Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Deet-o-rama

I am, as you well know, always up for being a cool cyborg. Obviously I am jolly keen to play Deus Ex: Mankind Divided [official site] and pop my cybergoggles out after saying something cool, but quite how cool will my cyberman get to be this time around? The announcement trailer had a few hints but it was all gussied up, so how real is it? If you want solid details now, you’ll need to wait on the magazine run by the USA’s largest games retailer. Or wait for someone to read that and summarise it online. They already have.

Like: yep, it does still have boss battles. And: it’ll draw from all of Human Revolution’s endings. Also: heck yeah that is a P.E.P.S. electrogun popping out of Adam’s arm.

NeoGAF forum poster shinobi602 has recapped the preview from the latest issue of Game Informer, and I’ll recap their recap. Onwards!

  • Side quests should be more meaningful, opportunities to explore the game’s themes and maybe not just fetch stuff for people. Some may have lasting effects too, like a mob boss calling in a favour while you’re on a different mission later. But can I call him later and interrupt his bubblebath to chat about TV and music? We do not yet know (no).
  • Yep, you’ll get to sneak or shoot your way through everything as you please, along with the usual array of shortcuts for bribing and sweet-talking folk and exploring and all that. Though they tried to improve the shooty-shoots.
  • Those boss battles will supposedly let folks take approaches other than straight-up face-shooting, though, which was one of the changes made to Human Revolution in its Director’s Cut. I dream that simply running away will be an option, like I’d often do for some Deus Ex boss battles.
  • AI enemies should be more aggressive, and have more weapons and augmentations and whatnot to make them more varied. Also, ladies join the roster of regular enemies, which is nice. Many of my favourite cyborg killers are ladies.
  • They’re planning a wider variety of environments.
  • The story’s building into the setup of the original Deus Ex, obvs, and it sounds like they’re teasing new revelations for that and whatnot. It sounds like they’re combining bits of every ending from HR rather than settling on one. It’ll see Adam joining Task Force 29, a new branch of Interpol, but also throwing his lot in with a shadowy organisation named the Juggernaut Collective.
  • But for me, it’s all about that P.E.P.S. gun. I greatly enjoyed blasting folks with it in Human Revolution, but ammo was too scarce and stockpiling took too much space. If it’s in his arm, yes, lovely, wonderful. I may never tire of transforming armguns.

That’s me done. The forum post has plenty more, so go have a gander if you’re curious. Odds and ends are due to be trickled onto Game Informer’s site over the next month too.

50 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Grizzly says:

    The PEPS gun was wonderfull. It also made the last level of HR actually rather fun.

    • jezcentral says:

      I should think the vast majority of people just picked it up, fired it at a wall to see what it did, and then put it down again, as it took up too much space. I’ve played all three games… (What, there were only two? Are you sure? Okay). In both games I never used it in anger.

    • KenTWOu says:

      What? I need ‘heavy objects’ aug to move that crate witch blocks that ventilation shaft? Here is my PEPS gun. What? There is a turret over there which blows the hell out of me? Here is my PEPS gun.

      • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

        Never even crossed my mind that the PEPS gun could be used for these! I (no doubt like many others) tried it on enemies, found it would knock them down for just a few seconds, and wondered what’s the use?

    • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

      I never ever used the PEPs gun. In any DX game. Ever! I think we call that an excuse to replay them all from the start, thanks.

  2. noobule says:

    I’ll pass, and wait for Dishonored 2. It’s been about four years and I’m still astonished at how shallow Eidos Montreal’s understanding of the original game was, whereas Dishonored not only managed to recreate the brilliance of DX’s gameplay but managed to really bring their own life to it. Meanwhile DX:HR sits there thinking that if you just keep giving the player airduct after airduct alongside their endless office corridors that that is sufficient to give the player ‘choice’ and exhibits excellent ‘stealth’ gameplay.

    Not forgetting Human Revolution’s garbage writing.

