Arkane Studios Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Arkane Studios RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Dishonored: Death Of The Outsider Wraps the Series in Spectacular Fashion https://www.gameskinny.com/yoi4f/dishonored-death-of-the-outsider-wraps-the-series-in-spectacular-fashion https://www.gameskinny.com/yoi4f/dishonored-death-of-the-outsider-wraps-the-series-in-spectacular-fashion Sat, 16 Sep 2017 19:14:57 -0400 Ty Arthur

Horizon: Zero Dawn, Prey, Destiny 2, Nier: Automata, Resident Evil 7, Persona 5, Breath Of The Wild -- the year has been chock full of AAA successes already, and now Arkane Studios is pulling out its second major win of the year with its ending to the Dishonored storyline in Dishonored: Death of the Outsider

For this standalone entry that's more than an expansion but less than a full game, we're playing as dishonored assassin Billie, voiced by Rosario Dawson, who absolutely nails the tired-but-still-feisty vibe of the character. As the series comes to its conclusion, Billie is searching for her larcenous mentor and looking for redemption from her role in the previous Empress' assassination -- which of course, was pinned on Corvo in the first game.

From your barely-floating ship hideout, stashed in a quarantined area no one bothers to patrol anymore, there are five epic missions to stealth, slash, or magic your way through depending on your preferred play style.

This is why Death of the Outsider is a perfect bookend to the series. 

Home sweet... derelict hidden ship?

Exploring Karnaca

While seeking out her former tutor, Billie will square off against (or rob blind) new (and weird) groups of varying supernatural, religious, or larcenous tendencies, like the Eyeless or the Sisters of the Oracular Order.

After finding Daud, the duo decide on a new mark, and while its given away by the title, it may be a surprising choice for long-time fans of the series. Going one step past the unforgettable magical menace Granny Rags, this time, we're going to kill The Outsider himself, source of all arcane might, so he can't meddle in the world's empires and cause random chaos any longer.

This involves multiple heists and murders across the city, where, of course, rats play a significant role (yet again), although they aren't the plague bearers from Dunwall but rather providers of whispers that tell you about the surrounding areas. If you want to get creeped out by a little girl whispering awful things rats might think about, there's hours of voiceovers to listen through that will more than accomplish that goal.

 Your rat friends are indispensable sources of information about the level

Choose Your Own Adventure

As usual, there's the option to go through any area as a whirlwind of flying bullets and slashing blades or a clandestine and thoughtful rogue that doesn't kill a single soul (which is frequently harder).

Billie could bribe a guard to open a door and look the other way if she has enough coin on hand, listen to her rat friends to find out about a secret entrance up high on the roofs, sneak through the main route without being detected, or just kill anyone who might be a witness and rush straight ahead. All of this choice really helps Death of the Outsider feel like a choose your own adventure epic. 

The levels themselves are varied and satisfied, ranging from a steampunk bank heist to a rescue mission in an underground black magic fight club. During those missions Bilie can undertake Contracts, which are a slight tweak on the discoverable side missions from the previous games, offering extra coins for completing tasks. This system makes more sense for the down-on-her-luck main character, since she's a thief/assassin for hire willing to commit low-end deeds to make ends meet.

 Finding multiple routes to complete the mission

Refining The Dishonored Formula

Billie is less focused on the series' arcane powers, but she does have some Void abilities to employ that are heavily tweaked from the previous two games. You might end up teleporting inside someone and causing them to messily explode messily, or instead steal someone's face and pretend to be them in various situations, such as attending an auction.

If you prefer the supernatural powers from the first two main entries, then there's the Original Game+ mode, which sort of turns the New Game+ idea on its head and gives you abilities from earlier Dishonored titles to play with during the campaign.

Either way you play, there's blessedly no more mana potions, and instead supernatural powers recover naturally over time, putting some more strategy into how and when you employ powers.

Finally, there are no more runes to find and upgrade, and instead there are bone charms to equip. While all give bonuses, some are corrupted and include serious penalties as an offset.

 Equipping a nifty new bonecharm

The Bottom Line

On the technical specs front, I've got a semi-beefy rig (it's not bleeding edge, but it can run most anything on High to Ultra) and I didn't have any stutters, framerate drops, or crashes when running the game with all settings up to max. Exploring the game world with the highest visual settings is a pleasure.

Every last back alley, bedroom, or bar you sneak across in Karnaca is packed full of lore or little atmospheric details that make it clear the developers always have the specifics of the game world in mind. It all comes together to make for a very cohesive, compelling game.

Unfortunately, the experience is significantly shorter than the other games, and it has lots of overall similarities if you devoured the previous two titles. That shorter time does result in a more focused, tighter experience, though. Whether you're returning after not having played since the first game or are an uber fan who has devoured all things Dishonored over the years, Death Of The Outsider is well worth playing.

 The black humor and dark tone are on full display

Between this and Prey, its clear that Arkane is really refining the multiple-route, stealth or combat style to its best form.

Supposedly, this is the "final" Dishonored entry, which seems unlikely, and hopefully, isn't true because the developers have definitely nailed the gameplay.

Whether the style lives on in some other series or we get a sequel or prequel some years from now, the world needs more of this polished stealth assassin wonder and its unforgettable tech-meets-magic setting.

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Prey's Mimic Power is the Most Innovative Mechanic in Gaming Right Now https://www.gameskinny.com/xq9zx/preys-mimic-power-is-the-most-innovative-mechanic-in-gaming-right-now https://www.gameskinny.com/xq9zx/preys-mimic-power-is-the-most-innovative-mechanic-in-gaming-right-now Fri, 12 May 2017 06:00:02 -0400 Sergey_3847

Prey, the latest sci-fi horror adventure from Arkane Studios and Bethesda, has arrested the attention of many gamers with its claustrophobic locations, unusual story, and most of all, one of its awesome powers: the Mimic Power. This ability lets the player transform into any object in the game.

It's no secret that Arkane Studios likes to explore new mechanics in its games, as it has in the past in the Dishonored series and Bioshock 2. And although the Mimic Power isn’t entirely a unique mechanic, it has never been a significant part of any game before.

Implementing this mechanic as well as Arkane has in this game can actually open the doors to vast possibilities for other game designers as well. So let’s speculate a bit and try to see where Prey's transformations could lead us. Is this mechanic able to create its own niche of games in the future? To answer that, we'll first have to look at what makes it so great in the first place. 

A Game Mechanic Must Make Sense

Before designing and integrating any specific mechanic into a game, developers must ask themselves one simple question: Does this mechanic make sense within the given game’s story or world? Mimic Power definitely fits the whole experimental flavor of Prey, but it’s harder to see how it would function well as a main mechanic in any other genre of video games…yet.

