Dishonored 2 – Three Ways to Play

Dishonored leaves the player a lot of choices, the first and foremost being whether to play it stealthy and (mostly) non-lethal on Low Chaos or to go in guns blazing and with a lot of casualties on High Chaos. Since the level of Chaos affects the world itself, you better choose wisely.

I absolutely adore this type of game, that lets the player’s choices affect the course of the story. And, as much as I loved that other, highly anticipated sequel of 2016, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, despite a few shortcomings, Dishonored 2 truly delivered to the fullest extent of my expectations. It’s brilliant, beautiful and bold.

Now, I have already done a little review of the game, which you can find here. For those of you too lazy to read that, in Dishonored 2 you can play either as Corvo Attano, the first game’s protagonist, who is a skilled assassin and touched by a supernatural force of chaos, the Outsider, or as his daughter Emily Kaldwin, who was trained in combat by her father, but, having grown up a princess and now being Empress, is unused to the life of backalley gangs.

I played both as Corvo and Emily, so I thought it only natural to tailor their approach to their respective biographies.

Let’s start.

Three Ways to Play: High Chaos (Corvo Attano)
Since I finished the first Dishonored on High Chaos, I decided to let Corvo wrack some havoc again. It made sense too. After all, Corvo is a seasoned fighter and assassin, very sure of his powers. And he has every reason to crave all-out revenge. Of course, one could also argue that, after what he’s been through and at his age, he should know better, but that is why I did a third playthrough…

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Lethal and in for the thrill of the fight: Corvo on High Chaos.

On High Chaos, Corvo does not shy away from any kill, be it stealthy or in assault mode. The only condition for playing it dark is dropping bodies, regardless of whether they belong to actual enemies or are due to collateral damage among civilians.

Weapons and Upgrades
If you choose this style you’ll invest heavily in bullets, deadly crossbow darts, grenades and springrazor mines. Since, as a result of causing High Chaos there will be a lot more Bloodfly infestations blocking otherwise clear passages, you will also want to keep incendiary crossbow bolts handy. Ammunition can be bought in black market shops or looted from (abandoned) apartments and offices.

Upgrades for your equipment (blueprints for those have to be scavenged or bought) can be commissioned in black market shops and they are very powerful. So, if you’ve got money to spend, invest in those too. Luckily, Corvo’s choice of general upgrades is tailored to the assault style by default, regardless of whether he chooses High Chaos or not.

Fighting and Killing
As mentioned, dropping bodies is key. Which is why getting into fights with guards and the gangs is paramount. During a fight blocking with your sword is essential, especially when fighting off a number of enemies! It also helps you knock your enemies off balance. There is a tutorial sequence at the very beginning of the game, but you’d best use the first mission after the prologue for honing your fighting skills too.

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At ten, during the events of the first Dishonored, little Emily painted a picture of dear Daddy. Judging by the details he was aiming for High Chaos then too.

By the way, killing Clockwork Soldiers does not influence Chaos, you can take them out any way you want, though, in my experience, springrazor mines work best on them. As for the witches: so far I have found it easiest to kill them stealthily, since, once alerted to your presence, they tend to display some very nasty fighting habits of the sorcerous kind. To put down their enchanted wolfhounds permanently, you’ll need two bullets: one to kill them, the second to bust the enchanted skull they otherwise will rise from again.

As far as Powers go, by design Corvo’s choices are varied, ranging from the always useful Blink to Devouring Swarm. Devouring Swarm is a pretty horrible Power that gets even more horrible once you upgrade it. Actually, I used Blink more than any other Power in this playthrough.

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In the first game, I primarily used Blink, Devouring Swarm and Bend Time.

Three Ways to Play: Low Chaos (Emily Kaldwin)
With Emily I went with stealth and a mostly non-lethal approach. Despite having proven her bravery at the tender age of twelve, when her carriage was assaulted and she and her best friend had to fend off the attackers until the guards arrived, I thought it more in character for her to opt for a cleverer approach and keep the body count low. Don’t get me wrong, as far as emotions go, she certainly does have every reason to go on a bloody rampage. But at the same time she is an astute politician and the men and women she faces her subjects, so I guess her tactics are therefore a little less –  direct.