    • hjarg says:

      Airducts, stairways, ability to break down walls if needed, windows, different entrances, ability to jump to higher locations or jump down from high. Or sewers! Or roottop access. There were always several points of entrance, several ways to go on and clean the map etc. Apart from chokepoints in places where they made sense (like, you cannot have very much mobility in an underground facility). I think you are just being a bit unfair, you know.

      Also, garbage writing? Bah!

      It seems like someone is truly trying to find reasons not to like DX:HR.

      • Farsi Murdle says:

        You’re still not getting it. The original Deus Ex had multiple pathways but that wasn’t what made its design so good. The original presented obstacles and there were always so many ways to overcome them. Multiple pathways is only one aspect of that. This is something the HR designers didn’t understand. They kept talking about multiple entrances into warehouses, but they removed so much that made improvisational gameplay (the true hallmark of Deus Ex) possible. Multiple pathways is a brute force approach to choice, but what Deus Ex had was systemic complexity and consistency. HR wasn’t a complete failure in this regard, but certainly their level design, augmentation design, and other systems design suggests they didn’t understand what made Deus Ex special. (It’s also what makes Dishonored more accomplished, because that game was made by former Deus Ex designers who did understand these things.)

        And yeah, the writing was pretty garbage. Same people who are now giving us names like “Task Force 29” and “the Juggernaut Collective”. What is that.

        • kament says:

          Systemic gameplay. Improvisational gameplay. Blah-blah-blahplay. Those are just buzzwords (btw, HR team used them on us to market their game, and the things they promised are there, too). See, hjark talks about things you can do and use in the game, and you talk about words with arbitrary meaning.

          What do those words mean exactly, Farsi? Or, rather, what do you mean? What is it DX has and HR lacks?

          • Farsi Murdle says:

            If you think they’re buzzwords you don’t understand what I’m talking about.

            When I say HR’s design was poor in this regard, I’m referring to their augmentation design, for example, which does not have much emphasis on interacting systems. Like I said, it’s not a total failure; the strength abilities allow for some interesting interaction with objects in the game. But a huge number of augmentations are devoted to the hacking minigame (which I’m positive was someone’s pet project and no one had the heart/balls to tell them to cut all the extra shit out). Many other augmentations have one single use and don’t interact with other systems.

            Compare that with Dishonored, where you can do things like stop time with a bullet in mid-air, possess an enemy, move the enemy in front of the bullet, and make him shoot himself. Or attach a bomb to a rat, possess the rat, and move it over to a group of enemies. You might play the whole game and never do something like that. But the point is, it’s possible, because of the robust systems design where interactions are simulated instead of carefully designed for specific purposes.

            HR also removed all the consumable items like lockpicks, multitools, one-use items like thermoptic camo, etc. A lot of people might consider these extraneous because augmentations can do the same things, but those people are missing the point. Those consumables allow players to adjust their tactics on the fly. You might not have the invisibility augmentation, but if you’re in a tricky situation and happen to have thermoptic camo, you have a one-use stealth you can use in that specific situation. Dishonored did have a number of these consumable items, which like the original Deus Ex, gave players plenty of options at any time.

            That’s what I’m talking about: the original Deus Ex had numerous options at any one time. HR is far too controlled in this regard. There was an interview with the DIshonored devs a few years ago, in which the journalist asked them whether all those specials powers broke the game. Their reply was “That’s the point.”

          • kament says:

            Thank you for such an erm exhaustive answer, Farsi.

            I see where you’re coming from. I think Dishonored is a different beast in that regard, though. Its design allows for combining your abilities, whereas consumables in original Deus Ex substitute powers that you can’t exactly chain, can you. And that’s what I think is not a very good thing (the former, not the latter).

            As I see it, things like that effectively neuter any challenge and need for planning your character ahead. For me, it’s good enough to have options for any build you might have. What is the point in redundancy? So you could just blunder your way through the game? I don’t like the idea, and it was never the point of DX for me. The point was that any build was viable. And that’s why I think they’ve got it right with HR. The main principle as I see it is there, and that’s good enough for me.

