Square Enix Talk Deus Ex: Human Revolution

By John Walker on June 14th, 2011 at 2:00 pm.

I skewered them with my hardcore interviewing!

During E3 I sat down with Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s director, Jean-François Dugas, and lead writer, Mary DeMarle. With the game nearly complete we talked about the experience of creating a game in such a renowned series, the transhumanist literary inspirations for its tone and design, and how characters nearly had deer legs. We explore the process behind how you can maintain multiple paths, whether it really can be just a straight shooter, and learn that the game was influenced by Johnny Mnemonic.

RPS: What would you say about the original Deus Ex did you want to avoid in this game?

Mary DeMarle: Well, honestly… I liked the second game.

RPS whispers: I did too!

DeMarle: I know all the flaws, and I know why people didn’t like it. But I did like it. But the one thing I didn’t like was that I felt they tried to play the factions… they tried to be so neutral that they lost any character. It’s not that I think you need to try to make a moral statement by this, in fact I think what we’re trying to do with our story is get you to think about it, and make your own decisions. But in that one I think they were so trying to be level – at least when I played it – I didn’t care about either side, I just tried to play to get the best advantage out for me. So one of the things I wanted to do from a story perspective was to get you to care about the character of Adam, and the people in the world, so that which side you choose would have value.

Jean-François Dugas: Going back to the original game, I thought that the combat mechanic was broken in some ways. We thought in the original game, when you were in combat, that squads were breaking off really quickly. After a bullet or two the guy was starting to run because he was scared. It was an interesting concept, but I felt you were losing the intensity of the moment. I wanted to bring it back in Human Revolution – I didn’t want the player to feel cheated, to think “my stats were not good enough”, so even though I’m close to you and I’m aiming at you I’m not hitting you! It works well when it’s turn-based, but in a first-person shooter it’s super-accurate. Putting this artificial system on top of it – I feel there’s something that doesn’t work nicely there. We went to a shooting mechanic that’s more immediate, more intense, but still tactical, you still have to think about what weapon to use, what kinds of ammo you have, what enemy is in front of you. We wanted to give augmentations that would improve your ability when you’re in firefights, but not artificially diminishing you. So let’s start normal, and give the players the opportunity to be on normal.

RPS: This must have been a daunting project, just to approach.

Dugas: Nooooo.

[Much laughter from all]

Dugas: We said, “Sure, why not!”

[More, slightly cynical laughter]

Dugas: Actually it took me six weeks before saying yes. I knew the lure of Deus Ex, the fanbase, the cult behind it. I was a fan too, I played it back in the day, and it was one of the most striking experiences I’d had in a long time. And I was like, okay, reviving the franchise, you need to be ready, because – like you said – it’s going to be a daunting task. And after six weeks I said, you know what, I think there is something to do with that franchise. Let’s jump into the water and learn to swim.

RPS: But presumably you don’t go in thinking about being Looking Glass/Ion Storm, you go in thinking, we’re going to be ourselves?

Dugas: We didn’t try to imitate other people, we tried to be ourselves, and bring our own essence into this project.

RPS: I don’t think there was any doubt that Looking Glass/Ion Storm had a bias. With the Thief games, and Deus Ex, Spector and his team were biased toward non-lethal routes. Do you have a bias in this game?

DeMarle: I know that I personally like to play stealth, but that’s because I’m not very good at combat! But I wouldn’t say I have a bias toward it. I tried, at least from a story perspective, to bear in mind that that’s a viable way of playing, and the world needs to reflect that. And the characters need to reflect it.

Dugas: I don’t think I have a bias either. I like to play stealth, I like to go through those maps, either to take down enemies or not, and have the feeling that none of them realise I was there. It’s a really good feeling – you feel like you’re eavesdropping, you’re the small camera in the corner that sees everything, but no one realises the camera is there. But as we developed it, it was important that all those aspects would be rewarding in their own rights. If you’re the type of player more interested in shooting stuff, then it should be rewarding as well. You shouldn’t feel like, “Oh my God, to enjoy this game I need to do this.” Especially as we’re giving the choices.

RPS: Is there a chance people will miss out if they just shoot their way through the game? Are they going to lose out on something?

DeMarle: The way we built the story, is we’ve layered it. We created the critical path first, so what is the bare minimum you need to know to fully understand the story by the end, if you do breeze through it. So for people who blast through the game, they’re still going to get the critical information they need. What they’ll end up missing out on is the layered in additional story. They may miss the back story information. But they miss it only in that they didn’t pick it up, but I don’t think they miss it, because it doesn’t feel like anything’s missing from their experience.

Dugas: It should flow naturally.

RPS: So someone playing it as a straight shooter will get to the end and have had a satisfactory experience?

Dugas: Absolutely, absolutely. Even if you play it as a straight shooter, it’s still a Deus Ex game. So you need to be careful, more tactical in your approach. If you just jump in the melee, and there are several tough enemies, it’s going to be a nice challenge.

RPS: The way you play the game is going to influence the paths you can take. Are you influencing players to take the best routes for the way they play?

Dugas: The level design has been about iterations. When we were building the way the different paths give different outcomes, it was one layer at a time. We began with the initial intentions, validating this, and building on top of that until we got things right. It was really about iterating and nothing else. After that, when it was playable, we were playing the maps and looking at how the story was playing out in the missions, and sometimes we were seeing new opportunities that we didn’t exploit. We said, “Gosh, we need to address that.”

RPS: What is the motivation behind the game’s colour-scheme, this very smooth, almost untextured world. It’s a very distinct style.

Dugas: When we started the project we knew we wanted to be different, to look different and original, and we hoped that people would love it. After that, okay cool, that’s what we want to do, how do we do it? We had no freaking idea! But it was the starting point, setting a high-level objective. We started by brainstorming. The transhumanism them is very present in the game. We brainstormed about that not only for gameplay and story purposes, but also from at art standpoint. And very quickly we started to fall on Leonardo da Vinci work from the Renaissance that was really reminiscent of the transhumanist technologies. We started to connect the dots, and see, well, maybe the Renaissance could be integrated into that cyber-punk world. For us to give that flavour it was important that it was helping to support the story, the characters.

