Over the past two generations, Arkane Studios has made a name for itself with the Dishonored franchise. Dishonored, Dishonored 2, and Dishonored: Death of the Stranger has been acclaimed by critics and fans alike for its unique and challenging gameplay that made you think through every move and approach every situation with care. Deathloop is a whole different experience, but the DNA of Dishonored is undeniably there, and the lessons Arkane learned from developing these three beloved titles have served them well in the development of the studio’s new IP.
Before the Arkane Studios team begins each project, Game Director Dinga Bakaba says they go through a discovery process to make sure the team only wears the items that work, while simultaneously auditing this. which has worked before to make sure these elements are still fun 6. “We always try to ask ourselves the same questions to make sure that we are always happy with the answers,” says Bakaba. “In a way it’s an excruciating process because you have to be in constant doubt, but at the same time I think it’s healthy, like, don’t rush to a solution because it worked. in the last game. “
One of the biggest lessons Arkane learned from Dishonored in Deathloop is the way he approaches the player agency. “We give the player a lot of ownership of his own enjoyment,” Bakaba said. “That’s our philosophy: we really get the games back to the players. It’s something that we always wanted to do, definitely. I think it’s part of our DNA. Sometimes we like the weird solution to a problem; even the solution that we don’t. Don’t think of a problem is something we really love. It’s really our motivation in this industry. “
This approach was absolutely exemplified in the critically acclaimed Dishonored franchise, and Arkane hopes to regain that magic through Deathloop. “We have learned a lot from Dishonored, both in its successes and its failures; we’re very proud of it, but we’re perfectionists, so we’re tough in everything we do, ”says Bakaba. “One of the things we are very proud of in the Dishonored series is our approach to level design which is both design-centric around the player, but at the same time there is a vision to make it right. which have an architectural sense and which are artistically pleasing, so we really tried to restore the balance. “
The team even learned a little lesson from the creation of Dishonored through the results screen to hammer out the philosophy of playing the game the way you want. “In Dishonored we see the game the way you want it to, but there is [something small] that in retrospect I wouldn’t do it again, “Bakaba says.” At the end of the results screen, when you’re never detected, it’s a green check mark, and if you’ve been detected, it’s a cross red. It’s a small and subtle thing, but it kind of means for players that there is a right way to go and you haven’t been able to do it. It sounds like a review when what we really wanted to do was report on what you did. “
Arkane’s stellar world design allows for those situations where you can approach the same goals in multiple ways. This tradition is carried over into Deathloop, but Arkane knew he could take a different approach in some ways when designing the districts for his new title through the mechanics of the time loop. “We don’t have a ‘Let’s have one entry for every power’ checklist, or anything like that; it’s more that we try to make these spaces believable, ”says Bakaba. “In Dishonored where you walked through neighborhoods in a certain way and, because we had a story to tell, we put a choke point to make sure you see that cutscene or to make sure you see that situation. Here we don’t really care if the players are missing something because they can come back the next day and witness it. It’s actually more open in terms of approaches and opportunities to bypass combat completely. or Confrontation. We’ve actually provided ways to get around these maps without engaging with the NPCs at all because we think it should be – especially with the Time Loop – we think it should be a choice. . “
Along with multiple ways to approach any situation, Deathloop also lets you play through the main campaign as Colt, or try to disrupt someone else’s play as Julianna. While the first Dishonored put you in the shoes of a silent protagonist named Corvo, Dishonored 2 has expanded the roster of playable characters to not only give Corvo a voice, but also introduce Emily as the second playable character, a character. which brought an entirely different feel. to the gaming experience. As you can imagine, this progression allowed Arkane to learn valuable lessons that he brought to Deathloop.
Bakaba acknowledges that the transition to two playable protagonists gave the team some insight into creating an experience for two separate characters, but she approached it in a different way through Deathloop. “In terms of gameplay, it’s really rich to be able to explore two different sets of powers, and it’s nice narratively to have the character’s vision of events,” he says. “With Deathloop, we ended up making different choices. First, we ended up going back to the cast protagonists, so definitely something we thought was important. But this time, yes, there are two playable characters, but it’s very asymmetrical, both in who they are and what they do, but also in their style of play. They are both a completely different way of approaching the game. It’s more or less the opposite approach to the game. in Dishonored 2, where two characters were on the same adventure, playing through the same thing, but with different perspectives and different tools. “
The clearest connection between Dishonored and Deathloop from a gameplay standpoint is the striking resemblance between some of Deathloop’s powers and the abilities of the Dishonored games. Deathloop’s Shift is undeniably similar to Dishonored’s Blink, while Dishonored 2 players may see similarities between this game’s Domino ability and Deathloop’s Nexus. The biggest difference between Shift and Blink, which allow you to phase quickly in one direction, is that Shift doesn’t stop time, opening up unique combat opportunities in Deathloop gameplay.
In a gameplay demo with Bakaba, I see this in action as he holds the trigger to stay aloft, then continues to shoot the enemies below. In this same demo, Bakaba also demonstrates the biggest difference between Dishonored 2’s Domino and Deathloop’s Nexus; the two link the fates of multiple NPCs, meaning that if you kill one, the linked characters also switch. In Dishonored 2, you target the characters you want to link, while in Deathloop, it’s a projectile that connects the characters in the ray.
While it might seem odd to have similar powers between the studio’s biggest franchise and its latest game, Bakaba insists it was very intentional. “It was a creative choice to say, ‘Okay, for some of these things we want to experiment and go completely crazy: the structure of the campaign, nothing that we’ve done before; multiplayer is completely new; the world is completely new; the storytelling tools we use, some of them are really new, ”he says. “Because of all this newness, we wanted to have a secure footing in something we knew how to do, and some familiarity. It’s something where, if you get completely in your way, you might get lost, so we wanted to have some things to grab hold of and say, “This is something that we know and that we can improve and polish a little bit.” … As a studio, we wanted to keep some familiarity with what we were doing. have done before, but also to give our players features or a style of play that they are used to, so it’s a way to get a little familiar with the unknown. “
While Dishonored is the closest comparison you can make to Deathloop when it comes to Arkane’s past projects, you can trace other games from the studio’s past in Deathloop. Whether you’re talking about the freedom-oriented design and simulation-oriented gameplay of the studio’s first title in 2002, Arx Doom, or the spellbinding playstyle of 2006’s Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, longtime fans of Arkane will notice tiny games outside of the Dishonored series carried over into Deathloop. As Bakaba describes, the team always makes a pipe dream with every passing project, but sometimes the lion’s head is big, and other times it’s small.
“We are testing how far we can go by conserving our DNA,” says Bakaba. “It was a very stimulating exercise and process, but also very fun, very refreshing and exactly what we wanted to do.”
If you’re as intrigued by the world of Deathloop as we are, Deathloop is coming to PlayStation 5 and PC on May 21. For more details on the upcoming Arkane title, check out our current number and our coverage hub by clicking on the banner below.