            While we’re at it, can I just note how odd I find it when you speak of subtlety and nuance regarding DX plot? (OR HR lacking such qualities?) I mean, what is it, a lemon lime that gives DX nuance or what? As far as I can remember (it was quite a while, admittedly), DX just throws its themes at you: Here, you sort this shit out, I don’t care.

            And don’t even get me started about Dishonored. It has no theme. It doesn’t. It’s a wonderful game, but narrative-wise it’s a generic revenge tale with a ridiculous villain, punctuated by bits of (awesome) lore leading nowhere and meaning precisely nothing. It’s a pure navel-gazing. And still it is good enough since it serves its purpose: worldbuilding and motivating the player to go on.

            HR has articulated point on top of that and tries to get it across. Success or failure (YMMV and all that) it’s a wonderful thing in and of itself.

            PS. As for “millions have died” and “how are they gonna reconcile that with the destruction of Lady Liberty being a trauma” I can only remind you that in our (real, that is) world millions had died, and than some, and still 9/11 was quite a shock, wouldn’t you agree.

        • KenTWOu says:

          And yeah, the writing was pretty garbage. Same people who are now giving us names like “Task Force 29″ and “the Juggernaut Collective”. What is that.

          Look, noobule praised Dishonored and I know why. Because it’s a much better game from design point of view. Crazy shit can happen in the game because all its mechanics are connected with one another, especially in superior Daud’s DLCs. But then he/you said that DXHR writing was garbage and I strongly disagree. If DXHR writing was garbage, then DIshonored writing was non-existent as Corvo’s own voice. Dishonored story was so bland on emotional level. Probably, because Bethesda forced movie stars to do all voice overs instead of professionals. Probably, because the game was designed first and written later. Anyway, it was so bland, RPS chaps didn’t choose it as their GOTY. Read their depressing final ‘Advent Calendar 2012’ verdict.

          Meanwhile DXHR was written by Mary DeMarle. There is a rumour she popularized ‘narrative designer’ term at GDC. And that’s one of the main reasons why overall DXHR was a much better coherent experience and a better game. Because Mary communicated story/narrative vision to everyone on the team as a narrative designer. DXHR was narratively designed, it had dramatic tension, it had emotional impact. Just a little example of this. Listen to Hengsha Daylight (part 1) from DXHR official soundtrack. The final part of the track has subtle female backing vocal. The moment that ambient part of the track starts playing in the game is the moment when Jensen finds out that Megan was alive. There are no emotional moments like this one in the whole Dishonored.

          • Distec says:

            Dishonored was no emotional powerhouse, but… Honestly, HR didn’t achieve that resonance with me either. Eidos may have tried to intentionally design such moments, but I’m not sure they actually paid off. It’s cool they put a little touch in the soundtrack to signify something about another character, but I don’t think it actually matters when said character has a predictable twist and no real resolution by the end of the game. Adam Jensen might have given a shit about Megan Reed, but I certainly didn’t. By contrast, I was pretty okay with Dishonored’s blandness because it seemed obvious to me that “making an excellent story with emotional weight” wasn’t high on the priority list.

            Strokes/folks, admittedly.

          • zentropy says:

            Since emotional resonance is highly subjective, I fail to see your point? Gameplay should be the main focus here, read a book if you want a story.

          • Asurmen says:

            You are nearly everything that is wrong with modern gaming zentrophy

          • Farsi Murdle says:

            Ken, I don’t care about that stuff. If you got emotional about character stories, that’s great, but that doesn’t interest me much. When I say the writing is bad I don’t mean dialogue (I don’t remember any of it except WASSUUUUUUUUUUP which I would not call a high point of videogame writing, but we’ll leave that aside). I mean their treatment of themes was really bad. They keep hammering this stuff about transhumanism but it’s so hamfisted and reductive. There’s no nuance involved, it’s just “Transhumanism: Good Or Bad?” high-school class project level stuff. They talk about grand themes like What It Means To Be Human, but there’s nothing interesting in the actual game.

