Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the last time Jensen tried to save the world, he failed.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution was criticized for its boss fights, which betrayed Deus Ex’s open-ended nature and forced players into combat. However, those battles weren’t designed by Eidos-Montreal; in order to make sure that the game released on time, the studio outsourced those boss fights to a different company. Still, Eidos doesn’t think gamers should blame anyone else for these lackluster set pieces.

“The boss-fight issue was something that we were aware of, and we tried to mitigate by making the bosses easier,” says executive game director Jean-François Dugas. “This is where we failed. It was always in the plans to allow players to approach the bosses in a number of different ways to be stealthy, to go full combat, nonlethal, hacking that was always in the plans for Human Revolution. So for us, it wasn’t a discovery that ‘Oh my God, people don’t like the boss fights!’ It was never our intent to do them the way we did them. However, in the game’s Missing Link DLC, we fixed that issue, allowing players to approach boss battles any way they wanted, and we’re designing the boss encounters in Mankind Divided the same way.”

In the world of Deus Ex, transhuman is a blanket term used to describe anyone who’s received a cybernetics implant. This can range from something as complex as having a limb or internal organ replaced with a mechanical transplant to something as simple as receiving a cochlear hearing implant. While some people have willingly decided to have these surgeries, in many cases these procedures were performed on people such as soldiers or car accident victims who would have died without the implants.

Plenty of games are filled with side quests, but usually a side quest is just that: a quest a player can complete outside the main story. Mankind Divided is full of these optional activities, but some of them may impact a playthrough of the main story. For example, if players choose to make a deal with a criminal organization early in the game, that mob boss might call in a favor later asking them to do something that interrupts Jensen’s main mission. If players interact with an NPC early on, there’s a good chance that they will run into that character again at some point down the road and witness the repercussions of their interaction.

“If a character tells you they are at risk in helping you, that doesn’t mean anything if that character doesn’t come back later and explain the consequences you imposed on them,” says executive game director Jean-François Dugas. “I don’t want to include fetch quests where you just walk up to somebody and they say, ‘Hey, I need five pints of milk. Can you go get them for me, because my son has disappeared and I need milk?’ And then you go for the milk and come back and that’s the end of the story. For us, I see these extra quests as a way to explore the main themes of the game more deeply. I see side quests as mini stories that feed into the main story.”

The design of Mankind Divided’s Golem City is based on the real-life locale Kowloon Walled City. This approximately six-acre superstructure once housed over 30,000 people within an area of only a few city blocks. Originally a Chinese military fort, this walled district’s population spiked after World War II. Infamously controlled by Hong Kong Triads, the city was a hotbed for gamblers, prostitutes, and drug dealers. The district’s lack of regulations allowed its residents to continually build on top of existing structures, creating a hodgepodge infrastructure that was so complicated sunlight rarely reached its lower levels. The walled city was featured in films like Bloodsport and Jackie Chan’s Crime Story, and has been depicted in games like Shenmue II and Call of Duty: Black Ops. While the Kowloon Walled City was demolished and turned into a park in the late ‘80s, the city continues to inspire popular fiction.

The basic concepts behind Human Revolution’s augmentation system remain the same for Mankind Divided. Players still find and receive praxis kits that allow them to unlock new augmentations, and experience points can be used to upgrade those augmentations. Mankind Divided features twice as many augmentations as Human Revolution, including tech abilities for combat, stealth, hacking, and social interactions. Here’s a quick breakdown of just a few of Jensen’s tech tricks.

Similar to a Taser, little darts pop out of Jensen’s knuckles, allowing him to tag nearby enemies and disable them silently. Players can upgrade this augment to take out up to four enemies at once.

This augmentation allows Jensen to analyze the mental state of targeted individuals. The C.A.S.I.E. implant analyzes the behavior patterns of conversation subjects and provides psychological data, which will help Jensen choose the right responses to drive the conversation to fit his needs.

Titan Shield
This nanotechnology-based shield turns Jensen into a walking tank. This augmentation surrounds Jensen’s body in a thin layer of tough particles that greatly reduce the damage he takes from enemy fire, allowing players to take additional risks until their energy bar depletes.