But that doesn't mean it can't. Realistically, it could co-exist with other mechanics and that would make it feel more natural. For example, puzzle games could easily utilize Mimic Power alongside more typical solutions. It could be limited by time or place, or it could simply exist as a bonus reward. In this case the sky’s the limit.

But what about bigger games, such as shooters and RPGs?

In order to answer this question, it's important to look back and see what other innovative mechanics became world famous and found their place in other AAA projects. One such example is “stealth”. Today almost all big games utilize stealth in one way or another. Sometimes it feels natural, and at others it’s terribly forced (e.g. Far Cry 4).

The opposite example is Portal’s teleport mechanic. The game is still incredibly popular on its own, but you never see anything similar in other games. So why do some mechanics become widely popular, while others stay unique to one particular game? Can Mimic Power get to the same level of popularity among gamers and developers?

It definitely can, since it’s easy to use and fun to play. But here comes another issue: How do developers make it feel natural?

Genres That Could Exploit Mimic Power Naturally

Let’s take a look at the game that everybody talked about a couple of years ago -- I am Bread. It allowed players to control a slice of bread as if it were a sentient being. There was no explanation to why this was possible, but people still played it for the fun factor.

Can Mimic Power be utilized in games as merely a fun factor? Of course it can. But will it hold the power to become an industry-changing innovation in that regard? Probably not. So it really needs to be infused in the game’s setting and lore as if it were an integral part of that world. Otherwise, people will soon forget about it.

Here are a few suggestions how Mimic Power could be used in the most popular genres in video gaming right now:

First-Person Shooters

Character transformations into objects isn’t an entirely unique phenomenon in the FPS genre. Counter-Strike Online 2 has a Hide’n’Seek mode that allows players to do just that – transform into any object that is available in the current build of the mod. It offers tons of fun, but this ability is quite limited if you compare it to Prey’s Mimic Power.

Nonetheless, Mimic Power fits the shooter genre very well. It just needs to be approached from another angle. For example, random objects could be replaced with something more useful. If you play in co-op, and your teammate needs protection, you could become a massive shield to protect him from bullets. In this case you wouldn’t take damage as usual, but the transformation would include a change of the stats as well.

Another obvious choice is transforming into different kinds of weapons, as is the case with turret transformation in Prey. One could go as far as implement vehicle mimicry, but that runs the risk of feeling a bit too much like Transformers. So there has to be a balance in all this. Hopefully, those developers who are interested in exploring mimcry in their games will find the right recipe.

Space Sims

Recently, the pool of space simulator games significantly increased in size with such titles like Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, No Man’s Sky, and others. These games are massive and filled with objects that are for most of the part underused or outright forgotten.

Now imagine a space sim where there would be no redundant objects -- where a player would be able to interact with everything and take various shapes. Now add combat to this, where two or more players would shapeshift into objects around them and use their characteristics to fight each other.

Playing with the sizes of things would be amazing. Imagine scanning an alien mushroom and turning into one that's ten times as large -- or a butterfly the size of a dragon. This could easily make for some of the most exciting battles in space you’ve ever seen. Obviously, it would require massive computing power investment -- but with the current development of technologies, it doesn’t look like it’s too far away.

Role-Playing Games

The RPG genre would welcome Mimic Power with open hands. We all remember the mimic chests in Dark Souls -- they were one of the most dangerous and annoying enemies to beat. Later the Chameleon ability was added, so players could turn their bodies into vases, pieces of furniture, or statues.

RPGs were actually the first genre of games that utilized mimicry in games like Dragon Warrior 3 and Dungeons & Dragons. Except it was limited to monster chests only and never used as the central or secondary mechanic in the game, which is a shame.

If any genre is going to explore the possibilities of Mimic Power, it should be RPGs -- and not only as a fun gimmick, but as a full-fledged mechanic that meaningfully impacts the gameplay. The transformations should not serve as mere character skins, but each shape should be thought out and serve a particular purpose. Then, it would really be able to grow into a sub-genre of its own.

How About Virtual Reality?

BespokeVR's Perception Neuron shapeshifter playtest

VR games could also do some really great things with Mimic Power -- whether using it as a secondary mechanic or the basis of an entire game.Naturally, the transformations would feel incredibly realistic. Just imagine watching your whole body transform into something else. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

This could even go as far as blur the lines between the genres, as mimicry literally gives you powers to take shape of anything you want. The only boundaries would exist within the given associations of the game, such as mechanical or biological transformations, full or partial, etc.

The right balance of limitations and the range of possibilities -- that’s what makes any game, whether typical or VR, into a true gem. And there's definitely a place for more mimicry somewhere in there.

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What other genres do you think Mimic Power would fit in? Does Mimic Power sound like it could become the next big thing in video games? Let us know in the comments section.

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It's Launch Day for Prey, and the Reviews Are Glowing https://www.gameskinny.com/rjjpm/its-launch-day-for-prey-and-the-reviews-are-glowing https://www.gameskinny.com/rjjpm/its-launch-day-for-prey-and-the-reviews-are-glowing Fri, 05 May 2017 15:05:25 -0400 Paige McGovern

Only two days ago, the launch trailer and release date for Prey was announced. Today, the heavily-anticipated space shooter thriller is available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It has also been released on Steam for PC players. 

Prey has been in development by Arkane Studios for the last four years. Set in the year 2032, you awaken on a space station named Talos I and discover that aliens are hunting you. With no way to escape, you must fight back against the threat and save Talos I. 

So far, almost 1,000 players have left reviews on Steam alone, with the majority very positive. In addition, the game is currently rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on the Xbox One store. Both players and video game critics alike have been blown away by this reboot of the 2006 original. Our own reviewer here at GS gave Prey a 9/10. 

Interested players can get Prey now on their preferred platform for $59.99. 

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Extended Free Trial Announced for Dishonored 2 https://www.gameskinny.com/5x4xn/extended-free-trial-announced-for-dishonored-2 https://www.gameskinny.com/5x4xn/extended-free-trial-announced-for-dishonored-2 Tue, 04 Apr 2017 04:48:19 -0400 ThatGamersAsylum

This morning Bethesda announced on their official blog that an extended free trial of Dishonored 2 would be made available via PSN Store, Xbox Live, and Steam on April 6th.

The trial can be played through using either of the game's 2 unique protagonists: Emily Kaldwin or Corvo Attano (the protagonist from the first game). The free trial seems to be quite extensive as it features the first 3 missions in the game. To accommodate the trial's length, if or when you upgrade to the full game your saves will be brought over as well.

