Over on the official Bethesda website, global content lead Gary Steinman wrote a detailed post on what gamers can expect from the new Custom Difficulty, explaining what makes it so cool, writing…
"Let's say you're a stealth player who likes to carefully explore every option… now you can move a slider that adjusts how effective you are leaning from behind a barrier when skulking around. With more than 20 different sliders, these Custom Difficulty settings let you fiddle with everything from how quickly Sleep Darts take effect to how many active enemies are likely to attack you at once."
This is a really interesting approach to game difficulty. I do wonder how well the game's AI and object oriented asset management has been optimized to deal with the Custom Difficulty mode?
For instance, with this new feature for Dishonored 2 you can raise how many active enemies attack you at once after you've been spotted. However, usually in games there's a limited pool of enemy AI loaded into memory, and a limited memory block set aside for how many active objects can be in the memory at any single one time, including non-interactive objects like birds or animals or animated background objects, to physics-based items such as pots, pans, knives, chairs or other objects that can be moved or broken.
The more objects loaded into memory at any single one time, the more limited that shared resource pool is. Dishonored 2 has a rather ample supply of interactive objects within any single level instance, so raising something like the amount of enemy AI who attack you makes me wonder if that's taking from the resource allocation for other active objects? Or did they simply optimize the game based on left-over resources in the memory pool to enable players to tinker with the AI like that and push it beyond what was in the standard game?
For those of you wondering, if you don't properly optimize the memory allocation tables and something is pushed beyond the standard allocated limit, you end up with a lot of slowdowns, frame-rate issues, freezing, black screens or the game simply locks up. Many of you who mod Bethesda's other titles like the Elder Scrolls and Fallout games know exactly what I'm talking about.
Of course, I doubt Arkane would throw in something like a Custom Difficulty setting in Dishonored 2 that allows gamers to tweak the under-the-hood settings like that without properly taking a lot of necessary precautions to ensure that the game still functions and plays correctly from start to finish.
In addition to the Custom Difficulty setting, they're also adding an Iron Man difficulty mode to the game, where it introduces permadeath, and no manual saves. The update will also include a new Replay mode, so you can replay any mission from the game that you've already completed.
The Game Update 2 for Dishonored 2 will drop for PC in a beta form on January 18th and then release in full on January 23rd for the PS4, PC and Xbox One.