Dishonored 2 seemed very promising leading up to its release. The first game was so good, Arkane was on such a roll. The showing at E3 raised hype levels even more as the inclusion of two separate protagonists was revealed.
Despite this, Dishonored 2 is not a perfect sequel. Its biggest flaws are technical; performance far below where it has any right to be, frame pacing issues, graphics glitches, sound glitches, level design oversights. All the result of incompletion. I considered the game unplayable on day one due to forced mouse acceleration being proportional to frame rate. That is fixed at least.
It makes me wonder if Bethesda Softworks forced Arkane to use id Tech 5. Either way, switching to id Tech 5 was a terrible idea. If a publisher is to enforce an engine upon its developing studios, at least make sure it's a good and flexible one, like id Tech 6 perhaps. Since id Tech 6 wasn't ready, Bethesda shouldn't have intervened. Unreal Engine 4 would of course be ideal.
Fun fact: This screenshot shows the worst performing area in the game.
Technicalities aside, Dishonored 2 showcases incredible mission design with even more open endedness than the first. Art design is marvelous, living up to the standards set by its predecessor for the most part, although it may have less outdoor environmental diversity. Gameplay mechanics are slightly improved over the first game, which is perfect since the first one is so close to perfection already. As a stealth game and action game, Dishonored 2 is equally proficient, a feat only accomplished by Dishonored and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided by our estimation.
But the writing has taken a turn for the worse. Not nearly enough exposition for anyone or anything, not enough characters, rushed underused plot devices.
We had hoped for three perfect sequels this year, and leading up to their release it looked like they'd deliver. Those sequels are Dishonored 2, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and XCOM 2. Of those three, only XCOM 2 can be seen as a perfect sequel. Nonetheless, Dishonored 2 is a worthy addition to the franchise and it's amazingly fun no matter how you play it.
Time to score the game. For a breakdown of our scoring system, read this.
- Presentation: Excellent amount of gameplay and HUD customization, lots of graphics settings. But the optimization is poor and it is blatantly incomplete. Intrusive graphics glitches, audio glitches, AI glitches, clipping issues, level design oversights (can sometimes see in between tiles). Also if your system specs are closer to the minimum specs, expect more problems. 12/20
- Story: Mediocrity. There are hardly any characters in the game, and there is a severe lack of exposition for all, sometimes appearing too reliant on Dishonored and Dishonored's expansions. No noteworthy dialogue, the plot seems rushed. A clear step-down from the first. 13/20
- Gameplay: Glitches aside (which were scored in Presentation), near-perfection as an action game and stealth game. Even more open ended in how you can approach objectives than the first game, there are so many ways to advance through the levels (minus Dunwall) that it's incredible. AI is improved, but when using someone as a shield every enemy shouldn't kill your hostage like they currently do. Leaning is toggle only for some reason, and crouching is oddly laggy for a high precision action game, but these are very minor issues with the biggest problem being the lack of destructible light sources. 19/20
- Audio/Visuals: Once again, glitches aside it's gorgeous. They did a masterful job retaining the art style from the first game. Ambient occlusion needs a lot of work through as it often creates an annoying white glow around objects. Sound effects are good but unremarkable. Voice acting isn't quite where it should be. The soundtrack is very good thankfully. 17/20
- Lasting Appeal: Dishonored 2 took me 26 hours to complete as a stealthy character. I explored all options as well as pretty much all of every level, taking in the world as one should. It is shorter than the first game however, I only took so long because of the openness in level design and the amount of exploration. Emphasis on stealth increases playtime too. The use of two protagonists and the amount of gameplay variety for each protagonist, as well as the differences between high and low chaos, all begs for several replays. It isn't really a moddable game unfortunately. 16/20
- Overall: 77/100 (Incomplete/glitchy, otherwise good)