This seems to offer quite a bit of content for its free price tag. I'd imagine you could potentially get several hours out of this, especially if you play through with both characters. The blog post does not seem to indicate that this is a limited time offer.

Since it's release Dishonored 2 received updates which retroactively added in a mission select and an extra difficulty setting (among other things).

GameSkinny's review of the game is rather positive, saying that is made "a huge step forward from its predecessor" is almost every aspect. But what do you think? Do you really enjoy being able to play a game before you buy it, or is it just too late to release a demo?

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Dishonored 2 Just Got a Steam Update So Big That It's Classified as a Beta https://www.gameskinny.com/p82co/dishonored-2-just-got-a-steam-update-so-big-that-its-classified-as-a-beta https://www.gameskinny.com/p82co/dishonored-2-just-got-a-steam-update-so-big-that-its-classified-as-a-beta Tue, 21 Mar 2017 13:00:50 -0400 Dan Roemer

Several months after its full release back in November 2016, Dishonored 2 is receiving its third new update for PC and Steam users today. Because it's such a large set of changes, this patch is being considered a beta for now -- but includes fixes for a number of different crashing issues and other bugs in the game.

 

So what is this massive patch going to fix?

A lot of things -- but the primary purpose is to clear up some bugs and other glitches that have burdened Dishonored players. For example, it should solve the bug that turns your journal into a blurred mess. It's also going to fix the issue that causes players to get control-locked in the key bind menu if they're using a mouse and game pad at the same time. 

 

The new update also includes performance optimization for users on AMD 400 Series Crossfire Enabled GPUs. It even aims to fix some localization issues with in-game text, while also adding some extra UI optimization. But otherwise, the patch notes are pretty lacking over all in optimization improvements.

 

For a full rundown of all the changes coming in this patch, you can check out the full patch notes for Dishonored 2 via its Steam store page. 

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Prey Typhon Research Trailer Drops and Reveals Alien Species https://www.gameskinny.com/naf92/prey-typhon-research-trailer-drops-and-reveals-alien-species https://www.gameskinny.com/naf92/prey-typhon-research-trailer-drops-and-reveals-alien-species Thu, 16 Mar 2017 13:14:19 -0400 Pierre Fouquet

A new trailer for the upcoming shooter Prey, titled Typhon Research, just released today. This cinematic trailer focuses on each species of Typhon -- the aliens within Prey. It explains what each species can do, and their relative danger to humans.

There are four known different species of Typhon, all discovered through the "introduction of human test subjects". However, there are likely more species out there that we haven't seen yet. In this trailer, we got a visceral look at three of these species. Here's what we know:

01: Mimic

These spider-like creatures are the progenitor (evolutionary beginning point) of the Typhon species. Their nickname is derived from their ability to polymorph into inanimate objects of similar mass, and lay in wait and ambush their prey.

02: Phantom

These are "hybrids of Typhon DNA and a human's corpse." While they may think in a similar style to humans, they have deadly claws and a ranged kinetic sphere which detonates on impact.

03: Telepath

These Typhons are, as you guessed from the name, telepathic -- making them one of the most dangerous species due to these psychic abilities. They can control weaker-willed organisms by using a powerful psychic wave. This wave can be nullified by using a personal psychic nullwave device.

That's all we're able to gather from this new trailer. 

If you pre-order Prey, you'll get access to the "Cosmonaut Shotgun Pack" --which gets you a Margrave Shotgun and ammo plans, 2 medkits, 1 recycler shielding chipset, starter fabrication materials, and 3 transtar neuromods. That'll be pretty helpful when you're facing off against the nasty Typhons we've seen in this reveal.

Prey, developed by Arkane Studios, is due out on May 5, 2017 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

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Prey Demo Impressions: Alien Invasion with a Twist https://www.gameskinny.com/vfew8/prey-demo-impressions-alien-invasion-with-a-twist https://www.gameskinny.com/vfew8/prey-demo-impressions-alien-invasion-with-a-twist Mon, 27 Feb 2017 14:06:09 -0500 Sergey_3847

Prey, a new game from Arkane Studios and Bethesda Softworks, has nothing to do with the game of the same title from 2006. Although some themes are similar overall, these two games are completely different projects.

This one is mostly inspired by the games like Bioshock, Half-Life, and especially System Shock. It is set for a May 5th release date, and not long ago the demo of the game became available online for free.

If you haven’t got the chance to play the demo, then here are a few thoughts on what to expect from this unusual project.

The First Test…or the Last One

Prey DemoChoose your protagonist...

The very first screen of the demo offers the choice between the male and female protagonists -- but it really doesn’t matter who you chose, since the storyline follows the same scenario in any case.

It’s the year 2032. If you chose the male character, your name is Morgan Yu. You wake up in your apartment and you are being called on the phone by your brother -- Alex Yu. Morgan gets up, puts on a special suit, and moves outside on top of the building, where a corporate helicopter is waiting for him.

Prey demo is short -- clocking in at just a couple of hours of gameplay, while the full game will have around 16-20 hours.

The helicopter lands on the roof of the Transtar building, where Yu brothers work together. You will soon meet Alex, who instructs you on the upcoming tests…and he admits that there is nothing to worry about.

The series of experiments you will take part in are not difficult at all, but there is something strange about them. For example, they ask you to hide inside a room with only one chair, or let you answer a few questions that keep you checking your moral compass. Anyhow, it all ends pretty fast, because an unexpected thing happens -- some sort of dark entity eats the face of one of the scientists...

An Experiment Gone Awry

Prey DemoThis thing hurts!

The screen goes black and you wake up in your apartment like nothing ever happened… again. This is weird, so you start checking your computer that keeps six identical messages: “Danger. Leave Now.” You try to leave, but there are dead bodies everywhere in the hall of the building, and you start realizing the horrible truth -- something went terribly wrong.

An unknown voice appears in your radio -- somebody wants to help you get out of there. This is the point where the game truly begins -- you start an investigation. As your character walks around the building, you realize that everything is fake, and the building you’ve accommodated is actually a space station.

Here every little bit of information becomes important -- whether it’s an email on some random PC, or an audio file on somebody’s desk. On top of that you keep finding various tools, some of which are offensive.

So what this is all about? You learn that Transtar has been attacked by some sort of alien, called "mimics", that can turn into any shape or form. These mimics (which are strongly reminiscent of the headcrabs from Half-Life) have flooded the entire station, and it looks like everybody’s dead except you.

Introducing Mechanics and Skills

Prey DemoNeuromods make everything so much easier.

In the process you learn that you can activate various abilities with the help of special devices called neuromods. These unpleasant augmentations require getting needles stuck in your eyes....which is referenced at the beginning of the game. 

