Dishonored is a complex, nuanced game that empowers players to make important decisions — not the least of which is who lives and who dies. To ease the learning curve, I’ve put together some helpful (and spoiler-free!) tips to get you sneaking smoothly on day one. If you picked up a copy of the game, share your own strategies in the comments below.
1. Playing lethal is easier, but nonlethal is more fun. One of Dishonored’s fundamental charms is that a properly motivated player can progress through the entire game without killing a soul. The nonlethal route requires patience and sacrifice, and as such you’ll rely on running, hiding, and stealthy strangulations punctuated by the occasional Sleeping Dart. But it’s also immensely rewarding, giving the game a supercharged nervous tension as you stalk your prey, then Blink in from behind to deliver a sleeper hold using R2.
Of course, slashing off heads and slitting throats is all in good fun too, and it may be an easier approach for beginners. Because your death count has an effect on Dishonored’s storyline and even some of the enemy types you’ll encounter, it pays to make a choice early on and try to stick to it.
2. Max out Blink and Dark Vision right away. Whether you employ lethal or nonlethal tactics, these two skills are flat-out indispensible. Blink is a short-ranged instantaneous teleport that’s useful for both navigation and offense. Spend extra Runes and you’ll upgrade your teleporting range. Dark Vision is also a go-to, and enables you to peer through walls to see patrolling guards and other lurking threats. Upgrade Dark Vision to highlight any nearby loot or traps, too.
3. Shadows won’t save you. Most stealth games task you with using darkness to cover your movements. But Dishonored puts the emphasis on line of sight — that means you’ll want to keep objects and structures in between yourself and enemies as much as possible, peeking out using the Triangle button. Shadows still help conceal you, but only to distant enemies.
4. Upgrade your Bone Charms early. With the help of a gruesome device called the Heart, you’ll be able to see hidden Runes and Bone Charms that are stashed amongst Dunwall’s many nooks and crannies. Bone Charms bestow passive bonuses such as more health, extra mana from potions, and faster nonlethal takedowns; Runes go towards new skills and skill upgrades.
By default, you’re limited to equipping three Bone Charms at a time. But spend a few Runes and you can raise that limit to six Bone Charms, a price absolutely worth paying as soon as you can afford it.
5. Sleeping Darts are the best weapon in the game. These little beauties are worth your attention whether you’ve chosen lethal or nonlethal tactics. Sleeping Darts are cheap, quiet, and knock out most enemies with just one hit. In fact, their only shortcoming is the fact that you can carry just 10 at a time. Use them wisely!
6. Use grenades as pest control. Dishonored’s grenades pack a punch, but they’re best saved for close encounters with ravenous rat packs — one well-placed explosive will smear the whole lot of them, saving you a lot of frantic leaping and shrieking. Grenades are also handy against river krusts, the acid-spewing barnacle-like creatures you’ll sometimes find breeding underneath docks and near sewer drains.
7. Fight only when you must. That towering Tallboy makes for a tempting target, right? Though you could probably pop an oil tank with a well-placed Incendiary Arrow, it’s safer and smarter to avoid conflict, using stealth to bypass it or the Possess spell to temporarily assume command. Weepers are another major nuisance, especially later in the game — your best bet is to run and hope they lose interest!