At the E3 this year, Bethesda and Arkane Studios presented the new trailer for their hotly anticipated game, Dishonored 2. Sequel to Dishonored, the game takes place in a whole new place called Karnaca, and according to the developers, the emphasis is again on the freedom of the player.
One thing to take note of from their presentation is how carefully they stepped around the major issue that the original Dishonored was known for; the morality system. Now, Dishonored is a great game, but one has to acknowledge that the multiple endings the game provides based on your choices in the game was poorly implemented. First, the endings were insanely black and white. You either got the good ending, or the bad ending. That would look fine on paper, but the problem was that they made the bad ending feel like an unofficial game over.
In the good ending, you restore the legit ruler to the throne and start serving as her bodyguard. In the bad ending you make her your puppet, while ruling from the shadows. The main goal of the game was to save the heir to the crown and restore the peace to Dunwall, right? You manage do that in both endings, but in the bad ending the rats and the plague take over the whole city, while your fellow companions lose their respect for you. That is not bad, strictly speaking, but it is strictly opposed to your initial objective, thus creating the sense of failing the whole game. So in providing two possible endings, they forgot to make sure that the bad ending doesn’t feel like a failure state.
Second, the decisions leading to the bad ending were ludicrous. One of the recurring decisions affecting the ending you get is whether you kill the enemies, or simply leave them lying unconscious on the floor. In a game about assassinating, one would think it would be okay to kill a few guys every now and then, right? Well, it turns out that if you primarily kill the enemies, it causes the rats to reproduce massively, overwhelming the city with the plague. As mentioned earlier, the bad ending is very close to a failure state, so the game punishes the player if they decide to do the exact thing the main mechanics are designed for.
Third, there was absolutely no point of making a decision between good and bad after every section of the game. The game has only two possible endings, so you have to choose if you want the good ending or the bad ending. In every level there is a choice, usually something like if you wanted to murder the target or send them into exile. Because there is no middle ground, there is no point of going from bad to good or vice versa. So why do they even ask? Why couldn’t they have just asked in the beginning of the game if the player wants to do the good or the bad run-through? Or perhaps provided a prompt at the end of the game to allow the player to choose the conclusion of their journey?
Dishonored 2 is looking really promising, at least based on the developers’ intentions. They should do just the thing they said they would do, put the emphasis on the freedom of the player. That, I think, is the core of the first game. Improving that, the sequel could become even better. And I’m even fine with moral choices, but don’t make it a case of “cherry, cherry, lemon” again.