In a future not too far from where we are now, people will have mechanical augmentations and after a tragedy, the general public will come to hate their augmented neighbors. This is where Deus Ex: Mankind Divided picks up the torch it dropped with 2011’s “Human Revolution.” The developers for “Mankind Divided” are referring to the game’s central narrative as the “Augmented Apartheid,” which honestly doesn’t seem that crazy in the grand scheme of the world. What is so impressive about the game though are not only the avenues it offers players, but that it is a fully realized world.
Players will once again control Adam Jensen in the action RPG as he works for INTERPOL and tries to sway public opinion of the Augs. The first level we were shown in a private demo had Adam meeting with a contact in Europe as he prepared to investigate the Augmented Rights Coalition. Though it was a very narrative heavy level with little to actually do by way of gameplay, it shows off why this game is leagues beyond competitors. As you walk around the train station and see people being scanned by police, hugging loved ones, or trying to hide that they’re Augs themselves, you realize the depth that is present. Instead of just making environments that look like a future world, Square Enix and Eidos Montreal have given us an entire world worth exploring.
The second level we were shown saw Adam entering one of the government-created ghettos for the Augs, which they refer to as Golem City. A sprawling and intricate honeycomb of tunnels and containers, there’s no detail skimped and every stone can be unturned. Deus Ex as a a franchise has always prided itself on having grand narratives, and they’ve done it once again here. Instead of having the story spoon-fed to them, players can choose to explore the world around them to connect the dots that would otherwise go unchecked. It’s always an ambitious gamble on the part of developers to take this risk, but when it works it’s a treasure trove of a reward for the players. In an age where open world gaming is the norm, you’d think developers would have run out of ways to make it new and exciting, but in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided there is an interesting new hook: verticality. The developer has put a lot of thought into the height of levels in addition to their depth.
As the demo continued and Jensen snuck into Golem City, we were shown the different ways that players can go about completing their objectives, a staple for the “Deux Ex” series. Not only are there multiple ways to go about finishing the objective, but there are multiple paths. Though the player went one way in the demo we saw, we were told that he could have gone to as many as three others. We were then treated to a view of the new augmentations that Adam is equipped with including: The Tesla, a non-lethal attack that can stun up to four enemies; the Icarus Dash, which allows him to either leap to great heights, jump far distances, or smash down on enemies below; The Nanoblade, a yard stick-like sword that not only extends from Adam’s forearm but can both launch at enemies and explode in their faces; and finally, his armor which turns him into a human tank. With all of these, and more, at your disposal, the havoc and mayhem you can cause in “Mankind Divided” is limitless.
It’s always funny when two things are one the horizon that are almost the same ideas. It happens every few years in film, but this year we have a huge example of it in gaming with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Though totally different in how they play out, the narrative seeds for the games are near identical; however, if you want your mechanically-augmented soldier game to be loud and dumb, go for Call of Duty: Black Ops III, and if an action RPG with a fully-realized world and a narrative with player choice at its core is more your speed, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
Currently without a release date, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will be available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC upon release.