The Design And Politics Of Deus Ex Mankind Divided

At Gamescom 2015, I had the opportunity to talk to Deus Ex: Mankind Divided gameplay director Patrick Fortier. We talked about feeling a sense of ownership over Deus Ex at last, expanding the language of its level design beyond vents, and the politics of a “mechanical apartheid.” Before I asked him about the game’s ceilings.

RPS: It felt with HR like you were being extremely careful to be respectful to the original Deus Ex, since it was so beloved. I guess this time it feels like you’re making more of a sequel to your own game.

Patrick Fortier: I think so. I think the team feels that that bridge has been crossed in regards the original legacy of Deus Ex and rightly so. I think the fans were nervous originally when the Montreal team started tackling that. Who are they and are they going to be able to do that? But now it has to become its own thing.

It’s been really interesting to watch some of the original Deus Ex team replaying their own game, and it was so similar, the problems and concerns and trials that they were going through originally. It’s the same thing. I think it’s really important: they had their style, they had their vision, and it was important to stay true to the fundamental pillars of what Deus Ex is, but you also need to have your own vision and flavour as well.

Who knows what happens with the franchise way down the line, but if somebody else ever takes it over they’re going to have to make it their own the way that Montreal made it their own as well. I think that’s really important. So in that sense, yeah, Mankind Divided [official site] very much gets into that. It’s got the same flavour and style as Montreal has established for the franchise.

RPS: It looks perhaps like you’re expanding the language of Human Revolution, in terms of movement and abilities. How does that impact level design; are you doing things to expand beyond the dichotomy of ‘vent route’ and ‘ceiling beam route’?

Fortier: We are trying to expand it, mostly in the way things are laid out. In Human Revolution you tended to have things that were a little bit piecemeal. You’d have a room with a challenge in there, and that would be closed off with a corridor, and then another room and then another corridor. We’re trying to look at it and create these more circular areas where not only is it this 360 degree base you can infiltrate from the top, the basement, or by making your own hole in the wall, but also architecturally make it a bit more recognisable so it’s easier to project yourself. Who is living there and what are they actually doing there. It’s not just a compound with a series of rooms. That brings its own set of challenges from the gameplay perspective, but there’s been effort put into that.

But are there vents? Yes, there are vents.

RPS: Are the missions more integrated with the hubs, or is it still a case that you get on a VTOL and fly to enclosed locations?

Fortier: There’s still some of that, but there’s a lot of locations like the police station in Detroit [in Human Revolution]. That was its own self-contained little thing within the hub. We really like that approach, so there is a lot of that.

RPS: The Missing Link DLC for Human Revolution had a really great boss fight in it. Is the aim to make the boss fights in Mankind Divided more akin to that, than the rushed originals?

Fortier: That was definitely on the board from day one, when the project was started, that you can go through this game and not kill anybody. ‘Bosses are people too.’ That’s part of what’s been done there.

We also put a lot of work in the combat pillars because we felt we hadn’t quite nailed it in terms of feeling, especially in terms of the audience that comes more from… There aren’t that many games like Deus Ex. There are a lot of other shooters that are much more action-oriented and we wanted the DNA to feel a little more familiar to people who come in with that background.

Which is not to say that we wanted to warp the balance of things; actually, quite the opposite, because if we want to talk about choice and consequence then we have to give you a real choice. It has to be a viable option: that yeah, I have enough bullets and I have enough control that I could decide to tackle this in a combat way. Is that the best choice right now, because I have three guys with titan augmentations and a sentry above and a sniper? Maybe not, but if I have the tools and if you have the talent then you can get through it. So it was just to make sure that if you are going to do that, then it has to be as rich and as developed as the stealth approach, which we felt was really well done in Human Revolution.

RPS: With Human Revolution it felt like there was a pace difference between stealth and combat, or at least the nonlethal and lethal approaches. Stealth encouraged you to move slowly, to crawl, to get close to people in order to use melee takedowns. By comparison, some of the non-lethal tools you’ve shown in Mankind Divided allow for taking down enemies at range and with speed. Is that a deliberate decision to change the pace of the game?

