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Welcome to Game Revolution's 10 tips for Dishonored. Both Anthony Severino and I played through the game once, with Anthony going lethal high Chaos and me going non-lethal low Chaos (I'm a good ninja, after all). Here we share our common tips for clearing out guards, sneaking in hallways, and being an all-around badass. Being the Royal Protector of an entire kingdom is a tough job, and we've got the tips to help you survive the plague-riden streets of Dunwall. Time to take them all down! ~Ed. Nick Tan
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1. Blink, Much More Than Teleportation.
Dishonored doesn't tell you this early on, but certain skills don't cost any mana at all as long as you wait for your mana to recover. Quick successive uses of Blink will deplete the regenerating part of Corvo's mana bar, but unless you need to make a daring attack or escape, Blink can be generally used patiently, one use at a time, allowing Corvo to replenish his mana without having to waste a Piero's Spiritual Remedy on simple teleportation.
As the only skill that Corvo automatically receives (as a side note, there's also the Mostly Flesh and Steel achievement for not using any supernatural abilities apart from Blink), Blink can also be used to disorient enemies temporarily. If you’re caught in a particularly heated battle and want to escape, a quick teleport will cause them to wonder where you are. They won’t be disoriented long enough for Corvo to get behind them for an instant kill, but it’s a good start to a speedy getaway. That said, Blinking right behind an unsuspecting guard is just about the quickest way to dispatch him, which is particularly important during non-lethal and Ghost playthroughs.
If you’re at all worried that you might be Blinking to a ledge that Corvo can’t reach, always move around the targeting reticule so that up-arrows appear in the Blink targeting circle. That way, you know that Corvo will reach the ledge just fine. Also, Blink works while you’re carrying a body, which without Blink makes you slower since you’re encumbered with the added weight.
2. Dark Vision = Batman Detective Mode
The other skill that doesn’t cost any mana as long as you wait for your mana to recover is Dark Vision, which for its duration allows Corvo to see through walls and see the cone of vision of his enemies. This isn’t as useful in large environments, but Corvo mainly contends with enemies in narrow hallways and tight enclosures. Whether you’re playing stealthily or not, there’s little joy in turning a corner and having two guards catch you off-guard.
The second level of Dark Vision practically gives Corvo the detection skill of Batman from Arkham Asylum. At this level, Corvo can see electrical cables powering security measures like arc pylons and Walls of Light, as well as anything useful like elixirs, ammo, and Sokolov paintings worth hundreds of coins. It’s not particularly useful for combat, but unless you have a guide that can tell you where every piece of loot can be found (or you are extremely meticulous), Dark Vision Lvl 2 is a great shortcut for exploration and survival.
3. Lethal Playthrough General Tips
A lethal playthrough requires less thinking and strategy than a non-lethal one, so most of all, have a fun time slaughtering countless enemies using Corvo’s sword and other weaponry.
If you’re looking to do the most damage possible or to surprise-attack a group of enemies with a grenade, it’s best to let it “cook” a bit in your hands before throwing it. That way, it will detonate the moment it lands, giving enemies little time to escape the explosive burst of shrapnel. The pistol has a number of upgrades available allowing for more total ammunition as well as the more powerful explosive rounds that do significant damage.
Swordplay itself can be a satisfying way to go in for the kill, but it doesn’t have to be a button-mash. Waiting until the moment right before an enemy strikes with their blade and greeting them with a well-timed block will leave an enemy vulnerable to a vicious attack. The Sword Crossing upgrade is also important, giving you an edge when locking blades with an enemy.
Blinking or Bending Time will allow you to get behind enemies instantly for a quick assassin stealth strike to the neck of an unsuspecting enemy. Unlock the Blood Thirsty power to unleash Adrenaline Kills, which will trigger frequently in more intense sword fights. The more you block or attack, the more your meter builds to allow you to perform gruesome fatality kills. Upgrade the Blood Thirsty power and equip both the Vengeance and Sustained Rage Bone Charms, and you’ll be a lethal killing machine.
4. Non-lethal Playthrough General Tips
Save often. The non-lethal playthrough is among the most difficult routes to take, since it leaves little room for error, and sometimes you won’t know if you’ve screwed things up until the end of the mission. Sleep darts and the instant sleep dart upgrade which makes the effect instant are both absolute godsends here, as everything else in Corvo’s arsenal (pistol, springtraps, grenades) are forbidden unless you’re dealing with non-human targets. Corvo can only possess ten sleep darts at a time, though, so only use them when you absolutely have to. Also make sure not to sleep-dart guards that are supporting themselves on a rail, or they might fall to their deaths in slumber.
Of coures, taking out each guard one by one with a back choke takes a long time, but it’s certainly possible. It just requires a lot of patience and great timing. Blinking behind people while their backs are turned, equipping the Swift Shadow bone charm that accelerates movement while in stealth, and equipping the Strong Arms bone charm to accelerate choking are recommended.
Possession is an absolute powerhouse when playing non-lethally, as a way to get Tallboys away and to silently take down enemies. In case you find enough runes, Bend Time Lvl 2 makes everything much easier as well since you can choke out an enemy usually without arousing the suspicion of any nearby NPCs.
