Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is a standalone expansion that has no business charging $30 for the amount of content it has nor lore to offer. It streamlined the gameplay to an amazing degree but with a bad story, lackluster level design graphically and stylistically, not to mention not particularly wrong, this feels a lot more like a cash grab from Bethesda/Zenimax than an earnest attempt at a sendoff for the series.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, is a stand-alone expansion pack to the well received Dishonored series. It is a first person stealth action title with focus on a play-it-your-way approach to gameplay. It was developed by Arkane Studios and published by Betheseda Softworks. Originally scheduled to be an expansion pack similar to the Knife of Dunwall and Brigmore Witches of the first game, DotO was instead given a physical release and retailed for $29.99. As its own story, it was designed to be the end of the Dishonored franchise. The question is, did the game deserve to be a stand-alone title, or should it have remained tied to Dishonored 2 as DLC?
It’s not that the graphics are bad or anything, but simply nothing really comes to mind that stands out, especially in terms of the “wow” factor. The maps contained in the game include an underground boxing ring, an upper-class city area, a bank, a museum, and a mining site. None of them look particularly great. Some locations have a few good details thrown in, but they are also bland overall. This goes doubly so for the “Royal Conservatory”. This is a map that was re-used from the previous game, only it’s covered up in random junk and debris assets all over. And on top of that, it makes the original map look worse by having tan construction tarps lying all over the place. They successfully made a good-looking map look boring, congratulations. Bonus negative points for not making “The Void” look particularly interesting in the final moments of the game.
Protagonist Billie Lurk has just finished ferrying either Emily or Corvo around at the end of the previous game. Now that she has some free time, she’s ready to seek out her old mentor, Daud, because… reasons. Then when you save Daud, he insists that they should kill the in-universe god character “The Outsider” because… reasons. Minor spoilers, (ignore the following italics) but it’s very clear that Daud has grown old and is likely to die, he even says so. So… he dies, off screen after a mission. That’s when Billie decides that she’s going to finish off his quest to kill the Outsider. Fair enough. But later on, you suddenly discover at breakneck pace that maybe the Outsider was innocent and you can choose to not kill him instead by doing some other things because… reasons. Then you get a two minute ‘cutscene’ (I’m being generous, it’s a bunch of still images) for completing the game. Then that’s it, that’s the entire franchise’s big ending, just a pat on the back. “Extreme letdown” is putting it mildly.
Rosario Dawson’s performance as the emotionless assassin Billie Lurk is as good as it can get for a rather lackluster script. Michael Madson, meanwhile, is off doing his trademark sad old man voice for Daud, and delivers a lot of humanity to the character. The soundtrack is very bitter and depressing, and I understand it’s supposed to be that way, but that doesn’t change that the music is boring. I’m not kidding when I say that the game’s best music is in the pause screen. As for SFX, a lot of the sound in the game was just okay, but nothing came off in a satisfying way, and this included slow-mo finishing moves.
So many fixes to the Dishonored formula were made in this expansion. The abilities you are given don’t have any upgrades, which really streamlined the game since you don’t have to run about searching for runes. Instead of holding a heart that shows stuff to find, you get a ghost-vision ability called “foresight” that will let you find things and tag items ahead of you and beyond walls. This made hunting down the bone charms more organic and less of a chore. The game also introduced new elements, like “Contracts” that allow the player to spend more time in the map fulfilling mini-quests instead of hunting for powerups. It’s more story focused and is at times a great way of world building for a series that’s about to end. Plus, (originally patched in to Dishonored 2 post-release) the addition of mission selection and having a customized difficulty menu allows you to tune the game to the exact experience you want while playing. If future games were to use this feature, that’d be great but again, this is the final game. Allegedly.
The amount of entertainment I got from this game was a rollercoaster of ups and downs. The starting mission was mediocre. The second and third missions use one really well-designed map which at first, I praised to high heaven as being the antithesis to open world gaming. But my enthusiasm began to wear off as I had to sneak past the same guards at the same gate and area literally 5-7 times, which really tried my patience in the end. The interior of the bank was interesting but didn’t feel all that rewarding, but the multiple approaches to robbing the vault were just fine. You get a powered-up sword for the final two missions after the bank, so better late than never? As mentioned above, the proceeding map was the one reused from the prior game and wasn’t that great looking. HOWEVER, it was an absolute blast. Why? One of the contracts in that mission instructs you to literally KILL EVERYONE except for one character, and I gladly obliged. This briefly turned the game into a fast-paced Assassins Creed in which I tactically assassinated everyone or shot them dead with the my newly acquired, overpowered dart launcher. And then the final mission is a snooze fest filled with overpowered NPCs. Way to kill the mood, game.
It is blatantly obvious that Dishonored: Death of the Outsider was intended to be nothing more than DLC for Dishonored 2. For some reason, it was decided that this was going to be a thirty dollar game with its own disc, and that was a mistake. This game isn’t worth that amount, maybe 20 at best. There are other games that cost less and are far better experiences. With the relative shortness of the title and lack of any interesting story or plot, it has a lot of nerve trying to pass itself off as a standalone game. I don’t know who was responsible for this decision, so I’m just going to blame parent company Zenimax for trying to squeeze more money out a franchise that didn’t need to be milked.