RPS: So how does this come though?

Dugas: When we nailed this pattern, those colours, those kinds of things that shape certain characters, always when they have those references they’re pro transhumanists in some ways. When they don’t have them they’re either on the fence or against it. Early in the preview code the first mission you have impurity freaks, and when you look at those guys they’re inspired by the Dark Ages, more conservative, and we try to play with that to support their intentions. And the black and gold – it also goes back to the Renaissance. At the time the lighting was candles. It’s also to represent the Icarus myth, with the augmentations, when you try to be better than you are it can be great, but there’s a danger that you burn your wings. And the black is if you fall back into the sea, the dangers of augmentation. It’s also all about the conspirators in the shadows, manipulating the events of the dystopian world. All those parts of the art direction are there to support the themes, and the experience we want to give.

RPS: Deus Ex is one of very few games that has inspired me to read books and explore philosophical ideas. What are the literary references that have influenced this game?

DeMarle: I know when we first started working on it, we lifted a lot of writing on the singularity, and on transhumanism, and we read a lot of Kurzweil…

Dugas: Joel Garreau

Demarle: And we looked at a lot of the philosophical thinking about where is technology combining with human biology techniques. So we didn’t necessarily look at the great philosophers of the Renaissance, we looked at now, and the theorists of today.

Dugas: We have been inspired by a lot of real science books like that, but also by the classics, Bladerunner, Ghost In The Shell. We went into some underground anime, we even went back to Robocop, to Johnny Mnemonic – even though it’s not a very good movie there are some ideas that can be really interesting. We really covered everything we could.

RPS: Was there ever a temptation to go in a more Cronenbergian direction?

Dugas: We wanted it to be uncanny, not disturbing.

DeMarle: Some of the early designs were – well, if you’re going to redesign a human leg to make it faster, you’re not going to model it on a human leg, because human legs aren’t fast. But animal legs are, deer legs are. It was pushing in that direction a little bit, and I think we pulled back from it because it was a little bit too weird for us.

Dugas: But it was still more uncanny than disturbing. Cronenberg can be really deeply into some fucked up stuff.

RPS: So no guns made out of bones in this game then?

Dugas: No, no. So we shot more for the uncanny aspect, like mechanical arms, you can twist the wrist in weird ways and what-not. And it was also to keep the theme of transhumanism alive in the mind of the players, because there is always something that’s off, that’s weird, so we constantly keep the theme alive.

RPS: How much do you explore this idea of being detached from your own humanity through the augmentations?

DeMarle: The way we’re exploring it is, we have the central conflict that you’re trying to solve, and you have various people you encounter along the way, and various factions – I hate using that word, because it makes you think of the wrong things! – but you have different organisations who support certain views, and who believe certain things. So as you go along you’re exposed to those different things. And then we use side-quests. We didn’t want side-quests that say, “Go save someone’s cat,” or “Go kill a thousand rats.” So the side-quests tell you more about Jensen and his background, or they explore the issue from different sides, maybe you’re getting involved with somebody who is dealing with some problem with augmentations. So we can expose to you the differing views on this. Is this good for society to go in this direction? Is it good for mankind to go in this direction? And then certainly through emails and books that you’re reading – we have tons of books in the game. In fact, we should have had an achievement for reading every single one. No book is repeated. Then there’s two different types of books. There’s the XP books, which are the scientific ones that tell you more about augmentations and how they work, which give you experience points. So we explore it those ways as well.

RPS: So when you announced the game the reaction was, well, not great. People were excited about new Deus Ex, but upset that it wasn’t by the original team. There was a general atmosphere that you wouldn’t do a good enough job. How did you as a team protect yourself from that?

DeMarle: For me, when you start working on something, it’s very easy to isolate yourself, because you’re just focused on just getting it done. And we were doing something that was so ambitious, and we are big dreamers. We build something and we think, “Oh, it’s simple.” And then when we dive into it we start to discover, “Oh, it’s a little more complex than we thought!” So what I’m trying to say is that eventually we were so busy that we had no time to focus on what people were saying.

Dugas: We were naïve, and very busy. Those things combined together.

RPS: The perception seems to have significantly shifted now, people are far more hyped up. Have you been following this, or have you tried to avoid too much communication with the player base?

Dugas: No, we’ve never shied away from showing the game to Deus Ex fans. At first we were really nervous. Internally we thought we’d managed to make a real Deus Ex game, and it was starting to shape up and come alive. We were not one hundred percent confident, but enough to be able to show it. And when the players played it, Deus Ex fans especially, they were like, “Wow, it feels like Deus Ex.” Even some of the original developers of Deus Ex were presented with the game, and they said, “Yes, this is Deus Ex.” And we were like [giant sigh of relief].

DeMarle: Sheldon Pacotti, the original writer [of Deus Ex 1] – actually he contacted us. When we first started we knew we’d need more writers. And I thought, “I’d love to contact Sheldon”, but I knew he had a job, so I didn’t even bother. And then all of a sudden he contacted us, three months later, and said he was really curious and offered advice. So we were immediately, “LET’S CALL SHELDON!” So we brought him in as the story consultant. He sent me an email recently saying, “It looks like you guys are really going to revive this license. Great job.” It was really great to get that from him. And to get his input on the game.

RPS: Thanks for your time.

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138 Comments »

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  1. CMaster says:

    I’m still not sold on the whole black and gold thing. In the screenshots it just comes over so, so strong. It makes me worry that everywhere is going to look the same, become the same place in my memory because it’s all the same colour.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I was naughty and played the beta. It was fantastic looking, very much like the original. Grim, dirty alleyways and nasty hotels. Was very impressed by the beta, so much so I’ve ordered a new hard drive for it and pre-ordered.

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      Kelron says:

      I did the same, because I was really not convinced by the apparent emphasis on shooting and stabbing people with wolverine claws that I saw in previews. However I’m now really looking forward to it, the Deus Ex atmosphere is there from the start.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      I went into it expecting to just spend five minutes seeing how it would run on my system, then I played until 5:30am.