Prey is clearly targeted at experienced gamers, who know how to handle a game with high level of difficulty.

The demo version of Prey offers three skills trees - Scientist, Engineer, and Security. Engineer skills are of particular interest since many areas on the map are closed, but you can hack through them by playing fun mini-games that look a bit like Pac-Man. But even if you develop Security skills, you gain so much power that you will be able to simply break through using your strength alone.

Talking about offensive abilities that are of no less priority here, you will find a weapon called the GLOO Canon. This thing emits blobs of glue that freeze mimics and phantoms -- another enemy that you will encounter on your way. As the enemies get frozen, you can take out your good old wrench and kill them almost instantly. At the latter stages of the demo you also get to use a shotgun.

However, if this playstyle doesn’t excite you, there is always a stealthy way. This is no surprise, since Prey has been developed by Arkane Studios -- the creators of Dishonored. This developer knows how to implement stealth mechanics into its games, and Prey is no exception.

Is it worth waiting for?



The Prey demo is short -- clocking in just a couple of hours of gameplay, while the full game will have around 16-20 hours. But you can always do things differently and approach the game from a new angle. Actually, it is a lot of fun looking for alternative ways out, instead of choosing the typical aim-and-shoot path of the FPS games.

The demo gives the distinct impression that the complete game will have a strong storyline and a few twists at the end. Prey is clearly targeted at experienced gamers, who know how to handle a game with high level of difficulty. It will be a challenging game that will test your patience many times before you reach the finish line.

If everything above got your blood pumping, then Prey is definitely worth the wait. And it’s just a couple of months away, so you won’t have to wait for too long.

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Blink Fast: How Dishonored's Movement Creates Fluidity https://www.gameskinny.com/7ndt6/blink-fast-how-dishonoreds-movement-creates-fluidity https://www.gameskinny.com/7ndt6/blink-fast-how-dishonoreds-movement-creates-fluidity Sun, 08 Jan 2017 05:28:10 -0500 Will Dowell

Dishonored was the new IP that took the stealth genre by storm in 2012. Gamers flocked to it with its watercolor art and its dark steampunk world. Dishonored gave choice to the user, with its assortment of tools and powers. Arkane Studios, the game's developers, highlighted their destructive capabilities, but have ignored what could be the most important feature of Dishonored's stealth design: it's fluid movement.

With environmental interaction and movement a core part of the stealth genre, Dishonored was able to make sneaking past guards fast and exciting.

Manipulating the World of Dishonored

In any true stealth game, players should be able to fully avoid their adversaries if they so wish. In most games, this either means using tools to distract your enemies or learning complicated guard patterns. Dishonored, however, provides players the ability to fully navigate around the enemy, hiding on the rooftops or in shadowy crevices around Dunwall. Using the Blink or Bend Time can allow you to even bypass the guards directly. It gives you options and encourages creativity and exploration.

When handling a stealth game, building an environment that encourages creativity is essential and Dunwall provides that in spades. In the outdoors, guards can be avoided through the sewers and skylines. But when you move inside, things soon get claustrophobic and Corvo's stealth skills are truly tested. Pathways still exist, but they are tougher to use and navigate. You must teleport from bookshelf to chandelier, all the while making sure you don't fall into that intimidating group of thugs below.

However, your other powers become much more useful, as Possession and Bend Time allow you to move past swarms of enemies without a fuss. These powers, in exchange for their usefulness, drain Mana extremely quickly, however, making them last resorts in a pinch. Dishonored allows you to learn these powers and exploit the guards however you see fit.

Moving Itself

Ignoring the powers themselves, Corvo is still agile, allowing players to speed through these enemies like a ninja. Combine this with Blink and Corvo can fly through the stage as either a force of justice or an angel of death. As he speeds through the world, enemies may catch glimpses of him, but with reasonable reaction times, you can vanish before they even know what happened. This is exhilarating compared to the slow methodical strategies of Hitman or Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. Dishonored has depth in its movement however, making the stealth and navigation more satisfying than Assassin's Creed. It balances speed and strategy to form an exhilarating experience.

When Push Comes to Shove

Combat in Dishonored is also more varied and fluid because of its movement system. You are darting around the battlefield, creating chaos and carnage in your wake. Using teleportation to flee across rooftops or freezing time to lay down traps creates a chaotic sense of freedom. This is enhanced by the brutality of each kill. Enemies will lose life and limb, usually at the same time. With speed and brutality, it reinforces Corvo as a super-powered assassin while keeping the player from getting bored.

Fluidity at its Finest

Dishonored builds itself on exploration and fluidity, with adventure on every corner. Creating the tense feeling of a stealth game while maintaining fluidity is no small feat. With a focus on freedom, Dishonored truly provides the player the opportunity to become a super-powered assassin.

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Dishonored 2 Would Be Better Without Runes https://www.gameskinny.com/1db5e/dishonored-2-would-be-better-without-runes https://www.gameskinny.com/1db5e/dishonored-2-would-be-better-without-runes Mon, 21 Nov 2016 12:12:42 -0500 Pierre Fouquet

Dishonored 2 is the latest of Arkane Studios' games, published by Bethesda Softworks, this time set in the mediterranean-like Karnaca, instead of industrial England-like Dunwall. Unlike the first, in Dishonored 2 you can play as Emily Kaldwin, or as Corvo Attano -- Dishonored's protagonist. But just like with Dishonored in 2 you also have supernatural abilities. To upgrade or unlock new ones, you need to collect runes.

Only, after going back to Dishonored before jumping fully into 2, I loaded a save game with all the supernatural abilities unlocked. What I found out is that the games are vastly more fun with all the abilities unlocked from the get-go.

Dishonored 2 doesn't need runes

Now, I get the need for the runes. It allows the player to pick and choose which abilities they unlock, and allows you to feel like you are growing as the character -- they're something for the player to work for. The runes symbolize the character getting more powerful, growing, and getting used to their abilities.

Only, having to go around and physically pick them up gets tedious. The closest comparison to runes I can think of is in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided with Praxis points and kits. In Mankind Divided, the unlocks are all given to you through an XP system, and you can pick up some extra Praxis kits if you look around. That sort of XP system feels much more fluid, and much more like you are growing as a character.

With runes, you are crawling around a level and looking for a thing to pick up. It doesn't feel like you are growing, but like you are boringly rummaging about. Sure, the lore describes runes as whale bones with the Outsider's mark carved into them, which will give anyone with the the mark more power. But why? That's explained in the most boring way possible -- it basically boils down to "magic."

This leads me to thinking that Dishonored 2 needs an XP system instead of runes.

