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AMA With Dishonored 2’s Co-Creative Director

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We’ve covered a lot of Dishonored 2 here at Pure PlayStation. After all it’s looking like it will be an easy game of the year contender and the first title was widely beloved. As such there was a recent AMA over on Reddit with Harvey Smith, Co-Creative Director at Arkane Studios. A ton of questions were asked and we sifted through all of them to bring you the most intriguing and important answers. Ok, some of them aren’t so much important as they are entertaining. But expect a lot of information regarding the first Dishonored, the characters, the lore, and a lot more. The questions asked by fellow gamers are in bold while the answers from Mr. Smith are italicized. We also touched up some of the entries for grammar, spelling, and ease of reading. Enjoy!

Which Emily or Corvo abilities didn’t make it to the final game? – Are we going to see interesting Easter Egg in the new game?

We almost gave Emily throwing knives (worn along the outside of her sleeve like an insignia of rank). But instead went with a custom crossbow, tuned differently than Corvo’s. Lastly, easter eggs are spoilers. There are a couple I love, including one that is already visible to players, but no one has commented on it yet.

I’d love to know more about the Whalers – will there be any mention of them in Dishonored 2/any tidbits you can share with us that weren’t put in the first game?

Daud’s gang, the Whalers, have a big part in Dishonored 1. But with him vanishing after the Knife of Dunwall/the Brigmore Witches, there’s been no sign of the Whalers. Daud had a power called Arcane Bond, which allowed those nearby and loyal to share some of his supernatural powers. With him gone, any surviving Whalers would have felt that fade away. Some probably got arrested, some formed new gangs, etc. If you look at the novel – the Corroded Man, by Adam Christopher – there is more on the Whalers, post-Daud.

My first question is about making Emily one of the protagonists! I remember being so delighted and surprised to see a female character– and one with a rather “atypical” (for games) appearance at that– heading such a massive title. Was there any pushback to her new role? If so, how did you guys deal with it? I recall hearing that the team was really set on adult Emily, but given how the climate of the industry can be so…. harsh, I’m curious how you guys managed to fight the good fight and make it happen– or what kind of cultural shifts are happening within the community that made it easier to secure her spot as a playable assassin.

Pushback on Emily? No. Many people were stopped in their tracks by the pitch at first, but once they saw our passion for the character, the way we wanted to handle her as a person, and our reasoning, people were very excited, or at least supportive. I’ve not seen much negativity – beyond an odd comment here or there – and in contrast an ocean of support and passion. We went in fully informed, after thinking about it, armed with our vision and the reasoning behind it.

1) Is there a cultural/historical reason in-universe that dresses/skirts/etc. don’t have the popularity that they have in the RL equivalent period that Dishonored/the Empire is set in? Since bustles and such are big parts of historical fashion in this period, it’s something I’ve been pondering for a while.

2) What DOES the Outsider smell like?

2a) And how did he get that new coat between 1 & 2? Did he just decide brown was gauche this century?

3) Is the goldwork on Emily’s coat embroidery or appliqué?

4) In some images you can see some black wrapping around Em’s wrists, is that just wrist wrapping or is there something under her blouse?

5) In Dunwall City Trials, I know it’s not in the game canon etc. but do places like the manors, etc. full of people actually exist in the Void? Like, do dead people go to the Void as an afterlife, or is death the end of things in this ‘verse (for the majority of people, at least)?

Originally, dresses were hard to do. But thinking about that constraint, we actually fell in love with the idea that pants were just much more popular for women, as a weird quirk of our fantasy world.

The Outsider smells of the Void, which is all cold wind, iron and copper, moon dust.

Emily’s outfit features gold embroidery.

I assume you’ve seen our posted cosplay guidelines.

The Void contains discordant spirits, and fragments of memory.

Does the public in the Dishonored universe know about Corvo being Emily’s dad?

By this point, people must. Back in the day, only a few. Plus speculation. But it’s more like court gossip. Without some of the real world religious influences, we don’t see that as a shameful thing.

Hello Harvey you said we will have settings to change game difficulty/stealth/combat. Is it still a thing?

Some, really interesting. And more on that later.  

What was the thought process of adding features to the sequel? Were there ever moments where the team had to ask themselves that a new feature was indeed a natural progression of the first, or was it something you were adding for the sake of it being a “bigger, badder” game than the first? Same for certain characters, especially Corvo. There seems to be a lot of focus on Corvo in the comics, book, and sequel even if his character didn’t have a lot of narrative presence in the first game, despite having a very important role in the story. [Condensed question. It was a huge wall of text!]

Creating big games is hard. Making a sequel is a different kind of challenge. With lessons learned, we wanted to 1) give players more of the core elements, strengthening them when possible, 2) add a few impressive, complementary elements, 3) fix the few things players disliked in Dishonored 1.

How hard was it to move away from Dunwall?

We start in Dunwall this time, so you get to see it again. And it was refreshing to move away from it for a while.

In the “Daring Escapes” trailer, Corvo possesses a guard to get past a wall of light, then uses a hacking tool to reverse its polarity. How did the guard get access to Corvo’s inventory?

We need Corvo’s virtual inventory intact.

Do I have to play the original’s DLC in order to understand the story in Dishonored 2? Or will there be a Story So Far type method.

No, the new game stands on its own.

How did the Outsider become the Outsider? How did he go from being human to whatever he is now?

SPOILERS
Do you remember the process of deciding to make Emily an assassin? How did this come about?
It was a leap moment. Dialing through my thoughts on framework for the new game. It required moving the timeline by 15 years, but once it occurred, I could not shake it.
Are there limitations on the powers granted by the Outsider? Like, could Corvo learn Arcane Bond, or is that specifically given to Delilah and Daud by the Outsider?
Each character has a set that can manifest. Not everyone has access to everything. And sometimes the same power manifests differently in different sorcerers.

It looked like in one of the gameplay streams Corvo blocked bullets with his sword. What does that power tree look like (if it even is a power tree)? And more importantly, what happens if two people shoot Corvo at the same time when he has this power?

You’ll see more on 11/11/16, but yes that is part of an Enhancement upgrade tree. (Can be modified by bonecharms, if I remember correctly.)

Would you rather fight 1 Corvo sized bloodfly, or 100 bloodfly sized Corvos?

Definitely 1 Corvo-sized bloodfly.

Kyle lives and breathes PlayStation. Ever since the Crash Bandicoot days of old to the *insert current popular game here* of new. If you want a useless factoid about any PlayStation game, Kyle will gleefully provide.
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