Deus Ex Mankind Divided’s Ending Is Not A Button Press

Disappointing endings are a staple of Deus Ex games, aren’t they? That’s fine, though, because almost everything leading up to those final two minutes when you choose which button to press is pretty great. Unsurprisingly, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided [official site] will be continuing the series’s sequel tradition of openings which kinda ignore which button you picked, but the ending this time will be more than a mere button-press. So its lead writer say, anyway.

Talking to cheery RPS fanzine PC Gamer, Mary DeMarle explained that whichever ending you chose in Human Revolution, that can be correct. “We realised that there are three people in the world who know what decision was made: Adam Jensen, Eliza, and you, the player,” DeMarle said. “So you guys know, but the rest of the world [in the Deus Ex universe] only knows that the ‘aug incident’ caused millions of augmented people to go crazy all over the world.” The truth got buried in upset and outrage and rumours and theories so what actually happened doesn’t really matter to the world, is the idea.

That’s fine. I wouldn’t have expected the ending to make a substantial change to Mankind Divided anyway, mostly because of the cost and complexity of creating big changes most people wouldn’t see.

It sounds like, with Mankind Divided, Eidos Montreal are now thinking more about consequences and branches throughout the whole game – or have the time and money to actually follow through on that this time. DeMarle explained to PCG:

“For Human Revolution we actually didn’t want [the ending to be dictated by] a press of a button, [but we had to] for production reasons and timeline and schedule. We actually wanted to have the player do things, and we believed that if you really believed in your ending you’d have to work for it. Really what we wanted to do from the get go was, ‘can we really push the narrative in ways where choices you make early on can impact later’? Now we’re embracing the idea of choice and consequence.”

Aye, that sounds good. The few touches of that in Human Revolution, such as hostages on the first mission dying if you dawdled too long round Sarif’s offices, were good, and I welcome more. The very final ending – those two minutes before the credits roll – are less important to me than the story that’ll unfold as I go through.

I dig Life Is Strange’s endings, for example, because the whole series was about living and experiencing, starting a life rather than ending a story. Yeah, the end of Mass Effect 3 is (still) guff, but the endings that mattered to me there were hanging out with Garrus, visiting Thane, Mordin’s redemption, reuiniting the Geth and Quarians, and all that – which were independent of spacekids. Mass Effect was, by and large, about the relationships that you form. And at the end of the original Deus Ex, what I did with Paul and Anna and so on is what concerned me – my initial ending choice was mostly driven by wanting to be pals with Helios.

Anyway! Mankind Divided is due on February 23rd, 2016. Adam has played a bit, and he dug it. Do read the rest of PCG’s chat with DeMarle, by the way, it seems to tackle a lot of small questions I’ve seen folks raise.

29 Comments

  1. int says:

    **Spoilers** It’ll be the pull of a lever!

    • ANeM says:

      I’m pretty sure Konami has a patent on using levers to ruin video games.

  2. TheAngriestHobo says:

    Is Jenson assimilating that poor soldier?

    • amcathlan says:

      Your augmentative and biological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile, as I shall quick-load if you fuck it up.

  3. Premium User Badge

    johannsebastianbach says:

    We realised that there are three people in the world who know what decision was made: Adam Jensen, Eliza, and you, the player.
    Actually, I totally forgot which decision I made. To be honest, I don’t even remember the moral dilemma I was faced with, since the story was quite impenetrable towards the end …

  4. Deano2099 says:

    I liked the ending of HR, but the ending wasn’t the button press and what came after, it was being asked to make that choice, evaluations everything I’d seen in the game, adding in my own beliefs and making a decision.

    Sometimes the act of having a player make a choice is more important than the result of it on the game world.

  5. WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

    “Disappointing endings are a staple of Deus Ex games, aren’t they? ”

    Uh, no? The original and even Invisible War had, in my opinion, absolutely superb endings. The ability to take over the world as Lord Protector in the first game, especially, struck me as a wonderful way to cap off thirty odd hours of gameplay. It’s really just the PhilipKDickotron at the end of Human Revolution that I believe is widely regarded as disappointing.

    • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

      I’ve just read the bit at the end about relationships and so forth, and I accept Alice’s opinion, but in my opinion such a Life is Strange, Mass Effect style ending would be wholly inappropriate for a game like Deus Ex. The series is about ideas and systems, of government, organisations and society. Trying to boil it down to the players personal relationships just makes the whole thing seem trivial and small in scope, and is a big reason why I personally never got on with Mass Effect at all.

      • Frank says:

        It can still be about ideas and systems and yet have early decisions matter. Like “if character Y survives and doesn’t want to murder Adam, she can be convinced to do task Z essential to your preferred ending.”

      • Raoul Duke says:

        Yup – not sure why so many people are hell bent on taking existing games and then demanding that they be like other existing games. If people want Life is Strange, it’s right there, ready to play. Deus Ex is about the grand sweep of human history being shaped by shadowy forces and technology, not close personal relationships.

    • AyeBraine says:

      …And to be fair, “the choice nobody will find out about” is a strong narrative tool in and of itself. Many great games incorporated it to some degree. To be the lone bearer of heavy truth, and an underwater current that almost imperceptibly affects the entire human history, is a strong concept.

    • Rao Dao Zao says:

      PhilipKDickotron

      Oh my.

      I agree, though. Although you can boil down the ending of Deus Ex to picking a button, the fact that it’s a sequence of buttons wound through a whole level, which are activated in stages and require different skills and equipment, makes it a whole lot more compelling.

      If the ending of Human Revolution’s button room really was due to time constraints and whatnot, I’d rather they just had a single ending and stuff the consequences. A room full of literal buttons is just… yeah.

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        Serrit says:

        Agreed, Deus Ex is one of the better and more memorable choice-based endings, I think largely down to having to perform that series of “button presses” that actually perform some function relating to the ending choice. So long Tracer Tong, one day we may find each other, and we’ll see whether we made the right choice… :-)

    • mukuste says:

      I have no idea what a PhilipKDickotron might be but there’s no way it could be described as disappointing.

    • Alan Alda says:

      The biggest difference for me is that original made you work for your ending. Each outcome was achieved in several discrete steps that made sense logically, and gave the game’s characters time to try to persuade you in different directions, and frame the outcomes from multiple perspectives.

    • WHS says:

      Yeah, what? The first game’s ending was great: it set up a clear (and honestly, difficult) choice between three possible futures, each of which was grounded in a very different view of humanity, politics, and society. You had sympathetic characters lobbying you for each outcome, and you had to figure out who you agreed with. It was a great culmination of all the philosophizing up to that point. I still think about it occasionally and at different times have felt that each of the three endings was the “best.” Plus, because you had to perform different, asymmetric tasks depending on what outcome you wanted, and could freely ignore otherwise irrelevant parts of the final level (e.g., Bob Page), it really felt like you were working towards a goal rather than just finding your way to a preordained end state. It was the antithesis of the “Beat boss, make choice” dynamic in Human Revolution. I think it’s one of the best game endings, period.

      Even Invisible War had an interesting, flexible ending level — it was just undermined by the fact the underlying choice wasn’t as nearly philosophically interesting as the first game. Like, who would actually want to hand the world over to the technophobic lynch mobs or creepy nomad hive mind people?

      HR was horrendous, though.

  6. AyeBraine says:

    I picked repeatedly travelling back in time, watching three cutscenes, then killing myself. Rather a one-ending stuff with benefits (not necessarily a bad one if you think of it as that!).

  7. tomimt says:

    It would be swell if they’d manage to pull of story paths so, that they’d all go to specific ending. Let the choises have real meaning.

  8. Distec says:

    The disappointment with HR’s ending wasn’t so much that your choices didn’t matter, but that it handled it in such a dull, uninteresting way. That it also followed a rather stupid and and out-of-character “RAAAH CYBORG ZOMBIES” scenario soured things a bit for me as well.

