Billie Lurk sees the world from a different perspective than Emily Kaldwin or Corvo Attano. While Corvo pulled himself up from the dark alleyways of Karnaca to become the Royal Protector, and Emily was born into royalty, Billie has spent her whole life in the shadows. From her early life as a street urchin, to her time as a paid killer, and even to her smuggling days as the captain of the Dreadful Wale in Dishonored 2… Billie has never led a charmed life. She’s always done exactly what she needed to in order to survive, and sometimes that meant killing for cash. That hasn’t changed in Dishonored: Death of the Outsider.
“Billie has undergone major changes, and she’s now a supernatural operative in a sense – like Corvo, Daud or Emily before her,” says Creative Director Harvey Smith. “But Billie is not coming at this from the angle that Corvo or Emily did, from a position at the imperial court. Billie is like her mentor Daud, an assassin. In her mind, some people just need killing… there’s no other way.”
Enter the Contract system. In addition to the side objectives you can uncover just by exploring the world, Death of the Outsider introduces a way for Billie to take a break from the mission and help the citizens of Karnaca solve their problems – for the right price, of course. Get rewarded for your efforts, and learn a bit more about how the people live their lives – often through murder and backstabbing. No one wants to do their own dirty work, not when they can pay someone like Billie Lurk to neatly handle it.
“Contracts are a new system dreamed up by the Arkane team members in Lyon, France,” says Smith. “We felt like mercenary Contracts were the right call for Billie as a new featurette, just like adding Favors felt right for Daud in the Knife of Dunwall and the Brigmore Witches, since Daud had years of experience running an underworld organization, and presumably a bunch of people owed him blood debts. Most of the time, Contracts can be found and undertaken in black market shops across Karnaca. They’re often stranger in nature than most Dishonored missions.”
Our recent hands-on time with Death of the Outsider demo takes us to Upper Cyria, a new area of Karnaca for players to discover. Before setting our sights on the mission at hand, we chose to head to the Black Market and pick up some Contracts, with the hope that they would help us better map out this new location. The four Contracts we took on did indeed take us to all corners of Upper Cyria, and each one had distinct objectives and demands.
• Kidnap the Bartender. The bartender in the Spector Club (an exclusive club run by the Eyeless, a new faction in Death of the Outsider) has made some enemies, and one in particular wants him to disappear for a little while so he can think about what he’s done. In this particular Contract, we have to kidnap the bartender from the busy club and deposit him – still alive – in a crate sitting on a rooftop.
• Death to the Mime. Someone in Karnaca really hates mimes. If we can remove one particular mime from the picture and make it look like an accident, we’ll receive a healthy stipend. Lucky for us, he plies his silent trade near the district’s infamous suicide spots. (Smith points to this particular Contract as perhaps his favorite in the game.)
• Workplace Harassment. A bank employee is being threatened on a regular basis and they want it to stop. The client figures the woman bullying them must be working for someone, and they want the abuse to stop. It’s up to us to trail this troublesome “customer” back to her associates and kill them all. This was a good opportunity to put our new Foresight ability to the test and mark her so we wouldn’t lose her.
• The Missing Brother. There’s a missing brother and just one clue: the Spector Club. We’ll have to search the club, locate the missing man and deliver him to his brother’s cabin alongside the canal. Of course, getting him out of the club without anyone noticing could be tricky.
“With each new Dishonored game, we try to introduce interesting new ideas,” Smith explains. “Both in terms of flavor and game mechanics, Contracts give players something fun to toy with. Often, Contracts will pull you over to another part of the world, away from the main mission, so you get a chance to see something tertiary, and when you move back toward your primary objective, you see the situations along the way from a different angle.”
Unlike main missions, it is possible to fail a Contract. That’s not a game ender; it just means you won’t be paid for your efforts. But that’s OK. You can always try the mission again in a second playthrough, maybe with the help of Original Game +, a mode we’ll be shedding more light on in the weeks to come. A mercenary’s work is never over in Karnaca.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider releases on September 15, 2017, on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.