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  • Writer's pictureA.J. Sobel

Dishonored 3: A Man Can Dream




With the closure of Arkane Austin (nice job Xbox… How about you excise the tumors in the executive chairs that made the stupid fucking decisions, instead of amputating the whole studio, hmm?), the future of one of my favorite video game IPs has never been more uncertain. With this in mind, I thought I’d try an experiment: Take the existing narrative and gameplay and see what I could come up with for a hypothetical third game in the series.


A note before we begin: I am in no way affiliated with Arkane, Bethesda, or Xbox, and everything I present here is entirely my own concept. Call it fanfic if you will, but this has been rattling around in my head for a while now, and the easiest way to get it out is to write it down.


Another note: The following will require knowledge of the games, DLC, and lore surrounding the Dishonored universe, and I’m not stopping to explain all of it. So if it makes no sense to you, go play the games (You will not be disappointed that you did).


The Concept: The Return of the Outsider


At the end of Dishonored 2’s DLC (Death of the Outsider), we see that Meagan Foster has released the Outsider from his captivity in the Void, and both of them step back into the world, their futures uncertain. I’m not sure what Arkane considers the “canon” ending, but I feel like this is the one they’d pick.


Taking this into account, it’s important to look at how Arkane has portrayed the Outsider thus far. He is the only one who decides who gets to use the power of the Void. For thousands of years, he has watched and listened, throwing a pebble in the pond of reality every now and then by gifting special individuals the ability to tap into a fraction of the power he possesses.


In short, he is the conduit through which the Void enters the world.


The central concept of the hypothetical third game would be this: Without him there to turn on or shut off the tap, the Void has begun to leak into the world. Void power is acquired by citizens of the Empire, seemingly at random, and the oppressed masses have begun to use it to rise up against the ruling class.


This game picks up maybe 5-8 years after the events of Death of the Outsider, and we find that Empress Emily Kaldwin has developed into a confident and righteous ruler. Despite this, she is dealing with a faction of Void users that has been making waves across the Empire. Cults have sprung up around them, they have begun to acquire considerable political power, and confidence in Emily’s rule is at an all-time low.


In addition to this, the Abbey of the Everyman, normally in synch with the monarchy, has begun to question Emily’s suitability as Empress, due to her inability to deal with this threat. With the memory of Delilah’s reign fresh in their minds, they have begun to react with the religious zealotry they have been known for, conducting harsh crackdowns without Emily’s blessing or approval.


The Empire teeters on the brink of open war, and there is a chance Emily could lose it all.


Corvo Attano has disappeared, having left Dunwall to investigate these cults and hopefully put a stop to this civil war before it starts. That was months ago, and Emily has heard no word since then.


The Beginning


Our game opens with Emily being contacted by Meagan Foster, who explains the history and why of it all, and reveals her plan to fix it: Putting the Outsider back.


His purpose, though lost to the annals of history, was always to ensure that humanity didn’t succumb to the temptations of the Void and destroy itself with unfettered power. Unfortunately, she only realized this after she’d released the Outsider, and needs Emily’s help to rectify that mistake.


Emily learns that one of the cults that has sprung up is in Dabokva, the capital city of Tyvia, far to the snowy north of the Empire. It is rumored to have the Outsider’s ear, and is run by yet another relative that she didn’t know existed: Beatrici Attano, Corvo’s sister.


It’s at this point that the player selects their character: Empress Emily Kaldwin, or Meagan Foster.


As with Dishonored 2, the decision is really about the moveset, and how you want to approach the world (although at least one of them should have the Blink ability that the series has been known for). For the purposes of this hypothetical, we’re going with Emily.


Cue the desperate journey north as they attempt to restore order to the world.


The World


Given Arkane’s incredibly strong ability to create worlds that look and feel real and unique, I have no doubt that they would be able to develop a setting that is every bit as engrossing as Dunwall, or Karnaca.