Fortier: I see all the augmentations as tools, and they’re tools with which the player can express themselves, so there are tools to do that but it doesn’t mean… We didn’t warp the whole stealth pillar to say that it has to be faster. It can still be as deliberate and slow and methodical as it was before. You do have tools now though that if you do want to try to change the pace, you can exploit those tools to do that. The Icarus Dash is one example where you can dash straight into cover. You don’t have to use it for offensive capabilities. You can combine it with the cloak and you can be dashing quickly, taking some people out, and obviously there’s a balance there in terms of energy costs as to whether you’re able to do that through the whole map. You’re not going to have a whole lot of these Tesla ammunitions. But yeah, those possibilities are there to get that new breath of fresh air on the stealth capabilities.

RPS: How much research do you do into modern thinking around transhumanism? There’s a lot of complexity to it in the real world.

Fortier: The thing is, we’re two years after the events of Human Revolution, so a lot of that work was originally done by the Human Revolution team. Which isn’t to say that we don’t keep abreast of the developments or that we’re not interested in it, but some of those fundamental questions were explored and studied and documented in Human Revolution.

So, for sure, we’re still always interested, but there was less research on this one than the previous one. The world has been set and it’s much more about dealing with, what’s the new state of this world and how are people reacting to it? There’s the main story beats and you have to figure out what’s going on, but a lot of what I find to be really interesting is that a lot of the side quests explore much more personal stories of individuals. It makes you think. There’s the main thing going on with the conspiracy and the governments and blah blah blah, but in the everyday life of people who have lost a brother or a sister, or who are artists, or whatever walk of life that they come from, the consequences translate differently and you get to explore that and experience that as well.

RPS: With the “mechanical apartheid” stuff, it’s obviously a serious subject. What is the merit of discussing those kinds of issues in what is ultimately an action game? I’m playing devil’s advocate, but in Die Hard, Bruce Willis never strived to be politically relevant…

Fortier: I don’t feel it is an action game. I think we put so much energy into the lore, into the storytelling, into having every pillar contribute to creating this tangible world. The thing about it is, I don’t think we’re using the mechanical apartheid for shock value. We’re not doing it gratuitously. We’re actually dealing with a state of the world that’s logical with the events that transpired in the previous game, and that’s what we’re interested in. How would events like that shape the world and how would it affect people and how do you experience that, and we’re really exploring it with a lot of respect. You are going to go to see what people are living through, even the word ‘apartheid’, if you look at the defintiion, it comes from French for “to put apart”, to separate. It’s a literal description of the situation that our world is describing. It’s not a tagline. It’s not a little thing to get attention. It’s very much at the heart of the storyline that we’re exploring. We don’t feel at all like we’re being careless, we’re not just throwing it around.

RPS: The comparison I just drew was to Die Hard and I guess the difference is that videogames are much more about the world and worldbuilding, so does it therefore–

Fortier: See, again, I don’t really feel that, because we’re doing reviews right now in Montreal and we’re going through some of the streets in Prague, and we’re always making sure that every house has its number, every street has its name. That’s the level of detail that we go to creating this. It’s not just a backdrop. For us it’s a world. Who lives there? How come there’s stuff in this apartment? How come there’s not stuff in this apartment? What’s the story that it’s telling? Why is this piece of machinery here? Who built that? Whose this company?

We’re actually going into that level of detail. We know the background of this company and it’s like, ‘That’s a military company, they wouldn’t make a device like that,’ that’s the kind of conversation we have on the floor all the time. So for me it’s not just, you know, ‘We have a bunch of people, it looks cyberpunk-ish, or whatever’, we put a lot of thought into it.

RPS: That’s sort of what I was getting at. Is the political intrinsic to making a world at that level of detail? You can’t have a world without the political coming into it?

Fortier: Of course, yeah. Yeah. Because that’s the logical setup. That’s what would happen in the real world. There would be influences from the political; there’d be the people in the shadows pulling the strings; there’d be the people on the streets trying to deal with it, being given orders. You’re a cop, suddenly you’re told to go to Golem [a transhuman ghetto in Mankind Divided’s version of Prague], and maybe you don’t agree with the situation but you’re forced into that and you get to talk with every character you meet in the game. You might meet characters who are like that and experience the ambiguity of their situation, so that’s what makes it interesting and what makes it rich.

There’s a depth there. And it’s up to the player to decide how deep they want to go. If they don’t want to pay attention to that and they’re more gameplay-driven, and you want to see the next objective, and you just want to loot for bullets, then I think you’ll have a good time with our game. But if you want to spend a little more time and explore a little more, I think when you turn the game off at night there’s going to be some remnants of ideas and themes that are going to be dancing around in your head.

