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Bethesda's official website is hosting a new developer diary for Dishonored 2, which should answer a number of questions players of the original had concerning Emily and Corvo. Emily, in particular, received quite an upgrade, going from NPC to one of two possible protagonists, and that's why her story makes for particularly interesting reading material, in my estimation:
From the very beginning of Dishonored 2’s development, Emily was a focal point for Arkane. According to Smith, the team was “obsessed” with figuring out who Emily would be 15 years later in the game’s timeline. What would she be like on the throne? What would she be like without her mother? How would she turn out after being raised by the Royal Protector?
“When we approach a character like Emily, we need to know her history, her attitude, even her hobbies,” Smith says. “But at a meta level as a game developer, we need to know what her pillars are. And so for Emily we arrived at: Dunwall, Empress, Assassin.”
Unlike Corvo, who originally hails from Serkonos (the capital of which is Karnaca, the primary setting for Dishonored 2), Emily was born and raised in Dunwall – a product of the city’s UK-inspired culture. But Emily is no commoner. “Except for this one tragic moment during the rat plague in the first Dishonored, Emily’s had a pretty good upbringing,” Smith says. She’s had the very best tutors. She wears the very best clothes. She’s protected (and, perhaps, sheltered) like none other in Dunwall. In short, she has lived the privileged life of an Empress. However, Emily was not only raised by Corvo but trained by him as well. “Corvo assumed that some day Emily’s enemies would come for her with knives out,” Smith says. “So she has the potential in Dishonored 2 to become an assassin.”