Billie Lurk has abilities of her own in the new Arkane spin-off, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider.
Ahead of the game’s release next month, we caught up with lead designer (game design) Dinga Bakaba to suss out what new abilities we can expect from Billie.
Here’s what he had to say:
“I’m excited to talk about this, because it’s something we’re pretty proud about. Billie is not ‘marked’ by the Outsider in the way that Corvo, or Daud, or Emily were; she’s in a different kind of situation that I won’t go into, and her powers work slightly differently. It doesn’t run on mana, so she doesn’t have to drink potions in order to use her powers. She’s tapping her energy directly from the void, which is kind of an interesting twist in terms of resource management.
“The other thing is that she gets her three main powers right at the beginning of the game…”
The other thing is that she gets her three main powers right at the beginning of the game, so that’s something really cool because it allows us to have a character that has a lot of personality in her abilities. We don’t have to worry about if the player has this ability or that ability, and we can provide situations for you to use them knowing you have them, which is new for us. It was pretty interesting.
It was also an opportunity to try and develop a little bit more, I would say, the synergies between these three abilities.
To give you a better idea of the abilities themselves and what they are specifically – there are three. The first one is called Foresight. It’s a reconnaissance power, where you get a kind of astral projection, where you stop time and leave your body to explore an area. It allows you to not only make some reconnaissance to see where the enemies are and what they’re doing in the next room, but also to mark them so that you can see where they are when you come back to your body. There are a few other twists on the idea of astral projection too; you can actually fly, you’re not restricted to the ground, and you have this kind of umbilical cord connected to your body.
“You can plan a lot of really cool strategies with this power.”
The next one is called Displace. It’s a simple power in execution, but in concept it’s a weird one. Let’s say that – basically, without revealing too much, Billie’s relationship with time and space is a bit strange, so with Displace in a way she’s swapping places with another version of herself; in practise it’s more or less a teleport ability in Dishonored: Death of the Outsider. You target a location and you place a kind of simulacrum of yourself there, and then you can swap places with that marker; it’s interesting in terms of twists compared to Blink or Far Reach because you get the strategic option of swapping places whenever you want. So you place your marker, then you climb onto a balcony or something and then when an enemy arrives then ‘pff’ – you can go back. You can plan a lot of really cool strategies with this power. We like the strategic options that it gives. It’s a bit like what we did with Far Reach going into Dishonored 2 – it was challenging and interesting to go and do something other than Blink. When we did Emily’s version, it was a challenge. We were not sure that we would even get to design something cool for that, and maybe we would fall back on having Blink for both characters. It takes a little bit of time to get used to it, especially when you’re coming from Dishonored 1, but Far Reach is really fun in its own terms, and we think that we struck a really nice balance with Displace in the same that that it takes a little bit of time to get used to after Dishonored 2, but when you get the hang of it the strategic options are really cool and fun.
The last ability in Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is called Semblance. The idea is that you grab a character and you basically steal his face – you rip his face off, metaphorically. You can then assume his role. What happens is, the other character faints; he’s not dead, but he falls unconscious. Other NPCs will basically see you as him. The difference with something like possession is that you’re still able to use your sword and your other movement options like jumping, sliding, sprinting, etc., so it gives you a lot of freedom in terms of what you can do when you have the other character’s identity. There are also a few situations in the game where posing as a particular character in the game will get you access through a certain door. We hope the players will have fun with it.
“I think it ends up making Billie a pretty unique character compared to the others…”
To give you an example of some of the synergies you can use, while you’re in Foresight and you’ve left your body and are flying around, you can target an area and place down the marker for Displace, meaning that when you get back to your body you have that marker ready for you to jump to. Another element in the powers picture is the fact that the upgrades to the powers don’t work the same way. There’s not a menu that you can upgrade. The way you upgrade your powers us actually through finding specific Bone Charms in the world. It makes it interesting in terms of strategic options and expressive play. For example one of the bone charms allows you to place two Displace markers on the map and chain two teleports one after the other. Another one allows you to use Semblance in combat to confuse enemies. Again, I think that’s something players will have fun with. That’s the idea – the power set is not as big as Dishonored 2, which if you unlocked everything in New Game Plus you had a huge amount of powers – but to just focus on and go deep on these three powers and have various upgrades and synergies. I think it ends up making Billie a pretty unique character compared to the others.”