Dishonored: Death of the Outsider tasks you with killing a god, which outright doesn’t look like an easy task. Following Billie Lurk, one of Daud’s assassins and also one known as Meagan Foster in Dishonored 2, the standalone expansion brings players back into the city of Karnaca on a path to kill the Outsider himself. Death of the Outsider plays very much like any Dishonored, although avoids the binary choice system of previous titles by removing the impact of city chaos on the ending. I appreciated this feature, as the game no longer forces you to pick a play style to get a certain ending, but instead, you play whichever way you feel like. Apart from it, Death of the Outsider plays very familiar and I could always go for more Dishonored, with open level exploration and a multitude of approaches to select from. Being a standalone expansion, Death of the Outsider is done fairly quickly, yet playing as a different character with new powers doesn’t get boring by any extent. The game carries similar elements to other Dishonored titles, although there is always something new to discover in this universe, and Death of the Outsider fleshes more about Karnaca with its numerous side contracts. With even more supernatural elements than before, the game really stands out as an excellent standalone title, and for anyone who thoroughly enjoyed previous titles, is well worth playing.
Developer: Arkane Studios; Publisher: Bethesda
Release Date: September 15, 2017; Reviewed on: PC
Testing specs: Core i5-6500; 16GB RAM; GeForce GTX 1070
Available via: Steam
While Billie is a character we haven’t got to play as in the past, she feels very familiar to Corvo and Emily from the main games. With a similar style and powers, there isn’t much in Death of the Outsider to differ from Dishonored 2, although it is always interesting to discover more about the series’ world. Billie possesses powers we’ve seen in the past, with Displace being a different take on a Blink power and Foresight that is an upgraded Dark Vision from previous games, albeit allows players to travel around the level to some degree to indicate guard positions, traps, bone charms, and other things. The interesting new power is Semblance, which allows Billie to assume the look of any NPC in the world for a limited time and enables to walk right past groups of enemies. She can also listen to groups of rats she runs into, as weird as it sounds, which is used to reveal further details about the environment Billie is about to walk into. This being a short standalone expansion, Death of the Outsider lacks customization options with powers that are present in the bigger games, and aside from Bone Charms, can’t upgrade or switch up her powers. As such, players can only use the three main abilities available not counting the option to listen to rats in the world for information, which however makes the character more focused with her attributes. The power meter for abilities no longer requires consuming specific potions, which makes for a nice change of pacing, although players still have to wait a few seconds for the depleted sections of the meter to recharge. For weapons, Billie has a sword and a crossbow fit with multiple types of shot, which can stun, kill, and even incinerate enemies. These aren’t anything new, but still, offer a different take on weapons in main Dishonored games.
As in the past, Death of the Outsider offers players complete freedom of approach, with each open area built around multiple venues of progression. Play styles can be either completely stealthy or very aggressive, although, from Billie’s tools, most are tailored toward an action playthrough. With the world chaos feature removed, however, players will no longer have to restart sections if they are gearing up towards a good ending with a non-lethal gameplay style. In the main games, getting spotted and attacked was generally a sign for players to try again in a move to keep a low chaos level, but in Death of the Outsider, those mistakes can simply be fought out of. I preferred an aggressive play style because Dishonored games make it very satisfying to execute enemies in a variety of ways, particularly with brutal slow-mo finishing moves. Without facing the potential for a bad ending, I engaged in combat way more often in Death of the Outsider, although stealth gameplay still remains excellent. As before, there are many side objectives to indulge in, represented through contracts available at the game’s black market, which is also where players would purchase upgrades for their gear and weapons. Some optional quests are available by interacting with NPCs in the world as well, although because Billie is a wanted assassin the city of Karnaca is passively out to get here. Moving through city streets, I’ve found that more often than not, even workers would try to attack me if they spotted me while busy with their own tasks, let alone the numerous guards patrolling the streets. This encourages movement along rooftops and through the buildings where possible, although nothing stops players from walking straight through.
Death of the Outsider’s contract system is an interesting mechanic, as these objectives often impact how players choose to approach a specific level. For example, during the Bank Job mission, a particular contract required that I don’t harm any bank personnel, whether guards or employees, and never get spotted once. This made for a very tough level, and the Foresight power got a lot of use in this instance. As side objectives, the contracts are not very obvious, and completion of some of them requires a specific set of rules explained in the briefing, so players will often have to read through contracts a few times over. While possible to highlight in the world by setting a marker through the character menu screen, it is more satisfying to study these contracts and discover them organically. Ultimately, these objectives serve as a way to make good money for weapon upgrades, and fit Billie’s character very well.
Billie Lurk is far removed from the politics of the Dishonored universe, although that doesn’t make her goal any less difficult. Killing a god is certainly as extreme as it can be, and even her mentor Daud hasn’t faced that much of a challenge, and remember, he was dealing with the Brigmore witches. We run into him in Death of the Outsider, which has players start off with rescuing Daud from imprisonment by the Eyeless cult devoted to the Outsider. At that point, Billie doesn’t have any powers, although the mysterious entity finds it convenient to pay Billie a visit and impose new abilities right after Daud plans to set out on killing him. The powers come with great convenience, of course, but Billie has a tough job to kill the game world’s god. Players have to go at it alone, as Daud is facing his last days, and it would be hard to imagine a Dishonored game with any co-op at all. Death of the Outsider slowly reveals information about the mysterious god that grants supernatural abilities to the world’s characters through his mark, and it is nice to see that particular entity fleshed out very well in this title.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is an excellent expansion, albeit short, and brings us another slice of the series’ world to take from a different perspective. Although it plays much like any other Dishonored game, that is never a bad thing, and Arkane keep excelling at this particular gameplay style. Set in Karnaca once more, Death of the Outsider tasks us with perhaps the most challenging goal out of all games, but it is revealed there is a way to kill the mysterious god after all. You don’t need to own Dishonored 2 to play this title, although there is a deep connection in the world building and lore between the two. Death of the Outsider brings limited powers and gear to the table, due to being a shorter experience, although with a tighter focus, these powers aren’t any less enjoyable than the diverse skills of Corvo or Emily in Dishonored 2. If you wanted more of Dishonored gameplay and to have the universe fleshed out even further, Death of the Outsider is absolutely worth getting, as it will challenge players with wide open levels and interesting objectives. This shouldn’t be the end for the series either, and perhaps Arkane can take us to another new location for Dishonored 3, as we already know of multiple major city states to exist that include more than Dunwall and Karnaca. For now, however, Death of the Outsider is another enjoyable title in the series, and albeit short, can still be replayed numerous times to make for an excellent value game.