Very few games are able to successfully pair a deep narrative along with an engrossing gameplay experience quite like the Deus Ex series. Those who played Deus Ex: Human Revolution found themselves instantly falling in love with the conspiracy-soaked story, open mission structures, and of course, the versatility of augments (mechanical enhancements that give humans special capabilities). Deus Ex: Mankind Divided looks to further explore the mystery that unraveled in the previous installment, all while still emphasizing the player’s choices. Square Enix was nice enough to invite us to go hands-on with the upcoming title, so here is what we learned:
20 years after a madman decided to turn all augmented humans into killing machines, the world is now, as the title suggests, divided. Covert operative Adam Jensen now lives in a world where he is no longer accepted. Anybody who has augments installed is viewed as an imminent danger. Thus, you’ll get questioned wherever you go—our protagonist must deal with all of the animosity that comes with being an aug. Every security checkpoint throughout Prague (the game’s setting) includes a sly remark from anyone within shouting distance.
As you can imagine, it’s made a bit more difficult to completely expose an illuminati conspiracy when the whole world treats you like a second class citizen. While I didn’t get to see all of the consequences from this divide, the story will surely revolve around this point, with all of your choices being even more heavily scrutinized than they were before.
As previously mentioned, your choices matter in this series. So much so that choosing to complete a side-quest during the tutorial level had a significant impact on the final outcome of the mission. Whether you’re having a conversation, choosing to go stealth on a mission, or even ignoring a side-quest, everything you do feels like it has an impact on the world. This was prevalent in Human Revolution, so many will find pleasure in knowing that this gameplay mechanic will continue to live on in this sequel. It’s worth noting that with this fictional world being in such a fragile state, it does seem like your choices could potentially shift the paradigm between augs and normal humans.
With all that said, what was most important was the ability to tackle missions the way I wanted to. One of the early quests I had was to save a friend who pissed off a gang. This buddy was stuck in a library with thugs searching the whole building for him. The first time I dived into the rescue mission, I chose to go in hot. While unloading every weapon I had, I soon found nothing but failure as I was quickly overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the opposite combatants. And that’s when I decided to find a vent outside that led me to the center of the building. You guessed it—I found a lot more success from there on by sneaking my way through the library. This level of choice was readily available for basically every quest I could embark on, which was something we really loved about Human Revolution. It’s liberating.
Augment Your Life
Without going too far into spoiler territory, know that Adam Jensen finds himself adding quite a few new augments to his already impressive arsenal. From the new Icarus Dash that lets you escape sticky situations to the shockingly effective Tesla Arm, which electrifies baddies, you can completely change your experience depending on what augments you choose to focus on. This time around though, you’ll have to make sure that Adam’s system can handle it. Active too many augs at once and you run the risk of frying your systems. It’s a great way of making sure you don’t become too powerful. Though, there was a side-quest that fixed this problem, but I’ll let you figure that out when the game launches.
Most of the new augments shown off like the two mentioned above can be adapted in different situations. Another personal favorite of mine was the Titan Shield, which turns Jensen into a bullet sponge. It was useful when I chose to ditch the stealth route.
There will be a whole lot of dialogue for you to check out here. You’ll be able to have a lot of conversations that aren’t just tied to main quests. While walking around the world, I found myself in several talks that had no consequence in my quest, but definitely revealed more about the world I was exploring. Within these ongoing discussions, there are plenty of opportunities to change the conversation with your dialogue choices. This aspect of the game definitely feels like an improvement from the last title, and could lead to an even more engrossing experience.
As I explored three major locations of the game, I didn’t run into a single issue. Everything ran buttery smooth. What we played was close to the final build of the game, so I was happy that it seems to be ready to go. Even the gameplay (weapons, running, augs, etc.) is much tighter than it was in Human Revolution.
Another important note before I move on: This is still not a completely open-world game. Instead, there are several open explorable locations that are connected through a subway system. You still can’t veer off too far, but there’s enough to check out in the spots that it gives the illusion of being open.
While my high expectations were met on the campaign mode, what really took me by surprise was the Breach mode. Selectable from the main menu, Breach takes the action of Adam Jensen’s adventure and turns it into arcade-y goodness. Looking like something straight out of a pink-filled Tron world, you’ll be taking on the role of a random hacker who must jump into different servers to steal data. You’ll have to utilize your skills with gunplay, stealth, and even some platforming to complete each level.
While there is no initial time limit when starting a mission, you are still timed. You must find your way through these white/pink rooms to find the data-filled servers to hack. Once you’ve found what you’re looking for, a timer will start counting down as you have to race back to the beginning. You’re definitely incentivized to race through each level, which will certainly be a change of pace for those who’ve taken the stealth route in the campaign. What was most surprising was just how well the main gameplay that we’ve all come to enjoy translates into this fast-paced mode.
As you progress through missions, you’ll gather points that allow you to improve your character. This, obviously, means you get to unlock all sorts of augments! This progression could be enough of a carrot to keep most going forward with this mode.
While this isn’t a multiplayer mode, it’s still connected. Leaderboards will be available on launch, just so you can compete with friends. Again, this mode impressed the hell out of me. It’s great fun, and a nice change of pace.
Are you guys planning on picking this game up when it finally launches on August 23, 2016? What are you most looking forward to checking out? Let us know in the comments below!
Images: Square Enix