The Dishonored series has featured a wide range of human depravity, from murderous gangs of hooligans terrorizing the streets to sadistic nobles exerting their perverse desires onto a helpless underclass. A constant influence throughout, though, has been the shadowy figure handing out supernatural powers and inspiring sinister cults: The Outsider. Dressed like the frontman of an early aughts emo band, the Outsider’s hand has been in every adventure we’ve taken in the Empire of the Isles, free to sow chaos without suffering any consequences. It’s about time that guy got what he has coming. Learn how it happens in our Dishonored: Death of the Outsider review.
In Death of the Outsider you play as Billie Lurk, a.k.a. Meagan Foster, ally to Emily and Corvo in Dishonored 2 and former second-in-command to Daud, the infamous assassin that murdered Emily’s mother Empress Jessamine Kaldwin and set off the events of the series in the first place.
Set after the events of Dishonored 2, with Emily restored to the throne, Billie now seeks closure by tracking down her old mentor Daud, whom she had betrayed at the end of The Knife of Dunwall DLC from the original Dishonored. Death of the Outsider serves as both a delayed sequel to The Knife of Dunwall and a coda to the entire series so far, whose events have all been neatly wrapped up by the end.
Like Billie, Daud has grown weary from years of ethical ambiguity, and hopes to even the scales with one last job: Killing the Outsider, the meddling Void god who dispenses all of the supernatural abilities in the Dishonored series. As Daud sees it, all of the cults and black magic at the root of so much suffering in the Empire of the Isles (a lot at his own hands) result directly from the Outsider’s sinister influence, so justice is long overdue.
So much suffering in the Empire of the Isles resulted directly from the Outsider’s sinister influence, so justice is long overdue.
The game’s missions span locating and obtaining a weapon capable of deicide, figuring out how to actually reach the Outsider, and then doing the deed itself. It took us roughly ten hours from start to finish, but there was certainly more to explore in its extensive, open levels, replete with optional objectives, bone charms, and secrets.
Arkane’s experience in sandbox stealth design with the Dishonored series and more recently Prey really shows in Death of the Outsider’s levels. Dense and interconnected, the mid-game levels are as good an example of any of the series’ urban microcosms.
It’s all the same Karnaca we’ve seen before, with its juxtaposed squalid poverty and gilded excess, and none of the environments are as inventive as the Jindosh clockwork mansion or Stilton’s manor in its two timelines. They are nevertheless generously open to taking a variety of approaches, encouraging playful experimentation and replay. It also finally gives the series a long overdue bank job mission, which is just as fun as you would hope.
Central to that replayability in Dishonored are, of course, a retinue of supernatural powers. Although the Outsider never gave Billie his mark, she’s acquired limited access to the Void through her association with Daud. Billie has three new powers, and three alone. Unlike the Dishonored and Dishonored II, her powers do not change or evolve, though you can tweak them with Bone Charms and bend them to reflect your style of play.
“Displace” is Billie’s equivalent to “Blink” or “Far Reach,” teleporting her a short distance within line of sight. The twist is that she has to place a projection of herself in the spot where she wishes to teleport first, which is only visible to her. Though this makes teleporting a little slower than in past games, it opens up new strategic opportunities: You can set a teleport, then use it on a delay to pull yourself out of a hairy situation, or use a bone charm that leaves a decoy in your place to distract enemies.
“Semblance” lets you knock someone out and steal their appearance, draining energy while you move and deceiving anyone that hasn’t seen the unconscious body. More than just slipping by in plain sight, this lets you proactively trick people into opening doors for you into members-only clubs and the like, similar to stealing uniforms in Hitman. The ability drains your energy quickly, and you only use it once per person, so you have to be extremely tactical with it.
We can only imagine how fun it would be to play the game with the full Dishonored toolbox.
Finally, “foresight” lets Billie project her spirit out of her body to scout ahead and mark a limited number of people or objects. Displace and foresight have obvious and frequent utility, but semblance is the only one that really encourages you to play around with what’s possible.
That limited palette of three abilities, compared to Emily and Corvo’s five, really does make you feel more vulnerable and human as Billie, forced to rely on your wits and gadgets (or just play more aggressively than you would otherwise, as we ended up doing).
To help out, Billie also packs a wrist-mounted gun with both lethal and non-lethal ammo, lethal and non-lethal grenades, trusty springrazor mines, and new hook mines that snare and knock out unsuspecting enemies. Billie can also talk to rats for some reason, who give her cryptic hints about the level.
On completing the game, an “Original Game+” mode which lets you swap out Billie’s powers
For Corvo’s “blink” and “dark vision,” clearly replacing displace and foresight, and then Emily’s “domino” ability instead of semblance. While fun, it seems a bit restrictive for a post-game variant: New Game Plus is a delight in Dishonored 2, opening up all of Corvo and Emily’s abilities for you to play with in any combination, and it’s a shame to see such a limited version of it here.
We can only imagine how fun it would be to play the game with the full Dishonored toolbox. Where’s the harm in letting us break the game a bit once we’ve already played it as intended?Our Take
As a standalone story, Death of the Outsider is well worth the price of admission. Although it doesn’t innovate on the gameplay in any meaningful way, it’s as well-designed as anything in the series and fans will enjoy facing new challenges in the streets of Karnaca. We particularly enjoyed the scrappy underdog feeling of playing as Billie, with fewer powers than her protagonist predecessors.
Native to the criminal and impoverished underclass of the Isles as well, being Billie Lurk felt like a more natural fit for navigating Karnaca’s seedy underbelly than a disgraced noble. Although Arkane has not said one way or another whether there will be future Dishonored games, Death of the Outsider puts a definitive bow on the events of the first two games, and serves as a fitting and satisfying epilogue to the series.
Is there a better alternative?
We would recommend playing through the main Dishonored games first if you have not, but otherwise nothing else will quite scratch the same itch.
How long will it last?
Our first playthrough took roughly 10 hours on regular difficulty with plenty of secrets left to find had we been more thorough, so it should keep fans occupied for a while.
Should you buy it?
Yes. Death of the Outsider is a lovely epilogue to the Dishonored series and a great bit of stealth gameplay.