Dishonored 2’s New Chaos System & Ending Implications Explained by Game Director

Crossing Eden

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Thought I'd start a new thread on this specifically because it's a different subject from emergent gameplay.

We have more endgames that are based on branches based on your actions in the world, like who you supported or didn’t support, or killed or didn’t kill, and then we have optimistic or cynical versions of each of those depending on chaos.
So chaos factors in that way. It also factors in how many blood flies infestations there are across the city, how thick the Grand Guard is in some places, some voice lines here and there. Also the tonal reaction of the protagonists, Corvo (Steven Russell) and Emily ( – their lines sometimes change based on that. We track three different states of chaos: low chaos, high chaos and very high chaos. We dynamically allocate, at the start of each mission, a morality to the characters around you; most of them are what you would call guilty and they’re worth a certain amount of chaos.
A smaller set are sympathetic and they’re worth more chaos. Another small set aremurderous and they’re worth less chaos – some people just need killing. It’s a more nuanced approach, in response to players feedback, and yet at the same time we hold on to our values just saying “if you don’t murder everyone in the streets, you’re less disruptive to the world”.
The ending uses a permutation system, so there are several different pieces of the ending that play and each one of those have, like, in some cases two states, in some cases five states, in others maybe a couple more than that. And then all of them have high/low chaos permutations, and in a couple of spots very high chaos permutations.
So in theory it's similar but more complex than the original game.

More at source.

I understand that some didn't like the Chaos system in the original game, I however was and still am a big fan of it. The actions of the player have a direct impact on the way they're perceived by different characters in the world. It also allowed you to shape the type of person that Corvo was, was he a dude who decided to take his anger out on everyone who decided to get in his way even the innocent who were unaware of the truth or did he stay humble and decide to enact revenge in other ways, some more devious than death. It's a really neat concept that makes the actions of the player mean more than they would otherwise. I think Dishonored really nails it mainly because the things that happen as a result of the player's action actually make sense. Compared to other games with binary reaction systems that have evil plotlines that don't actually make sense under scrutiny.
 

wamberz1

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We dynamically allocate, at the start of each mission, a morality to the characters around you; most of them are what you would call guilty and they’re worth a certain amount of chaos.
Does this mean it will be randomly generated? If so, I wonder if their will be an ability allowing you to see peoples morality levels. If would be awesome to do a judge dredd run.
We dynamically allocate, at the start of each mission, a morality to the characters around you; most of them are what you would call guilty and they’re worth a certain amount of chaos.
Does this mean it will be randomly generated? If so, I wonder if their will be an ability allowing you to see peoples morality levels. If would be awesome to do a judge dredd run.

In any case I would guess:

Low chaos: batman (almost total stealth, no killing)
High Chaos: punisher (some killing)
Very High Chaos: Jack the fucking Ripper (Erryone gonna die)

I can't wait to see what the very high chaos ending is like. Also, it will be interesting to see how the choices the different characters make impact each other.
 

Fahzgoolin

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Sounds great honestly. The original system was awesome, but it was a little too sensitive at times. Having a little more granularity in each encounter will help make it feel more logical. The distinction between "high chaos" and "very high chaos" is a nice touch.
 

lucebuce12

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Well, I'm gonna do three runs of the game anyway with no/moderate/extreme killing so this is great to know.
 

Tyrus

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Optimistic and cynical? Yay more endgame variations.

The tonal reactions sound like an amazing idea, very welcome. I don't think any game has really made an effort in this regard/done it well since Dragon Age 2, where your character's dialogue and lines changed in delivery as you chose their tone/personality and it set it in stone for the rest of the game.

Hopefully in Dishonored 2 it's more than just a few lines.
 

MUnited83

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the previous system was pretty bad, especially since it was based on kills only, and some of the assassinations weren't really what you would call morally correct.
 

Crossing Eden

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the previous system was pretty bad, especially since it was based on kills only, and some of the assassinations weren't really what you would call morally correct.
It wasn't based on kills only in the first game. There were many different things that could increase or decrease your chaos level.
 

Vibranium

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Can you kill lots and get a better ending though? I feel as though people should be allowed to do that (I'm a non-lethal stealth guy but the options should be there.
 

Stiler

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This is one of the things I hated about the first game.

They give you alllllllll of these awesome abilities and gadgets. Then basically said "Now if you use most of these, you'll get a bad ending."

IMO the endings and things that change should depend more on story elements and actual choices you make, rather thent he actual role of "gameplay" that you choose to follow (IE stealth or non stealth).
 

MUnited83

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It wasn't based on kills only in the first game. There were many different things that could increase or decrease your chaos level.
Pretty sure that basically everything that increased chaos was kills, and decrease was little else than , well, not killing someone or saving someone.

Note that I only played base game so I dunno if they changed it on the dlcs.

Still, it's pretty fucked up that in Lady Boyle's Last Party killing her is supposed to be the bad way.
 

