50 Best Games of 2017: #29 – Dishonored: Death of the Outsider

Dishonored Death of the Outsider

Developer: Arkane
Publisher: Bethesda
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One

Our 50 best games of the year countdown isn’t in any order, we’re just going through fifty of the finest the year has given us. Find out more here.

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, much like The Knife of Dunwall before it, is a standalone experience released on the heels of a main installment in the series. Again like TKoD, it focuses exclusively on a set of supporting characters – assassin Daud and his protege-turned-boat-captain Billie Lurk, the latter being the protagonist of this expansion.

These two characters on the whole are given more time together to develop their interesting relationship – unlike the father-daughter dynamic between Corvo and Emily that goes largely unexplored due to their lack of shared screentime, Daud and his favorite pupil have some real history, full of camaraderie and shared hardship as well as betrayal. Though fairly short on narrative-only moments, the expanion wastes no time giving us some truly great moments between the two as they plan the ultimate assassination against the Outsider. It’s a simple enough tale, but it manages to be effective and personal in a way that Dishonored 1 and 2 simply weren’t for me; I felt way more satisfied with the arc and conclusion of this expansion than with either of the main games.

Much of this is owed to Daud and Billie, voiced by Michael Madsen and Roasrio Dawson respectively, having a good amount to say. Billie in particular has a clear personality and drive that raises her above a simple vengeance-driven killer, and her inner monologues and commentary on the environment and events provides a compelling impetus and context to your usual sandbox stabby adventures.

Speaking of sandbox stabby adventures, Death of the Outsider is by far the most tightly designed and harmonious entry in the series so far. This owes to Billie’s reduced moveset with regard to her powers – she only has three, one for navigation, one for disguise/stealth and one for recon. Of course, in true Dishonored fashion, combining these powers with Billie’s normal melee and ranged combat abilities and stealth training is key to success and enjoyment. It’s just that with such a focused moveset, the level design can then be tailored more tightly in return.

The main games have a bevy of approaches and solutions to the obstacles, problems and scenarios you find yourself in, but as a result can feel daunting at first until you’ve locked in a playstyle – unless you’re like me and like to experiment or just let your whims carry you. Not only does Death of the Outsider feel more tailored to Billie’s moveset specifically than the accounting for two different characters in Dishonored 2, but the blessed removal of the punishing Chaos system means you can experiment and participate in the game’s highly enjoyable side “Contracts” with no fear of an impact on your rating, story or arbitrary morality meter.

It may not be the most fully-featured entry in the Dishonored series, but as a narrative wrap up to this era of the franchise and a self-contained experience, it’s a great stealth-action game, a personal high point of the series, and one of the best games of 2017.

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