Especially as the years go by, because we’re dealing with things that are near-future, and some of these things are going to be more and more familiar. We’re going to be faced with these defintions. Where do you draw the line of good augments and bad augments? You get your teeth knocked out, you’re going to get it fixed, and it’s not with a natural thing. Nobody gives it a second thought. But what happens when you start doing something with your eyes that’s not only to bring it back to normal, but it actually enhances things. How are people going to look at you? We’re really close to dealing with these issues?

RPS: Human Revolution had the best ceilings of any game. The art on the ceilings, in multiple rooms, I know people had screenshots of those as their desktop wallpaper. Will the ceilings be as good in Mankind Divided?

Fortier: It depends. In Human Revolution, it was the golden age of the cyber renaissance. The dream was there: augmentations are going to be everywhere, everybody’s going to get them, and they have that palette and those colours. Now that dream is dying. Mankind Divided is much more about corporate feudalism coming back and kind of killing that. So you going to get different kinds of ceilings. The cyber renaissance is still out there, and you can still see glimpses of it, but it’s been pushed into the corners a little bit, so that’s going to affect the ceilings as well. [laughs]

RPS: This is the Star Wars: The Original Trilogy of ceilings, basically. The Millennium Falcon’s all rusty now.

Fortier: [laughing] Right, right.

This interview was originally exclusive to the RPS Supporter Program. Thanks for your funding!

60 Comments

  1. thedosbox says:

    The picture with the guard demanding papers has what looks like toilet signs (or exit signs for different classes of people). The closest sign says “Naturals”.

    The middle sign looks like it could be saying “Alice”.

    Draw your own conclusions about our beloved news editor.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    Graham – if you do any future interviews, I’d love to hear them talk about emergence in the new games.

    Like you, I’m very fond of Human Revolution – but a commenter on one of the previous Deus Ex article (I think John Walker’s replay of the original?) rightly noted that Human Revolution almost entirely does away with immersive sim/emergent gameplay elements in favor of providing the player with a large number of predesigned pathways; so it’s still very much Choices and Consequences, but the choices are of a fundamentally different nature. I’ve never heard any of the developers say why they made this design decision.

    • Orazio Zorzotto says:

      If you listen to the HR director’s cut commentary (it’s on YouTube) it’s clear that a lot of this stuff ended being cut out because the engine was not suited to this type of game. I don’t know if they ever specifically call it “emergent” gameplay but, for example, little moments of choice not directly involved with a quest were entirely cut out because rigging NPCs to react to everything the player can do was too difficult in the engine. Mankind Divided is being made on a reappropriated version of the Hitman: Absolution engine, so I think hopefully we’ll see a lot more interactivety.

      • baozi says:

        That’s a weak excuse, though, then they should have used a different engine. It’s basically admitting they either didn’t know or disregarded the reason why people think Deus Ex was great.

        • FriendlyFire says:

          Or perhaps, you know, their budget didn’t allow that sort of thing, or hindsight is 20/20 and so on. You can’t always predict what problems you’ll get and it’s often too late to change when you do.

          That they switched engines for the second game should tell you that.

          • Farsi Murdle says:

            It shouldn’t be an issue of hindsight. Emergence is fundamental to Deus Ex. That should have been the very basis of the game’s design.

            What concerns me is that this designer is still talking about the “pillars” of Deus Ex, as though you can split the game into disparate parts: combat, stealth, social. That way of thinking is exactly what led to HR feeling more restricted, and fed into the level design as Graham mentioned in the interview (“the combat path”, “the stealth path” etc). Speaking of “pillars” makes me think they still don’t get what made the design of the original Deus Ex special: in short, the ability to make meaningful decisions at almost every moment of play. It’s not that HR totally abandoned this; it just never embraced it because the designers didn’t seem to really understand it. No wonder they never spoke about the concept of emergence in any interviews.

            It’s their series now though, and they can do as they like. It’s just a shame that they haven’t understood or embraced the Deus Ex legacy.

          • baozi says:

            This. You don’t implement the core idea of a game at the very end of the production when it’s too late; if you do, it’s not the core idea. Or you’re an amateurish studio, but from the way the game turned out, the devs obviously knew what they were doing – aside from the boss fights, HR is a pretty polished game – they just didn’t know what they should have been doing.