Crossing Eden

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Can you kill lots and get a better ending though? I feel as though people should be allowed to do that (I'm a non-lethal stealth guy but the options should be there.
Think before you strike! If you kill me, you become the assassin we claimed you were. You become one of US! I'm gonna go with no unless the story is crafted in a way that not killing people makes things worse. Dishonored is very much about cause and effect.

Pretty sure that basically everything that increased chaos was kills, and decrease was little else than , well, not killing someone or saving someone.

Note that I only played base game so I dunno if they changed it on the dlcs.

Still, it's pretty fucked up that in Lady Boyle's Last Party killing her is supposed to be the bad way.
The OP has a link that includes the list of actions/cause and effect for high/low chaos in the first game.
 
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"here are really cool and deadly weapons for you to use, oh but you can't use them if you want the good ending."

God I hated the chaos system for the first. I had a blast doing anything I wanted on my first playthrough, but once I started playing for the good ending, the game seriously turned stale and frustrating with having to use only sleeping darts and choking. I enjoyed the dlc more than the actual game because of it.


I just hope they at least give us more none-lethal weapons this time.
 

MUnited83

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Crossing Eden

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"here are really cool and deadly weapons for you to use, oh but you can't use them if you want the good ending."

God I hated the chaos system for the first. I had a blast doing anything I wanted on my first playthrough, but once I started playing for the good ending, the game seriously turned stale and frustrating with having to use only sleeping darts and choking. I enjoyed the dlc more than the actual game because of it.


I just hope they at least give us more none-lethal weapons this time.
Apparently there's an equal amount of non lethal tools as there are lethal ones this time around.

I mean, the link confirms what I said pretty much.
Pretty sure that's the most direct way the devs will ever tell us that killing is a bad thing, (besides programming the game to have a much shittier version of the levels and world ofc). Remember they advertised the first game as letting you be a badass who could kill who they without showing the consequences.
 

MUnited83

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Apparently there's an equal amount of non lethal tools as there are lethal ones this time around.


Pretty sure that's the most direct way the devs will ever tell us that killing is a bad thing, (besides programming the game to have a much shittier version of the levels and world ofc). Remember they advertised the first game as letting you be a badass who could kill who they without showing the consequences.
The thing is that they should consider that not every kill is bad or has to be bad. Like killing Ms Boyle. Morally, it's the good option, and the game should acknowledge that.
 

JaseC

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oh really? alright! Now I can properly get hyped now :)
Yeah, Smith Bakaba admitted that non-lethal gameplay in the original game didn't actually manifest until well into development, which is why it's a great action game but a rather middling stealth one, and this time around both approaches have been given an equal amount of attention.
 

Crossing Eden

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The thing is that they should consider that not every kill is bad or has to be bad. Like killing Ms Boyle. Morally, it's the good option, and the game should acknowledge that.
I think the game alleviates this by calling it "non-lethal." The closest thing to peace in Dishonored's universe is "low chaos." They aren't calling the things you're doing inherently good,
(aside from the people who're praising you and later turn on you and each other).
Just a lesser evil from straight up death. You're still getting revenge, instead of brutal murder you're choosing to do things methodically.
THe single thing I don't like about the Ms. Boyle thing is the implications.
 

Demacabre

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This is one of the things I hated about the first game.

They give you alllllllll of these awesome abilities and gadgets. Then basically said "Now if you use most of these, you'll get a bad ending."

IMO the endings and things that change should depend more on story elements and actual choices you make, rather thent he actual role of "gameplay" that you choose to follow (IE stealth or non stealth).
This was and is my problem with non lethal vs lethal play thru. The majority of the games mechanics and powers were lethal. It's reassuring to hear non lethal is given some variety in the next game.
 

HK-47

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The thing is that they should consider that not every kill is bad or has to be bad. Like killing Ms Boyle. Morally, it's the good option, and the game should acknowledge that.
I'm sorry but I dont see how murder is better than kidnapping her and handing her over to her stalker. Assasssinating her still means she is fucking dead. Also youll still get low chaos if you only assassinate the key targets and dont go off murdering half the city watch or poisoning the bootleg elixir keeping the underclass from totally succumbing to the plague.
 

MUnited83

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I'm sorry but I dont see how murder is better than kidnapping her and handing her over to her stalker. Assasssinating her still means she is fucking dead. Also youll still get low chaos if you only assassinate the key targets and dont go off murdering half the city watch or poisoning the bootleg elixir keeping the underclass from totally succumbing to the plague.
How the fuck is it not? By handing her to her stalker you are condemning her to a life of captivity, abuse, trauma and suffering. Murder is definitely extremely better than that option if you think about it during two seconds and don't have a fucked up moral compass.
And yes, you can end with low chaos if you only kill the targets, but that doesn't change the fact that killing them gives you "evil points"
 

HK-47

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How the fuck is it not? By handing her to her stalker you are condemning her to a life of captivity, abuse, trauma and suffering. Murder is definitely extremely better than that option if you think about it during two seconds and don't have a fucked up moral compass.
And yes, you can end with low chaos if you only kill the targets, but that doesn't change the fact that killing them gives you "evil points"
Because there is no coming back from death. She cant escape that. Fucked up is acting like killing her is doing her some favor. I'm not arguing that the other option is good nor that the game should consider it as such.
 

