Whether you’re excited for more Dishonored or coming to the series for the first time, here are some tips for the recently-released Dishonored 2 to help you be the magic ninja assassin of your dreams.

Who to choose?

Play the character you want to.

While Emily and Corvo have different powers, there’s no easy answer to who to pick. Go with Emily if you want to try out new tricks or learn about her character as an adult. I’ve been playing Corvo, and it’s been interesting to visit his home town and learn more about who he was before the events of the first game.

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Once you pick Corvo or Emily at the start of the game, you’re locked in for the rest of the playthrough. You have three game save slots, so you could technically play both simultaneously, but there’s no way to switch between them.

Create a save at the beginning of a mission if you want to replay it.

You can’t replay a mission once you’ve completed it, which you could in the original Dishonored. It’s frustrating, especially if you’re going for a no kill or no detection playthrough. The best way around this is to create a save at the start of each level and use that for mission selection.

Some creative save-scumming will get me out of this!

Save often.

Quick save is your friend, especially if you’re paying attention to your stats. Save early, save often, and don’t be afraid to save scum if you need to. Dishonored 2 is at its most fun when you know a level well enough to really play around with it. Saves can let you test the waters before going for the run you want, and quick saves can get you out of a sticky situation. At the same time, don’t reload every time you mess up or you’ll never get through the game. There’s no shame in cutting your losses, running to a level objective, and trying again another time.

Customize your hotbar.

If you’re playing on PC, you can customize which tools and abilities are locked to your hotbar. To do this, select the desired item from the wheel and press the number you’d like to correspond to it. The game will slot some items in by default, but you can change them at any time. It’s much better than going to the wheel each time you want to swap items, and you can keep the powers you use the most where they’re most convenient for you. It feels great to crossbow one enemy, drop a grenade, unleash a rat swarm, and then blink away with only a few key presses.

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Console players can bind commands to their D-Pad by accessing the wheel and selecting the button they wish to bind the ability or item to. Don’t be afraid to alter these bindings depending on the demands of the mission.

Could’ve gone better.

You can check your stats while you play.

While the lack of mission replayability is a bummer, Dishonored 2 has added a feature that lets you check how you’re doing in a mission at any time through the stats menu in the pause screen. You can see your detections, kills, and chaos level for the mission you’re on and across your playthrough. It’s a helpful way to keep track of how you’re doing and know if you want to start a mission over.

Learn the territory.

Dishonored 2’s levels are laid out like real places. If there’s a building, there’s a good chance it has a roof you can get to or a basement you can find.

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As with the original game, verticality is still the way to go, but it’s not as overpowered in Dishonored 2. Look for balconies, overhangs, and open windows to which you can ascend. If you’re stuck for where to go next or just need to get out of trouble, going up is a good place to start. It also puts you in a good spot for lethal or non-lethal drop assassinations, which are a low-risk way of taking out a few enemies.

Maps and signs throughout the level will point you in the right direction. Similarly, you can eavesdrop on NPCs as they wander around the world. They’ll often explain a point of interest or a means of ingress in the time-honored tradition of NPCs shouting about secrets in the public square.

I’m a long way from my objectives, but that’s OK.

Get lost.

Dishonored 2 is full of secrets and stories that you’ll miss if you just beeline for your objective marker. It’s worth poking around every corner for lore, side quests, cool bits of environmental storytelling, and unexpected ways to your objectives. There are plenty of safe combination puzzles and ways to assist citizens that can earn you some coin, runes, and other goodies.

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I wouldn’t recommend it for a first playthrough, but I think the best way to play Dishonored is without the objective marker. You have to rely much more on your eyes, ears, and intuition, and losing the marker from your HUD helps you pay more attention to the world around you. You can customize your HUD quite a bit. Less is more if you’re looking for the most challenging, engaging experience.

They’ll never look here.

Know your enemy.

The AI is a lot more savvy this time around. Early on in my playthrough I tossed a bottle to distract a guard and then hid under a table, certain he would, as ever, claim the commotion was “just rats.” The guard wandered over to where I’d thrown the bottle, then started looking around. He walked up to the table I was hidden beneath—and then, to my horror, bent down and looked underneath it. We stared at each other before his face twisted into a grimace and he shot me.