            This weird tunneling also made stealth less interesting: press a button briefly for a non-lethal takedown, hold it for a lethal takedown – that’s such a meaningless distinction, it takes the same amount of effort. And the HUD even tells you when you have to do it, there’s no way you can screw it up.

  3. Premium User Badge

    yhancik says:

    I think that at some point in the interview, the interviewer and the interviewee are talking about two very different ideas of worldbuilding ;) (but Graham quickly brings the conversation back on track)

    But I found it interesting that the first example Fortier mentioned about their worldbuilind is that every house has its number.

    “That’s the level of detail that we go to creating this. It’s not just a backdrop. For us it’s a world.”

    That made me wonder if it’s really the level of detail that really turns a backdrop into a “world”; isn’t there a risk to just make it a very detailed backdrop? (that’s actually a question, I’m not sure I know the answer)

    • JimThePea says:

      It’s an interesting question too, I don’t believe there’s just one way to build a world. Jet Set Radio Future, one of my favourite games, didn’t have a world that was particularly detailed or believable, but something about it made it feel alive and made me buy into the world that had been created.

      I’m sure it made some points but in the end JSRF just wanted to be a skating game, it seems Mankind Divided wants to explore a whole range of contemporary issues and make that a core component of the game.

      It’s telling that the conversation got mixed up between the physical world and the lore world, it seems that Fortier sees both of them as crucial aspects of world-building, for the aims of DX:MD attention to detail is what will really sell their world as a real place.

      That’s what I took from it anyway. The world-building in Human Revolution makes me pretty confident the team can pull it off.

      • Premium User Badge

        yhancik says:

        Yes, very good points.

        To be honest I’m not entirely sure to understand what they actually *want*. They say it’s not an action game, which sounds a bit dishonest to me ;) What worked the best in terms of world building and tackling the political aspect of DX:HR wasn’t really the sneaking & takedowns I spent most of my time doing, but conversations and ambient details. I almost wish we had a Deus Ex adventure game :p (use greasel on pulley)

        • JimThePea says:

          The term ‘action’ doesn’t really mean much beyond having to deal with events in realtime (usually with guns), I wouldn’t blame the Deus Ex team for seeking a more nuanced descriptor.

          Adventure games are great, they can do character and world building so well because the player engages with the world through the character, they look at people and things, and give their own opinions, stories and knowledge, this fleshes out both the object and the character. This is largely missing from every other kind of game, and is the reason why adventure games are still incredibly relevant, there’s a lot to be said for characters just looking at random stuff and spouting. Dialogue trees and the like are the closest most other games get to this, and it usually works pretty well for them.

      • Yglorba says:

        I never played JSRF, but I did play the original JSR, and if JSRF is anything like its prequel, I think you’re selling it short. Its world isn’t remotely realistic, sure. (They paradrop in tanks to deal with graffiti artists, and when that doesn’t work they send in a helicopter that shoots missiles at it. And you can make it crash by spraying your tag on the windshield! One of the neighborhoods is literally described as a part of the city where it’s “always night.” How does that even work?)

        But levels have a degree of logic and a sense of authenticity to them that a lot of games lack. As crazy and strange and funk-powered as it all is, the city in JSR feels like a real place, and its neighborhoods each have their own unique character that’s expressed in every aspect of their design. That’s worldbuilding.

        • JimThePea says:

          Absolutely, I should’ve said realistic rather than believable, believability and immersion are what separate worlds from backdrops, JSRF is believable.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    I’m not a linguist, but I’m fairly sure “apartheid” is not derived from French. That dubious honour belongs to Dutch via Afrikaans.* Seems an odd thing to get wrong in the context.

    Good interview though. Looking forward to this game.

    * Unless you want to argue that the Dutch word comes from French originally, but then we might as well go back all the way to Latin and Greek, or beyond.

    • Premium User Badge

      yhancik says:

      Yes, it’s just a detail but that is very strange indeed (and it means “being apart” more than “to set apart”, “heid” is basically “hood”, so: aparthood). But I can totally see myself stress stupidly during such interview and accidentally utter nonsense :p

      • Premium User Badge

        weirdcitizen says:

        Was just about to post something about this. Glad to know I’m not the only one who found it a bit of an odd thing to say.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Even if it were factually true, the answer is nonsense. It’s like using the n-word and then saying “the word means black in Latin so how could it be racist, it’s just saying what it is”.

