With Dishonored 2 just about to release, quite a few people are probably wondering if you need to play the first game before picking up Bethesda and Arkane’s new epic. The answer, it turns out, is a bit complicated.
Dishonored 2 is in fact a direct sequel to the first game, taking place 15 years later. Emily Kaldwin, the protagonist Corvo Attano’s daugther, has taken over the seat of power as Empress. The city of Dunwall has prospered under Emily’s reign, and Corvo has even been teaching her the art of being an assassin to defend herself. Dishonored 2 starts when an otherworldly power dethrones her and labels her an outlaw to society. You play as either Corvo or Emily, trying to restore the throne to its rightful ruler.
The game is going to be taking us to the entirely new city of Karnaca, so the setting and many of the characters will be new to the series. Theoretically, you could be okay playing Dishonored 2 by just jumping right in or by doing a bit of light reading on the first game before you play. You’re going to have a whole lot more perspective on the sequel however, if you’ve played not only the first Dishonored, but its DLC packs as well.
In fact, over the summer Dishonored 2’s creative director Harvey Smith did say he hoped players would experience the first game’s DLC before jumping into the sequel. It’s not necessarily for lore reasons from the sound of it though, as Smith explained to GamesRadar,
“I’m not just saying this because I want people to buy our game, but I really hope people play the [original game’s] DLC. Dunwall City Trials are fun challenge modes, but The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches are really good chapter pieces after we had really figured out the game. So they’re better in a way.”
The Dunwall City Trials are just a series of challenging trials to play through, but both The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches are filled with story content. They put you in the shoes of Daud, one of the main antagonists of Dishonored, and introduce some new characters. One of the characters introduced in Brigmore Witches is Delilah Copperspoon, someone who ends up being a big antagonist of Dishonored 2, with the name Delilah Kaldwin. Smith goes on to say a little more on the link between the two games:
“And they also were a step toward where we went with Dishonored 2. There are more women in interesting roles than the narrow roles they have before. We really understood our world. And it’s a bridge, in a way, to the new content. I really hope people that are just into the action part, I hope they play – as a like an appetizer – I hope they play Knife of Dunwall and Brigmore Witches.”
What this all leads up to is the fact that you can play Dishonored 2 without being completely lost for not touching the first one, but the context is important in the end. Playing through the first Dishonored will give you a sense about what the city of Dunwall is all about, and give you more context as to why you’re fighting to save it. There are also characters and organizations that will make more sense when you encounter them in Dishonored 2, because you know about them already.
Ultimately the choice is up to you, but Dishonored and its DLC packs are both worthwhile experiences that shouldn’t be missed out on.