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Smart and stealthy: Emily on Low Chaos.

On Low Chaos, stealth and non-lethal takedowns are key. Be patient, be oberservant and aware of alternate paths, don’t get spotted. If you see no other way but to kill someone, do so stealthily and you’ll still be good to go for Low Chaos.

Weapons and Upgrades
Emily uses a sword, a pistol and a crossbow, just like her father. But if you play on Low Chaos, you will want to opt for different ammunition for the crossbow, namely sleep darts and stinging darts, and employ stun mines rather than grenades. To claim that this fairly limits Emily’s arsenal is an overstatement. She’ll still need grenades to get rid of Bloodfly nests, springrazor mines to take out Clockwork Soldiers and bullets to put down enchanted wolfhounds, if she cannot evade them.

Again, upgrades for your equipment can be commissioned in black market shops. In contrast to her father, Emily’s available choice of upgrades is best suited for a stealthy approach. For example, she can have her boots improved so she can move extra quiet.

Fighting and stealth take-downs
Not being detected is key with this approach, but, rest assured that the game will do everything it can to lure you out of hiding. So, if Emily is detected, choose to flee or just use the power Far Reach to get away and up to higher ground.

If, despite all efforts, you are forced into a fight, you can take out enemies by using stun mines and sleep darts. Good to know: the sleep darts can be upgraded so they put people to sleep instantly, so best invest in that. Also, even during sword fights Emily (as well as Corvo) is able to grab temporarily stunned or off- balance enemies and choke them into unconsciousness. Which is fine when you are fighting one or maybe two enemies, but will be less than useful when engaging greater numbers.

When aiming for Low Chaos it is best to sneak past enemies undetected. If you don’t want to take the chance of them spotting you as you move further into enemy territory, take them down stealthily. Either from afar, using a sleep dart, of by sneaking  up to them and choking them into unconsciousness.

If there are a number of enemies patrolling a floor, Far Reach is very useful for reaching targets quickly and choking them out before their comrades notice it, then move on to the next.

That’s how I very successfully managed to take out the witches both in the Conservatory as well as in Dunwall Tower. If you have choked an enemy and are about to be detected by another, you can always pick up your victim and use Far Reach to get yourself and your burden out of the line of sight.

Beware, though, if your unconscious victims are found, alarm may be raised. So try to hide them, either in darker corners or abandoned rooms.

While Emily’s Powers are not restricted to non-lethal use (Domino comes to mind), they are best suited for stealth and distraction. I have yet to fully explore all of her Powers, but during my playthrough Far Reach especially and Shadow Walk  were sufficient.

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While Emily and her father have a different choice of Powers, the range of available Enhancements stays unchanged.

Three Ways to Play: Powerless (Corvo Attano)

As mentioned in the beginning of this post, choosing High Chaos for Corvo seems the obvious choice. But, after all that happened in the first game, with the Outsider making it pretty clear that granting his Mark to people was just a way of keeping himself entertained, Corvo really should know better.

So, for my third playthrough, I decided to refuse the Outsider’s gift and go without the Mark and thus without Powers.

Of course, I was well aware of the fact that Delilah and her witches all had Powers and that maybe this was not the smartest idea. As it turns out, this one was my most thrilling playthrough.

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The Stilton manor in the Dust District suppresses supernatural Powers. Luckily, the Outsider has some ideas how you can counter that impediment. And that is just one mission…

What’s the difference?
Combat and stealth rules haven’t changed and you can still decide between High or Low Chaos. I opted for Low Chaos, of course, since I did the first Corvo playthrough on High Chaos.

You’ll also still be able to collect Runes, though you cannot use them, and you can still collect Bonecharms, which you can use. And should use, as long as they do not affect Powers. With the right Bonecharms, you can boost your climbing speed, move faster while in stealth mode or get more health out of food. All these things are also possible when playing with Powers, but when playing without them, you’ll certainly take more care which Bonecharm you choose to equip.