      TBH they should backpedal the hell away from the phrase, it’s toxic as hell.

      • Asurmen says:

        Don’t see why they should shy away from it. It’s used these days for the strength of emotion and imagery it brings precisely because of its history.

      • JimThePea says:

        Art has long tackled difficult and toxic themes, if we see games as art, shouldn’t they too?

        • Farsi Murdle says:

          But the game is not dealing with apartheid, i.e. a specific set of racist policies imposed in a particular place at a particular time in human history. It just hijacks a term with no sensitivity shown about it. If they used a term like “mechanical holocaust”, that would be similarly insensitive, even though technically the word “holocaust” goes back centuries. The point is, apartheid, like holocaust, is not a generic or neutral word. To ignore that fact is to further the impression that they don’t respect its impact.

          Ask why they feel they can use “apartheid”, but would never use “holocaust” in this way. Then remember how many people died under the apartheid regime. It’s not something to just throw about as a synonym for any kind of oppression in your made-up sci-fi story.

          • JimThePea says:

            Perhaps you’ve heard of the term ‘nuclear holocaust’, it describes the hypothetical destruction of the human race through nuclear war, for decades the term has been used in conversations about the real world and within post-apocalyptic fiction.

            Interestingly enough, we also have the term ‘nuclear apartheid’, this describes how some countries can enrich uranium and develop nuclear weapons but for some countries that would be seen as grounds for sanctions or even war. The word has been used in a bunch of different ways outside of the context of the apartheid regime in South Africa, it hasn’t diminished the meaning of the word and people still know what you mean when you talk about apartheid.

            Objecting the use of a term just because it appears in a “made-up sci-fi story” is no good either, the brutality and injustice of a system of apartheid can be reflected in a work of fiction, and as long as Mankind Divided does that, I don’t think it’s using the term lightly.

      • gwathdring says:

        They should backpedal away from it only if the way the concept is used in their game should also probably be abandoned. They’re explicitly creating a world that has an extreme of institutionalized segregation that is precisely relevant to the use of that word.

        If they handle it badly or if that segregation doesn’t makes sense or what-have-you, that’s a separate matter. But Apartheid isn’t a slur; it’s not a word that exists to hurt people. It’s a word that carries a lot of pain with it, though, but that’s doesn’t make it compare well to slurs. It’s a different form of baggage and not saying the word itself isn’t as important as how you deal with the connected concepts.

      • Premium User Badge

        Ninja Dodo says:

        To be clear I am not of the opinion there is anything wrong with them using that term if they feel it is thematically appropriate. I was only pointing out the error in the origin description. If *anything* such an error may suggest a lack of awareness of the full historical context, but it doesn’t sound like they’re using it lightly.

        Drawing parallels like this can be both appropriate and useful. If we go around pretending it didn’t happen, we risk becoming blind to the same patterns in other places. It’s not like systematic segregation and discrimination has been eliminated from the world (I think will refrain from listing examples). Call a spade a spade… and while the term “apartheid” is strongly linked to a particular time and place it is not inherently specific in its meaning such that it could never apply to something else.

  5. kud13 says:

    Ever since EM first tried to distill DX into “pillars”, it became obvious they didn’t really “get DX. A th was before the regenerating heal and chest high walls debacles

    I’ve mostly ma peace with the fact that imsims are gone. I enjoyed large bits of HR. I’m sure i’ll have fun with MD do do line. There’s a lot of toys they are promising us. It’s also impossible to deny that HR did some thi better than DX-gunplay, hacking.

    Nevertheless, the new Deus Ex games push to be conventional. Even something as basic as mentioning “optional quests”. There’s nothing wrong with them-I’m currently engrossed with Witcher 3, and some of the optional content is much more interesting and better-written than the main story. I also like the idea of deeper characters. It just feels… off , somehow. I can’t see JC Denton stopping to pick up a side job, unless he explicitly knew what he wanted and it was explicitly related to his target objective. He could stumble into things, explore the surroundings . Run into, into, and be part of these vignettes of the life around him, sure. But I just can’t recall a type of “I need help and I will provide this reward”-type situation in Deus ex- no “contracts”, everything was far more “organic”. And it’s this “rigidity of convention” that makes me think EM didn’t really “get” DX.

