Dishonored Death of the Outsider (PC) Review – Improved Greatness
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release: 15th September 2017
Dishonored is one of my favourite stealth games, maybe even my favourite one of all time. Dishonored and Dishonored 2 were both amazing games, full of freedom and great mechanics. Now nearly a year later Arkane Studios finally delivers another DLC or standalone expansion, as Bethesda calls it. I expected nothing more than a tinier Dishonored 2 and what Arkane delivered is probably the biggest improvement to the game flow ever made.
Similar to previous entries, Dishonored Death of the Outisder doesn´t feature a great storyline. Taking place several years after DIshonored 2, revolving around Billie Lurk freeing her past master Daud, who´s plotting to take revenge on the Outsider for all his past misery. Of course Billie helps him with pleasure, especially because Daud is nothing more than an old man.
Honestly, Dishonored Death of the Outisder´s plot is probably the one with the most potential. Instead of a simple “retake your throne” or the Knife of Dunwall DLC´s flat mystery, Billie and Daud aren´t powerful characters anymore, both tortured by fate and time, they basically gave themselves up. Their only goal is revenge for all their suffering the Outsider has caused. Particularly Daud is nothing more than a dying old man, resembling nothing of the original master assassin. Particularly powerful in combination with the Dishonored 1 DLCs. Seeing him suffer, while playing a broken women without hope, only staying alive to take revenge, would be the most human and emotional story ever told by Dishonored.
Sadly, due to the once again, lacking story telling only present in a handful of second long cutscenes, which tell nothing but the most obvious things, nearly all of its potential is lost along the way. Dishonored Death of the Outsider explains nearly nothing about the Outsider or why he behaves like he does and the interactions between Billie and Daud are too short to have any impact. Every single story segment is too short and superficial, seemingly ignoring every possibility to tell a captivating plot. After Death of the Outsider I felt like I learned nothing more than a few vague things about the Outsider and Billie. Even truly heartbreaking moments were forgotten in seconds and never given the amount of time they needed.
On the other hand, the levels and design remained pretty damn similar to previous entries as well. In contrast to Dishonored 2, Dishonored Death of the Outsider only features 5 missions, making it a rather short but very condensed experience. No mission feels exactly the same as the previous one, especially the bank heist could be one of the best of the whole series. Even though most of the levels start from the same hubworld, this one giant world is stuffed with little hidden rooms or side objectives. Exploration is still a blast, due to the excessive love to detail found during every level. Divided by a ton of different paths, I often found myself following one and ending in a whole new little area full of little stories. For example, I entered a little shop and stole the key to its basement, where I found a caged guy who I freed and got a ton of gold as a reward. There´s just so much different things to discover, even more than in the different “tinier” levels of the main game.
Additionally, Dishonored Death of the Outsider implements the “Contracts”, little side missions we can accept at the black market, in exchange for huge amounts of gold, along the already known “major” side missions. Otherwise, world exploration pretty much stays the same, everyone who played Dishonored or the modern Deus Ex’s should have no problem.
Fortunately, Arkane heavily improved on the PC version of the game. Dishonored 2 was and still is running pretty bad on PC, suffering from heavy frame drops and huge specification requirements. Dishonored Death of the Outsider on the other hand runs flawless, despite running on the same engine and featuring the same mushy sometimes outdated textures and graphics. On my GTX 1070 I could run it on 2K with Ultra settings on solid 60fps or even in 4K with medium-high settings without many drops. Now, the PC version is definitely the definitive version once again.
Surprisingly, the biggest changes of Dishonored Death of the Outsider can be found in the overall gameplay and mission design. Where Dishonored 2 featured 2 characters and dozens of abilities, Billie isn´t nearly as gifted. Lacking the sign of the Outsider, her only power comes from a mysterious arm the Outsider gave to her. Only able to perform four abilities, like teleport, a special vision and disguising as another person, her selection is by far not the most versatile or best. Yet, despite the fact they can´t be upgraded and bonecharms are the only little buffs we can find, Death of the Outsider still feels like the fastest and most fluid Dishonored so far.
Mainly because Billie´s Mana actually regenerates no matter how low it is, making Mana potions unnecessary. Personally, in previous games I always waited until my Mana recharged before performing the next teleport, so I wouldn´t waste any potions, making some teleport heavy segments quite slow and sluggish. This mana regeneration may sound like a small improvement but it adds so much more speed to the segments, that Dishonored Death of the Outsider feels like a whole new game, making it the only but best improvement of this expansion.
The missions design got also changed a bit, for better or worse. Where different targets could be killed or eliminated in a special non-lethal way in the previous games, Dishonored Death of the Outsider objective based missions lack such ways. Arkane also removed punishment tools like the Chaos Meter, that encourage a stealthy approach previously. While every missions still features 1-3 different ways to complete or begin it, like putting the bank guards asleep before entering it, the only thing preventing a brutal play style is our mind. In a game that offers so many ways to stealth through it and so many smart things, it simply feels wrong to kill many people. Surely, some may find the removed “punishment” a flaw but I prefer to completely decide for myself how I wanna play a game and Dishonored Death of the Outsider does it as smart as no other.
Dishonored Death of the Outsider isn´t a revolution, offering nearly the exact great level design as any other Dishonored and the same lackluster story, even though it had more potential this time. At the same time it removes some great things, like the huge array of abilities but adds little improvements with great effect, like the constantly regenerating mana. Arkane Studios finally fixed their PC port as well. In combination with the truly diverse objectives, little side missions, ton of details to discover and everything great about Dishonored, Dishonored Death of the Outsider may certainly be the smoothest to play entry, a huge improvement if you ask me. Sadly, the length of only 5 missions is somewhat of a disappointment.
[A Review Code was provided by Bethesda Softworks]