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He may be Powerless, but in this playthrough you can still use Bonecharms to his advantage.

Playing without Powers, I opted for being super stealthy. Which you have to, since you cannot just Blink or Far Reach out of harm’s way, if you are cornered.

Also, you’ll really have to think about how to approach a mission. Which is why I did this only on my third playthrough.

Is it any fun?
Actually, it is great fun, because, while you need to plan ahead, you’ll also need to improvise more.

(Spoilers ahead).

For example, in the Conservatory you have to obtain some flawed lenses to be able to neutralize Breanna Ashworth non-lethally. Unfortunately, to get to the lenses you need to either Blink or Far Reach your way to the roof (as far as I know that’s the only way from the outside) or go through Ashworth’s office with her and two enchanted wolfhounds inside. Rest assured, there’s no way to sneak past them. So, I really wanted to neutralise her non-lethally? Unfortunately, when sprinting into and through her office she and the hounds had the cheek to hunt after me and my last resort was throwing a canister of whale oil at the accursed hounds, which resulted in my taking out Breanna as well.

Another really memorable mission in this playthrough was the Clockwork Mansion. I managed to slip into the space between the walls before anyone could spot me and reached and eliminated Kirin Jindosh without his ever knowing I was there, which promptly gained me the Silence-Achievement. Admittedly, that was also by accident, since he stepped into a springrazor mine I had set out to trap one of the Clockwork Soldiers patrolling his office…

Still, it is these little surprising turns of events that make this way to play my favorite. Especially, since I can still choose between Low and High Chaos. Okay, so I am not sure whether I will be able to keep the Chaos-level low until the end, but that is, after all, the thrill of the game.

So, what’s your favorite way to play Dishonored 2?

The endings (Spoilers ahead! Obviously)

Now, as you can see, I haven’t played through every possible ending yet, I am missing Emily on High Chaos, for instance, but this is how I rank the endings of the three playthroughs mentioned above.

Number Three, Corvo on High Chaos: Well, let’s just say that, when the time had come to say the final goodbye, Jessamine’s spirit was really disappointed in dear Corvo. Incidentally, Delilah was the only witch I left alive in Dunwall Tower, or, better, in her preferred version of it.

Upon returning to the throne room I suddenly found myself with two options (I’d finished with Emily on Low Chaos first):to either revive Emily and haver her back with me, or to keep her sound and safe as a statue and rule myself, as Corvo the Black. True to Corvo’s character in this playthrough, I chose the latter and felt very bad about it afterwards.

Number Two, Corvo on Low Chaos: Now, since this was my third playthrough, I had already learned some lessons. I left Paolo and the  Overseers well alone in the Dust District and managed to change the past for the better in Stilton’s Manor (I so loved Megan’s transformation! How about you?), had a very tender and touching parting moment with Jessamine’s spirit then chased away the witches in Dunwall Tower using the acient howling bolts. I did kill Delilah in the end, then brought Emily back to life.

After the visit to the evil Duke Luca Abele, though, which ended badly for him, Corvo had already decided he would become Duke himself and rule the South to make sure Emily the Just and Clever remained uncontested in the future. I really thought it sad that both remained apart from another, although I have a feeling Wyman appreciated it. If he ever returned.

Number One, Emily on Low Chaos: Well, I mentioned this before, but Dishonored 2 is basically a rehash of its predecessor, only with an additional playable character and a different location. Since the first game already was excellent to begin with, that’s totally fine with me. The second installment, in my opinion, proved to be even better and I doubt a third one could top it. Although I’d love to explore Emily’s relationship with her lover more, see where that leads.

Well. If you finish Dishonored on Low Chaos, you will find the image of Corvo standing watch beside the Empress’s throne very familiar. So, yes, Corvo stays to protect and support his daughter. Which I think is how it should be. Which is why I liked this ending best.

2 thoughts on “Dishonored 2 – Three Ways to Play

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