice Bell

Deputy Editor

Small person powered by tea and books; RPS's dep ed since 2018. Send her etymological facts and cool horror or puzzle games.

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