Dishonored 2 opens with a coup. Emily Kaldwin is dethroned by an aunt she never knew she had, then imprisoned in her castle. Naturally, she escapes, and the first level/tutorial of the game has us sneaking out of our home. Along the way, you’ll encounter many traitorous guards and many more dead bodies. It’s easy to put two and two together; this was a coup after all. So what are you going to do about it?
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2016 was a good year for first-person shooters, but a great year for single-player shooter campaigns. First, Doom, Gears of War 4, Battlefield 1, and Titanfall 2 all had single-player campaigns, which is a victory in itself for an industry that would prefer to go all multiplayer all the time (screw you Overwatch). Second, all those campaigns were good, and some were even great! However, the biggest surprise of all was that the best shooter campaign came from the game I had the lowest expectations for: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
Dishonored 2 is a stealth action game that tells you to “play the way you want”. What that really means is that you have a choice in how to get rid of patrolling guards: Either kill them, or knock them out, be lethal, or be non-lethal.
Early in the game I picked up a pistol. Now, late in the game, I’ve still never shot it. Well, except for that one time I shot a wall just for kicks, but my gun has never been used for its intended purpose. It’s never killed people. I also picked up a crossbow early on, and it has been rarely fired. I’ve set insect nests ablaze with incendiary bolts, I’ve broken wood planks with normal bolts, but I’ve only ever shot people with non-lethal bolts. It’s another tool that, for the most part, has not lived up to its intended purpose.
Far Cry 2 was, and still is, an anomaly in the world of shooters: A big-budget franchise shooter power fantasy that undercut its power fantasy with constant reminders that this kind of violence has consequences. Throughout the game your friends die, your friends betray you, and in the end, we team with the central villain to save some refugees before we both kill ourselves; doing something good before we let our violence consume us. It was a world that fought back at us as much as we fought it, and everyone was corrupted by the violence.
Event is a mystery that revolves around whether or not we can trust an AI. It’s a standard story conceit in sci-fi—the suspicious computer—but event adds its twist to the trope by highlighting the unique tragedy of artificial life. This is one of the few games that acknowledges the ugly implications of a computerized intelligence.