Intro and Gameplay
While our first few nibbles of Dishonored 2 on PC were not quite what we were expecting, we debated internally but sure glad that we waited until the first beta patch to really dive in and properly score the game. As you can see from the first (4K) screenshot above, at the very beginning of the game, you can inspect this painting and of course, it's The Hound Pits from the first game and playing as Emily, a short but poignant dialogue pops up while staring at the gorgeous and detailed painting. Moments like this are why Dishonored 2 not only works, but makes it unique among many of it's AAA peers today.
I loved exploring every square inch of the game and trying not to be spotted at all, once, by a single enemy. Said exploration is constantly rewarded either by a small nugget of quality voice acting, a painting you can collect, or a safe to be cracked. Some bits are easy to miss so it makes combing the fantastically designed levels an absolute joy.
Whether or not you played Dishonored four (!) years ago, you definitely should catch a recap of the story or at least get familiar with who's who and a basic sense of the story. I won't spoil anything for you but let's just say that the intro is fast, powerful, and you make a huge choice as seen above that not only affects story and gameplay but the detailed comments we absolutely loved throughout the game.
This is a game of choice. While I preferred a stealthy, no kill style of gameplay, you can definitely become a true butcher and wreak havoc upon the city and it's... enemies. Regardless of how you play, it's the all the small details and polish I mentioned that make the game a something extremely special. It's not the first game to do so but oh well it handles paintings, audio recordings, conversations overheard, flushing toilets; it's truly a diamond in the rough of rushed, copy/paste games that are flooding the market. In every sense, this game is all a sequel should be and more. It takes the strengths of the stunning first entry of the series and builds upon them beautifully.
Graphics and Sound
Speaking of beautiful, after the first patch, this game is truly a sight to behold. While the beginning area of the game look great, it isn't til later that the vistas open up and you behold how powerful a medium gaming can truly be. Artistically, the game looks like an abstract painting at times while other moments are like a clear, colorful breath of fresh air. Technically, after being patched, the game looks and runs quite while with a whole plethora of settings on PC. We maxed the game out and played at 4K and while there was a bit of slow down in some areas, overall, we were extremely impressed at the technical effects and performance on display.
Dishonored 2 is equally impressive, if not more, in the audio department. The A+ voice acting of the first title returns and I dare say, the writing and delivery is even more effect. The weapons, music, and ambient sound are truly top notch in every regard. The audio snippets that can be found throughout the levels are stellar but as mentioned, can be easily missed. Make sure you find Mom's recording before you leave the tower...
Fun and Conclusion
In the end, I absolutely loved the game despite the truly bumpy performance at launch. While some sites want to rush their reviews, I'm glad we took the time to give the amazing team behind this game a chance to patch their beautiful creation. While we prefer titles to be polished at launch, we find times where patience pays off and boy does it do so here. Dishonored 2 isn't perfect but it's pretty darn close. I wish there were better ways to tell if you are visible or in fact, sound wise if you are making too much noise, etc but those are small niggles compared to the quality of nearly every other aspect. Such detail, such poetry, and such solid gameplay is a rare combination in the gaming world we live in today. Whether you want to sneak your way through the streets of Dunwall or just bash, stab, and burn every enemy you see, it's time to dive in. Support and embrace the artists, programmers, writers, etc of this true modern masterpiece.