E3 2012: Dishonored Hands-On Preview

by Reads (5,344)

Dishonored WindblastWith Great Power…

The only possible downside to the ambitious nature of Dishonored is that with so many tools and skills at his disposal, Corvo seemed to be a little too powerful sometimes. I mean, I know that this was a demo designed to let me experience all of the features the game has to offer, so my particular version of Corvo was pretty souped-up. Nevertheless, certain aspects, like Blink, are just asking to be abused.

After I had apprehended Sokolov and needed to flee the city, it took me less than 60 seconds to get him to the docks so I could drop him off. Why? Because I was able to look out the window, Blink my way down to the street from the top floor of the building that I was in, and keep Blinking my way to my target location, easily circumventing the authorities who were alerted to my presence. Making it even easier was the fact that Blink used only a small amount of mana (and mana regenerates slightly after each use) and there was no shortage of potions scattered around the environment.

Dishonored Melee CombatIn general, all of Corvo’s spells tilt the scales intensely in the player’s favor. Dark Vision, for example, allows him to see through walls as well as enemies’ cones of vision, making stealth infinitely easier. Bend Time was also exceedingly helpful, especially in the event I would screw something up; all it took was for me to freeze time, launch out some crossbow bolts or toss some grenades, resume time, and all of my enemies would collapse around me.

The Possession spell that I mentioned earlier is probably the worst offender, though. Once you’ve upgraded the skill enough, you can even possess humans. Yes, that means if you have a target you need to assassinate, you can possess him, walk him to a ledge, and then free his body just in time to give a nice little nudge with your Windblast power to send him falling to his death. Making things even easier is that Possession doubles as a sort of teleportation power as well, because you actually enter the subject’s body, and then magically appear at whatever location you decide to free them. That’s why the aforementioned fish possession scenario worked; Colantonio entered the fish’s body, went through the pipes, and then materialized in the sewers beneath the building when he relinquished possession.

Dishonored Devouring Swarm

But in the grand scheme of things, my concerns about being too powerful will probably end up being a minor complaint. I’m sure the balancing in the final product will be a lot better, when players can only gradually access and upgrade their skills (done by finding and picking up runes that are scattered around the environment) and the difficulty level will surely ramp up to scale with players’ increased levels of power. After all, it’s Corvo’s extensive list of resources that make Dishonored such a fun game to play, so as long as Arkane has done a good enough job of doling them out gradually and pacing player progression, it shouldn’t be a problem.

And that’s why Dishonored has so much potential: the wealth of resources at Corvo’s disposal that make for endless possibilities and ways to approach objectives. I think it’s a welcome sight to see Bethesda introducing a new IP — what with just about every other major title at this show being a sequel or an entry in an preexisting franchise — and it’s even better to see that they’re genuinely trying to come up with something different.

Dishonored will be released October 9, 2012 for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.

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