Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a beautiful game, but it doesn’t deal in sweeping vistas and natural beauty. Its visual currency is instead invested in ornamental stag heads, tree statuery, fluorescent lighting, swooping electrical cables and complicated ceilings and stairwells. I took 18,000 screenshots while playing the game and I’ve collected the best inside. Beware: here lie spoilers for environments, locations and, probably, with some plot details embedded within.
(10,000 were because I accidentally left it taking one shot every five seconds of the menu while I slept, but the other 8,000 were of very nice architecture.)
In case you missed the warning above, the following gallery contains spoilers. Obviously that’s spoilers for locations visited, but environmental storytelling means there’s bound to be some plot spoilers within.
I’ll add some thoughts beneath some or all images, explaining the context of the scene and picking at what details I particularly like. For example: the image above is from the introductory/tutorial mission and is a room which features an ancient pillar suspended by cables above a plexiglass floor beneath whcih is a polygonal, golden surface. Gaudy.
You can navigate the the gallery using the arrows above or below the images, or by using the arrow keys on your very own keyboard. You can also click each of the images to make them bigger. Onwards!
This is the light fixture above Adam Jensen’s bed. It emits almost no light but it is pretty, and there’s a theme throughout the game’s design of – can this be called a theme? – columns at different heights like this.
The first dramatic centre piece you encounter on the streets of Prague is this large boulder suspended by cables above one of the city’s squares. There’s something so perfect about this that I had to Google to find out whether it was a real thing or not.
I’ll mostly pick out smaller details, but click to make this street scene bigger. Look at: the leaves along the curb, the weeds growign between the cobblestones, the concrete crumbling from the building walls, the grafitti… It’s crazy how much detail Eidos Montreal’s artists have squeezed into Prague’s streets, often in places where players will likely only see it for half-a-second while spilling out of a vent.
Again, another scene that’s worth making larger, for all the little details found across the ceiling and on the shelves at the back. Also the first of another trend in Mankind Divided, which is scenes lit by lots of really small light sources.
I like comparing this to a shot from Deus Ex: Human Revolution, for example this one. You can see that the detail has increased by an order of magnitude in terms of the textures and objects scattered around each scene.
I walk around cities with my head craned upwards, staring at tall buildings and electricity wires and windowsills. DXMD doesn’t disappoint; I like the blue and red buildings here, but also all the junk on the roof of the red one.
DXMD has a good line in improvised wall art, normally created by techno-crazies to express some ambiguous, conspiratorial slogan.
There’s those columns of different height again, in the facade of a building in Prague. They’re second place to Deus Ex’s ongoing love affair with the triangle.
I think this is a train station, but see? Prague is basically Triangle City. I’ve been to the real Prague a couple of times and there is precedent for wilder, modern architecture in the city, among all the old buildings.
I love these halo lamps. It makes no sense that your secure headquarters would not have more efficient lighting – or lighting less likely to cause migraines when staring at screens for long hours – but this still looks great.
More triangles. DXMD doesn’t have quite so many beautiful ceilings as its predecessor – for reasons previously discussed – but it still occasionally delights. This is simply the entrance to an apartment building.
And the adjacent stairwell, in which the steps curve into the wall on the right-hand side. I don’t know why this delights me so, but it’s partly because an artist somewhere considered and designed this incidental detail with such care.
I told you there’d be stag heads. There’s a few of these throughout Prague, of slightly different styles, suggesting that there’s an Ikea-equivalent in the future selling stag head wall art from a catalogue. This is my favourite though, for both the red and the complementary wallpaper behind it.
This tree! Alice has already enthused about this tree, but it is gorgeous. The whole square around it looks great as well, including the different-height-pillars beneath it and the imposing square structure of the bank building beyond it to the right of this image.
This is the foyer of that bank. Again, pillars of different heights hang from the ceiling, but check out also the tree motif at the end of the desk and couch.
More trees! More columns! This is the best bank. Why can’t all corporate art be like this?
More columns of different heights suspended from the ceiling, but these one move. They travel up and down in order to create the impression of waves. This is the best screenshot I have of it, because I was doing a stealthy playthrough and there were angry men outside this vent. If I can find out how to turn off the HUD I will go back and play the game over from the start and kill everyone so they let me take better screenshots.
The inside of the train station, I think, featuring more grand lighting and triangular ceilings.
Perhaps there is a quest involving this guy that I did not discover, but I wasted some money on some fortune cookie wisdom from this machine. A cool detail.
Cor, check out the cables suspended far into the distance above this street. There’s washing hung from some of the higher wires, which is a nice touch, but also this makes me want a whole game set in a city with wiring like this.
I typed “ovoce zelenina” into Google and it turns up lots of pictures of fruit, which is what is being sold from the stands beneath the fluorescent sign here. Presumably they’re selling it to pay off their electricity bill. I love the detail and colour of the fruit, though, and the litter, wires and water spilled across the ground below it.
Another great future-city tall alleyway, thick with wires and smog. This makes me want a Neuromancer game, which I guess means Deus Ex is not already Neuromancer enough.
There is some nice geometry on those high walls, but I’m picking this one mostly for “Augmented Rights Coalition” being painted on different surfaces at different depths so that the words only come into focus from certain angles. Like a Channel 4 ident.
I can’t remember where this was, but the ceiling is a set of animated LCD screens across which a plane flies as part of an advert.
The obligatory red light district, important in any first-person game. I groaned when I realised I was headed to a strip club, but then forgave it when it turned out to look so over-the-top. Check out the tentacle wrapped around the building on the right.
Columns. Different heights. Reminds me of this church in Iceland and another building I don’t remember.
Gosh, this one is amazing. The floor! The walls! The lighting! Everything.
A close-up of the light from the shot before. I keep waiting for a giant hand to sheepishly poke through it, like I do every time I see one of those fancy Dyson fans.
The glass! The white! The subtly polygonal surface on the right there.
If it’s not immediately obvious, this looks like a big Illumanati eye. It also, generally, looks amazing?
Triangles triangles triangles.
The entrance to the red light district, which not so subtly repurposes the front of an old, beautiful building.
More from inside the Red Queen, the strip club/brothel you visit. It turns out to be constructed almost entirely out of tanning beds.
Check out this stairwell! It’s got the same curved steps leading into the walls as we saw earlier, but here the walls have little circles on them to create the impression of tentacle suckers wrapping around the corridor. The low red lighting is great too.
More red, but also great lights strung across the ceiling.
Does this count as a stag head? Is it bought from the same store as the others? I think John has this in his living room.
I would feel ill if I worked here.
Another shot of the entrance to the red light district, this time framed by one of the surrounded streets. I really like the red lighting on the left. Maybe I just really like red lighting generally.
They’re going to be really cross when one of those Christmas lights blows and the whole thing turns off and they have to try every bulb in order to find the broken one.
Back to the doctor’s place, to focus on the array of robot arms hung across his ceiling. This is great.
Triangles! Triangles! Triangles!