Mivey

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some people just need killing.
Yeah, this game is gonna handle subtle moral choices well.

The most entertaining part of the last game was playing on high chaos, stealth was way to overpowered, especially since it got easier the more stealthy you were. Hope they do something against that.
 

MUnited83

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Because there is no coming back from death. She cant escape that. Fucked up is acting like killing her is doing her some favor. I'm not arguing that the other option is good nor that the game should consider it as such.
considering the game only gives you two choices, it is definitely the better one.
 

Carcetti

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Dishonored was amazing if you played it as stealthy high chaos. It was basically Corvo as a supernatural serial killer a la Michael Myers springing out of closets and inventing horrible deaths to his enemies. It's the only stealth game where I've felt comfortable breaking stealth and ignoring the 'perfect' runs. Just think on it: the man is a demonically powered knife-wielding maniac who summons hordes of rats to eat everyone.. and he wears a scary mask.
 

HK-47

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Yeah, this game is gonna handle subtle moral choices well.

The most entertaining part of the last game was playing on high chaos, stealth was way to overpowered, especially since it got easier the more stealthy you were. Hope they do something against that.
I'd say killing was way easier. If you are talking about lethal stealth then I agree, but once you got the time stop guards werent a threat.
 

Mivey

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I'd say killing was way easier. If you are talking about lethal stealth then I agree, but once you got the time stop guards werent a threat.
I was talking about entertainment value. At the end, stealth is so easy and non-eventful that it's just a bore. And I'm a total nut for stealth games.
 

d00d3n

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Interesting, but "blood fly infestations" sounds like a horrible replacement for the rats. Bethesda like their flying swarming enemies I guess?
 

HK-47

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Interesting, but "blood fly infestations" sounds like a horrible replacement for the rats. Bethesda like their flying swarming enemies I guess?
They should be cliff racers instead.
 
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Yeah, Smith admitted that non-lethal gameplay in the original game didn't actually manifest until well into development, which is why it's a great action game but a rather middling stealth one, and this time around both approaches have been given an equal amount of attention.
Awesome, really glad this issue has been addressed
 

Teeth

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How the fuck is it not? By handing her to her stalker you are condemning her to a life of captivity, abuse, trauma and suffering. Murder is definitely extremely better than that option if you think about it during two seconds and don't have a fucked up moral compass.
And yes, you can end with low chaos if you only kill the targets, but that doesn't change the fact that killing them gives you "evil points"
You keep talking about morality, but it's not a morality system, it's a chaos system.

I mean, it maps decently to classic morality based systems, but it's not. It's more cause and effect. Kill more guards - get more guards around in later levels. Kill more people - increase plague bearing rats - increase the amount of weepers. Kill more people - cause more hysteria/fear/whatever.

It's more about the division between doing your mission while keeping the status quo of people's lives relatively intact vs. really shaking things up. You can kill all the key figures and still keep low chaos, just don't go crazy killing everyone.

To me, it's not quite a direct cause and effect system, but it's the next best thing. I would have liked to have seen them decouple the non-lethal mission objectives from the civilian and guard killing, and then additionally decouple those from key-player kills (like the torturer). Having direct causes to those (for instance, having a larger populace effect for exposing the high overseer vs. just having it have the same chaos outcome as giving up Lady Boyle to a creeper) would have had a better flow to the narrative/world state.

But having people who kill a ton of guards and/or civilians need to deal with more guards? That makes perfect sense. Having more rats and weepers...makes decent enough sense. Having hysteria in the streets because the coup d'etat was exerted by a mass murderer? Makes perfect sense.

Also lol to the "I got the bad ending" people; you can go full high chaos, kill everyone and still have Emily take the throne and rule justly. There'll just be a bit more ugliness, which makes sense for a plague infested, violent unrest country.
 

NBtoaster

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Yeah, Smith admitted that non-lethal gameplay in the original game didn't actually manifest until well into development, which is why it's a great action game but a rather middling stealth one, and this time around both approaches have been given an equal amount of attention.
Interesting, I felt kind of disadvantaged going the lethal route.
 

Alexious

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Yeah, this game is gonna handle subtle moral choices well.

The most entertaining part of the last game was playing on high chaos, stealth was way to overpowered, especially since it got easier the more stealthy you were. Hope they do something against that.
I don't know, I just loved playing stealthily. I feel that going guns out blazing isn't really in-character with what Corvo (and Emily now) should be, but maybe that's just me.