    Sure, I’d love a game that gives me fifty unique and divergent endings depending on my actions in a 40-hour playthrough. But since I am still living in this reality, I have no problem with shortcuts, so long as I’m engaged and you’re not bullshitting your shortcomings (lookin’ at you, ME3). DX1 was infinitely better in this regard because you were still working out your preferred end state; you had to go to different parts of the base, activate/destroy key machinery, and the game was still reacting to you. Bob Page goes from a taunting, self-confident prick to a man trying to bargain his way out of inevitable defeat.

    Whatever its flaws, it gets full marks over what HR did.

  9. rabbit says:

    Whole last level of DX HR was shite imo. Basically ruined the game in my eyes – I know that at the time, for the first 70% or so of the game, I had a great time – but the last level & ending were so cheap and nasty that … yeah, even though I know I liked it up til that point, my memory doesn’t go further back than that last hour or so of ‘what the fuck?’

  10. Windypundit says:

    The hostages on the first mission dying if you dawdled too long round Sarif’s offices was not a good touch. Taking time to explore the environment is part of the fun of games like this, and we shouldn’t be punished for it. And it’s just not a good idea to start a countdown without letting the player know something is counting down — either with an explicit clock on the screen or action unfolding in front of the player. There were a few communications from NPCs telling Adam to get to the helicopter, but there weren’t any obvious clues that they were different from the usual NPC prompts about what to do next. It was an easy reload to undo, but it took me a while to get over that and start enjoying the game.

    • Distec says:

      This is a good perspective to offer since I usually see gushing over that particular bit. It left me feeling a little conflicted, myself

      Pros: Holy crap, the world is reacting to me! It’s reacting to my own inactivity!

      Cons: Lack of signalling ends up making it a rude surprise. It’s pretty much the only moment in the game that’s like this IIRC. And I’m pretty sure that if hostage execution was on a time limit, they’d be dead any way by the time I take the flight down to the hostage scene and get halfway finished infiltrating via an air duct.

      It’s one of the many small things where I can tell they were taking cues from DX1, but were never executed quite right. But I feel bad griping about what was ultimately a pretty good game.

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      Thulsa Hex says:

      Y’know, when this happened back when I played the game a few years ago, I was a bit like, “Fuck, that’s never happened to me before,” but I just got on with it. It did make me feel a tad guilty, but didn’t negate the enjoyment I got from arsing around the offices.

      But last night (after starting a new game due to the hype for the sequel beginning to form), the fore-knowledge of this kinda stressed me out. I made a point of visiting my office, but was conscious of this “event” the whole time, and so I got nervous and sprinted back down to the heliport. I felt silly, since I know it doesn’t have any real consequence overall… But I still much preferred not knowing it was about to happen.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      Agreed 100%! I recently got around to playing XCOM: Enemy Within, and one thing I absolutely hate is that it constantly tries for force you to be ‘adventurous’ in missions by making you rush to grab resources before they explode. It’s the antithesis of the original game, and takes it from a tense, tactical experience to a bland action experience.

  11. Raoul Duke says:

    I’m more interested in whether killing guys still involves pressing a single button. I hope they have the guts to take out the godawful console-ised “takedowns”, but I doubt it somehow. They love their immersion breaking mini-cutscenes too much for that.

  12. soopytwist says:

    Yeah, that button press ending ruined the entire game for me.
    Recently played through Deus Ex: Revision. It was like playing Deus Ex for the first time again all those fifteen of years ago. It was a joy and a stark reminder of just how much of a masterpiece the original was and won’t ever, ever be bested. Not by Square Enix, not by anyone.

  13. DrollRemark says:

    Why is this a thing in the series? Whose big idea was it that “there should be multiple endings” has to be up there with “vents” and “lots of overhead philosophy” one of the key features in any Deus Ex game? STOP DOING IT, THEY’VE MOSTLY BEEN SHIT AND OVER-COMPLICATE THE NARRATIVE.

  14. bhauck says:

    In four years are we going to be reading a preview interview for the next Deus Ex where they say “For Mankind Divided, we actually didn’t want [the ending to be dictated by] a press of a button, [but we had to] for production reasons and timeline and schedule” or have they actually already implemented these things in this game?

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    Aerothorn says:

    “Now we’re embracing the idea of choice and consequence.”

    I am pretty sure they said that last time, though.