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Starter Tips for Playing Dishonored
At its core, Arkane Studio’s Dishonored is a pure action stealth game with a lot of interesting new conventions used for sneaking around the city of Dunwall. So many, in fact, that it might seem a little overwhelming to players when first starting up the game. After investing several hours in the game and writing a forthcoming review for it, here’s my quick starter’s guide to kick things off for your first playthrough.
1) EXPLORE AND LOOT
It’s clear from the start that this is a game with a personality and atmosphere all its own, owing its distinct feel in part to its highly stylized and widespread world. While you could undoubtedly stick to the main path and go straight for your mark in every mission, you’ll be rewarded for exploring the map and spending some time learning about the world around you.
Much of the world’s personality and lore can be found in books and documents scattered all over the world. While you might not be one to sit and read pages of text in your games, it does add a new layer of depth when you listen to recordings of characters or read accounts of those suffering with the Rat Plague. Exploring the map can also help you hone your stealth skills, as there are guards scattered throughout the world, no matter where you go.
Health and Mana are managed by collecting potions as well, but these are hard to come by when you stick to the main path. Instead, open up cabinets, drawers, desks, and look at shelves in the little nooks and crannies scattered throughout the map for all your replenishment needs.
And when you’re sneaking around, make sure to take some time to listen to the conversations of NPCs. While they will all give you another layer of depth to add to the world, there are some instances where you can pick up alternate objectives to add in with your missions.
2) SAVE OFTEN
During the course of gameplay, things can turn on you very, very quickly. Much like an extensive RPG, make sure to save often in Dishonored. The game’s auto save points fair, but you’ll be a lot better off manually saving versus dying and having to start an entire section over again. Nothing will make you want to rip your hair out more than successfully completing a difficult area and losing all of your progress in a messy skirmish.
3) SPEND YOUR FIRST RUNES ON BLINK AND DARK VISION
There are a lot of interesting and useful powers to purchase with the Runes found scattered throughout the world. However, I’ve found that the Blink and Dark Vision powers are the most invaluable for use within gameplay.
Dark Vision is an ability that gives you an x-ray vision of sorts; it helps you see where enemies are located as you see their silhouettes moving through the walls. Using Dark Vision can help you manage where everyone is located and help you study AI patterns as you go about planning your next move. Plus, Dark Vision doesn’t use a lot of mana, making it a helpful and effective skill to have.
And unless you plan on running in and attacking everything that moves in an action-style of gameplay, Blink will be an absolute necessity. The Blink power allows you to teleport short distances, making it seamlessly easy to get on higher ground, move behind cover, and even makes for an amazingly satisfying way to stealth kill an enemy. It’s quick, it’s silent, and it’s nothing if not effective.
4) KNOW YOUR SURROUNDINGS
This is true in any stealth game, however, it’s especially critical in Dishonored. The game has a sandbox-like approach to traversal, giving you multiple avenues to use when stalking down your mark. Because of this, it’s important to be aware of the area around you and take a moment to investigate it. Are there overhead pipes or ledges you can Blink to and use to slip by undetected? Can you possess a rat or fish and use small tunnels? Are there any tables or boxes to hide under? Paying attention to your area and plotting out your route of traversal is crucial to success in Dishonored.
5) LOOK FOR ENVIRONMENTAL OPPORTUNITIES
Sure, you could just slit the throat of all your marks, but pay attention to the possibility of environmental opportunities you can capitalize on to take out your targets. In one mission, I was able to poison my target’s glass of wine, while in another mission, you’ll be able to boil some people alive in a faulty steam room by activating a valve outside the window. This tip goes hand in hand with exploring and knowing your surroundings; if you don’t pay attention to what’s around you, you’ll never find these opportunities. And while you might be one who likes to kill your target with your own hands, there is something uniquely satisfying about orchestrating a death using unconventional or creative means.
6) GET GOOD AT BLOCKING
Even if you do manage to get caught during your missions, Dishonored has a unique combat system that works well and is a hell of a lot of fun to use.
Probably the most important part of combat with the sword, however, is blocking. This isn’t a game to needlessly hack away at your enemy and trade hits with them; instead, get your timing down to successfully block opponent’s attacks, and you’ll be able to stagger them, opening up an avenue to deliver a lethal counterattack. There’s a certain rhythm to it, but practice makes perfect in the world of assassinations.
7) PLAY HOW YOU WANT
The game makes no bones about telling you that the more people you kill, the darker the outcome will be. But don’t let the consequences dictate how you play; instead, experiment with the game’s systems. Play with lethal and non lethal takedowns; try sneaking using high ground or a direct approach; move past enemies undetected or face them head on; the choice is yours, and I’d recommend you play the way you see fit instead of worrying about the consequences of your actions.
Plus, you can always replay missions and try a new approach, which I also encourage, since there are multiple items to be collected and much to see outside of just your main objective in each mission. Just go through and take the time to enjoy each level and savor the nuances of the mechanics. You’ll be glad you did.