By: Liam Brand
The long-awaited Deus Ex: Mankind Divided just hit stores, and with it came some major changes to the franchise.
Here at VGS, we’ve been glued to our respective gaming machines, absorbed into a vast, dystopian Prague, and we’re loving every minute of it. Fortunately, the only thing that could tear us away from this game was an interview with the game director of Deus Ex, Jean-François Dugas.
Comparing the perspective of the man behind the game to our own, we were able to put together what we think are the biggest and best changes in Mankind Divided.
1. The World Reacts To Your Actions
It’s one thing to have a game that reacts to the black and white choices you make, but this time around, Deus Ex has created a world in which the actions of the player can have huge implications throughout the game world.
“What is really important is that when you do something, the world reacts to what you just did. We live by that. It can go from talking with someone, depending on how you deal with the person you’re talking to, it will affect how that person reacts back to you, or if you go and try to confront someone, you have to be able to deal with the people protecting that person […] for us, it’s really a question of making sure that we’re giving you feedback and consequences to everything you do.”
“We’re looking at, “what if the player wants to do this and do that?” Okay what would be the consequence to that? Then we brainstorm then go on and on. What we do to ensure that it’s not shallow is that we fully explore every choice, ones that are going to have ramifications on the direct story or in parallel with the main story. The way we achieve that is all of our choices are custom built.”
2. More Ways To Take On Bosses
To say that Edios “learned from their mistakes” when it comes to boss battles seems a bit harsh on Human Revolution, but there is certainly a vast improvement this time around. The players spoke out, and they were heard loud and clear. Gone are the days of lethal-mandatory boss fights where stealth isn’t an option, or vice versa.
“Last time we had some issues. Our original vision was not to force you into combat, but we had to make some choices. For all the people who are combat oriented players, they enjoyed the experience, and they thought they were not too challenging. For guys like you who are more stealthy or non-lethal approach, it was a big slap in the face.”
“For Mankind Divided you can be sure that you will have full on flexibility whether you want to be stealth, combat, lethal or non-lethal. It was just a question this time around of not, “what did we do wrong last time?” We knew what we were doing wrong. It was the decision that we had to make during production and towards the end. This time around we didn’t run into the same problems.”
3. All Playstyles Are Equally As Rewarding
In a similar vein as the previous point, all-around gameplay has been reshaped to fit the style of quite literally any kind of player. Not only is it possible to go through the entire game playing the exact way that you want, but it also feels just as rewarding as playing through any other way.
“One of our goals when we started this project was to really look at combat and bring it on the same level of satisfaction as stealth […] we wanted to make sure that this time around, you can play combat and still maybe maintain your non-lethal approach. Or maybe be a very stealth oriented player and be a mass murderer. *laughs* It’s your call. It was just a question of trying to make the game more flexible to the different types of players and not necessarily associating stealth with non-lethal & combat with lethal. It can still be that, but it doesn’t have to be.”
4. Jensen Is Practically Superpowered
This might not sound like a huge change from the last game, but just wait until you see Jensen in action in Mankind Divided. He’s not overpowered, but you better believe he’s packing a punch. What’s most interesting is how this all ties into the narrative:
“In Mankind Divided, Adam Jensen’s tagline is like, “At some point you have to let go and embrace what you have become.” It’s basically that he’s the man 2.0. He’s kind of a weapon. He has so many possibilities that most humans don’t have. For us when we look at that, it was Adam Jensen taking charge. He’s accepted who he is and is trying to use it in a good way. [That] needs to be reflected in the gameplay as well.”
“Now we’re able to assign augmentations on the d-pad on the controller, also the shoulder button that can be used, therefore [giving] you five slots to put any augmentation the way you want according to your style. You can just be in the game, play, shoot guns, or stealth your way through environments [by pressing] on the d-pad or the shoulder button to instantly use your augmentations that you prefer. It makes for a much better experience. It allows for a one two punch experience.”
5. Verticality in Level Design
Mankind Divided has depth, and I mean that quite literally. A big change in both the stealth and action scenarios is how the multiple levels and paths play into your tactics. Instead of keeping everything on one plane, the game has been significantly opened up.
“Verticality for exploration, adding more routes, more options but also the fact that when you’re stealth, or even if you’re in combat, adding enemies on various levels. It changes the experience. Some of the enemies [have] a lot of different augmentations you have, or they might be able to jump on other levels, so it’s going to change the dynamic of gameplay. In terms of navigation in the world, verticality was a big part.”
6. Brand New Game Mode
“We have one big new feature that is not inside the game itself, it’s called Breach. It’s a new game mode that will compliment the single player campaign. It’s a challenge mode that also has narrative aspect that ties back to the world of Deus Ex and connects to the game as well. It adds a social component that allows you to challenge some friends, you have leader boards so you can climb up or go down. Even though it’s single player, that social component will allow you to add modifiers here and there on the map, add challenge to your friends. If you’re friend accepts and beats the challenge he gets the points; if he fails you get the points.”