Dishonored 2 XP system

Like with Deus Ex: Mankind DividedDishonored 2 could have an XP system, along with some extra runes you can pick up. This would be a direct mirror of the Praxis kits found around the world of Deus Ex. But this wouldn't work due to bone charms, objects which give you passive bonuses within the world of Dishonored. They would make an XP system redundant because they are collectible passive abilities.

Bone charms are another object you have to find in each level of Dishonored 2, and these make much more sense to me. You grab them and get a bonus of some sort -- be it more resistance or damage, or being faster in combat. These objects are much more fun to find, and feel fully optional, whereas your abilities don't. This means that finding runes feels like busy work put in Dishonored 2 to extend playtime.

Bone charms are the Praxis kits of Dishonored 2

With bone charms being the Praxis kits of Dishonored 2, you don't need an XP system either. The bone charms feel like you are hunting around for something to improve yourself, unlike with runes, where you feel like you have to get them to have more fun in Dishonored 2.

Runes actually feel like they are directly contradicting what Dishonored 2 is asking you to do. The game is laid out in front of you, and all but directly tells you to experiment. But by limiting what you can experiment with, it feels like the game is simply doing this to make you extend your playtime with some unfun busy work. 

While this could be an affliction given with the trend of instant gratification in games, I feel that the bone charm system overrides this. The max jump height can be lowered, unless you pick up a bone charm to up your jump further -- but almost everything should be reachable with the default jump height. Giving the player each and every single power and ability from the outset allows them to experiment and grow with those abilities, thus still feeling like they are improving as a fictional character. You can start to use the abilities to your advantage, and experiment as the game asks of you too do.

 It cuts out the busy work, and allows the game some time to breathe. With no runes in Dishonored 2, it would allow more creativity, more experimentation, more hilarious moments -- but above all, more fun.

Image Credits:

Header from DeviantArt - atrum-lupus

First image from DeviantArt - Neocco

Second and third image from MyMiniFactory - Kirby Downey

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Dishonored 2 Review: Best Steampunk Game of the Year https://www.gameskinny.com/tcmfs/dishonored-2-review-best-steampunk-game-of-the-year https://www.gameskinny.com/tcmfs/dishonored-2-review-best-steampunk-game-of-the-year Mon, 14 Nov 2016 06:11:27 -0500 Sergey_3847

Four years ago Arkane Studios released the first Dishonored game in the series. It was 2012 -- the year of Mass Effect 3 (the biggest disappointment of that year), Max Payne 3, and Medal of Honor: Warfighter -- which had both put an end to the cult series of their respective games.

In contrast, the first Dishonored was fresh and unexpected at the time. Now, it has returned in the form of a sequel that is already considered by many to be the number one contender for the best game of 2016.

Well, this next entry in the series has definitely has improved on its predecessor, and after the official release we can finally look at Dishonored 2 hands-on.

Story, Characters, and Their Abilities

Dishonored 2 screenshot

Dishonored 2 takes place 15 years after the events of the first game. The sequel immediately introduces another playable character -- Emily Kaldwin, the newly enthroned empress and Corvo Attano’s daughter. She is young, but still a very dangerous lady. Her father is just as deadly, although he's gotten a bit older.

The game begins with a group of impostors taking hold of the throne, and this is where we get the chance to choose which character we want to play -- Emily or Corvo. They are very different characters and this makes you want to replay the entire game over again, just to see how events will unfold from a new perspective.

Dishonored 2 has made a huge step forward from its predecessor in terms of visual design, gameplay elements, and overall atmosphere.

Emily is designed to be stealthy and merciful, meaning that she can go through the missions without killing a single person. Corvo, on the other hand, is merciless and kills everyone he encounters on his way. These styles are supported by various abilities that help each of the two characters shape their playstyles accordingly.

Some of the Corvo’s abilities may be familiar to you, such as "Blink" that teleports him to a distant location, "Devouring Swarm" which summons rats that clear away the dead bodies, "Possession" which helps him take control over dead bodies, etc.

Dishonored 2 screenshot

Emily’s powers are completely new. "Far Reach" allows her to jump higher than usual, "Mesmerize" helps her hypnotize enemies and make them useless, "Domino" can copy the same actions on several enemies. Those are just a few of her many great abilities.

However, the point where Dishonored 2 really deserves respect is when it offers you to reject these super powers. Doing such a thing is simply not recommended for your first walkthrough, but you can do it the second time around and feel exactly what realistic gaming is all about -- it’s extremely difficult.

Gameplay, Graphics and Optimization

Dishonored 2 screenshot

In terms of gameplay mechanics, Dishonored 2 is no different from the first installment. Each mission can be finished in various ways, some of which are more dangerous than others. And the level design makes up for it.

Every location in Dishonored 2 is meticulously thought-out to the finest details, which makes the stealth gameplay especially enjoyable. Every corner, every little room has something to offer -- whether it’s money or something more valuable, such as runes and bonecharms.

The streets and the buildings usually are heavily guarded by the Overseers and this does require you to use the super powers, unless you like spending time killing every single one of them. In terms of the enemy AI there are no significant improvements, but this was expected.

Dishonored 2 screenshot

The graphics, on the other hand, have been improved significantly. Dishonored 2 utilizes the Void Engine -- a new game engine designed in collaboration with id Software, known for such huge franchises like Wolfeinstein, Doom and Quake.

Since the world of Dishonored 2 is much bigger than the one in the first game, it takes a toll on your hardware. Every little texture adds up to the general performance of the game, so make sure that you have at least Intel Core i5 and the graphics card with at least 3 GB of RAM.

However, even with the highest specs, you will find that some scenes have serious FPS drops -- and that is due to the sort of bad optimization that is typical for games these days. So, this is probably the only real drawback of Dishonored 2.

Conclusion

Dishonored 2 has made a huge step forward from its predecessor in terms of visual design, gameplay elements that include new and exciting super powers, and overall atmosphere of the game. The story is engaging enough to motivate you go through the missions, but don’t expect something mind-blowing.

The enemy AI could be better, but the number of little challenges in every mission totally makes up for it. And, if you decide to reject the super powers in the very beginning, then you will be rewarded with greater difficulty -- if that’s your thing.

Note: This review was written with a copy provided by the publisher.

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What's Totally New in Dishonored 2 https://www.gameskinny.com/rzmma/whats-totally-new-in-dishonored-2 https://www.gameskinny.com/rzmma/whats-totally-new-in-dishonored-2 Thu, 10 Nov 2016 02:00:01 -0500 Damien Smith

Arkane Studios latest title, Dishonored 2, is scheduled for release tomorrow. It is the highly anticipated sequel to the award winning 2012 title Dishonored and is published by Bethesda Softworks. Dishonored 2 is set to feature an array of new features and mechanics. Let's take a look at what they will be.

