You play Daud in The Brigmore Witches, an altogether difference beast to Corvo (and not just because he's voiced by Michael Madsen). This second and final piece of Dishonored's story DLC follows his quest to prevent Delilah Copperspoon, leader of the eponymous witch's coven, from enacting a ritual that spells his doom.
As co-creative director RaphaŽl Colantonio told us, the DLC doesn't so much create a new world but cast an inverted gaze upon an existing one. "[Unlike Corvo], Daud has a personality from minute one. You see him killing the empress, and at one point you interact with him and he has this very strong personality and style. So that is the big difference this time. You play through the eyes of this assassin you know to be your enemy, and you can understand the story from the other side."
But let's cut to the chase: who would win in a scrap? "It's a good question", he ponders. "I think they are both very strong. Without spoiling anything, you get to see a little bit of that in the DLC. It's really interesting that you ask this question because it's something that we try to explore."
Your duties as Daud, however, concern more than Corvo. His first mission sees him infiltrate Coldridge Prison to rescue a woman named Lizzy Stride. She's leader of The Dead Eels gang, and crucial to his plans. Sneaking into the lock-up, the same one Corvo escaped early in Dishonored, wasn't hard. That is, bar a moral choice in the courtyard where we could either interrupt the execution of three guards (they were being hanged for failing to stop Corvo in the main game) or leave them in the lurch.
STRIDE AND SEEK
Inside the facility, a puzzle. In order to open Stride's cell, we had to identify the floor, room number and wing, and then input the digits into a mechanical machine. Click. The sounds of whirring metal rang through cavernous concrete halls. Close to death, the bruised and beaten gang leader couldn't walk, so we slung her over our shoulder and made our escape. Fighting guards on the way felt a little like Link's partnership with Princess Ruto in Ocarina of Time's 'Jabu-Jabu's Belly' dungeon, wherein you dropped your damsel behind a safe corner before engaging enemies. The key difference here, of course, was that our quarry was completely out of it. We finally emerged, resisting temptation to prop up Stride in some funny positions.
Before each level, like in previous DLC The Knife of Dunwall, you can stock up on ammo and buy new gear upgrades, a bit like Piero's store sans Brad Dourif. Daud has a fresh array of weapons and gadgets, such as a wrist-mounted bow, stun mines, and arc mines.
You've also got new powers like choking dust, fittingly called Chokedust, Void Gaze, which guides Daud to runes and bone charms, Pull, which can be used to fling enemies and objects towards you, and a new and improved Blink. With Blink regarded by some as overpowered, did the DLC give Colantonio and co. a chance to change it? "Combine it with a big jump and you can go to some crazy areas, so it did force us to make objectives that aren't so much about where you are, but achieving objectives that have an action you have to perform. Because going from A to B would not be a challenge."
"The new Blink of Daud is more than a slight tweak. It does this pause in time as you jump, and it allows you to change your direction mid-air, which is something we wanted to try for Dishonored but didn't quite have time...It ties into the theme of the assassins in Dishonored. It conveys the idea that they readjust their trajectory in mid-air. So that's an example of something we changed, and it's now almost like a new feature."
DLC, then, lets developers perfect and hone what's underneath. Stealth is another aspect that's been given a go-over. For Colantonio, the secret to good stealth is "definitely related to environments and patrols of the characters in this environment. So we look at it like a big simulation where it is important that the characters are placed in a way that they really see the world. It's not like there's a trigger and you walk into a scene and everyone attacks you."
"In this case people attack you or detect you only if they were looking at you. It is judged by what kind of AI state they're in, whether they're alert, whether they're talking with friends. And so it's the combination of all this simulation, with a multi-path, which actually creates the best stealth possible."
The level set in Coldridge is one of three in The Brigmore Witches. Across five-hours, you'll explore Draper's Ward, Brigmore Manor, and the homes of warring gangs The Hatters and The Dead Eels, located in a textile mill and dock, respectively. So just how do you go about telling a story in that time? Actually, for Colantonio, it's ideal. "It's a pretty great format, because like movies, storytelling takes around two hours. In games it's 15 hours, so that's more difficult."
Ultimately, DLC is "a way to experiment, and also to explore new areas and stories. In terms of fixing things that did not work so well, it's always risky because it's really a balance."
With The Brigmore Witches carrying over your powers, weapons, chaos levels and upgrades from The Knife of Dunwall, it looks to cap off the intertwined narratives of Corvo and Daud in blinking good style when it releases on August 13th.