Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is a standalone expansion to 2016’s hit Dishonored 2. As a standalone, it does not require Dishonored 2 to be played. The expansion follows Billie Lurk, a former associate of the master assassin Daud, and her search for her former mentor.
The visuals, while mostly unchanged from Dishonored 2, continue to provide lavishly iconic art stylings, oozing with character. The environments alone excel in telling stories, without the need for exposition, and are once more free to climb around in at the player’s behest. While several locations return from D2, they do contain certain environmental changes to emphasise the jump in time between Death of the Outsider, and the base game.
Visual elements such as fire and powers remain largely unchanged, and only one new enemy is added, a variation of the Clockwork Soldiers.
Despite the graphical splendour, anti-aliasing continues to be an issue, and the wide range of settings refuse to eliminate the jaggies on certain visual elements. While bothersome at first, I stopped noticing these after a while.
Once again the voice acting is… passable. While the actors are clearly trying to place their voice within the world of Dishonored, it still comes off as boring, as if the actors are reading lines in a studio, rather than characters speaking to one another in a game.
As Death of the Outsider is much shorter than the previous Dishonored titles (excluding previous DLC) it contains only five chapters. It removes the chaos system, limits character progression and unlocking more powers, but leaves the bone-charm system from D2 intact.
Instead, the Outsider gifts Billie Lurk with three major powers: Semblance, which allows her to take the face of another living human to disguise herself. Foresight, similar to Dark Vision, but allows her to move freely around environments while time is frozen, and Displace. While similar to the Blink power, Displace instead allows the player to set a waypoint, to teleport to whenever they choose, provided they are within range. These powers do not require any mana potions, instead the ‘Void Power’ fully recharges itself over time. Finally, Billie has the ability to listen to the thoughts of the rats that roam the streets of Karnaca. While often cryptic, they do provide useful hints and snippets of lore for the player.
Swordplay remains much the same. Nice and smooth, while still being satisfyingly gory. However a new sword ability is introduced, the Void Strike, which can be done from a distance, and sends enemies backwards. This can be very useful if you find yourself overwhelmed with enemies in combat.
Combining these abilities creates very unique and enjoyable gameplay. Coupled with the multiple playstyles and different endings, gives the game a lot of replay value, and I found myself playing through it several times to complete every possible objective. Side missions in the form of Contracts are available from the black market for some extra coin. These range from stealing paintings, to rescuing captured individuals, to performing assassinations.
Death of the Outsider by far one of the weakest stories in the Dishonored universe, which isn’t to say that it’s bad. The appeal of the Outsider’s character was his enigmatic personality and mysterious background. His irregular appearances and conversations with the protagonists kept the player on edge, wondering what the black-eyed young man had in store for us next.
His death/’death’ (depending on the ending) in the titular expansion delves far too deep into a character who was better left shrouded in uncertainty, and doesn’t leave much in the way for potential sequels. If this is indeed the final instalment in the franchise, it is more akin to going out with a whimper than a bang.
However, the story holds together well, with the characters having clear motivations, logical actions, and valid reasons for their behaviour.
The story begins with Billie Lurk, who has abandoned the name Megan Foster, and begun her search for her former mentor Daud, the Knife of Dunwall. Her search leaves her ship, the Dreadful Wale stranded in an abandoned dock below the city of Karnaca. Lurk leaves the ship to search for Daud in a boxing club in the Albarca Baths. Once inside, Lurk discovers Daud captured by the Eyeless cult, held in place by a machine which restricts his supernatural powers.
Lurk disables the machine and meets with Daud back on the Dreadful Wale. Since we last left him in the Brigmore Witches DLC for the first Dishonored, the master assassin has grown ill in his old age. He was spent the last fifteen years looking for a way to kill the Outsider, and has at last found what he is looking for.
Daud blames the death of Jessamine and countless others on the Outsider, and the cursed powers bestowed by him. Daud wants to kill the ‘black-eyed bastard,’ as he feels that the murders carried out by the Knife of Dunwall are the responsibility of the Outsider. He tells Billie that he cannot do it himself anymore, and Billie begrudgingly agrees.
The Outsider himself visits Lurk while she rests, and relays a cryptic message. He knows she does not want his mark, instead cursing her with the Black Shard arm, and a Sliver of the Eye, granting her limited powers on her quest. When Lurk awakes, Daud is shocked to find her features changed, but explains his plans, citing Billie’s disfigurements as another reason to kill the Outsider.
Daud has discovered that the Eyeless cult has in their possession the knife which created the Outsider thousands of years ago. They plan to use the knife to kill the Outsider. Billie travels into the city to track down the knife. Two esteemed members of society, secretly part of the Eyeless have had the knife kept under lock and key. Two keys to be exact. In a bank vault.
Billie steals the keys, infiltrates the bank, and takes the Two-Bladed knife. During the heist, she discovers that a high-ranking member of the Eyeless attempted to flee the cult and was murdered. But not before he stored his notes on how and where one could gain access to the Void, in the Royal Conservatory.
Billie returns to the Dreadful Wale to discover that Daud has passed away. Determined to fulfil his last request, Lurk gives Daud a Viking funeral of immense proportions by burning the Dreadful Wale with Daud’s body on board. Dreadful Wale being an anagram for Farewell Daud.
After infiltrating and searching the Royal Conservatory, Billie finds the location of the entrance to the Void, high in the mountains of Karnaca, deep in an abandoned mine. She travels there, only to discover that it is being controlled by the same cult that created the Outsider over four thousand years ago.
Billie pushes her way into the mines where she encounters deranged cultists and creatures from the Void that flicker in and out of existence. As she reaches the final stretch, she touches upon the Eye of the Dead God, a creature that roamed the Void before the Outsider did, a fragment of which now sits in Billie’s eye. After making contact with the Eye, Billie is transported into the void.
Finally, she reaches the physical body of the Outsider, still bound to the ritual table, and has a choice. Kill the outsider by once again slitting his throat with the knife, or make him mortal once more by asking the spirit of Daud to say his name (which is revealed to be the symbol he marks people with).
If Billie kills the Outsider, she is satisfied with completing Daud’s final task, but saddened, stating that she will always be a murderer. If Billie turns the Outsider mortal again, she leads him out of the void, allowing him to live the life that the cult that created him had taken away.
Either ending is rather unsatisfying. As stated before, the appeal of the Outsider is his enigmatic personality. The mystery of his character. By going too far in depth and exploring this character more than we need to, the game kills off any need for thoughts or theories.
The return of Daud is nice to see, but the Daud I remember is a badass assassin. Killing men in the blink of an eye. To see him frail, weak and eventually dead is rather a letdown after the reputation that had been previously established.
But does the ending ruin the game? Absolutely not. This is a classic example of pros heavily outweighing the cons. Sure Death of the Outsider has its flaws, but what game doesn’t? If you’re looking to continue the story where Dishonored 2 left off, some excellently crafted gameplay, and addictive replayability look no further than Dishonored: Death of the Outsider.