If you read my reviews of Dishonored 2 and Prey, it should be apparent that I am a fan of Arkane studios. I hold those 2 games, as well as the original Dishonored, in high regards. Arkane is renowned for their intricate level design which facilitates a variety of paths and playstyles in every level. Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is a standalone continuation of the series that mostly follows its predecessors’ roots. Despite this, I can’t help but feel the experience was notably hollow and sterile.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider may be a standalone experience, but it is essentially an expansion of Dishonored 2. The same engine, characters, controls, and even the same areas suggest that Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is a large DLC (downloadable content) for its predecessor. There are only 5 campaign missions, and although they are supplemented by a few additional side contracts, the game is fairly short. Fret not, because it is priced appropriately even with its low play-time. Still, the game felt a little barren and uninspired at times. The straight copied areas from Dishonored 2 add to this sentiment and make Dishonored: Death of the Outsider feel even shorter and lacking in fresh content.
In Dishonored: Death of the Outsider you play as Billie Lurk, an assassin on a mission to take down the Outsider. The Outsider is the source of all the mystical powers that exist in the world of Dishonored. Billie and her mentor Daud believe that the Outsider is responsible for much of the evil in the world and resent him for their magical prowess. To achieve their goal, Billie must uncover the secrets of the void and the Outsider. The player spends most of the game stealing knowledge of how to reach and deal with the enigmatic Outsider. Rather than assassinating or “taking down” targets like in the previous games, you mostly operate as a thief. In addition, unlike previous games there is no chaos system that alters the story depending on how many people are killed. The lack of decision making and game-altering repercussions contributes to the lifeless and uninspired feeling of Dishonored: Death of the Outsider.
The gameplay of Dishonored: Death of the Outsider mostly mimics Dishonored 2. You traverse large areas, trying to stay hidden and use gadgets and magic to avoid detection. Apart from a few new abilities to play around with, it’s mostly the same old Dishonored. Which is a good thing. Sneaking around, picking off guards one-by-one, and using gadgets are all still integral parts of the game. One big change is that mana quickly automatically refills. You no longer have to go scrounging for things to refill your magical abilities, and this allows for a lot more freedom to test out the new abilities. Some new additions that I enjoyed were Billie’s two new magic abilities. One of them allows the player to briefly “steal” the face of other characters. This is occasionally useful to sneak past a guard or two, but it depletes the mana-bar very quickly and can’t be maintained for long. The other ability, Foresight, is a godsend and an amazing addition to the series. This ability allows the player to briefly freeze time and enter a “spirit” state which allows them to explore their surrounding area. This means you can scout rooms, mark guards, highlight valuable items, and plan methods of attack before ever entering a room. This ability encourages the player to use methodical and strategic approaches that the series is known for.
What really disappointed me about Dishonored: Death of the Outsider was its level design. Following up the creative genius and intricate levels of Dishonored 2 such as “Clockwork Mansion” and “Crack in the Slab” is not an easy task. Unfortunately, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider does not live up to this legacy. None of the levels are particularly creative and most seemed somewhat generic. There also seemed to be a distinct lack of multiple paths and routes through any given level. The 3rd mission was the standout for me, the game offers a few points of entry and a multitude of creative solutions to the task of bank robbery. Apart from that level, I felt the game was sorely lacking in options and interesting approaches.
Another odd departure from the rest of the series was the larger focus on combat. It may not be implicitly stated that combat is expected in Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, but the combination of a few factors leads me to believe that pure stealth was disincentivized. The first reason is obviously the lack of a chaos system. In previous games, killing enemies would change the state of the game and more rats or blood flies would appear in levels. More importantly, different chaos levels resulted in vastly different endings, and the “best” endings were achieved by having low chaos (not killing many people). Since this no longer exists in Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, the player can kill freely with no consequence. The next indication that stealth is less accessible is the lack of stealth upgrades. There are very few bone charms and upgrades that help the player remain undetected, but there are plenty of combat focused ones. Lastly, level design seems to tend towards combat encounters. There were plenty of instances where there is only 1 way into an area, and it is heavily guarded. After playing the first two games as well as this game trying to be as stealthy as possible, it was evident that it is far harder to go undetected in Dishonored: Death of the Outsider.
Despite its shortcomings, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is still a Dishonored game. Lackluster level design and recycled content makes Dishonored: Death of the Outsider seems far less inspired than its predecessors. Still, it’s a ton of fun to be an elite assassin wielding the powers of the void. For these reasons I give Dishonored: Death of the Outsider a 6.5/10. It’s still a Dishonored game, but it lacks the creativity and heart of its ancestors.