ByMichael Mitchell, writer at
Former Staff Writer for Now Loading. Currently tweeting things here:
Michael Mitchell

Dishonored 2 is, as I like to describe it, a bit like BioShock but with stealthiness and magical ninjas. That second bit is what we'll be focusing on today, magic ninjas, as Dishonored 2 features a number of Powers and Enhancements that will make your playthrough a lot more fun — and a lot more interesting!

But it can be a bit overwhelming the first time you see the list of everything available to you and the subsequent upgrades offered for each. Some upgrades are pretty buried, too. Not to mention, actually equipping Powers isn't as intuitive as you might think.

Once you have that down and have all your graphics settings in check, you'll want to hop into the abilities themselves — that's where we come in. We'll be going over each Enhancement and Power available in Dishonored 2 and discussing which ones work best for your particular playstyle.

For Starters, There Is No 'Best' Power — It All Depends On How You Want To Play

Confession: I never played the original Dishonored. But it didn't take me too long into Dishonored 2 to realize that I was going to play the game a certain way: Murdering everyone and everything in an effort to get the highest Chaos level possible. But you don't have to do that if you don't want to.

You can approach the game in a completely nonlethal manner, knocking enemies unconscious and completing the campaign without a single life claimed. Alternatively, you can opt to kill all your enemies, doing so in either a loud and chaotic way or a quiet and stealthy way.

Depending on how you choose to play will determine which Enhancements and Powers you'll want to take. Some are more fit for the stealthy approach, while others fit with the bloody-murder chaotic approach. While it's not going to make or break the game if you choose upgrades less than ideal for your approach, it does help to have an idea of your approach somewhat early on if you want to make the most of the upgrades.

Shared Enhancements

As that header implies, Emily and Corvo both share a set of enhancements. These won't alter your gameplay quite as much as powers will, and they're not always as exciting as powers, but they're perfect supplemental material to the rest of your build. The base enhancements are as follows:

  • Agility — Increase your jump height and distance.
  • Blood Thirst — Build up Adrenaline in combat then trigger brutal melee fatalities.
  • Bonecharm Crafting — Craft your own unique Bonecharms, with some chance of corruption.
  • Reflexes — Block to deflect projectiles.
  • Shadow Kill — Turn enemies to ash as they die.
  • Strength — Throw objects farther.
  • Vitality — Increase your Health and resilience.

Don't worry, the powers are a lot more exciting — though, in fairness, a lot of the above enhancements gain more appeal when you take into account their various upgrades.

Reflexes, for example, is probably the best enhancement to pick up across all playstyles. It can be upgraded to slow time as you slide with a ranged weapon or when an enemy spots you. It can also be upgraded to make parrying happen more often and/or be more effective.

As far as other enhancements that work across playstyles, Bonecharm Crafting will be useful if you want to min/max your Bonecharms. It's also great because the final tier allows you to craft Runes. Similarly, the straightforward Vitality is useful all around and will help if you're having trouble surviving.

Strength, meanwhile, is a bit of a mixed bag. The first rank is surprisingly useful for distracting or knocking out enemies, which is great for stealth approaches. The second, however, is nice if you want to easily knock down doors — it's noisy, though, so it'll attract attention.

That just leaves a few more. There's Agility, which has uses all around but definitely will come in handy for those aiming to sneak around more easily. There's Shadow Kill, which won't help if you're doing a completely nonlethal playthrough, but makes it much easier to not worry about grabbing attention. And finally, Blood Thirst, which basically screams "CHAOS!" and is not fit for anyone hoping to stealth around or perform nonlethal takedowns.

Emily's Powers

As I said above, Powers are where the real meat of the game come into play.

  • Dark Vision — See better in darkness. Observe living beings through walls.
  • Domino — Link human targets so they die or fall unconscious together.
  • Doppelganger — Summon a shadow of yourself that attracts enemies.
  • Far Reach — Pull yourself rapidly across a distance.
  • Mesmerize — Summon a Void spirit to enthrall humans or hounds.
  • Shadow Walk — Assume a stealthier form for a short time.

Okay, so I lied a bit earlier. There is a best power for Emily and its name is Domino. Seriously, this is one that anyone can find a use for, and it's so, so much fun to play around with. Fully upgraded, you'll link four targets together. This can help knock out or kill several enemies at once. In the world of Dishonored 2, this is invaluable.

In terms of stealthy approaches, Shadow Walk has "stealthier" in its description, and for good reason. It's great for bypassing hostile encounters, incapacitating enemies more easily, and generally getting around quickly without attracting attention. Mesmerize and Doppelganger are the other two abilities that land closer on the "stealth" end of the spectrum, as they can be used to distract or sneak past enemies. They do, however, have usefulness in combat situations, especially the Deadly Shade upgrade to Doppelganger.

Far Reach and Dark Vision, finally, are more general use Powers, each with usefulness across several situations. The former, however, is a bit on the chaotic side while the latter is slightly more on the stealthy side. Even if you don't fully invest in Far Reach, I still recommend making its Decelerate upgrade a priority alongside Domino. After those, the other upgrades will depend on how you want to play.

Corvo's Powers

Corvo, making a return from the original title, is the other protagonist players have the option of playing as. Similar to Emily, he has various brute force Powers and various stealth Powers, and several in between. As far as baseline Powers go, Corvo has the following:

  • Blink — Move forward rapidly.
  • Bend Time — Slow time for a short duration.
  • Dark Vision — See better in darkness. Observe living beings through walls.
  • Devouring Swarm — Summon rats that attack enemies and devour bodies.
  • Possession — Assume control of a host for a short time.
  • Windblast — Gust of wind that shatters doors and deflects projectiles.

For pure fun factor, Possession is the ability in Corvo's toolkit I think most players will want to invest in first. But fun isn't the only thing that makes it great — it also makes for stealthily sneaking around and exploring the world as an animal. Plus, fully upgraded, you can take control of humans and explore hostile environments or even unlock doors for Corvo.

On the more chaotic end of the spectrum, Windblast and Devouring Swarm both primarily come in handy during combat. You'll probably find a little more use from the former, thanks to its ability to shatter breakable doors and deflect projectiles. The latter, though, is nice for cleaning up corpses if you haven't already taken the Shadow Kill Enhancement. If you have, it's purely an offensive Power.

The rest of Corvo's Powers fall more on the utility/stealth end of the spectrum. Bend Time is useful in its own right, but with the Stop Time upgrade it becomes an incredible tool in positioning yourself in the perfect place among your enemies. Dark Vision and Blink, meanwhile, can help you slip by enemies or plan where to position yourself, but I don't find either as useful for knocking out enemies as Bend Time. They'll certainly enhance Bend Time's capabilities, but I wouldn't focus on them first.

And that's that! Like I said, no particular combination is going to completely make or break your experience, but it never hurts to have an idea of what you're getting into before diving off a tower and assassinating your unsuspecting target below.

What are your favorite Powers and Enhancements in Dishonored 2?


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