    That being said, hope it turns out good.

    P.S. Bosses were garbage. Even the improved ones in Director’s Cut felt out of place.

    • king0zymandias says:

      They definitely need better writers, the characters were absolutely bland and uninteresting. I didn’t care about anything that was happening to any of them. And Witcher 3 does a very good job of showing how well written characters and stories can make the world feel much more alive than numbered houses ever can.

    • Frank says:

      I like DXHR, but I agree with you about the gameplay. The idea of building on pillars and sidequests in a DX game was clearly conjured up by a committee of businesspeople (“see — it will make money because it looks like these other games that make money!”).

      Technically, DX *did* have some side quests, but they were uniformly awesome (like rescuing The Smuggler’s friend from a secret base).

    • baozi says:

      Yeah, when I first heard about these pillars, I thought…what? Was that from the original? HR is a good game, it’s a modern, streamlined, catering game, a calculated pop culture product. It’s not groundbreaking at all.

    • FeepingCreature says:

      But I just can’t recall a type of “I need help and I will provide this reward”-type situation in Deus ex

      Deus Ex didn’t have much in the way of “modern-style” sidequests of “go there and do this for X, then come back and you get a reward”. It did have lots of “go there for some information, money, ammo or an upgrade canister” sidequests. Actually, the one big sidequest I can think of is the whole Smuggler/MJ12 miniquest early on in Hell’s Kitchen. I only actually found out about that one in playthrough three or so. There’s also a bunch of areas where you can do main quest levels in a different way, that might qualify as sidequests. And the opportunity for side stories did taper off as the game progressed and hub levels/recurrent levels became more scarce.

    • Yglorba says:

      Honestly Deus Ex is a weird game to complain about regenerating health in, since it’s a series where you’re literally playing a superhuman cyborg hopped full of nanomachines. If anyone should get regenerating health, it’s him.

      (Although I also think that some gamers have an overly-nostalgic view of what games were like before regenerating health. My recollection was that keeping your health up was mostly a constant annoyance… and that far from making the game harder, it actually made it easier at key points, since if you did have full health you could usually soak huge amounts of damage compared to modern games, which tend to give you a much shallower pool.)

      • Distec says:

        Plenty of games still use a health pick-up system. It’s not some ancient, dinosaur system that the world has moved on from.

        It does change the flow of the game, and it’s a lot more dependent on good level design to be successful. But oh man do I prefer it over regenerating health.

        • rmsgrey says:

          The main difference between regenerating health and pick-up health is that with the former, you either lose immediately or you survive, while, with pick-up health, if a fight goes badly, it raises the effective difficulty of the next few encounters until you either find a full-heal, or find enough incidental heals to recover. With pick-up health, it’s possible to take enough damage in one botched encounter to be a virtual game-over, but not turn into an actual game-over for some time.

          Of course, for any game with expendable ammo/weapon fatigue, the same dynamic difficulty element exists – waste ammo and you make the game harder for yourself; waste too much, and you end up falling back on the default weapon or having to scavenge ammo in the middle of a fight…

          So, yeah, the design question (in both cases) is which side of the trade-off between every encounter having its own budget and having a larger budget that has to be spread over an uncertain number of encounters you prefer for your game.

          The longer-term budget offers more options to players – splurge early and scrimp until the next resupply, or save up for a rainy day that never comes, or anywhere in between – but it also allows players to overspend themselves into serious trouble. The per-encounter budget avoids the problems of the most awesome things never seeing any use in case they’re needed more later, and of players burning through their resources and not having the awesome things when they actually do need them, but it leaves you spending everything you have on every encounter…

  6. ResonanceCascade says:

    “We’re trying to look at it and create these more circular areas where not only is it this 360 degree base you can infiltrate from the top, the basement, or by making your own hole in the wall, but also architecturally make it a bit more recognisable so it’s easier to project yourself.”

    Hey everyone, they’re making Deus Ex levels this time! I loved Human Revolution (possibly my favorite game last gen, and certainly up there) but the open-ended level design of the first game was sorely missed.

    • drinniol says:

      You mean the open-ended design of Liberty Island and Hells Kitchen? It barely showed later in the game.

      • ResonanceCascade says:

        NSF Airfield, the Hong Kong levels, the Naval shipyard, Paris…I literally have no idea what you’re talking about.

