EGX 2015: Deus Ex Mankind Divided

Adam Jensen is back in the latest instalment of the cyberpunk series Deus Ex. We saw Square Enix's presentation at EGX 2015...

Fifteen years after it was first released, the original Deus Ex is still viewed as one of the greatest games ever made. While the sequels may not have created the same impact as the original, they’ve all been great games and it’s arguable they’ve even improved on the first game in some respects.

The latest in the series, Mankind Divided, looks set to improve the experience once again. We were lucky enough to get a seat at Square Enix’s presentation of the game at EGX 2015.

Set two years after the events of Human Revolution, the presentation opened with Adam Jensen arriving in Prague by train. The first thing that strikes you is the level of detail. As Adam steps from the train and meets up with his contact, this feels like a living, breathing world. People are coming and going, rushing for their connection, emotionally saying goodbye to family and friends, sitting bored waiting for the next train, all under the watchful and oppressive eye of the heavily armoured security guards. There’s graffiti on the walls, signs and maps are in Czech, nothing looks out of place.

It’s reminiscent of the iconic introduction to Half Life 2 and the sense that the scene is building towards something terrible is palpable. By the time you reach a checkpoint and the security droid hovers in front of you, scanning, you’re a bundle of nerves and it’s quite a surprise when you’re let through without incident. It’s a false sense of relief, though, as moments later terrorists strike and you’re knocked to the ground in the resulting explosions.

The second part of the presentation sees Adam moving deeper into his investigation, tracking down the leader of a group associated with the terrorists. Here we see some of the new cybernetic augmentations at work.

We see the trademark Deus Ex stealth and branching paths around the level as Adam moves through a complex constructed from cargo containers. The verticality is impressive, and you’re constantly having to check above you for possible routes. This is where we see the new Icarus Dash move in action – you move supernaturally fast a short distance in the direction you’re facing, even if there’s nothing below you. This allows Adam to dash in unexpected directions, up to open windows, and avoid guards.

(Image source: Playstation)

We also witness the power of the Tesla Gun arm enhancement. This fires multiple blasts of electricity towards guards, taking each one down non-lethally. Square Enix were proud to point out you can complete the entire game without killing anybody – including bosses.

As Adam moves further into the complex, we’re still being wowed by the level of detail. Even as he climbs through the ventilation system, there are beautiful visuals to behold, including some illuminated penguin lamps that I want to be able to buy. The audio is great too, with a pulsating, soaring synth score and the ability to eavesdrop on the conversations of NPCs.

Suddenly the stealth is over. Adam was spotted and there’s no option but to put out the big guns. Human Revolution let you do this, but the combat didn’t feel like the right way to play. It was clear the game was developed with stealth in mind and heavy combat was the lesser option. This isn’t the case here. Combat is been given just as much emphasis as stealth, and the gunfight is tense and frenetic. What’s particularly impressive is the level of destructibility in the environment. As the corrugated metal sheets providing cover are hit they fly off in a realistic way, forcing you to move from cover to cover.

When you meet the level’s boss, the dialogue options change dependant on your path through the level. The presentation has Adam try to lecture his target on morality, which is then turned straight on it’s head when the boss points out Adam has no right to speak of pacifism after slaughtering so many guards. The dialogue system looks really interesting. It’s not clear cut like Mass Effect’s Paragon / Renegade system. Here your dialogue can have unpredictable results, especially if the words you speak don’t reflect the way you act.

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