      It is definitely, absolutely and completely a Deus Ex game. There are a few elements of hand-holding owing to the fact that it isn’t 2000 any more (and I’m not referring to the golden aura around items), but it’s pretty much exactly what you would expect the 2011 sequel to Deus Ex to be like.

      Keep in mind I’ve only done the first “level” (excluding tutorial), so the plot hasn’t actually kicked in properly yet – but as a massive fan of Deus Ex, everything I saw was encouraging.

      So yes. I’d have preordered this if I weren’t getting a copy off a friend.

      It makes you feel like a badass stealthy augmented super-agent again.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      It’s just like one of those old Nescafé gold-blend adverts

    • John P says:

      I have to disagree a bit here. Based on the leak, HR is a good game, yes, but it’s got nothing on Deus Ex. I don’t just say that from nostalgia. DX1 was something really special, and HR is not. Good, yes, but not the same specialness as DX1. It probably never could be, but still, there are a lot of issues with HR that just seem amateurish.

      I hear the original DX1 music on the radios in HR, and it just hits me … HR is nothing compared to the original. I’ve still preordered it though.

      And of course the leak was only the first part of the game … but then, DX1 really grabbed you from the start didn’t it? It was something special from the first moment.

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      Kelron says:

      @ John P

      If you mean in the sense that it’s not new or groundbreaking like Deus Ex was, then I agree with you. But it does feel like playing more Deus Ex, which is enough for me.

    • akumen says:

      I was also naughty and grabbed DX:HR leak to check it out and I wasn’t too impressed. Perhaps, I was expecting too much from a preview build but … for an allegedly DX11 game the graphics were unimpressive, human movement/facial expressions are poorly done, the brown/yellow/gold tint is annoying and low quality textures everywhere. The glow/blur around elements really highlights graphical shortcomings. Felt like a console port and not the good kind, Xbox based tutorials didn’t help the matter. I this is just because this was a preview build and is not indication of what the game will actually look like. I saw some videos on YouTube of some of the scenes and things do look better than in the preview.

      Jensen should really lay off the smokes because his voice is remarkably annoying.

      The FPS with TP PoV when taking cover works much better than I expected.

      One thing that annoyed me is no way to drop your wanted level. I accidentally set off an alarm at the police station while hacking (in a closed room, out of sight) and had to shoot my way out of the police station, every time I would go back any cops left inside were still looking for me … whereas the ones outside could care less. Also, when I shot some cops outside I was able to “reset” my wanted level by going into one of the buildings.

      We’ll see how it turns out. I want to be good, but at this point in time it is far from being a day one purchase/pre-order for me despite being a huge fan of the original.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Well, it’s not like Deus Ex in that Deus Ex was nearly a true original* and Human Revolution is just core DE gameplay with some other really cool, new things mixed in. But what from what I’ve seen already, it’s pretty much the best thing I’ve played this year — and it’s been a good year so far, so that’s no faint praise.

      *though DE also wore its influences on its sleeve, particularly Thief and System Shock 2. Granted, Spector was tangentially involved with both of those titles so…

    • draknahr says:

      This might be abnormal but I actually didn’t like Deus Ex at all when I first played the demo. Even later when I tried the full game the first time I stopped within an hour. It wasn’t until I sat down for 3-4 hrs and really got into the game that I started to realize the awesomeness.

    • JackShandy says:

      Cmaster: Think of it as a Noir, but with Black and Gold instead of Black and White. The limited colour palette really isn’t a bad thing.

      “One thing that annoyed me is no way to drop your wanted level.” – Try hacking the alarms.

    • Waltorious says:

      @Cmaster,

      At least Human Revolution has two colors. The original Deus Ex was just grey. Am I really the only person who remembers that?

      Even though the original game didn’t have any colors, locations were still memorable due to great level design and atmosphere. So if Human Revolution still has those, I’m not worried.

    • Donjonson says:

      I also played the beta leak, can’t wait for the finished version (which I’ll buy, of course)- it’s shaping up to be a great game. I’m sick of ‘open world’ games that offer only superficial choice, the end result is the same no matter how you play. I’m hoping and presuming that this will be different.

    • wodin says:

      I too tried the leak…wasn’t impressed….hated some of the graphics…compared to some games released recently it isn’t a patch on them…also the gameplay was odd…it didn’t know whether it was a shooter or a stealth game…if you played it as a shooter you ran out of bullets which made the end boss in one part impossible…if you played stealth it didn’t work becasue it was way to easy to be spotted and when you did a take down you stood up in full view and smacked em around abit..there by giving your posistion away…

    • Gravy says:

      @wodin I can’t really speak for the action side of the game as i played heavy stealth, but i disagree that its hard to play as stealth, you’ve obviously never played Metal Gear Solid ? The idea is you wait and learn the enemies patrols then systematically take them out one by one.
      The game felt really rewarding played like this ghosting about hacking and the rest to boot. I’ve played too many standard fps and frankly im sick of the formula anything that lets me play stealth I’ll do it, if i want to shoot people I’ll play battlefield (Although obviously it’d be good if this could balance the two) . It feels like Deus ex and i certainly think its worthy of that title. I loved the leak and i think for me its going to be the best of the year.

  2. Inigo says:

    What would you say about the original Deus Ex did you want to avoid in this game?

    The fuck?

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      Kelron says:

      Are you one of those people the refuses to admit Deus Ex wasn’t perfect?

    • Inigo says:

      I’m just having trouble parsing the sentence.

    • Bhazor says:

      I think they mean that they went in wanting to make the game that they wanted the original game to be but that they were wanting to not have the features in the game that they felt were left wanting in the original game.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “Greasels.”

    • Mordsung says:

      It would be read better as “What about the original Deus Ex would you say you wanted to avoid?”
      Or just ditch the “would you say and go with “What about the original Deus Ex did you want to avoid, if anything?”

      First rule of writing: simple sentences are better than complex sentences.