        • Asurmen says:

          Paris and Airfield were pretty linear. Can’t remember naval base too well.

          • Farsi Murdle says:

            The catacombs were much more restricted and linear. The airfield was like the opposite of that. You must be misremembering it to call it linear.

            Vandenberg airbase was one of the most open maps in the game and came towards the end.

  7. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    I’m curious to know if any of the secondary characters from Human Revolution will be returning. I was especially fond of Pritchard and David Sarif.

  8. dmitriman says:

    Apartheid does not have anything to do with French. It’s an Afrikaans word. The Afrikaners in South Africa were the engineers of Apartheid, to not know that the word is derived from Afrikaans says you know nothing about the word you’re using in your marketing of the game.

    That said, I’m South African, and I don’t object to it’s use – just get the origin right cause it shows you know nothing about the “image” you’re trying to project for your game.

    • gwathdring says:

      Yeah … that they don’t seem to understand what they’re talking about makes it a bit worrisome that they’re tackling such complex subjects. It implies to me that the game will be distinctly bland in it’s commentary about the world and be filled with vague non-sequitors. The weird response to the research question didn’t help ….

  9. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Not sure if the apartheid theme will make sense in the game as the augs are so powerful and all. Usually it’s the weaker dudes or say with less evolved weaponry who will be oppressed and hunted.
    Same as in X-Men where it’s also kinda strange with all that mutant stuff they’d probably rule from a throne of bones.

    On the topic of boss fights – the old Deus EX disinguished between “not killing” and “not fighting”. You could still kill two guys with the kill phrase. Bosses are people too? Really? Maybe they are too powerful / sociopathic to let them walk around? Maybe they need to be taught a lesson – in the Neil Gaiman sense of teaching a lesson.

    • gwathdring says:

      With mutants it actually makes a lot of sense. Augmentations are part of a voluntary system–they can be regulated, designed, bought, sold, removed, modified. It doesn’t make sense that they would be controlled with rigid separation, let alone rigid separation that celebrated non-augmentation. The tech is also expensive begging the question of why people with resources are being oppressed–Human Revolution had some interesting stuff happening with the rejection drugs and so forth, but that felt like an additional layer to the industry not an excuse to pretend that augmentation isn’t even bigger among people with money to burn than people who get burned by a predatory market.

      I could still see a super rich subset of society self-segregating Bioshock style. Create a wealthy walled garden of so-called purity away from augmentation. But I can’t see that being the normal way of things since plenty of wealthy people with power would want to be modified.

      The key deal with mutants is two fold. 1) They are born. 2) Not all of their abilities have anything to do with making a throne of bones–their abilities are not custom tailored to fit fads, trends and objectives (in-world, obviously, of course they’re sculpted by writers). It makes a lot more sense that the spontaneous arrival of people who aren’t normal, who were born with distinct looks and with supernatural properties would be greeted with prejudice. They aren’t inherently organized and they’re vastly outnumbered so organized action against or containment of mutants would plausible. More than one X-men villain is all about banding powerful mutants together to resist the non-mutant world precisely because of this–by organizing, sure, they can use their considerable advantages intelligently to overcome predatory action by governments and such or to perform predatory actions themselves. But they do have to organize first, because having laser eyes just isn’t enough in a world where the government has some level of arms-race against super heroes and super villains–and wouldn’t be in our world, either.

      That’s not to say X-men does this stuff brilliantly at all. Just that conceptually, segregation and/or persecution of mutants makes a TON more sense than segregation and/or persecution of augmented people.

      • Chaoslord AJ says:

        Yeah let’s see how that story plays out. Still an insta-buy I guess if the (I’m sorry) gameplay is good and initial reviews aren’t horrible.

        I feel Deus EX made some more sense with the whole “war on terror” -theme before it started in real life. Things we discuss today were hinted at in a 15 year old game.
        Mankind Divided might not pull the stunt. Rich and poor are divided as it is in real life, that’s not a vision.
        Maybe I worry too much – the game might also be good.

        • gwathdring says:

          My guess is it will be fine and will manage to do a surprisingly good job with it’s awkward ideas but that such will ultimately amount to not saying terribly much. The game will still probably be fun and the moment-to-moment story beats will probably still be entertaining.