Gameplay

The first new feature of the gameplay will be that after the prologue, players will get the choice of playing as either Emily Kaldwin or Corvo Attano. In the previous title players only took control of Corvo -- and never saw his face. Dishonored 2 introduces non-lethal combat moves. This will make it easier for players to complete a playthrough without taking a single life if they wish to do so.

The chaos system from the first game makes a return but with a new element to it. At the start of each mission, random NPCs are procedurally assigned one of three states; sympathetic, guilty, and murderous. Killing a sympathetic will give the player more chaos while killing someone that's murderous, will lower the chaos gain.

Insects called bloodflies nest in corpses. The more corpses that litter the area the more bloodflies that begin to appear. The player must attempt to hide the corpses from the flies in order to stop them from nesting.

The final new feature of Dishonored 2's gameplay will be that each mission will contain a unique theme of either fiction or mechanic. An example of this would be, that in one level, the player is confronted with two factions. Each faction has their own assassination target and may use the levels recurring dust storms as cover.

Another example would be on another level, time distortion is introduced as the player traverses an abandoned mansion in ruin. The player is given a device that lets them glimpse into the past, where guards roam, and at-will shift into it.

The new features and mechanics for the gameplay are all looking interesting. Arkhane are aiming to add and expand it from the original, exactly what any good sequel should aim to do. The gameplay isn't the only aspect of the game to have something completely new.

New abilities and powers

The  first new ability and power related feature is a change in the upgrade system. Unlike in the first game, the upgrade system consists of a skill tree with multiple paths and some additional upgrades. An example of this will be that some powers will contain both a lethal or non-lethal upgrade.

While Corvo retains most of his powers from the original game along with some of them having a few adjustments, Emily will have her own unique powers. Far Reach allows her to pull enemies and objects toward her, and travel great distances (much like Corvo's Blink ability) but enemies will be able to see Emily do this.

  • Mesmerize distracts her enemies, moving them into a state of sedation.
  • Domino allows Emily to connect several of her enemies together so they can share the same fate -- and exactly the same fate.
  • Shadow Walk allows her to transform into a shadowy cloud that moves swiftly and changes tangibility at will.
  • Doppleganger is a skill that allows Emily to conjure a clone of herself to misdirect enemies, and looks to perfectly work alongside Domino.

The new abilities and powers introduced along with the new upgrade system are looking great. They will give both new players and veterans alike a fresh and exciting experience.

The setting

The previous game took place in the city of Dunwall, the capital of the Empire of Isles. Dishonored 2 takes place in Karnaca, the capital of Serkonos and is the southernmost coastal city in the Empire of Isles. The city is often referred to as the Jewel of the South. 

The entire city is powered by wind turbines whose current is generated by a cleft mountain situated at the city border. Silver is one of the city's chief exports and is extracted from the local mines. Karnaca is rife with dust storms resulting in the wind blowing across the mines and into the city, resulting in the mining district being known as the Dust District.

There are two factions, the Howlers and the Overseers, engaged in violent conflict in Karnaca. A man called Paolo is leading the Howlers in opposition to the new Duke and his government, after the passing of Duke Theodanis Abele. The Grand Serkonan Guard, Karnaca's law enforcement and military, constructed defensive barriers called Walls of Light in response to the disarray.

The new setting for the game is certainly sounding interesting. It will give players of the first game somewhere new to experience. With new characters, locations and lore, there is bound to be a wealth of new and intriguing scenarios.

A lot of new features and mechanics

Dishonored 2 is looking to introduce a lot of new features, mechanics, and elements. From having the choice of playing two different characters (Emily or Corvo), to gameplay changes with new abilities, and a whole new upgrade system, and then of course a completely new setting.

For those continuing from the original game, there is a lot of new features and changes to play with. For those who may not have played the first game, there is a beautiful and mysterious world to explore with interesting gameplay and characters.

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NYCC Dishonored 2 Demo: First Impressions and Gameplay Footage https://www.gameskinny.com/m97uq/nycc-dishonored-2-demo-first-impressions-and-gameplay-footage https://www.gameskinny.com/m97uq/nycc-dishonored-2-demo-first-impressions-and-gameplay-footage Tue, 18 Oct 2016 04:48:23 -0400 Joey Marrazzo

During New York Comic Con, I was able to get a hands-on demo with Arkane Studio's Dishonored 2. If you played the first Dishonored, you will feel right at home when you get your hands on the sequel.

The main difference between the first Dishonored and Dishonored 2 is your choice to play as Emily or Corvo. Emily, if you have forgotten, is the daughter of the Empress that was killed in the beginning of Dishonored. She is now the former Empress of Dunwall. 

The video below shows my gameplay from The Clockworth Manor. It is a unique level in the game that has different ways you can play it. The video starts with the Emily version of the gameplay ,and switches to Corvo at the 35 minute mark. 

The game plays and feels great, just like the first one. Visually, it looked amazing. And players don't have to worry about missing parts of the story if they choose one character over the other. Whether you choose Emily or Corvo, the campaign is the same minus a few changes in the dialogue. Corvo has the same abilities from the first game and Emily has her own set of abilities that will help you get through the missions.

It's great to see that the stealth aspect of the game is most certainly there. In fact, you could play the whole game without alerting any of the enemies in it. 

The Clockworth Manor mission is a unique one. During the mission, there are little pieces of each room that can change that will help you make progress. The mansion is a big puzzle that made it a lot of fun to play and will let you complete the mission in different ways. According to co-Creative Director Harvey Smith, this is the only mission that would have the puzzle feel to it. Clockworth Manor will be about a third of the way into the game when it releases. 

Dishonored 2 comes out in under a month on November 11. It will release for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. If you loved the first Dishonored, you will feel right at home with Dishonored 2.

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Prey Is Back... But Why Are We All Excited? https://www.gameskinny.com/wglr5/prey-is-back-but-why-are-we-all-excited https://www.gameskinny.com/wglr5/prey-is-back-but-why-are-we-all-excited Tue, 21 Jun 2016 07:17:17 -0400 Pierre Fouquet

Prey released way back in 2006, developed by Human Head Studios, and many loved it. The graphics, gameplay, where it was set, and even the story were all amazing. While most of these elements have aged in the past 10 years, Prey still plays really well.

Prey resurfaced a few years back, as a sequel being again developed by Human Head Studios. It's a shame Prey 2 is no longer a thing, but with Arkane Studios now at the helm of the Prey reboot, I jumped back into the original. But what makes it stand out?

Looking to the other side of the Sphere.

