Dishonored 2 allows you to play through its story in full as original protagonist Corvo Attano, but the game also offers the chance to play as deadly empress Emily Kaldwin, as well. The young ruler has grown up to be a powerful supernatural assassin in her own right, and though her abilities are almost entirely separate from Corvo’s, the differences between the two characters are not entirely gameplay-driven: there’s a narrative reason, as well.
In the 15 years following the events of the first Dishonored, Corvo has trained Emily to become an adept assassin capable of defending herself from outside threats. What she wasn’t planning on was being ousted as empress and forced to flee her throne, but the setup is what reinforces the game’s tagline, “take back what’s yours.” In a developer “Spotlight” video, we can see just why developer Arkane opted to give Emily her own unique set of abilities as she attempts to regain her place on the throne.
Emily’s powers are designed to emphasize her royal status and the ability to control average citizens with ease. “Far reach,” for instance, looks an awful lot like Corvo’s “blink” ability when Emily is moving through obstacles, but it’s also capable of pulling enemies toward her — as if they’re drawn to her presence.
Her crowd-controlling powers are perhaps the most evocative of her status as empress. “Domino” forces several characters to “share the same fate,” which director Harvey Smith says is “befitting of an empress.” Should Emily choose to decapitate one of them, their heads are all coming off. “Mesmerize,” meanwhile, forces enemies to drop whatever they’re doing and just stare into space.
One of Emily’s deadliest moves, “Shadow Walk,” is inspired by the events of the first game. As she experienced a brief period of darkness during Corvo’s clash with baddie Daud and the city of Dunwall as a child, Emily channels this into a deadly, inky creature capable of tearing people apart limb from limb before returning to her luxurious life and human form.
While Dishonored 2 features the same set of missions regardless of whether you pick Corvo or Emily, Smith says that you’ll hear different commentary from the two characters based on their upbringing and worldview. We’ll see if the game lives up to its potential when it launches on November 11 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.