Hang up the mask, friend.
If you haven’t played the original Dishonored yet, you should stay away. Spoilers be here!
2012’s Dishonored starred Corvo Attano, a deadly assassin on the run after being framed for killing the Empress of Dunwall. He brought the conspirators to justice, but not without murdering people. Like, a lot of them. Dishonored 2, due out on Nov. 11, picks up 15 years later. Attano and his daughter Emily Kaldwin (the princess, now Empress of Dunwall) are teaming up to reclaim the throne after she’s booted from power by Delilah, who fans will remember from the Brigmore Witches DLC (and seems to likely be Emily’s aunt, given that they share a surname). A recent trailer for the game shows that old Corvo’s murder skills haven’t faded at all in the last decade in a half. But with that said, is it possible that the game could end with him dead?
It sounds like a dumb theory, but there is some evidence supporting it. Thus far, a lot of the footage for Dishonored 2 has focused solely on Emily. While you can chalk that up to Arkane wanting to get people familiar with the new kid on the block that you’ll be stabbing people as, it can also be seen as them trying to acclimate players to the idea of her leading the franchise, should there be a third entry. Even though it’s well known that you’ll be able to choose between which of the two protagonists to play as at the start of the game, the developers haven’t really spoken at liberty on how this’ll work.
By that same measure, the Dishonored 2 trailer opens with Corvo saying “one last time, old friend” while speaking to his mask. Uttering the words “one last time” doesn’t always end well for those involved. Further, of the three playable protagonists this series has offered–Attano, Kaldwin, along with Daud, protagonist of the Knife of Dunwall and Brigmore Witches expansions–Attano is the easy one to slot out. Daud’s already dead (by Corvo’s hand, actually), and the leading man from Dishonored wasn’t exactly a complex character. He didn’t speak at all in the original game, and it’s not like there was a lot of character to him to truly convey. Plus, his whole duty is to be his daughter’s bodyguard, and that means at the cost of your own life.
Exactly how this works with the game’s morality system–dubbed “Chaos”–is also up in the air, so it’s not entirely clear if Corvo dying is one of several endings that can happen, while another could be Emily dying. Maybe they’ll be looking at player data as Sucker Punch did with Infamous 2 to decide the future lead of the franchise. But should that be the case, Arkane is also being incredibly tight-lipped about that as well; in fact, they haven’t mentioned the morality system all that much this time around beyond killing NPCs at the start of a mission affecting how much Chaos you get.
Game franchises replacing their leads by way of death or retirement is nothing new. While most long running franchises have bent over backwards to make sure the original lead is still in the picture, as is the case with Halo, Splinter Cell, and God of War, others don’t really do that. Grand Theft Auto rotates its central protagonist out with every game, as does the Dragon Age franchise, and others have a lead for a set number of games before going with someone else (see: Infamous and Mass Effect). This year in particular has shown new leads taking over franchises, as Watch Dogs 2 and Gears of War 4 will be showing us later this year.
Heck, parents passing off the baton to their offspring seems to be all the rage; along with the aforementioned Gears 4, there’s also Final Fantasy XV going along with this (in a sense), and everyone knows of the relationship with Ana and Pharah Amari from Overwatch and Uncharted 4 ending Nathan Drake’s legacy of treasure hunting and explosions. So no, it wouldn’t at all be surprising if Arkane decided to end Dishonored 2 with Corvo’s daughter leading the series going forward, her father most likely dead at the hands of Delilah. (He can’t exactly retire in the way that most people do, sadly.) It’d certainly be an interesting change of pace for how franchises go forward, not to mention, when’s the last time a franchise decided to kill a man and have the woman as the sole lead going forward?
A trailer for Infamous 2 five years ago had people, most famously Kinda Funny’s Greg Miller, wonder if Cole was gonna die based on the simple saying: “Half as long, twice as bright.” It’s likely that we may be running into a similar situation here with our hooded hero. Maybe things won’t go so far as to Emily wearing the mask herself in the future, but given that the first game’s shadowy hero has ironically spent a lot of the marketing time in the shadows, it’s likely this could be the last time we see Corvo Attano kicking around in the Dishonored universe.