Icarus Landing System
Another returning augmentation from Human Revolution, this system allows Jensen to fall from great heights without taking damage. In Mankind Divided, this can be upgraded to allow Jensen to dash horizontally, helping him to put distance between him and his foes or cover gaps in the floor.

Silent Run
This feature allows Jensen to move quickly across any floor without making a sound. This can be combined with cloaking to make Jensen a complete ghost.

Mark-and-Track System
Another vision upgrade, the mark-and-track system lets Jensen tag enemies and monitor their movements throughout a level similar to Far Cry’s tracking system. This augmentation also allows Jensen to get a glimpse of the contents of an enemy’s pockets. Jensen can combine the mark-and-track system with smart vision to see what enemies are holding through walls.

Smart Vision
Much like Batman’s detective vision in the Arkham games, this augmentation allows Jensen to see enemies through walls. Unfortunately, it consumes a fair amount of energy, so players might not want to use it for long periods of time.

Another nonlethal weapon, Jensen’s bionic fist pops down, revealing a barrel in his arm that releases a concussive blast, knocking enemies off their feet. Afterward, Jensen has the opportunity to walk up to his incapacitated foes and steal their weapon, kill them, or flee before they recover.

Nano Blade
Jensen used this blade in Human Revolution for takedowns. In Mankind Divided, Jensen can still use this in close combat, but now he can also fire off these blades and hit enemies from a distance. Like a powerful crossbow, Jensen can pin enemies to the wall. An upgrade for the blade allows Jensen
to charge up this attack so that it explodes into a shower of tiny fractals that can take out a small room of enemies.


Will my Human Revolution save carry over to this game?

Eidos-Montreal didn’t know if it would get another shot at a Deus Ex title while working on Human Revolution, so it didn’t have much time to plan for the future of the series. For that reason and the fact that the studio is migrating to a new generation of console hardware fans shouldn’t expect Mankind Divided to read their Human Revolution saves and deliver any narrative payoffs or gameplay boosts. However, that might change in the future.

“We are planning for a franchise now,” says executive game director Jean-François Dugas. “We are planning a big story arc. For Human Revolution we were just trying to survive and make a decent Deus Ex game. It was a one-shot deal, but we ended up making a strong main character. Now we want to take care of that franchise and those characters, expanding on them over time through more games and through other means. So what you’ll see in this game might not be the end of it all. There might be things in here that don’t necessarily pay off today, but will pay off someday.”

What was that about a Deus Ex MMO?

When Eidos-Montreal first filed a trademark for Deus Ex Universe, many fans speculated that the studio was planting seeds for a new sci-fi MMO. In a company blog post, studio head David Anfossi explained that, “The concept behind Deus Ex: Universe is to create an ongoing, expanding, and connected game world built across a generation of core games,” which only helped fuel speculation that Deus Ex fans would soon be logging into servers and playing with their friends in a massive Deus Ex world. In truth, Eidos has no plans for a Deus Ex MMO. The Deus Ex: Universe was simply Eidos-Montreal’s label for cross-media promotions such as books, graphic novels, and mobile apps.

Is this still a prequel to the original Deus Ex?

The original Deus Ex was set in the fictional future of 2052. With Human Revolution, Eidos-Montreal explored events 25 years before the first game. Mankind Divided takes place only two years after those events, in the year 2029. But as the Eidos-Montreal team continues to explore Deus Ex’s past, will it become harder for the two stories to link together under the same timeline? Executive narrative director Mary DeMarle believes that the story they are telling is still building to events that take place in the original game.

“I love stories that take something you know and reinterpret it,” DeMarle says. “We are very aware of the original Deus Ex games and we do continually look back to them, and we consider that the future, but I also like the idea that the past is interpreted by people who live in the future. With Mankind Divided, we are exploring the original game’s past, so is the depiction of past events from the original Deus Ex true? Or in our route to get there will we discover stuff we never knew?”

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