            Just look at what happens at the end of HR. Augmented people are hacked and become zombies or whatever and attack everyone, resulting the deaths of millions of people. Millions. It’s the most catastrophic event in human history, in other words. And what happens as a result? It’s referred to as an “incident” and mankind is “divided” about it. Come on. They almost had something interesting about unequal access to augmentation tech, but then threw it away with this bizarre twist after which no one in their right minds would support unregulated augmentation tech any more. And yet they’re still hammering the “We’re humans too!” stuff.

            There is no subtlety involved. In the original DX the symbolic bombing of the statue of liberty was a major event, but in HR they kill off millions of people. And hilariously, these new games are supposed to lead into the original game. How are they supposed to treat the statue bombing with appropriate gravitas after they’ve casually killed off millions of humans in an “incident”? Suddenly one statue doesn’t seem like a big deal. You see what I’m getting at? They just don’t seem to think these things through, as you’d expect a “narrative director” would. And don’t get me started on their shoehorned “conspiracy” stuff. I don’t even know what’s supposed to be going on there.

          • Jeroen D Stout says:

            “Gameplay should be the main focus here, read a book if you want a story.”

            This is the sentiment that is the albatross around games’ neck.

      • epmode says:

        I liked Human Revolution quite a bit more than I expected to but there’s one major difference that I just can’t get over: The experience system. There is absolutely a best way to play Human Revolution and it requires nonlethal takedowns on every enemy, hacking everything, opening all doors and walking down all corridors.

        Games that promote so much player agency should be using an objective-based experience system, period. Give us X points for getting that encrypted data stick, regardless if we hacked a computer to disable the security system or if we shot everyone in the building. The original did it like this and it’s a better game for it.

    • Earl-Grey says:

      I SPILL MY DRINK!

    • Kodaemon says:

      I’ll take HR’s “garbage” writing over Dishonored’s whisky and cigars any day. For the record, I like both games. I’m just completely perplexed by noobule’s perception of them.

    • karthink says:

      Garbage writing?

      Well there’s at least two things “writing” refers to: (i) The structure of the overarching plot and the delivery of the game’s themes, and (ii) characterization, the moment to moment dialog, its flow and adherence to cause-and-effect.

      I thought HR mostly excelled at (ii), except for the bosses, whose existence made no story-sense and got no characterization. (Unlike Gunther, Navarre or Simmons.) But the parts they got right–Sarif, Darrow, Malik, Jensen–wow, it was way better than Deus Ex. The dialog was always believable, occasionally great, and sometimes just corny enough to be enjoyable. And with its “conversation battles”, it actually moved the dialog tree convention forward, putting contemporary dialog-heavy Bioware games to shame.

      HR did fumble (i), though. I thought it brought up themes of transhumanism but didn’t do anything interesting with them. The plot is a hodge-podge event chain contriving to put you in new buildings to explore, and some revelations (like Sarif talking about the Illuminati after you return from Picus) serve no purpose.

      And it featured cutscene stupidity (the Tai Yong panic room, and the first boss fight), which is just inexcusable.

      So yeah: Mixed bag, but pretty good overall, and actually much better than a Deus Ex game needed to be. (And yes, miles ahead of Dishonored.)

      • mashkeyboardgetusername says:

        Good grief, those cut scenes. Especially the second time you meet that CEO and Jensen again stands around while she does something sneaky and then runs away again. AAARGH. -500XP FOR NOT LEARNING YOUR LESSON.

      • Unknown says:

        Human Revolution felt like a very generic cyberpunk story compared to Deus Ex. DX wasn’t just cyberpunk and conspiracies, it was WEIRD. There’s no “lemon lime” moment in HR. There’s no “Morpheus” moment in HR. There’s no “RUN WHILE YOU CAN” moment in HR. There’s no “Man Who Was Thursday” in HR.

        Cyberpunk and conspiracies aren’t what made DX so cool. I can get that stuff anywhere. DX was great because of all the extra weirdness they stirred into that pot.

