5 Ways Dishonored Shines On PC

In a season of outstanding PC ports, each new game has begun to arrive accompanied by the same question: Will this one kick arse on PC, as well?

Arkane's Dishonored is fantastic. It's also rooted in what some would call a holy triumvirate of of PC gaming: Deus Ex, Thief and Half-Life 2. It stands to reason, then, that the people making it wouldn't skimp on the PC features.

And, unsurprisingly, they haven't, and the PC version is terrific. That said, what is surprising here is the the console version matches the PC for almost every feature, and feels more "PC-ish" than most other games. The PC version itself isn't superior in some room-clearing, floor-mopping way; I played through the entire game on Xbox 360 before starting on PC, and found the game to be thrilling, deep, complex, nuanced.

That said, if you're planning to pick up the game and have your choice of platforms, the PC is still the way to go. Here's why:

Mouse Precision

Some of Dishonored's abilities, notably the quick-teleport "Blink" ability, just work better with the precision granted with a mouse. Aiming your blinks can feel a bit lugubrious and imprecise with a controller, particularly when under duress. There are few more enjoyable moves than to warp to behind an attacking enemy and then slit his throat, but with a controller, I too-often warped right into my assailant. With a mouse, I feel much more in command of my blinks.

Quick Power Select

Picking up from the precision of the mouse, the keyboard also gives a welcome degree of control when compared to the controller. Again, that's not to say the controller implementation is bad, just that the keyboard is better. If you've grown comfortable with all of Corvo's many deadly moves, switching between them using the number keys on a keyboard allows you to quickly chain combo moves in a way that the console's radial dial, no matter how elegant its construction, could.


I've already extolled the merits of leaning in games, specifically voicing my pleasure that the lean had returned to Dishonored . And while the implementation on the controller — hold "Y" and then move the thumbstick — is quite smart and works well once you get the hang of it, it's still no match for the Q and E keys on the keyboard.

Thief and Deus Ex players will be right at home playing Dishonored, and when I play using a keyboard I find myself leaning much more than I did while using a controller. A lean should be a natural extension of your movement, and without dedicated buttons, there's no way to make it perfectly smooth.

Quick Save, Quicker Load

This might be the biggest difference, for me — I'm playing the game on hard, and as a result get spotted more and die more. It's a real boon that the PC version has a dedicated quicksave button. I appreciated being able to save at any point on the Xbox 360 version, but navigating a few menus would necessarily remove me from the action. Particularly with a game like Dishonored, repurposing the "back" button to trigger a quicksave would have been fantastic.

Better still, the PC version has scary fast load times, usually a matter of a couple of seconds. (I'm playing on a fairly run-of-the mill, non-SSD hard drive.) It's not the kind of thing you'd even notice unless you'd already sunk a dozen hours into the console version — suddenly, quickly saving, trying something, dying, and reloading takes about 20 fewer seconds each time. That adds up.

I Like The Way You Move

Dishonored has lovely visuals, but not because of a high polygon count or detailed textures — the game derives its visual splendor almost entirely from Viktor Antonov's art design. Dishonored does look better on PC running at true 1080p than it does on the Xbox — my graphics card's superior antialiasing, in particular, strengthens the lines and clarifies the draw distance. But really, the game ha a softness to the big ol' Unreal-engine textures that makes everything look soft and warm, and both PC and console versions have it. Like Borderlands 2, Dishonored isn't a game that needs eye-cuttingly sharp textures to look good.

Where the PC surpasses the console version is in clarity of motion — the framerate and the animations. This game looks fabulous running at 60 frames per second, particularly once action heats up. I'm not sure by what alchemy Arkane managed to design such a fluid and enjoyable first-person swashbuckling system, but I'm loving how much clearer the action looks now that I can see it running at a more consistent, higher framerate. (Luke brings up something worth mentioning here — sometimes, the PC version can hang on scenes as it loads them, starting with the opening camera-cut in the first menu. This actually happened to me as well, when I was using an AMD card. I recently upgraded to a GeForce, and it's gone away, but still worth noting.) The quick stabs, the brutal, matter-of-fact decapitations, even the hilariously varied expressions on enemies' faces, all come across much more clearly at a high framerate. On console, action felt more chaotic and jumbled — part of this, surely, is because I'm just better at the game now than I was when I played on console, but the framerate factors as well. The PC version lets you really see Dishonored moving at its best.

None of this is to say that the console versions of the game are lacking — whichever version you pick, you'll be getting a hell of a good game. But if you've got the option and want to see Dishonored at its best, opt for PC.


    Ever since playing Battlefield 3 on PC and Xbox, it has severely put me off console gaming. The graphical difference is vastly different. My Steam library is slowly growing.

    I don't think I could play this on a console because of the mouse and quick-select as you mentioned. Having my main powers bound to 1-3 and the heart/possession bound to Z and X makes it so much more fluid than using a radial dial. Not to say it's not still a great game on consoles but it's nice to see more PC support these days, what with most big companies delaying PC ports and treating them as an after-thought.

      You bind 4 abilities t the arrow keys. Is the same as binding the keys, so ni different . The radial menu is only if you want to alter the combination.

    This was my first AAA title on a pc and I am glad that I purchased it for that platform as opposed to console because I cannot imagine how annoying the save and reload functions would be. As a nonlethal/ghost type of guy, I really find myself reloading a lot, even if spotted, so it is quite nice to be able to do that quickly and you are dead right, the load times are fantastic.

    Playing on a PC through the TV with a controller. Doing it wrong?

      Are you having fun?

      Doing it wrong?
      Not at all, it's not like there are any hi-res textures and the colour pallet is better suited for a high-end plasma IMO.I'm using a pad and it controls fine, it's not really a twitch game anyway.

    I'm a little disappointed in how "grey" everything is. Oh well the Unreal engine is getting old. The games awesome to play and that's more important.

    The best AAA PC game I've played in ages - while it's similar to Deus Ex, the quick load times are really suited to this type of game (maybe he should have a rewind power as well). The graphics scale really well and aren't taxing and the gameplay is silky smooth on a modest PC.

    While the Witcher 2 is much prettier, the smooth feel of the game (controls, look of animation), the wide explorable levels and explorable gameplay really set it apart. I think the radial controls on PC work better than the number keys though.

    SSAO would be nice, Also an FOV wider than 85.
    But yes, a decent port and very "PC feeling" title.

    terrible port IMO, i'm left handed so i dont use wasd, i remap to pl;'.
    when i get up close for those stealth kills i have to press w to strangle.
    really wish developers wouldnt half arse ports to pc, fair few other annoyances like 85 max fov, but that can be fixed by ini modding.

    Last edited 16/10/12 5:22 pm

      how funny, I'm left handed too but I DO use wasd
      I wonder how common that is? but I've always been a little ambidextrous

    Here's hoping a high res texture pack gets released, because that was about the only thing lacking. Just on the quick load, I think there's a slight glitch involved with whatever allows the game to reload so fast. I experienced multiple times where I had to exit and reload because npcs did not quickload in the spot they were saved, or it messed up their pathing and they'd get stuck on edges and endlessly walk on the spot. Actually I think some of the edge clipping wasn't so hot either. To be fair, it wasn't all that frequent given how much I reloaded (clean hands + shadow + mostly flesh and steel run). Once I've had a break I might have to actually play with some powers...

    The lag mentioned is certainly annoying (HD 7950 here). Hope it's fixed.

    For god sake you are STILL comparing a 6 year old technology to the LATEST friggin computers ???? Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr......

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