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      HermitUK says:

      My younger fanboy self despised Deus Ex Invisible War once I’d completed it. Having replayed it a couple of years back, though, I must say it’s actually a good game. Universal Ammo was a silly concept, yes. But then the addition of passive augmentations made much more sense than the arbitrary skill system in the original. The cramped level design is probably the biggest weakness, sadly a concession to the power (or lack thereof) of the XBox. Happened in Thief 3, too, but at least the slower paced Thief gameplay made it less of an issue.

      Granted the story goes to pot in the final act, and the final stage basically consists of killing off every faction you don’t like at a location reused from the original game for no good reason. And I do think they’d have been better off not connecting it so closely to the events of Deus Ex 1, too. A lot of the returning characters bore little resemblance to their old selves.

      It ain’t Deus Ex, but it’s still more like Deus Ex than almost anything else we’ve had since it came out.

    • Flobulon says:

      @Inigo: Glad I wasn’t the only one who tripped up at that, I had to reread it 4 times before I realised it was just a grammar error. I mean, has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

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      Kelron says:

      Sorry, Inigo. Misunderstood your comment.

    • Cooper says:

      They’re GREEN and GREASY

    • Inigo says:

      They’re GREASY WEASELS

    • golden_worm says:

      Drug use among children has for many an education and with obvious alarm for both parents on the increase almost yearly.

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      Jerricho says:

      What a shame.

    • Donkeydeathtasticelastic says:

      I would love to be your chamber boy.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Greasels are great. However:

      UNLEASH THE KARKIANS!

  3. DarkFenix says:

    The only real complaint I had about the original Deus Ex (aside from all the flaws inherent to all FPS’s around that time) was that JC started out less talented than the average drunken hobo. You shot like a blind man, were as stealthy as a tapdancing elephant, as frail as a glass butterfly and had the technical aptitude of a dead cow.

    If they fix that while retaining everything else Deus Ex was, I’ll be a very happy camper.

    • Inigo says:

      Jensen plays like JC with all skills set to “Trained”.

    • Palodin says:

      That is largely fixed, I’ve seen the leaked 10 hour demo being played and you start off reasonably competent. There are no weapon skills so you don’t need to spend 10 seconds lining up a shot, you have at least basic hacking skills (Level 1 of 5), though you’ll run into computers you can’t hack pretty quickly unless you upgrade it.
      Overall you can just do more at the start than old JC could.

      Edit – Blast, beaten to it

    • CMaster says:

      In contrast, late-game JC was just ridiculous. You could actually stand in the middle of a room of MJ12 soldiers, commandos and MiBs, laughing and saying “I am invincible” before bludgeoning each one to death at your leisure, or headshotting them all with a recently discarded pistol.

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      sockeatsock says:

      The highlight is when you get to your first enemy, just up the ramp. You crouch in the shadows behind the column, pull out your crossbow and wait for the shot. The enemy walks up, waits, turns and walks away before your aiming reticle is within a country mile of converging.

      I can live with being unable to hack my way out of a wet paper bag if I could shoot a crossbow at someone standing two metres away and hit.

    • Inigo says:

      @sockeatsock

      The only limiting factor in HR is having to deal with swaying crosshairs while using a telescopic sight. You can spend Praxis points on arm augmentations to stabilize it, but even without those you can still reliably hit people without waiting an age for the aiming to kick in.

    • JackShandy says:

      It also expands the reticle so that it’s impossible to hit the side of a barge when moving.

  4. Zetetic says:

    The emphasis, explicitly at the expense of exploring actual philosophers and literature, on fools like Kurzweil is a little disappointing.

  5. fiddlesticks says:

    As brilliant as Deus Ex was and is, I do hope they’ll take this opportunity to take a look at its flaws and improve on them.

    Also, this does look really promising, but I somewhat fear it will suffer Invisible War’s fate. It may be a good game on its own, but it simply won’t live up to the high expectations everyone has, especially given how the original game has reached an almost legendary status in the PC gaming community.

    Also also, I’d include a fitting Deus Ex quote here, but I simply can’t come up with one.

    • Inigo says:

      I’d go as far as saying that the preview leak, rather than harming sales, has actually done a lot to assuage people’s fears that Human Revolution is a “consolized” shadow of the original Deus Ex.

    • Bhazor says:

      “I’d include a fitting Deus Ex quote here, but I simply can’t come up with one.”

      Can’t think of one? What a shame.

    • Ross Angus says:

      “Thanks, for letting me in.”

    • Gormongous says:

      “A bomb?”

    • anonymousity says:

      “Get pills, against my orders.”

    • YourMessageHere says:

      “UNATCO hurt my weenie.”

  6. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    Are we allowed to talk about the thing we might not be allowed to talk about?

    Because it seemed pretty good to me.

    • Linfosoma says:

      @ Harlander:
      I played the thing we are not allowed to talk about for the first two hours and decided that this was too good to spoil it for myself. The proceeded to pre-order.

      This is a good game people, with fantastic level design, interactivity and dialogs.
      And it’s pretty, oh so pretty.

    • Mendrake says:

      Finally, some love for Invisible War!
      (thats what I call it because I dont think it has much to do with Deus Ex)
      I actually loved that game, but I came to it without even knowing Deus Ex existed. Invisible War was actually one of the first FPS games I played. It was a memorable and awesome game on its own. it was NOT, however, a sequel. and I say that for both its sake and Deus Ex’s.

      and plus, it was one of the few games I had where you could kill everyone in a city. I really need to get a list going of those.

    • Tancosin says:

      @ Mendrake:

      Fallout 2.

    • simonh says:

      Morrowind

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      Thermal Ions says:

      I’m still not convinced that the beta “leak” was an actual “leak” as opposed to a deniable marketing activity to drum up publicity and interest. Based upon posts on various forums I’ve seen it’s gotten more people off the fence and pre-ordering than they’re likely to have lost by having it out there.

  7. jon_hill987 says:

    I liked the fact that you couldn’t hit a barn door until you were trained to use the weapon in question.