  10. cannonballsimp says:

    I hope that at some point this series travels to the third world. What’s going on in Lagos, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Mumbai when mankind is being divided? Do different societies respond differently, depending on their histories? Does South Africa implement another apartheid, or are they a lone voice insisting on integration? Does a new caste system emerge in India? Does Nigeria’s staggering ethnic diversity somehow protect it from dividing? What happens in the favelas of Rio? They need to be more adventurous, latitudinally. Otherwise the series will become science-fiction tourism, like Assassin’s Creed in the future.

    • Premium User Badge

      yhancik says:

      That really applies to way too much science-fiction stories. It’s like the future can only exist in US/EUR, and of course in some cyberpunk Japan.

      I remember reading an article (that I of course can’t find now) about how some places on the African continent have today this curious contrast of having very recent digital infrastructures (like mobile internet) but still no efficient running water system; the author using it as an example of how their future (and ours) will be characterised by this mix of new new technologies and old unsolved issues. This alone offers a wealth of fascinating possible future scenarios.

      (mind you, somebody did stories with future Jo’burg and mehhhhhhhhh)

    • cpt_freakout says:

      I think it’s always up to a particular disinterest for and unfamiliarity with places other than the ‘global North’; I’m a ‘southerner’ myself living in a first world country and it’s surprising how little people know about anything outside the US/Canada/Europe (my country’s pretty much reduced to one or two beaches… every time). Anyway, given the ease with which communications can flow nowadays it would be great if these big studios could hire writers from very different places and add some new perspectives into the mix. As it is now, the way in which most of these sci-fi themes go is… boring and predictable, to say the least.

  11. Distec says:

    “I think the team feels that that bridge has been crossed in regards the original legacy of Deus Ex and rightly so.”

    THE HELL YOU DID, FORTIER.

    Faux anger aside, and speaking as somebody who thought HR was a pretty good game, it still didn’t feel like Deus Ex to me. Invisible War – for all its flaws – was still a better DX game than HR was. It light grates on me whenever I hear EM talk about how they successfully carried over the “essence” of the original games when – err – buddy, I don’t think you did.

    The apartheid stuff will be interesting at best and silly/unnecessary at worst. Anybody who is offended by it or feels it needs to be walked back for sensitivity reasons needs to cool it.

  12. Robert Post's Child says:

    Bruce Willis himself might not have been political in Die Hard, but the entire subplot of the feds and that one black cop is like, entirely political.

  13. Orazio Zorzotto says:

    I mentioned this in a reply above but I listened to the HR director’s cut commentary this week and was very impressed. It’s amazing that HR winded up as good as it was considering how half of it was cut due to problems with the game’s engine or screwed up due to miscommunication between different departments. If nothing else this team is obviously very intelligent and ambitious, and I trust that in that way they’ll honour the Deus Ex name.

  14. Arcanen says:

    Terrible interview technique; almost every question asked is a leading question.

  15. mrmalodor says:

    Apartheid comes from Afrikaans, not French.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Phasma Felis says:

    I know there’s not a lot of details, but does anyone else finding it distressingly boneheaded that they’re proposing an (apparently) fairly literal apartheid against cyborgs? I mean, I’m sure there would be some degree of fear and distrust against the metalheads we see here, but the discrimination experienced by a group that is (a) largely or completely voluntary and (b) composed exclusively of people with either personal wealth or wealthy employers/connections is going to be completely different than the discrimination experience by an enforced undercaste like South African blacks. There’s some neighborhoods in San Francisco where Google employees are awfully damn unpopular, but can you imagine anyone trying to force them to use separate restrooms? It doesn’t make any sense.

    • JimThePea says:

      Well, during the events of Human Revolution, augs around the world were turned into psychotic killers, so perhaps that’s the justification used by those imposing this system.

      There were also a lot of augs in poverty during HR, and I’m sure more were after the Aug Incident, I imagine opting out of augments is not always an option either.

      In any case, I think Eidos is going for a mechanical apartheid rather than a mechanical version of the apartheid.

  17. Shazbut says:

    I’m sure they were well aware of how their “choice and consequences” design philosophy is not the same as freedom. They just didn’t want to risk trying to create a truly emergent system because the chance and price of failure was too high

  18. dorobo says:

    Played HR just because it’s cyberpunk. Other than that it felt very mediocre. Give me combat similar to assasin creed or mgs:revengeance.. I want to be in control. None of this push button diff. angle animation follows bullshit pls. But Im sure it will not change much.