        • Distec says:

          Agreed. The guys and gals writing for RPS sometimes seem dismissive of that weirdness, like it was just some silly 90’s thing. But I thought we were all a little tired of games taking themselves so damn seriously. :)

          DX offered a nice little grabbag of kooky and strange. Some of it was a little goofy, but I I don’t think that’s a mark against it. HR decidedly toned down the bizarreness for something a little more grounded and believable, but I think it suffered for it. It was so much less interesting and didn’t have anywhere near enough WTF moments.

  3. Robslap says:

    I was not aware of the directors cut of HR. I only played it on console and was pretty disappointed by the endings seeming lack of acknowledgment for a complete pacifist play through. Anyone recommend picking up the dir. cut on PC?

    • Perkelnik says:

      I own the original version and am thinking about buying DC as weel. So Ive been searching for this just this morning, the general consensus seems to approve the DC version as improved and better than the original. The best way to go seems to wait for some sale which are quite often (and Im pretty sure will happen again before MD release), the price drops to 5€ or something like that, which seems to be a very reasonable price.

      • Rich says:

        Much improved. The boss battles are still stupid, but not as bad. There are lots of other improvements here and there.

    • crazyd says:

      I still hate the idea that it’s a patch we need to pay for. If they fucked up in making the game, and they certainly did with those boss battles, I shouldn’t have to pay for the fix. I know they give a discount to people that already own the base game, but I still see it as charging for a patch to fix something broken, and I expect broken content to be fixed for free.

  4. Rao Dao Zao says:

    I don’t even get why they even had the four endings for Human Revolution. The tweaks to the post-button monologues based on your actions were good enough — the choice of buttons literally added nothing, and if they’re going to accept all of them as truth then they’ve retrospectively nullified them even more. (Invisible War only got away with munging the endings together because the tiny spiderbots were so cute.)

    ESPECIALLY since it’s a prequel and there is only one place for the story to broadly go. The nuances of how events played out can be toyed with but the grand timeline probably needs to be a bit more solid to be satisfying.

    • jezcentral says:

      Indeed. The endings were even less differentiated than Mass Effect 3, but got a pass because there was less emotional investment in them. (Only just, though. :) )

    • Premium User Badge

      Godwhacker says:

      They were a bit tacked on, but I honestly didn’t mind too much- I’d had more than enough fun with the game up to that point, and they didn’t retroactively gut any of the plot or make the whole thing seem pointless.

      My main hope for the game is that you can get the same amount of experience regardless of the method you take to get through- with both Human Revolution and Dishono(u)red you were given more points for stealth, despite the shooting being just as challenging.

    • Deano2099 says:

      Forcing you to make an explicit choice at that moment is the point. The consequences matter less than the game saying “okay, you’ve seen all the sides, which do you pick?” – it’s possible by that point the choice will be obvious for you. For me it was a good 5-10 minutes of thinking about what I actually believed, on both a philosophical and practical level. *That* ten minutes was the ending of HR for me. That’s what I remember. I can’t recall a thing about what happens after you press the button, but that wasn’t the point.

  5. luke_osullivan says:

    I enjoyed the last one but would have liked the ability to toggle first and third person view a la Skyrim. Apparently the reason you couldn’t was this, which absolutely killed me. I couldn’t stop laughing for about five minutes when I saw it – you’ve been warned:

    link to i.imgur.com

  6. karthink says:

    On level design: Wish they’d learn from Dishonored, and make actual-seeming places without the usual Deus Ex tunnel warrens.

    More generally, I wish they’d go full immersive sim instead of authoring bespoke chains of world logic. And truly imbibe the spirit of Deus Ex: Let testers break the game every way they can… and make the world react to them instead of treating them as bugs to be closed. All wishful thinking, but if they want to make a game people will be talking about in ten years… that’s what you’d need.

    (Yes, I know Dishonored had some leeway in constructing its buildings because they were built around the blink ability. )

  7. Spacewalk says:

    I hope that there’s going to be more stuff to pick up. I walked into an alley in HR and looked around at all the stuff that DX would’ve let me mess around with but were nailed to the ground. It wouldn’t even let me pick stuff up off a desk that wasn’t an item or a PDA.