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      Harlander says:

      Don’t you start as someone who’s finished basic training though? Surely that includes a little bit of marksmanship

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      HermitUK says:

      “Today we unveil our new Nano augmented super soldier. Granted, he doesn’t actually know how to fire a gun, and we forgot to install any augmentations besides the eye torch, but still, see how awesome he is?”

      Tune in tomorrow when Bob Page expresses his surprise at VersaLife’s stock falling following this announcement.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      And they give you level 2 in the pistols skill for free along with enough skill points for your opening build to have level 3 out of a maximum 4 if you wish to be using pistols. Of course if you decided that you spent basic training with you head in a computer and research hacking you are not going to hit a thing.

    • Inigo says:

      Meanwhile Adam is ex-SWAT, so it’s reasonable to assume he has at least some proficiency with firearms.

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      Napalm Sushi says:

      Last year I went to the Midland County Game Fair and engaged in a spot of clay pigeon shooting. I’d never fired a real gun before in my life, and I hit two thirds of the targets. Contrary to what decades of action movie mooks have taught society, firing a gun accurately from a stationary stance at a target a few dozen yards away isn’t actually difficult. Early game J.C. couldn’t do that. No two ways about it, it was jarring.

    • Urthman says:

      Denton could hit a target if he stood still for a minute and squared his shoulders. What he couldn’t do right off the bat is hit a target while running around, which I imagine would be much harder than Quake has led us to believe.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      @Urthman: Indeed. And this is something you have already done before you shout “pull” when clay shooting. It is also far harder to hit something with a pistol than it is with a shotgun.

    • Zwebbie says:

      While JC Denton’s abysmal shooting skills certainly didn’t make any sense, I feel that they did improve gameplay. The trick wasn’t, as it is in many games, to move your reticule over the head and click, but to get into the right position from where you can do that – ideally, you’d have to be close and unseen, a wholly different kind of challenge.
      (And as you’ll note, one that is often at odds with cover-based shooting…)

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      HermitUK says:

      Of course, questions of accuracy were moot point, because if you were sensible, you’d attach a laser sight to the pistol as soon as you find one.

      Laser sights in the original game completely remove bullet spread – the bullets always land exactly where the laser dot is. Sways a bit while you’re walking, but it’s dead accurate when you stop. And the guards can’t see the red dot of death creeping towards them.

      Good times.

    • mwoody says:

      Though you could make the argument that the augmentation process could render a lot of a person’s innate reflexes useless. Altering a person’s muscle strength, weight balance, nerve connection latency, etc. could make sitting in a chair difficult, much less firing a weapon. If you look at the game’s skill system as relearning the basics – think post-augmentation physical therapy, or at least the tail-end of it – it makes more sense.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Okami says:

    This game will never be as good as the memories of Deus Ex players.

    • Groove says:

      My memory isn’t that good.

    • Premium User Badge

      Okami says:

      Yea, that sentence is a bit grammatically off. But english isn’t my first language and I’m too lazy to correct it.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Their memories are augmented.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It won’t be as good as the Deus Ex 1 I played this year, either.

      Funny thing, the “you only liked it because rose-tinted glasses” argument. Most fans end up replaying the games they’re fannish about.

  9. Anguy says:

    Advice needed! I just finished Deus Ex for the first time ever, because HR looked so great and I had to play the original after watching hours of youtube footage.
    Is Invisible War enjoyable enough to get me through the following months until HR is actually being released or should I keep away from it?

    • Mendrake says:

      If you want Deus Ex, dont play it. If you want a completely different, but still very good, game, play it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Talon says:

      Think of it as Deus Ex fanfic. They loosely inhabit the same world, but you should not carry expectations over. Then have a blast.

    • CMaster says:

      I’d say give it a miss. It’s more “user friendly” than DX, but at core it’s not a very interesting game, with terrible, terrible graphics/polish issues. There’s a lot of revisionism in the RPS comments these days that the game was hard done by at the time. It wasn’t. the 70%-ish reviews were exactly what it deserved.

    • Premium User Badge

      john_silence says:

      Well, Invisible War is cramped, and I once accidentally killed a hobo by running down a street – in the game! (he sidestepped me and caught fire by touching a nearby brasero, thereafter dying a fiery, screaming death under the composed stare of his hobo pals). But; it’s pretty good.
      In a sense it feels more like a predecessor to Bioware’s “guns & conversation” play style than a proper sequel to Deus Ex. There are far worse options to tide you over until Human Revolution, and it will mean you’ve played the entire Deus Ex canon.

    • Anguy says:

      Ok, then I might wait until there’s a sale or something on steam because it’s 9,90€ at the moment. Considering HR is a prequel to both Deus Ex games I won’t need the story input anyway :) . Thanks guys

    • Gonefornow says:

      I’d advice you to try out The Nameless Mod.
      http://thenamelessmod.com/real/
      I’m on my fifth playthrough at the moment.
      I think that speaks for something.

    • fiddlesticks says:

      I second the “Nameless Mod” recommendation. It’s truly great and probably the closest you can get to Deus Ex without actually playing Deus Ex.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Yep, you want more DE, go with the Nameless Mod. Not only is it really well designed, but it exists in that rare Tarantinian space as something that works as satire, works as homage, and just plain works on its own merits. It’s a very unique experience, and you’ll know what I mean when you play it.

    • Yosharian says:

      Nameless Mod is terrible…

    • JackShandy says:

      The Nameless Mod is basically Deus Ex with more stuff. More weapons, more augs, more enemies, more paths through the story. If you like deus ex, you’ll love it.

    • Xocrates says:

      I was in a similar situation to the OP recently, difference being that I already owned IW but hadn’t played it.

      I ended up not playing it anyway, not because I felt it was bad (it seemed solid enough) but because I was bored of loading screens by the end of the tutorial.

      What a shame.

    • anonymousity says:

      Malkavian mod was my favourite.

    • MD says:

      If you do play Invisible War, mod it first. I can’t remember the list of things I installed, but there’s a texture pack, and I’m pretty sure there’s an unofficial patch, and there are a few other little tweaks and mods that clean up the surface faws considerably.

      edit: Also, yeah, loading screens. Bring a book.

