The first Dishonored title featured quite a somber aesthetic. It was very stylized with an almost cell-shaded feel to it. Dishonored 2 adopts a similar aesthetic, but refines it further. In a bunch of new Dishonored 2 concept art released by Arkane Studios, famed artist Sebastien Mitton shows off his incredible artistic capabilities. Not only that, but it also gives us detailed glimpses of the major characters featured in the upcoming game.
The images depict the very nature of the sequel. Anton Sokolov, for instance, was a man in his prime during the events of Dishonored. In Dishonored 2, however, we find that Sokolov is a grayed old man that has seen much better days. When it comes to character design, everyone loves a well fleshed out, good looking character. To most, a good villain is as monumental to a narrative as a good hero. However, most people gloss over, and seldom appreciate, the supporting characters. You know, the ones that you meet throughout the narrative, designed to push the hero forward along his path.
As such, the images also depict two of the random non-playable characters that players will run into. “Karnaca is the home of a variety of ethnic groups with distinctive faces”, which allowed Mitton and his team to increase their attention to detail. Doing so raised the quality to an unexpected level, where “all the city’s inhabitants have a backstory and truly fit within their environment”.
Of course, Dishonored 2 would not be worthy of its name if it did not continue the story of Corvo and Emily. With incredibly detailed portraits, it is evident that both Corvo and Emily had a lot of love go into them. In the previous game, wanted posters depicted Corvo as a gruff man with a big beard. He has obviously cleaned up quite a bit in the last 15 years and now looks like a well kept man. Although he looks a bit wrinkled and grizzled in the new Dishonored 2 concept art, his portrait is one of authority and experience. His clothing, on the other hand, is tailored to reflect his new rank in the Empire.
“15 years separate the two games, and our wish was to update Corvo to make him reflect that time has passed, but also maintain some of his iconic look from the first game. Our main focus was on tailoring a new costume that fits his position in society, but also reflects the assassin he becomes once more when the game starts. His coat is well cut and adjusted to allow for greater mobility while he’s using his powers. His mask also got special attention: we’ve changed the material to sewed metal, while the size has been adjusted to his face more closely”.
Emily, as her mother before her, is now the Empress. As such, her Dishonored 2 concept art portrait depicts a strong young female who knows what she wants. Mitton explains that the team was excited when they heard that they would be able to work with her. “Part of the inspiration comes from fashion shows and the way tailors work, which lead to this handcrafted costume that reflects Emily’s status, elegance, and lethality”, Mitton continued. Emily’s clothing looks tailored with an assassin in mind. Like a lot of the clothing featured in Dishonored 2, Emily’s attire looks modern and stylised. The fashion trends in Dunwall have reached new heights!
On the other hand, we also get treated to a couple of the confirmed villains for Dishonored 2. Delilah looks like that one evil aunt you never wanted to visit as a child. Her clothing is designed to showcase a corrupted individual. Mitton explains that Delilah’s outfit is a sartorial combination from old Vogue and l’officiel magazines. They incorporated flora into the design to help show how the environment can be corrupted.
Although we are not sure exactly what his role would be, Sokolov’s former student Jindosh will also be a target. Mitton states that his design is governed by the way he looks at the player, so they went for a look that is “Brilliant and twisted”, at least that is what they have tried to reflect visually, “with Jindosh’s meticulous appearance and sharp, analytical gaze”.
Then there is the Outsider, a magical being that gave Corvo and Emily their powers. In Dishonored we learned that the Outsider was the inspiration for Runes (carved from whalebone), which people used to worship him. The Outsider, however, seemed to be more curious about how Corvo’s journey would end rather than people throwing things at his feet. His design in Dishonored 2 is a lot more refined. To me he looks slightly younger, but as Mitton states: “Here you can see the silhouette is now more balanced, and some details have been slightly redesigned”.
The Dishonored 2 concept art is a visual treat. Usually, concept art tends to be random sketches that only touch upon the end result. It is a rather nice surprise to see the artwork as fleshed out and detailed as this. It should be noted that concept art is exactly that, “conceptual”. So far, gameplay footage has been extremely true to the sketches, but anything can change before the game releases on 11 November, 2016. It will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.