Deus Ex: Mankind Divided looks exactly like the kind of cyberpunk-stealth-shooter-RPG I've been looking forward to. I just hope that Eidos Montreal and Square Enix are doing more than inching the needle forward.
Over the past few years, Square Enix has reinvigorated its brand by breathing new life into aging properties such as their dark-and-gritty reboot to much-beloved Tomb Raider series and the prequel to the critical cyberpunk hit with a cult following Deus Ex. Originally produced by now defunct EIDOS developer Ion Storm, the first Deus Ex game was the very definition of a sleeper hit. Clunky, ugly, unforgiving and difficult at times, full of strange glitches, and full of dialogue which, at its least, was ridiculous and kooky, and its worst, was full of racial stereotypes and cliches. But the gaming community at large looked past these myriad gripes for one thing: FREEDOM.
Deus Ex and its predecessor from Ion Storm, Thief, promised and delivered on open ended game play, branching story threads, and choices which could help you or haunt you and would have a tangible effect on your gameplay as you played. When Square Enix announced in 2009 that it would be publishing the long-awaited third game in the series, fans were skeptical. The yellow-gold glow of Deus Ex: Human Revolution's re-vamped prequel story had some wondering what happened to their favorite game's spirit.
Until they played it. DX:HR was a worthy spiritual successor to the original game, and captured some of that previous magic, while spinning a unique story and building a massive and fully-realized world all it's own. Now, as we anxiously await the follow-up to Human Revolution entitled Mankind Divided, here are few things taken from the new trailer below that I'm excited for and a few things I hope I'm wrong about in the end.
Set two years directly following the events of Human Revolution--specifically the "Aug Incident" where the chips issued by Limb Clinics worldwide malfunctioned and made augmented people uncontrollably violent--the game again returns to the story of Adam "I didn't ask for this" Jensen. Already knee deep in deception, Jensen works as counter-terrorism agent with INTERPOL, and is secretly sided with a mysterious rebel group, The Juggernaut Collective, who are helping him infiltrate the Illuminati organization.
I enjoy the fact that we get to continue Adam's story and see the aftermath of his actions from the previous game, but the mention of having "a squad" via your fellow INTERPOL counter-terrorism agents has my eyes rolling. Co-op campaigns, two-player specific actions and side quests are things that completely ruined Dead Space 3 and Halo 5 for me, as it was clear that the main game was shaved away at to make room for a completely separate, optional experience that I wouldn't be having without a friend who was doing the same thing. Deus Ex at its core is a stealth game and a solo operation. I really hope Eidos Montreal isn't getting rid of any lone wolf fun for co-op dalliances. That just wouldn't feel right.
One of the best things about Human Revolution and Deus Ex as a series is the limitless pathways and options you have when it comes to completing your mission objectives. Nothing is off-limits unless you've done something wrong for that path, or you lack the power or ability to accomplish your goal in that manner. The simplified, experience-based upgrade system for your augmentations made your choices of play style matter and have a real effect on which powers were available and the most useful. Things look better the second time around, seemingly with more options and augmentations available to you. You can do more on the fly, and disregard stealth entirely in favor of a direct assault, or you can micromanage your every move and slink about unseen with invisibility and hacking.
I'm excited to see this already novel system receive an upgrade of its own, but really hope they don't take a cue from the last Splinter Cell game, Blacklist, and give too many lethal options to the casual players, robbing the game of its essence in stealth and subterfuge.
Alright, no complaints here whatsoever. The weapon designs all look super cool and the fact that their upgrade and modification system looks like something that can happen on the fly, and be used to adapt to each unfolding situation facing you and Jensen as you navigate him through the dirty streets of future-Prague makes me giddy as hell. I can't wait to play around with all the possibilities and create the best super-powered non-lethal silent tranquilizer crossbow the future has ever seen.
Dialogue choices with NPCs and alliances have been one of the largest pillars the Deus Ex games were built upon. What you did was just as important as who you worked for and why. When people and organizations are operating from the shadows and allegiances are constantly changing, you need to be ready to shift on a moment's notice too. The CASIE "Social Enhancer" system from Human Revolution was one of the more lackluster elements of the game overall, simply because it was finicky, not really explained in great detail, and didn't seem to result in much reward for the effort and points spent to upgrade it. The big dialogue choices in the game relied more the player's instincts and opinion than any one "right" option.
What I am excited for is your choices throughout the gameworld and the story seeming to act as a "reputation" which may help you or hurt you, depending on the person you're trying to communicate with's own alignments. Kick in too many doors and the pacifists won't help you, but leave their people unharmed and more diplomatic entities may be willing to cooperate. What I am not excited for is the reemergence of the CASIE system in some screenshots from the trailer. If they have tweaked it from its previous iteration, I'm game, but if it's more or less the same this time around, I will not be wasting my time on it.
Needless to say, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided looks exactly like the kind of cyberpunk-stealth-shooter-RPG I've been looking forward to since its predecessor. I can't wait to return to the boots and leather trench coat of Adam Jensen and go toe-to-toe with the Illuminati, unearth conspiracies, and root out secrets that could topple governments and send humanity reeling back into the Dark Ages if left unchecked.
I just hope that all this time Eidos Montreal and Square Enix have had it in development is one of solid improvement upon the concepts of the previous game and not just inching the needle forward.