Prey does new things with the old tropes, even now

Let's brush over what has aged -- with textures and poly counts Prey is no longer up to scratch. But being around 10 years old it still looks solid, especially in the architecture and design of everything. The walls still look disgusting -- they are slimy and organically grotesque, with some of the 'doors' opening with a horrible squelch. They are animated amazingly to create a vomit-inducing effect.

The plot has been seen many times before, and many times since, but with a slightly different twist. You are a Cherokee named Tommy. Aliens abduct you, your girlfriend Jen, and your granddad. Using your ancestral powers, you can spirit walk, which allows you to walk over spirit bridges, pass through force fields, and use your spirit bow. Familiar story elements, of chasing your loved one and alien abduction, are mixed with an oft-underserved spiritual element from Native American culture.

Yes, I am walking along a wall.

The gameplay is pretty standard, until you start to manipulate gravity, walk along the walls and ceilings using specific walkways, and even become a spirit. There are some boxes which will transport you to other places, sometimes within the same room, sometimes into another area. There are even portals -- unfortunately you cannot create them, but they can appear anywhere, on roofs, walls, or the floor near you, with some you can pass through.

You gain new and unique weapons, each of which works differently from the last, but is also as interesting as the last. From the more standard assault rifle type weapon, which has an alternative fire where it turns into a more sniper rifle type weapon, to a gun where you have to charge it using energy stations of fire, ice, or lighting, and which element you charge the gun with changes the range and how it actually fires.

Gravity is pulling me towards the wall, so it is now the floor.

Gravity, space, and mind bending

Let's talk a bit more about gravity, and portals. We all know what gravity is I assume, where you stick to a ball because of it's size, density, and pull. It's rare to see a game which uses gravity, both realistically and gamifies it.

There are walkways where you stick to the surface, and so can walk across walls and ceilings -- but don't jump off because you will fall. There are even sections where you can shoot a gravity manipulator and change the direction of gravity. Both of these mechanics create really interesting puzzles, where you use your spirit form to activate objects and move your physical self. The realistic gravity comes in the form of mini-planets, where you literally walk around them. Some areas have many of these little planets, and even a spaceship you can fly around in.

The portals, teleportation boxes, as well as mirrors are some of the best reflections/projections in games. (And remember Prey was released before Portal.) You can see through the portals, the other side being just as clear as if you were there. The reflections from mirrors are the same, a perfectly mirrored image of Tommy appears at the beginning of the game.

The plane crash which was the be the starting point of Prey 2.

Prey sticks in your head because it takes tropes and does interesting things within them

To this day, many of the things Prey does are unique. How many games use portals? Or allow you to manipulate gravity? Or even have tiny planets you can walk around? Yes, there are few, like Portal with...well portals. And LawBreakers has gravity manipulation, along with a few other games (some of which, notably Inversion, were also very mediocre games which didn't use a cool mechanic in very impressive ways).

Prey remains a memorable game by mixing things you are used to seeing, with new things. I, for one, can't wait to see what Arkane Studios come up with in their Prey reboot.

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Prey 2 Is Alive Again, Expect a New Announcement at E3 https://www.gameskinny.com/a77q2/prey-2-is-alive-again-expect-a-new-announcement-at-e3 https://www.gameskinny.com/a77q2/prey-2-is-alive-again-expect-a-new-announcement-at-e3 Wed, 25 May 2016 11:47:56 -0400 Chris Cooper

Prey was, in my opinion, a sadly underrated game when it released somewhere in the ballpark of a decade ago. It had a fairly unique story as games go while also progressing a horrifically depressing story. 

Prey 2 was announced some years later and put you into the shoes of an Air Marshall who was aboard the "abducted" airliner you see early on in the game. In the original trailer above you can see the Marshall currently living the dream: a bounty hunter in space. 

However the poor game suffered in development limbo and never saw the light of day. 

Now things have changed. As we approach E3 2016 it's come to light a new Prey game developed by Arkane (who made Dishonored) will be revealed on June 14th, the first day of the expo. You'll also find yourself redirected to a now closed facebook page for Prey 2 if you try to visit www.prey2.com

There's no reason to think the new game will have anything to do with the original idea for Prey 2 but here's to hoping because, you know, space bounty hunter. 

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Prey 2 Might be at Bethesda's E3 2016 Presentation https://www.gameskinny.com/9svb9/prey-2-might-be-at-bethesdas-e3-2016-presentation https://www.gameskinny.com/9svb9/prey-2-might-be-at-bethesdas-e3-2016-presentation Wed, 11 May 2016 09:08:48 -0400 Pierre Fouquet

Both Kotaku and a Prey fansite, Aliennoire, have hinted at the possibility that Prey 2 will be back at E3. This time it's being developed by Arkane Studios, the developers behind Dishonored, instead of Human Head Studios.

While the fan site has speculated that the announcement date will be June 14, it sounds much more likely that it will happen on June 12, as this is the day of the Bethesda's E3 press conference. The fan site has also said the game is being developed by Arkane Studios, which is far more likely due to some leaked emails -- which came out in mid-2013 -- backing this up.

Raphael Colantonio, the Co-Creative Director at Arkhane alongside Harvey Smith, sent out an email in May of 2013 stating that the team in Austin had been greenlit on a project surrounding Prey.

This information was swiftly leaked, and Colantonio sent out a follow up email.

Will Prey 2 now be Dishonored in space? That doesn't sound bad at all.

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Dishonored Review https://www.gameskinny.com/5dr12/dishonored-review https://www.gameskinny.com/5dr12/dishonored-review Fri, 10 Jul 2015 20:32:02 -0400 Elijah Beahm

Sometimes games are better on a second glance, such as the case today with Dishonored. A first person stealth game with bite and beautiful execution, it remains one of the most cohesive experiences published by Bethesda in recent memory. It is easily one of the best games I've reviewed this year, and definitely worth your time.

Platforms: PC (Reviewed), Mac, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Coming Soon to Xbox One and PlayStation 4
Price: $4.99 - $29.99
Rating: 9.5/10

This game was reviewed using a consumer copy of the game.

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Play as Emily Kaldwin in Dishonored 2 https://www.gameskinny.com/zgcqm/play-as-emily-kaldwin-in-dishonored-2 https://www.gameskinny.com/zgcqm/play-as-emily-kaldwin-in-dishonored-2 Mon, 15 Jun 2015 06:43:42 -0400 Anne-Marie Coyle

Bethesda unveiled Dishonored 2 during it's first ever E3 press conference last night. 

Expanding the series focus on choice, players now have the option to play as the series previous protagonist, Corvo, or new character Emily Kaldwin. 

Emily Kaldwin featured in the original as the orphaned daughter of the Empress, now she's all grown up with assassin abilities of her own. 