  10. Zyrxil says:

    I finished the preview build yesterday, and it hit me in the final area- This is totally a Deus Ex game. Crates everywhere! Crates randomly on the street, (cardboard) crates all over in every apartment, even crate robots! A true successor to the first game, which had a 0 seconds-to-crate rating.

  11. VeritableHero says:

    I haven’t seen anyone mention the loading of the game. How does that work? The first would load huge sections of the game at a time. The second loaded every other room. Portal 2 was made a little more annoying because of all the loading.

    Were they able to load much of the game in the background or are there constant loading screens?

    • Inigo says:

      There are loading screens, but it’s much better than IW. The Detroit hub is one huge map. The only separate areas that need loading are the Limb clinic, Serif Industries, your apartment, the police station and two areas that take place outside of the city (which are both divided into two large maps).

    • John P says:

      Much better than IW, yes, but there are problems with how the maps are done in HR. Because it seems to load sections at a time (I think; but whatever it is, the problem remains) NPCs won’t move out of their designated area. Which means you can often just run straight past enemies into the next area and they won’t follow you. No stealth required, just sprint past.

  12. jack4cc says:

    After playing the beta I have to admit that I wasn’t sure that this was going to be a worthy successor, but now I am, and I do intend to buy it.

  13. fuggles says:

    Invisible war is alright but in the shadow of a his big brother, who happens to be a gaming collosus. It’s an interesting world with some good ideas, somewhat held back by being a join console game and pleasegodletthemfixthis the ability to continually doublecross people with no consequence.

    Well worth a play – if it wasn’t called deus ex, it would be well thought of I think.

  14. Ultra Superior says:

    Interesting question about Bias towards non-lethal approach… lets see – for killing an enemy you get 10 EXP. For taking him down silently you get over 50 EXP. There is a huuuuge bias towards stealthy play.

    Luckily, every Deus Ex fan prefers stealth, otherwise he or she would be a CODMWBLOPS fan.

    • John P says:

      Not to mention the ammo scarcity for almost all weapons. If you wanted to play with the assault rifle most of the time, bad luck: you’ll be out of ammo in about 4 seconds. The pistol seems to be the only weapon with adequate ammo.

      Of course this may be better balanced by the time it’s released.

      Personally I like playing stealthily so it’s not a big deal for me, but there’s definitely a bias.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      Yes, sometimes, you feel like you’d like to kill some exceptional prick violently and messy – but then, the next praxis point is so close, and you NEED that extra EXPERIENCE they give for silent, expedient, ghostly takedown…

    • Zyrxil says:

      Interesting question about Bias towards non-lethal approach… lets see – for killing an enemy you get 10 EXP. For taking him down silently you get over 50 EXP. There is a huuuuge bias towards stealthy play.

      Luckily, every Deus Ex fan prefers stealth, otherwise he or she would be a CODMWBLOPS fan.

      That’s not accurate. In general (bonus XP names will be different in each, but the numbers are right):

      10XP for a kill
      10+20XP for a headshot kill
      20+20XP for non-lethal takedown with a stungun or tranq rifle
      20+20+10XP for a non-lethal melee takedown

    • fiddlesticks says:

      So, how much Experience do you gain for avoiding the enemy altogether?

    • Yosharian says:

      EXACTLY.
      The game should count the number of enemies you successfully avoided, and grant you XP based on that.
      Of course, it won’t.

    • Premium User Badge

      VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      There’s a 250XP bonus if no alarms go off (which could also be because you hacked all the alarms). There’s a 1000XP bonus if nobody sees you (basically if no-one gets alerted. If you take them down silently from behind and no-one notices, it still counts).

    • coldvvvave says:

      Not sure, but there is indeed a bonus for completing mission without being seen at all.

      EDIT. too late

    • JackShandy says:

      “Of course, it won’t.” Love the confidence there.

    • Dominic White says:

      The best thing is that ‘Of course it won’t’ was followed up almost immediately by ‘Actually, it does’.

  15. Wizlah says:

    Really interesting interview, John, thanks for that.

    I especially liked the thing about not wanting to go cronenberg weird. Granted, it would have been interesting (videodrome meets deus ex, anyone?) but I like the look they’ve cultivated for the game.

    I wonder in terms of gameplay how much of a different story is told by an ‘all guns blazing’ approach. For all its flaws, I really rated that about alpha protocol – different approaches told different stories (if only they’d been more engaging, but that’s another problem entirely) and no one playthrough gave you the full picture.

    Really looking forward to this one, especially the conversations and how that mechanic works.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Acosta says:

    I wasn’t a believer, I was actually vocally against it because I was convinced it would be transformed to something more “palatable” to the manshoot gang. I was wrong, the preview was utterly brilliant and I can’t wait for it. I have never been so glad of being wrong in my life.

    • Magnetude says:

      Squeenix’s ‘accidental demo’ looks like it might end up being a massive PR coup. This may even herald the return of the demo as standard. I don’t think I’ve seen a single negative comment about the leaked build at all.

  17. Premium User Badge

    Acosta says:

    OH my god, people love something! call the police!

  18. Magnetude says:

    I hope they have a sans-Sarif joke in this game.

  19. Tyrone Slothrop. says:

    I can hardly overstate how much I loved the leaked preview build. I’m one of the many who’ve replayed the first Deus Ex innumerable times and tried out virtually all of the mods.

    Yet the sheer quality of the little and unfinished part I’ve experienced makes me quite confident in saying that if the remainder of Human Revolution is comparable, it’s better than the original, and the game I’ve been waiting a decade for.

    The feeling of arriving in the Sarif offices properly and soon realising the immense scope of the building, the several floors of freely explorable offices with hackable computers, the enormous quantity of back-story and world detail, the various NPCs, the pitch-perfect corporate aesthetic and the design of literally everything puts UNATCO to shame, several times over to the point they’re not even comparable.

