Introduced to us in the first Dishonored as a mysterious deity who grants the protagonist, Corvo Attano, supernatural powers, The Outsider is a character still largely unexplained. In the new standalone adventure from Arkane, The Outsider becomes your assassination target as Billie Lurk hunts him down with the help of her old mentor Daud. Are Billie and Daud correct in their assessment that The Outsider is the cause of society's corruption or is there more to his motivations than this?
He is thought to be a mischievous trickster, tempting unsuspecting people into his fold as "agents" to do his every whim though The Outsider does not care for his devout followers and only pays mind to those he finds intriguing, and those who may have the power to change the world.
Sacrificed over four thousand years ago by a cult that merged him with The Void, The Outsider was once a human child, living on the streets as a beggar; so we know he's not only seen the world as a God, but as a human as well. Was four thousand years enough time to wipe away his former humanity? Does he simply mark people because he wants to revel in their bad decisions?
His choices, though often criticized by the fans of the series, make perfect sense and are in line with who he is as a character. The Outsider marks those who are downtrodden and broken, maybe even those who he sees reflections of himself in.
During the rat plague, The Outsider, though he was helping Corvo, kept quite a distance, most of the time only showing up to coolly inform Corvo about the target and disappear without another word. And his treatment of Daud was one of disdain after Daud used his powers to become a hired knife and eventually kill the Empress of Dunwall, Jessamine Kaldwin; an action that plummeted the Empire into chaos.
What are The Outsider's motivations? Helping Corvo on his quest to clear his name and ensure his daughter gets put on the throne? Or in his pushing of Daud towards the redemptive act of saving Emily Kaldwin from Delilah Copperspoon's horrific plans? Did The Outsider foresee something he wasn't revealing to Daud, or was he afraid for the young Empress to endure a kind of death similar to the one he had experienced all those years ago? Her humanity would have been forcefully taken away from her by Delilah and she would live as a puppet for all her days. Kind of sounds like The Outsider took this one a little personally.
Then there is the case of the lonely rat boy, an unnamed beggar child living on the streets of Dunwall, bullied by larger and meaner children. He had stumbled upon an Outsider shrine one evening and The Outsider took notice of this child, perhaps even empathized with his situation. As he himself was once a beggar, he marked the child and the child used those powers to get revenge on his bullies. Bitten by an infected rat, he died having done that which The Outsider never got the chance to do: defend himself.
The Outsider may not be a God who involves himself very much in the goings on of mortals but does that mean he is a god without humanity, a god without motivations and a god that truly does not care about the outcome of the world? If this is the case, why would he ever have offered help to Corvo or Emily?
He is not without his faults of course, and is prone to outright ignore the progression of evil cults, black magic, and The Abbey as well as those who do horrific things in his name all for the glory of getting his attention. He does not see all, but he sees some, and yet he does not stop it.
Does this not make him an evil God? does this not make him the "Big Bad" of the series? A god who bestows supernatural powers upon beggars, psychopaths, and thieves? Though The Outsider has his own faults, those faults connect him with the humanity that he lost on the altar he was sacrificed upon. Faults that let us know that he is still a fallible deity. Could there be a part of The Outsider that feels guilt for the things his marks have done? For the things that are done in his name?
We see a lot more humanity from The Outsider in Dishonored 2 as he readily provides Emily Kaldwin assistance and information on her quest to take down Delilah Copperspoon and win her throne back. In the sequel we get a closer look at the humanity of The Outsider. With the rat plague over he lets himself get a little closer to Emily Kaldwin. He shares with her secrets to help uncover Delilah's immortality and unravel her coup, he grants her powers and even gives her a time traveling device that may come back to bite him in the metaphorical butt later down the line.
But could his motivation for helping Emily simply be that of self-preservation? Delilah is a threat to him and The Void as well, as she is siphoning off power from his ritual site in the Void and plans to repaint the world in her image. Though it could certainly be seen this way, I believe that there is more to it than that for one simple reason. He is not only a little more friendly this time around, a little more emotive, but he shares with Emily the story of his sacrifice four thousand years ago, a story he does not need to tell as it has no bearing on Emily's desire to stop Delilah. She already has all the ammunition she needs, so why did he reveal his sad fate?
He also reveals that he is afraid of Delilah for she plans to take away everything within both worlds and there isn't anything he can do to stop her, a fear and helplessness that he hasn't known since he was murdered. This fear may have been a little push into asking for help and being just a bit more accessible and a little less vague than he was during the plague.
From the mysterious, cold and arm crossing God we meet in the first game, to the God who isn't as afraid to get closer and ask for help to the God that is being hunted in the new Dishonored standalone, The Outsider has had many years of character development that have brought him to this point and I honestly cannot wait to see what comes next for the God of the Void.
Death of The Outsider stars Michael Madsen, Rosario Dawson, and Robin Lord Taylor and is released on September 15 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.