The game takes place in the city of Karnaca, with the throne once more in need of protecting. No gameplay was shown, but the launch trailer did provide the familiar blend of supernatural stealth and action the series is known for. 

Dishonored 2 has been confirmed for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. An exact release date hasn't been set, but it's expected to launch in Spring 2016. 

For those not wanting to wait that long for another slice of Dishonored action there's also the Dishonored Definitive Edition releasing on August 25. 

The newly announced edition brings the original and all DLC to PS4 and Xbox One for $40.


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Dishonored II Reveal Will Blow Us Away at E3...? https://www.gameskinny.com/1sc91/dishonored-ii-reveal-will-blow-us-away-at-e3 https://www.gameskinny.com/1sc91/dishonored-ii-reveal-will-blow-us-away-at-e3 Mon, 03 Mar 2014 17:46:22 -0500 Fathoms_4209

Dishonored was one of the best new IPs of the previous generation. It received widespread critical acclaim and it sold quite well.

Therefore, it wouldn't be a shock to hear that a sequel is on the way.

A certain leaked photo is making the Internet rounds; you can see it here. It clearly shows a Dishonored II logo along with the tagline: "Witness the full reveal at E3 2014!" Fans of the original are sincerely hoping this is legit; if it is, I expect we'll find more evidence of the project's existence over the next few months.

For the record, developer Arkane Studios and publisher Bethesda have said nothing official, so take this with a grain of salt. It's also important to note the relatively plain "II" in that logo, which may hint that it's fake. Even if it is, though, it's still very likely that we'll eventually see a sequel to the well-received Dishonored. It won over many reviewers and critics - including me - when it launched in 2012.

We may not have to wait until E3...

These days, it's very difficult to keep a big secret...well, secret. Keeping the lid on a Dishonored sequel will be nigh-on impossible, especially with all the eagle-eyed gamers and inside tipsters in the industry right now. Personally, I'm not that interested in rumors because I figure the official word is never far off.

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Final Dishonored DLC Announced: The Brigmore Witches https://www.gameskinny.com/d0m4h/final-dishonored-dlc-announced-the-brigmore-witches https://www.gameskinny.com/d0m4h/final-dishonored-dlc-announced-the-brigmore-witches Tue, 16 Jul 2013 11:53:01 -0400 Aneudys Tejeda

Bethesda's Dishonored comes to a gripping conclusion.

Bethesda has announced the final DLC pack for Dishonored. The Brigmore Witches will be released on all platforms on August 13, with the exception of Europe, which will get the content on August 14. The DLC will cost $9.99, or 800 Microsoft Points, and will end the tale of Daud that began with the previous story based DLC, The Knife of Dunwall.

Minor spoilers from Knife of Dunwall.

The Brigmore Witches will pit you against Delilah, the head of the coven trying to destroy you. Following the betrayal of Billie Lurk, you'll have to depend on two rival factions, the Dead Eels and the Hatters, to try and smuggle you through Dunwall and into Delilah's hideout.

Your Chaos level, powers, weapons, item upgrades and actions from The Knife of Dunwall will be carried over, and the final confrontation with Corvo Attano will see you answer for your past crimes.

I have yet to play Dishonored, although it is definitely a game I am interested in. Dishonored has received fantastic reviews and even some game of the year nominations. Released in October of last year, sales and fan reception have given Dishonored a good shot at a sequel.

What are your thoughts on the new DLC? Do you think it will wrap up the story with a hint of a sequel?

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Retro PC Review: Might and Magic Dark Messiah https://www.gameskinny.com/s5esv/retro-pc-review-might-and-magic-dark-messiah https://www.gameskinny.com/s5esv/retro-pc-review-might-and-magic-dark-messiah Wed, 06 Feb 2013 01:40:10 -0500 Jeremy

Might and Magic is a game synonymous with PC RPGs, and most people tend to remember the Turn Based Strategy game, Heroes of Might and Magic. But even longer ago, the M&M brand was known for being a first person western RPG, where you would make a part of adventurers, and explore the vast realms with your allies. Dark Messiah is a hearkening back to that era, although you won't have another four dudes at your side to fling spells and arrows.

So what's it about?

To be honest the story is pretty generic WRPG fare. You are a mage's apprentice, you need to find some magical macguffin, and deliver it somewhere, an ancient evil may or may not awake, etc etc etc. BUT! Things tend to take a much different turn than usual in this game. The main character has a voice in his head, and no idea what it is or where it's coming from for a large portion of the game, which adds a nice level of "what's going on" for a little while.

Next, there's no "level" in the traditional sense. The only way to increase your skills and spells is to accomplish objectives, and finding secret areas. Doing so awards you skill points, which allow you to learn skills and spells. Some of these are even prerequisites for certain items. My personal favorite spell is called freeze. It doesn't actually harm an enemy. Instead, instead coating a patch of the floor with thick, slippery ice. Used in the right places, this leads to hilarious ragdoll hijinks, enemies falling down or off high places, and a great place to get the jump on a group of enemies.

One of the fine ladies you

Xana, one of the major characters you come across in your journeys.

Is the combat any good?

The combat is great. If you like Skyrim, you will either hate this game or love it. Spamming the basic attack against even the earliest enemies in this game will leave you seeing the game over screen quite often. Instead, you have several ways of fighting. First, power attacks while moving let you do different weapon attacks. Lunges, stabs, chops, disarms--it's all about how you attack, what you attack with, and where you aim. The battlefield itself is another weapon in your arsenal. Kicking enemies into traps, spikes, fires and pits is satisfying and bloody. Sneaking around, felling foes with bow and blade quietly is another easy play style to learn, and the satisfaction of clearing the last unaware enemy with a throwing dagger from across the room to the back of the head feels great.

To help you really feel the hero of the story, you also have the adrenaline meter, which when full allows to you execute an instant kill with a melee weapon, which is satisfyingly brutal and effective, while magic spells get an immense power charge. Fireballs are bigger, Telekinesis lets you throw a living enemy around the room, and Weaken shrinks your foes to a size where your mighty boot can smush an enemy like a cock roach. And the boot, oh the boot! I don't care what the game says. No weapon, spell, or artifact is a match for the strength of your heroes mighty leather clad feet.

Sound crazy! What should I get it on?

Well, PC snob that I am, I'd recommend getting it for your computer. The game will look and run better than on the 360, the and mods are always a plus. But then again, this is one of those few games that works really, really well on a controller, and is great to both play and watch. I think both parties are winners.

Regardless, this dusty hidden gem is a must buy, and worth every penny. Who needs a magic shout when I can kick people just as hard?

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