    To just give an example of how much detail is packed into the game. Remember in the ‘Ton Hotel in Deus Ex you could hear the sound of two people having sex in an unreachable area? In Human Revolution I was walking to my apartment and I heard a woman crying behind a similarly unusable door. If you use the eye augmentation, you can actually see her crying on the side of a bed while her husband paces over her. In fact you can see NPCs living out their lives in apartments you can’t access, all animated, a family a table, someone watching television… none of this ever had to be modelled and it would be perfectly understandable, yet the developers did so regardless.

    There’s also far more readable content than in either prior Deus Ex and some of the miscellaneous NPC dialogue easily surpasses in my opinion games like Vampire: Bloodlines, oh and there’s a simply wonderful Alex Jones parody on the radio.

    I didn’t mean to write on for this long, but I suppose writing about the game is the next best thing to playing it and it’s unbearable trying to save the side-missions and significant portion of the exploration till August.

    • John P says:

      But can you go and interrupt the abusive man pacing over his wife, or is it just window dressing?

      You could do something similar in DX1. Stop the pimp from beating up Sandra. Then she’d give you the password to Smuggler’s. Then she’d appear in the hotel later to resolve the story there. She’d even make an appearance much later in the game depending on your choices.

      The leak wasn’t enough to know if HR has this kind of stuff. It did seem to have a number of branches at times, so perhaps it will.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      I agree with most of what you said, though it’s funny you mention Bloodlines. I’ve actually been replaying Bloodlines over the past few weeks, and my first thought while playing the Human Revolution demo was “Wow, this dialogue is pretty good…but it’s no Bloodlines!”

      At any rate, it’s really just a top notch product, I can’t wait to play the full thing.

  20. Premium User Badge

    oceanclub says:

    “But I did like it. But the one thing I didn’t like was that I felt they tried to play the factions… they tried to be so neutral that they lost any character.”

    It’s great to read that, as that was my _biggest_ problem with DX2. I just felt like a shyster, playing all the angles. Whereas in DX1, one of the great moments was saving my brother against a virtual army of NATCO soliders. The first one had a heart the sequel didn’t.

    P.

    • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

      See I felt more like none of the factions in Invisible War were ones I would support if presented with the option in reality. You had to choose between the corporate-authoritarian state of the WTO or religious fundamentalists with a strange ecumenical streak, you could never put a pox on both their houses and go your own route save for doing often abhorrent objectives for either party. I do appreciate the shades of grey presented, but given the minuscule scale of the world, characters and even levels and game-length (shortening the requisite amount of exposition and depth to truly explore these factions), I felt the ambiguity was more of an inadvertent consequence of trying to streamline nuance and complexity.

      It had such incredible potential though I try to think of it being outside of the Deus Ex cannon.

    • Wizlah says:

      aye, oceanclub, you’re right. If I was going to doublecross, I wanted some kind of cosequence, which the game didn’t provide.

      funny, for all it’s problems (the bit in the artic with all damn greasels left me cold (oh ho)), I greatly enjoyed the endings. I thought they were truest to the narrative vision of the world of deus ex.

  21. Snuffy the Evil says:

    I bothered to download and play the leak and, while I’m not getting any Christmas presents this year, I will definitely buy this game once I get paid.
    I don’t have any meaningful beefs with Human Revolution at all so far. Everything about it is amazing. The writing, especially. It’s kind of like Portal 2 in that there are so many things I want to say about it but I can’t because they’re all integral at some point to the story.

    Well, except that whoever designed the police station is a big fan of cop movies!

  22. Premium User Badge

    tomeoftom says:

    Really interesting review. Thanks, Mr. Walker.

  23. Iskariot says:

    Well, if I had not already decided to buy this game, I would have now, after reading all the unanimously positive comments of people who played the thing we are not allowed to talk about.
    I am very much looking forward to this new Deus Ex.
    I hope the success of this game will secure a few more high quality sequels for us.

  24. Lagwolf says:

    I wonder if SE are going to release a proper demo for those of us not in the loop about the “leak”. I feel like a kid who doesn’t know a secret everyone else knows. DE was one of the best demos ever released as far as getting you hooked on the game.

  25. povu says:

    Learning to swim? What a waste of skill points.

  26. ResonanceCascade says:

    And I’m gonna get sick of the bitchfest of people talking about how no true Deus Ex fan would ever like this game. Or that people who like HR just didn’t understand Deus Ex. Or that they changed that one thing, so the game is obviously a worthless piece of shit that is literally unplayable.
    So I guess it evens out.

  27. Yosharian says:

    Ahhhh I want this fucking game NOW

    Not so sold on the whole ‘Adam is great at everything because it wasn’t fun to have to learn how to use weapons properly’. I thought that mechanic worked fine. Oh well.

  28. JackShandy says:

    Wait a second: “Scattershot”? “Denoting something that is broad but random and haphazard in its range”? You can criticize the art direction, but that’s definetly not the right word for something with only about two colours.

    Edit: It’s ok, though. I hate it when people like games too.

  29. Velvetmeds says:

    GAME OF THE YEAR.

    Without a doubt. Everyone and their grandma should pre-order this. 10 copies for each.

    FOR GREAT JUSTICE!

  30. Sardukar says:

    Had a chance to try the media preview on Give Me Deus Ex setting.
    They could release it as a demo, it’s that solid. Many many ways to accomplish your objectives or bypass them altogether in favour of a different kind of Adam Jensen.

    You do get more XP for stealth, (melee-non-lethal is 50 XP per target as was mentioned, and lethal head-shots are only 20XP) and if you run total stealth, the reward is an extra 500XP for the mission with another 250 if no alarms go off.

    BUT, that only matters if you need the XP to buy the extra cyber. You can just as easily run and gun or stealth through without cyber, relying on pure player skills and timing. Although it pays higher XP, you also stand a much better chance of dying in DXHR if something goes wrong while sneaking.

    The acting is great, the writing is very very good (I just finished the Witcher 2 and I still say that), it’s graphically iconic and Adam Jensen is a bad ass. Takedowns rock. Your apartment rocks. Pritchard needs a good kick in the teeth.

    Get excited about August. Be safe in those pre orders.
    Hell, I’m thinking about ordering the damn doll. I may be obsessed.