Also note that you are allowed to be detected. If you are, though, make for a quick escape and return later, unless you have enough precious sleep darts at your disposal. Hopefully, you’ve hidden the bodies in a safe spot, so that other guards don't find them. Of course, you can just reload your save.
5. Ghost (Never Detected) General Tips
Note that “never detected” doesn’t mean “non-lethal”. You still have a strong range of weapons at your disposal; you just need to be stealthy in your approach. Any NPC who has bars of detection upon seeing Corvo must be avoided at all costs, though the Ghost objective won’t be made incomplete if they see him for just a brief spell. As long as their detection bar doesn’t fill completely, you’re safe. You’ll know you failed if you hear the discordant sound effect that rings when you’ve been fully detected. But since you won’t know whether you’re failed the objective for sure until the end of the mission, it’s better to play it safe.
As for which powers you should use, Shadow Kill is a must since it removes the need to hide bodies, which can send a squad of guards looking for you if they are found. Dark Vision is another easy recommendation, at least at its first level. The same goes for Possession, which will let you pass Walls of Light as a guard and will let you backstab foes in some silent corner. Other options include Bend Time at its second level, though it takes ten runes to unlock it, and the rewire tool which will turn security defenses against guards.
Boot stealth is incredibly helpful too, since you can close the distance between you and a back-turned guard with a daring sprint. Keep the noise down, stay away from lights, and lean out of cover, and hopefully you’ll be undetected the whole way through a mission.
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6. Possession opens pathways and is the best option for escape (and back kills).
The first level of possession allows Corvo to possess animals, particularly rats, fish, and hounds. That might not seem like much, but it gives Corvo a wealth of options for infiltration and escape. Only rats have access to rat tunnels and only fish have access to waterways and can fit through cracks in water gates. So if you can’t seem to unlock a door, Possession can easily be the key. It can also let you get around the front entrance of a building which might be fortified to a point where a frontal assault is not a sound strategy, even if you’re going down the lethal route.
At the second level, Corvo can possess human targets which is a powerful tool for both lethal and nonlethal playthroughs. If you’re playing non-lethally, the most annoying foes are Tallboys since they are immune to sleep darts and have a long range of vision. However, possessing them and walking them away to a safe distance away from wherever you need to go is a viable solution. Also, immediately following a human possession (which lasts about ten seconds), the target is rendered helpless with his back turned, allowing Corvo to dispatch him any way he sees fit and well away from prying eyes.
7. Kill every river krust.
River krusts, giant oysters that spew globs of acid (sorry, couldn't find a pic of it), appear at around the second half of the game. Most of the time, their shells are shut tight, but if Corvo gets too close, they will start opening and attacking. Of course, that’s when they are the most vulnerable, particularly to crossbows and grenades.
The best part is that most river krusts carry a pearl worth either 25 or 50 coins a pop. This is particularly good for non-lethal playthroughs, since Corvo will likely have more bolts and grenades than he can handle and killing krusts don’t count against the “don’t kill anyone” objective. They’re nasty, anyway. You might as well rid as many as you can off the face of Dunwall.
8. Pickpocket aristocrats (and, well, everyone).
Pickpocketing isn’t that difficult in Dishonored. All it takes is some sneaking around when no one’s looking to pilfer some coins or key. Sometimes, you can even crouch when a lot of people are looking, quickly steal a pouch, and then stand up, with the only punishment being a strong talking-to. Oh my…
Aristocrats unsurprisingly have a ridiculous amount of coin on themselves, and one particular segment in the game has Corvo meet many aristocrats in one setting (we’re being vague in case of spoilers). It’s like a thief’s paradise. There are at least 4000 coins floating around in that segment alone, all of which can be turned into many, many upgrades at Piero’s Workshop.
9. Fun with rats!
If you’re going down the path of high Chaos and bloody assassinations, why not have fun with rats? Summoning rat swarms easily distracts guards in their tracks and gobbles up their corpses. If there are still some guards remaining and you need to escape, possessing one and scurrying away is a sound method. Just make sure you don’t get stomped on.
Or why not try attaching a springrazor trap on a rat and then possessing that rat straight into a troop of guards. Bloody guts for everyone, and you stay undetected!
10. Use height or pistols to take down Tallboys.
While there aren’t any bosses in Dishonored, Tallboys will be the most difficult enemy you encounter in Dunwall. Taking down these towering pests can be downright tricky. If you’re going down the non-lethal route, the only way to get around them is careful stealth or human possession. If you're not, though, then they've got something else coming.
The easiest approach is to use Corvo’s upgraded pistol and explosive rounds upgrade, then place a well-timed shot right to the container of Whale Oil powering each Tallboy, which resides on their backside. Staying hidden will help your cause, as will using Blink to get behind them right around the same height as the Whale Oil tank.
If you haven’t yet upgraded your pistol, or perhaps you just want to save on ammo, you can use Blink to easily take out a Tallboy lethally. Get to a platform just above a Tallboy’s head, and perform a Drop Assassination. That’ll cut ‘em down to size.