Here are some helpful tips for dealing with human enemies:

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  • Enemy detection is based on line of sight and sound. Their vision cone is pretty wide, so keep crouched and behind cover as much as you can.
  • Enemies are averse to looking up, so verticality is your friend when getting out of a jam. They will, however, look for you in logical places when searching, so make sure to keep moving once you break line of sight.
  • Pay attention to enemies’ alert meters. Barks and a music cue will let you know if you’ve been spotted. Listening for enemy barks can let you know where they are as well.
  • Look through keyholes before entering rooms. It can help you know what you’re up against.
  • The lean move is a bit sticky, but it can help you see where enemies are. Lean out from behind cover and take stock before entering an area.
  • If you’re having a lot of trouble keeping track of enemies you can invest in Dark Vision, which will highlight where they are and their line of sight, but I like playing without it.
  • Throwing bottles, setting clock alarms, or banging your sword against the wall are great ways to snap guards out of their patrol patterns so you can pick them off or move by undetected. You can lure enemies into traps this way as well. Put a spring razor in a doorway, smash your sword against the frame, and watch the havoc ensue.
  • Always look around before you choke an enemy out, exit a possessed host, or decide to carry a body around. Non-hostile NPCs won’t mind you at first, but they’ll get annoyed and go for help if you bother them for too long or if you, say, walk by with a dead body over your shoulder.
  • Be sure to hide unconscious bodies in a safe place if you’re going for a non-lethal playthrough. Pay attention to where enemies might fall if you hit them with sleep darts.
  • There are many enemies who will pretend to be in distress to trick you into an ambush. Be wary when helping that civilian crying for help.
  • You can disable alarms or even set them off yourself to gain an advantage.
  • Whale oil canisters are flammable. They’ll explode when you throw them, or you can drop them in a strategic place and shoot them from afar.
When in doubt, kill it with fire.

There are more enemies to contend with than just humans. Here are some tips for dealing with non-human and supernatural enemies:

  • Bloodflies seem to have taken the place of the more traditional rats (though there are still rats!). They’ll do a fair amount of damage in swarms, but they start to buzz and glow before they attack, giving you some warning before things get ugly.
  • Sit still until bloodflies calm down and then proceed slowly. You can also blink through more densely-populated nests, or—my personal favorite—possess one of them and buzz through as a fly yourself.
  • Destroying bloodfly nests with fire will kill all the flies associated with it. Incendiary bolts and bottles filled with flammable liquor will do the job, just make sure you’re a safe distance away.
  • Some of the water has fish. The fish will bite you. Keep moving and don’t stay in the water too long.
  • Clockwork soldiers can only detect you from the front and back. Come at them from the side to rewire them to fight each other, or utilize drop assassinations to take them out. Two drops will take out a clockwork soldier.
  • Stun mines can temporarily disable clockwork soldiers, giving you time to escape.
  • The witches can teleport and even reject your possession. Howling and stinging bolts are good tools for disabling them while you make a getaway.
  • The witches’ hounds can be killed by destroying the glowing skulls associated with them.
Spring razors are your friend.

Learn to fight.

No matter your playstyle, getting into some scrapes is inevitable. In straight combat, blocking is your best friend. Practice blocking and remember to use it. On PC it’s annoyingly bound to your control key, but do some pinky stretches and you’ll be fine. Block. Seriously.

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You can stagger enemies with block and then choke them out, which is a nice non-lethal option. You can also put runes into reflexes and use block to stop projectiles like crossbow traps and bullets. With some quick thinking, you can avoid a lot of damage.

There are lots of ways out of combat that aren’t just hacking and slashing. If you find yourself in a fight you don’t want to be in, get creative. There’s no shame in running (or Blinking, or Possessing) from a fight. Dishonored 2 gives you a ton of tools; there are plenty of options for any situation you might find yourself in.

Here are some of the combat tips I’ve experimented with:

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  • Howling bolts will blind and deafen a target, giving you time to get away. It doesn’t last long, though, so move quickly. They’re effective against animals and certain magical enemies as well.
  • Stinging bolts cause enemies to flee but not die. They’re a great way to move a stubborn enemy, but pay attention to where they run off to.
  • Stun mines are a great non-lethal alternative to spring razors for setting traps. Just make sure to hide the bodies in a safe place if you’re going for a non-lethal or no detection run.
  • You can rewire Walls of Light and then lure enemies into them, or possess them and shove them through.
  • Grenades take time to cook, so time your throws.
  • Weapons upgrades can help you do more damage, reload faster, or shoot further. They’re worth investing in, but they aren’t essential.
  • Corvo’s slide kick can send enemies off ledges. It doesn’t cost any runes, plus it’s hilarious.
Um, they probably won’t mind if I take that...