Setting the game in Dabokva would allow the team to flex their creative muscles yet again, and give us something completely different to either of the first two games in both setting and tone.


The Plot Beats


There are two central plot beats that this game revolves around which will drive the story forward, and induce the player choice that Dishonored is known for.


The first is the interaction with Beatrici.


Although it may be a trope at this point, it would make sense that this final member of the Attano family would have a strong connection to the Void, given that both Corvo and Emily have wielded its power for years.


The fact that we know almost nothing about her would allow Arkane to develop an entirely new character with a life and story that would perfectly fit into the world.


As always, the decision is offered to the player to either kill or spare Beatrici, the result of which can have consequences in the world that can drastically alter the gameplay.


The second plot beat is what to do about the Outsider.


At the tail end of the second act (three-act structure, mind you), the player discovers that the man who used to be the Outsider has been institutionalized. After thousands of years of seeing the past, present, and future, knowing every dirty secret that anyone has ever tried to hide, the sudden removal of that power has driven him insane.


When the player finds him, he is a shell of what he used to be, muttering about things that have happened, and things that might happen, with no distinction between the two. He tries to use abilities that he no longer has, and he has become a pitiable figure that poses no threat to anyone.


In the run up to the finale, the player is offered another choice. It doesn’t matter who the Outsider is, only that there is an Outsider. Do you return the man who used to do the job, allowing a known quantity to resume the position he’s held for thousands of years? Do you allow Meagan Foster to take his place, atoning for her past sins and the situation that she created? Or do you seize it for yourself, achieving immortality and the unlimited power that the Void offers?


Whatever you choose, as always, your ending reflects all the decisions you’ve made throughout the game, and will serve as a punctuation mark in a brilliant series that deserves a final chapter.


The Unknown


By now you’ve probably noticed that beyond the mentioning of his disappearance, I haven’t really done anything with Corvo. This is because I’m not really sure what to do with him. At this point, his story has been told, and as much as I love him, his use has to be relegated to a plot point.


Has he been killed by Beatrici, serving as a retributive force to drive the player forward?


Does he serve the same purpose that Sokolov did in Dishonored 2 – the broken old man that offers sage counsel and the last of his power to help the player?


I’m inclined to give him the second path; it synchs up nicely with the Outsider’s notion that everything is cyclical, and what has happened before will always happen again. But that’s just me.


The Gameplay


Now we’re going to shift gears a bit. In the previous two games (with limited exceptions), you were the knife in the dark. The predator that exerted your will across the world. In no small part, this was due to the power that the Outsider had given you.

In this game, you’re just another Void user. The only difference being that you have the experience and skill to back up your power.


By allowing the Void to leak into the world, you open up interesting and difficult gameplay by giving enemies abilities that match, or even exceed, your own. This would allow Arkane to keep things fresh by ensuring that the player is on the back foot in a way that they’ve never experienced before.


Of course, this is just as the gameplay relates to the cults. The Abbey of the Everyman would need to play a significant role, in order to counterbalance the Void users. The problem is that I’m not sure how to make them a threat.


The only thing I’ve been able to come up with is the development of some new weapon, or increased NPC intelligence. Something to make the player go, “Oh, shit,” whenever they appear on screen. Honestly, you could even just add more of them in any given encounter. This would make narrative sense, as the commoners flock to join the Abbey out of fear of the Void.


Conclusion


If you’ve made it this far, I can only assume you’re a fan of the series, as I am, and I want to thank you for reading my ramblings. This is the game I would’ve written had I any real power, and, at the moment, it’s looking like the game we’re never going to get.


It’s unfortunate that the suits decided to shut down a brilliant studio with more talent than a lot of other “triple-A” developers, especially when you consider that the reason they shut it down is because of bullshit decisions that the rank and file had no part in.


I hope everyone that worked Arkane Austin can land on their feet, as they’re a talented bunch in a way that seems to be dying in this industry. Redfall was not their fault, and it fucking sucks that they got left holding that particular bag.

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