    • povu says:

      Is it actually doable to do a non lethal playthrough for the most part? I assume you’d need lots of tranq darts, if the only way to do melee takedowns are through the third person animated ones that drain the limited whats-it-called energy, so you can’t just do that to everyone.

    • JackShandy says:

      It’s entirely possible to get through without killing anyone.

      (Until you get to the mandatory horrible boss fight.)

    • Sardukar says:

      It is absolutely doable to go non lethal with darts/sun gun or melee. My first pass I did KO melee the whole way because I picked the combat rifle just in case and didn’t have the tranq gear. The power cell recharges..but only the last cell.
      You could also sneak past and be unseen the whole time. Other than as Jack points out that boss fight. Which was an okay boss fight – no special technique, no QTE, nothing like that. Just don’t get killed. You can even use a couple clever tricks.

      I also did KO melee because it was so utterly satisfying and visceral. Crunch!

  31. Eight Rooks says:

    @JackShandy: No, even though I don’t like Kobzon’s comments much, he’s got a point with that one. Art direction is about more than just the colour palette, yes?

    Some parts of the whole Renaissance-inspired look work fantastically, others make me think ‘No-one would ever wear that in a million years’. It’s hard to articulate, but the main characters are dressed up just fine yet many of the outfits on the minor NPCs just seem as if they were thrown together at the last minute, with curves and angles employed for no conceivable aesthetic reason. I don’t believe it’s… I don’t know the words for it, the sensation produced by looking at the disparity between the 70s and today only taken the other way round. It’s not that, as far as I’m concerned; it’s that some of the clothes are done fantastically but others seem flat-out shoddy, implausible and wrong. And while the fashion’s the most obvious problem other things do crop up; adverts that don’t look remotely like properly planned-out adverts, buildings (what the hell is the crap over the outside of the Sarif headquarters? It looks ridiculous) and so on.

    I liked the thing we’re not allowed to talk about just fine – although I think much of the praise given to Deus Ex is rose-tinted lunacy, so my opinion probably doesn’t count for much. (It was ugly as sin back then, the writing is terrible, the voice acting atrocious, the music forgettable and I never found it any fun to play. Throwing in a wider spread of choices than anyone had ever done before is definitely worthy of praise and recognition, but not deserving of being canonised.)

    Still, just saying – Human Revolution looks like being an excellent game, but yes, it’s in danger of being over- as much as under-rated and so far, parts of it are noticeably scattershot.

  32. JackShandy says:

    Really? Human Revolution is the only game that I’ve ever found myself actually admiring NPC’s clothes in, in an honest-to-god “I want to wear this” way. And I thought all the adverts etc were amazing! They must have made a hundred companies that all look like they could exist.

    I said “Scattershot” wasn’t the word because I thought the art style was consistent and cohesive, but might not be for everyone. I suppose there’s not really any pictures on the net yet, but it’d be great if you could give some examples of what you’re talking about when you say it’s inconsistent.

  33. Premium User Badge

    oceanclub says:

    I must admit, the fact everyone is so darn positive about the leak is leaving me slightly giddy with excitement. (Might also be the martinis, but I digress.) I’m not going to download it myself; I’m looking forward to playing the game completely sight unseen later in the year. Might even finish my last attempted playthrough of no. 1 in the meantime…..

    P.

  34. Armante says:

    I never actually played DX back in the day (i know, i know) but the build-up to DXHR and the recent interviews/screens made me pre-order. I don’t normally, so reading this, and people’s feedback on the leaked copy makes me confident they are on to a winner. Can’t wait for it to pre-load on Steam..

  35. Sardukar says:

    I actually wonder how they are going to “time” the game. There are so many ways to try stuff and so many things to read and oddball places to pile crates to get into, between reloads and respecs, it’s the most time-satisfying I’ve seen since Bloodlines. Only, no bugs.

  36. YourMessageHere says:

    Nice interview, if a bit short. Also really good to hear all the positivity, I’m now right on the brink of preordering, and I never do that.

    Any players of the cunningly-disguised demo: I have a GTX260 and an AMD 3.1ghz dual core, and I run XP. Will this work OK or would I have to buy more bits? Steam reckons this is doable but I have my doubts.

  37. Premium User Badge

    ffordesoon says:

    The one thing that always worries me whenever I read about this game is that the combat looks to actually be as good as the other “pillars” of the design.

    Yes, I said “worries”. Not a typo.

    See, DX1’s great, but the combat’s pretty much mediocre. There are a lot of interesting concepts there, and everything’s more or less functional, but it’s easily the worst part of the game. We all know this, just as we all know the game gave you so many other options that it didn’t end up mattering.

    But the thing is, I often wonder if I’d’ve ever even considered the other options available to me if the combat hadn’t been as weirdly crappy as it was. A head-on assault wasn’t just a terrible idea in a tactical shooter, “you can die in three hits” sense; it was a terrible idea because of the crap aiming and the weird grenade physics and all the other stupid issues the game had. Thus, you ended up playing the game trying to find ways to avoid combat, which usually resulted in much more interesting gameplay scenarios than the typical “shoot everyone” scenario most FPS games employ. If the shooting mechanics in this one are just as good as everything else, I wonder how many people will make use of all the other options available to them.

    I dunno, I guess I should be happy that a pure shooter playstyle is now viable, because that’ll increase the series’ popularity and stuff, and it’s actually closer to the intentions behind the first game. It just makes me a little sad that some people won’t end up trying the more interesting (IMHO, anyway) options available to them. You know? It’s great that they’ll be satisfied with what they want to do, but I feel like they might miss out on the parts of DX I really love.

    Meh. Selfish of me, I suppose.

  38. Grayvern says:

    The back alley area was crappy and confusing, objects in the environment should react more and the augs should feel more fantastical, fully upgraded cloak is way to weak for the cost, the machine pistol takes up too much inventory space apart from that the preview was amazing.

    Only problem was DX11 seemed to fuck up my monitor colour calibration so had to play without it which mad the game look slightly horrible.