    Man, HR totally sucked for people who liked to do anything interesting.

  8. Goodtwist says:

    I’m worried about the “Russian Super Villain” trope again being used in popular media. Actually, I was put away by that in so far that I’m not going to buy the game. If Sqeenix want to cash in in the anti-Russian propaganda, I’m not going to be the one contributing to it by giving them my money.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      That guy’s a henchman, not a supervillain!

      Wait, is that better?

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      Godwhacker says:

      Sounds pretty Bulgarian to me, actually

    • Asurmen says:

      I’d rather have a foreign accent than yet another computer game purely focusing on America.

      We have no context of the trailer as well. Does it have any relevance to the actual game. Will that character appear? Where was Jensen at the time?

    • kament says:

      I’m more worried about a comment like that here of all places but I’ll let that slide. Maybe it’s not what it seems after all.

  9. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    I may well have missed it but the main info I’m not seeing yet is: what sort of timescale are we looking at until release? Have they announced that as yet? Prerendered trailers normally mean the game’s still a little way away so not hoping for anything too soon, but would be nice to know.

  10. Love Albatross says:

    I greatly enjoyed HR, but the ending choice was laughably shit.

    Oooh which one of these buttons shall I press. Exciting.

    All I could think is: why is there a room setup with buttons like that? Who designed it? Did nobody question it? If I was the technician asked to install it I’d certainly have some queries.

    Not settling on a single ending is a cop out. It was bollocks in Invisible War, and still is here. Pick one and run with it. The only reason I can think of why they won’t do that is they don’t want players to feel like they chose the wrong ending, but who gives a fuck.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      I agree with your first half (the multiple-endings felt like a nod to the tradition of DX and IW, but not handled very well) but not the second.

      More Warp in the West stuff for me, please.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        It took me a minute to even remember what the Warp in the West actually was, but yknow what, I agree. I also kind of felt like the same thing was handled fairly well in Invisible War (blasphemy, I know). I liked that nobody really knew WHAT went down in either example. Of course, both cases had the advantage of the multiple endings they were combining being, yknow… good.

        Human Revolution felt like a brilliant ride nearly the whole way through. I even liked the final level, and was surprised to find so many people didn’t. Then it just… stopped. The nods to DX at the very end were nice, of course, but I dunno, it just feels like the writers were never allowed to give it an ending at ALL because that’d be taking agency away from the player. I don’t want you to tell me a story and then slam the book shut right before the last page and say “Well, what do you want to happen?”

        Multiple endings can work if you have a story with multiple, proper branching paths. You can’t just take the very last minute and bolt on four different cutscenes after it. If we’re all in agreement that HR’s “endings” were awful, then smashing all of them together is unlikely to create anything better. At this point I’d honestly prefer if Mankind Divided just made up an entirely original ending to HR as a starting point.

        Don’t even get me started on the “blow the whole place up” option. First they ask you to make a decision, try to paint it as difficult, then they tell you “actually you can just make no decision at all! That works too!” Ugh.

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          Harlander says:

          You can’t just take the very last minute and bolt on four different cutscenes after it.

          Indeed, though as Deus Ex demonstrated, if you’ve laid the groundwork during the game so far you can take more or less the last hour or so.

  11. Vandelay says:

    Reads: But can I call him later and interrupt his bubblebath to chat about TV and music? We do not yet know (no).

    Checks to see if Alice wrote this.

    Never change Alice.

    • April March says:

      That reminds me of when I got a wrong call in Pokémon Silver. That was a moment worthy of an immersive sim.

  12. Muzman says:

    If the PEPS is in his arm now it just means the ammo is protein bars instead.

  13. kament says:

    Okay, so we’re all excited about dividing mankind with Jensen’s wristblades. All except naysayers, but oh well. And though it’ll still be quite a while till we actually get to do that, already some of us are speculating on what comes next. That is, I surely am.

    I mean, if they’re building it to be the setup of the original game… Clearly they won’t abandon the series, right? (Duh!) So, what? Remake (or would it be reboot)?