Loot everything.

Exploring will provide you with plenty of the things you need to get through the levels. Many levels have black market shops to gear up early on in a mission, and you can loot a lot of ammo around levels as well. You’ll need money to buy those stinging bolts and health potions, though, so make sure to grab everything that isn’t nailed down.

Destroyed bloodfly nests will drop a valuable amber, and ore and other treasures are converted to coins as well. You can find coins lying about, as well as potions, ammo, and traps. It’s a good idea to stock up at the black market before going on a mission.

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Mana can recharge if you wait a period of time. Use an ability, wait to get mana back, and you will not have to consume as many potions. Some abilities can’t be used if you don’t have enough mana, though mana will always recharge enough to let you use Blink.

Don’t worry about finding every collectible.

The game is full of hidden runes and bonecharms. Runes are used to upgrade your powers, and bonecharms are wearables that modify your skills and abilities. I find it incredibly annoying to equip the heart all the time to reveal them. You can also pin one rune or bonecharm to your HUD so you don’t have to keep the heart equipped all the time.

While runes and bonecharms are immensely helpful, the levels are jam-packed with them, and you’ll never get through the game if you go after them all. You’ll stumble on enough of them in the course of your playthrough to get the powers you want.

Possession is my favorite power (also that dialog is amazing).

Don’t worry about picking any bad powers.

You’ll need runes to get powers if you decide to go that route. You can refuse the Outsider and play the game without any powers at all.

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So, which powers are best? None of them. Pick the ones you like, either that match your playstyle or do something you think is fun. I’ve found that powers can be pretty flexible in any given situation; with a little creativity, few of them are single use. Bloodthirsty and Vitality will serve you well in combat, for instance, but my favorite combat trick has been using Possession to walk one enemy at a time out of combat, choke them out, and then repeat. If you think outside the box, anything you have on hand can be used to get the job done, so don’t stress about optimizing your loadout.

I’m a big fan of upgraded Blink plus Agility, because I like to explore and because it opens up so many more traversal options. Blink is essential for playing the game, so it’s worth putting some runes toward. Dark Vision can save a stealth playthrough, but I tend to avoid it because I like relying on the environment. As far as I’m concerned, every other power is just icing on the cake.

Resist the urge to spend your runes as soon as you get them, and take the time to look around the game’s upgrade tree and plan what you might want to purchase.

So many things to find.

Using and crafting bonecharms.

Bonecharms have much more of an impact in Dishonored 2 than in the original game. You can’t ignore them.

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There are three kinds of bonecharms: regular, corrupted, and black. Regular bonecharms are the ones you’re most likely to find. Each has a different positive effect when equipped. Corrupted charms have a positive and negative effect, which you’ll want to weigh carefully before deciding if it’s worth it. Black charms are more rare and have surprisingly powerful benefits. Black charms can’t be crafted, so they’re worth looking for when they’re indicated by the heart.

Dishonored 2 also gives you the ability to craft bonecharms and runes via an ability that costs one rune. I didn’t spend much time in the crafting menu, nor did I put many points into this ability. There are more bonecharms to be found around the world than I ever needed, so I didn’t see much use in making my own. I used bonecharm crafting mostly as a shortcut if I couldn’t decide between several charms. Combining them allowed me to have more traits than I had slots. Crafting doesn’t seem essential, but I’m certain getting creative with your traits can add a lot to how you play.

Sneak sneak sneak.

You don’t have to be perfect. That’s what your next playthrough is for.

Dishonored 2 is a big, flexible game with a million ways to go about any objective. It’s easy to get obsessed with perfect stats and find yourself stressed out instead of having fun. As I said before, I think the game is strongest in replays. You don’t have to be perfect the first time. Try things out, see what happens, and learn your way around the levels. You can always come back and do things better, then come back again and do things the fun way. It’s a game that rewards creativity. Get clever and have fun.


I can already tell Dishonored 2 is a game I’m going to spend a lot of time with. Have any tips of your own? Add them in the comments!