Dishonored 2 is a unique experience, founded on the difficult stealth mechanics of the past augmented by the supernatural abilities we find in many games today. Throughout the game you’ll be using your skills as an assassin and your supernatural powers to bring down a corrupt empire and leave those in play who can help keep it alive under your rule, even though they may not be the ideal candidate for the position. Just remember that you shouldn’t feel the need to limit yourself on your first playthough, even if it means lethally taking down a few enemies.
Like the original Dishonored, chaos is a contributing factor to how everything plays out at the end. Determined at the end of each mission by how many enemies you lethally take down, your chaos level is measured by the amount of bloodflies you see swarming around you throughout the game, and if you end up getting it too high? You’ll have some pretty rough endings filled with dark dialogue.
That said, Arkane Studios opted to do something a little different with the endings of Dishonored 2. Instead of going back to the black-and-white tone of the endings in Dishonored, the development team created a series of conclusions that serve as a more realistic end to the story of Emily Kaldwin, Corvo Attano, and the characters who accompany them on their journey to reclaim the throne.
Based on what the Dishonored 2 community has discovered so far across various playthroughs, these endings seem to be greatly influenced by a series of intertwined events such as which main targets you choose to kill or spare, how you ally yourself with different individuals throughout the campaign, and finally, the chaos level you attain. There’s a different set of endings for Karnaca and Dunwall both, with variations of those who you ally with mixed within. It’s not simply one or the other based on your chaos level, it’s a puzzle with pieces you get to put together yourself.
Take the Duke of Serkonos Luca Abele for example, who is an oppressive ruler looking to provoke acts of rebellion so that he can simply shut them down for fun. You’ll meet this charming fellow during the opening moments of Dishonored 2 as he escorts Delilah Copperspoon into the throne room and helps her steal the empire from Emily and Corvo with the help of his guards.
Later in Dishonored 2 you’ll have the chance to go take care of the Duke yourself by breaking into his palace. Here, you can simply eliminate him, but if you spend a little bit of time exploring and listening to conversations around the mansion, you’ll discover he has a body double who’s a bit friendlier than the Duke himself. With enough patience and some proper planning, you can replace the Duke with him and get the real Luca Abele arrested, which will lead to a better overall ending for Karnaca.
Nearly every major target you’ll go after in Dishonored 2 shares the same sort of mission design allowing you to put the right people into places of power who will help you retain control over a peaceful and prosperous empire at the end of the game. Be too forgiving, however, and you might find yourself stuck with an ending that features a little more corruption. Remember the friendly Duke? Turns out he has his own demons as well.
If you end up dealing with all the major targets in Karnaca non-lethally by locking them up or sparing their lives, the body double will become just as corrupt as the original (real) Duke Luca Abele was to begin with, leading to an ending for Karnaca filled with violence. Naturally, this is influenced by the chaos level you achieve throughout the missions leading to each major player in the city too, but that’s completely expected.
These key players Arkane added (like the Duke) affect the narrative directly based on the interactions you share with them, which makes the story of Dishonored 2 play out like a much more fluid experience if you tend to stick with your gut instinct. Long gone are the days where your kill count determines the ending you achieve. That being gone eliminates the threat of consistently reloading a previous save when you accidentally take a life. Although, you can certainly still play the save game if you’re attempting a ghost run.
Just because you kill a few enemies in Dishonored 2, your character isn’t considered a bad person, which feels a little more believable than the whole, “fire, plague, and brimstone” ending from the original game. The freedom to ignore a few lethal takedowns on enemies is a great change of pace since the game gives you so many insane combos to try with both Emily and Corvo. So, while taking down a bunch of guards using Domino and Dopplegänger may not be the most efficient way to navigate a room, you best believe it’s where the game is at its highest point.
These crazy combinations and supernatural attacks you can pull off with proper practice are what make Dishonored 2 such an enthralling experience. Instead of ignoring the basic chaos level mechanic, Arkane built an experience that is best played on low chaos; it’s the perfect mix of fun gameplay and polished narrative. Don’t be afraid to have a little fun your first or second time through because you’re looking for the perfect ending. Just, you know, don’t kill absolutely everyone.
Photos via Nicholas Bashore, Bethesda.net