Dishonored: Death of the Outsider Review

By Mark Delaney, 3 months ago
The Dishonored series was born only in 2012, but in the last five years has grown into a series worth players' trust and time. We reviewed its previous two games in the series and gave them each the highest score with which we are equipped — five stars. Dishonored: Death of the Outsider comes just a year after its numbered sequel and in every way seems to signal the end of at least this storyline and possibly the entire series. If that's the case, Death of the Outsider stands to cement the series as one of the most consistent, brightest, and most memorable of the last decade.

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider 1

Death of the Outsider puts players behind the eyes of Billie Lurk, an important but until now never before playable character in the mythos of the fantasy stealth-action franchise. Early in the game you're meant to reunite with your former mentor, Daud, a legendary assassin in the now half-decade long arc of Dishonored. If you follow the storyline across the three games and their DLC, you may remember that Billie, formerly Meagan Foster, and Daud haven't been on the best terms as of late. Burying the hatchet early on after a great introductory level, the duo sets out to fulfill their final mission. Just like the title suggests, they are intent on assassinating the Outsider himself.

The stakes of such a premise do well to inform seasoned veterans that this may be the end of the series, as without the Outsider most of the magic or turmoil of the story would cease to exist. If you are new to the series it almost goes without saying that Death of the Outsider is not the ideal starting point, although it does try to get players up to speed with much of the characters' history. It wouldn't be a complete loss to play it first, but over the span of its 6-10 hour story it also feels like a special conclusion to the series to the point that you'll be better off feeling its full effect only after playing its pair of predecessors.

Death of the Outsider boasts tremendous play-your-way opportunities for which the series is known. Whereas many stealth-action games make similar claims but fail to really equip players who choose the louder route, Death of the Outsider continues its series' tradition of truly giving players the tools to tackle missions in any style, or combination of styles, they prefer. Ghosting a level without detection and without laying a finger on a single soul is as satisfying as ever, but if you prefer a more direct, bloodier route, you won't feel disadvantaged.

Daud and Billie are voiced very well and their relationship paints this final game with character.Daud and Billie are voiced very well and their relationship paints this final game with character.

Billie introduces brand new powers to the series much like Emily Kaldwin before her. She does still possess a Blink-like ability, as such a maneuver is at this point crucial to traversing the many hubs and levels of Dishonored, but she comes with two other abilities too. A drone-like power allows her to scout ahead and mark enemies, items, and points of interest. Additionally, a new ability called Semblance allows Billie to literally steal the face of an unconscious enemy, posing as them in disguise. This makes for a new play style, as rather than lurk in the shadows you can now hide in plain sight. New offensive weapons like a hook mine give players other new ways to experiment in the finale of a series famous for its user playgrounds. Collectively, these new tools on her proverbial toolbelt make Billie and the abbreviated sequel feel unique and more than just a quick cash-in on last year's fully-priced sequel.

A lot of what Death of the Outsider does well, which is most everything, can be said of its predecessors as well. That isn't to say it's finally gotten worn by the time we've arrived at Billie's story. Death of the Outsider once again, and perhaps for the final time, displays Dishonored's truly unrivaled level design. The number of ways you can approach a level in this third entry is as astounding as ever. Its approach invites exploration in a way few other games do. Sometimes small clues are given to nudge you in the right direction but more often patient players will find countless alternate routes and approaches to take.

Few series have ever rewarded players for exploring their environments as much as Dishonored does, and that legacy is alive and well in its apparent final chapter in all but one case. The final mission feels a bit more linear than the rest. It's not completely closed off and it does offer alternate solutions like nearly all levels have in the series, but the fifth and final mission of Death of the Outsider feels a bit less inspired than all that have come before it. The story beats are still impactful, even as narrative hasn't ever been a main selling point for the series, but in level design the last area is a slight blemish on the game.

Happy Easter!Happy Easter!

A few AI behavioral bugs got in the way too, like when enemies' patrol patterns were re-routed to the point where they were stuck walking into walls. These were few and far between, but in a stealth game such issues weigh a bit more as they disrupt the puzzle-solving of stealthily navigating the many obstructions of any given level.

Adding to the otherwise flawless level design is a series of contracts, side quests that demand specific things with big payouts at the end. The first four missions offer a total of 13 contracts and each of them is unique with parameters and instructions that never repeat. These contracts pair with the Original Game+ mode that gifts Billie abilities from the earlier games to ultimately give Death of the Outsider plenty of reason to come back to see everything it offers.

The achievement list is a fun one that helps push players to find the more creative solutions to the game's objectives. Why simply break into a bank killing or otherwise incapacitating guards when you can instead release a sleep-inducing toxin into the vents and roam the bank freely? Solutions like these are plentiful in the list, and supplemented by several unmissable story unlocks. There's no achievement for keeping your hands clean of blood this time but you will still have to remain undetected throughout if you want to complete the list. Beating it on Original Game+ means at least two playthroughs are needed, but if you pay attention to all the easily missed mission opportunity achievements and stay out of sight on your first go, you can let your second playthrough be louder, clumsier, and much faster with a completion time of sub-five hours. This puts the achievement list completion at around 15 hours.

Summary

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider comes just a year after the second game and even though it isn't given the numbered sequel treatment, it feels like a worthwhile final chapter to the Dishonored story arc, albeit brief in comparison. Introducing new abilities on top of the always remarkable level design is the game's strongest suit. Some small bugs disrupt the game and the last level doesn't feel as special as any that came before it. Still, if this is truly the last chapter, Death of the Outsider cements Dishonored as one of the best new franchises of the last ten years and places it among the most consistent trilogies ever seen in video games.
4.5 / 5
Positives
  • Continues the series' tradition of unrivaled level design
  • A fitting narrative conclusion
  • New abilities make for new play styles
Negatives
  • Last level falls a bit short
  • Infrequent enemy AI bugs were a disruption
Ethics Statement
The reviewer played through the game twice in about 20 hours, first killing no one, then mostly everyone, unlocking all 30 achievements along the way. An Xbox One copy was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark is a Boston native now living in Portland, Oregon. He's the Editorial Manager on TA, loves story-first games, and is one of three voices on the TA Playlist podcast. Outside of games he likes biking, sci-fi, the NFL, and spending time with his fiancée and son. He almost never writes in the third person.