To say that Deus Ex: Human Revolution stands as one of the greatest series revivals in recent memories still feels like an underwhelming understatement. With the augmented Adam Jensen at the reins, Human Revolution reintroduced a new generation of gamers to the clean, bleak future where augmentations become the natural divide that humanity finds itself deciding over. And Idea that extrapolated exponentially in Mankind Divided.
Sitting down to watch an extended demo of the first gameplay reveal earlier today, I couldn’t help but wonder how Eidos Interactive was going to approach this. Human Revolution was a stellar game, but had some notable flaws in key design areas. These, coincidentally, were almost all fixed in the subsequent Missing Link DLC – which fixed the affinity of boss battles to devolve into boring slug fests that stealth players just couldn’t deal with.
So with stealth refined and design principles seemingly perfect, what could Mankind Divided do to make it feel different. Nothing – except making every single element just a whole lot better.
Jensen is a little older, a little wiser and far more like a walking weapon than when we last saw him in Human revolution. The two massive blades that used to contextually pop out of his elbows are now fully fledged weapons, which you can use to distract, detonate or flat out decapitate enemies with. It’s no longer a fancy execution, but another augmented addition to your already strong arsenal.
Augmentations are back in a big way too, with the series favourites from Human Revolution returning. You can still cloak just as easily to launch surprise attacks from the dark (or avoid any sort on confrontation entirely), which directly contrasts to the far more militarised addition, the Titan Shield. This black low-poly mesh wraps around Jensen to create an impenetrable shield for a brief few seconds, letting you soak up an ungodly number of bullets as you walk ominously forwards. It also looks far cooler than it sounds.
It’s a great addition too considering how much focus has gone into making combat all the more visceral this time around. Gunplay was solid in Human Revolution, but Mankind Divided looks to add a whole new layer to it. Firefights in tight corridors felt tense and explosive, and the combination of flying sparks and exceptional sound made for a rather incredible cinematic experience. I’d never thought to play Deus Ex other than as a shadow on a wall, but I’m deeply reconsidering it now.
That said, the game can still be completed without killing a single soul, which will most likely have an effect on the overall narrative. Although scarce on detail, we did discover that Jensen is working as a double agent of sorts, in a world that has culturally divided the regular from the augmented humans. Eidos threw around the word Apartheid quite a bit which holds a lot of meaning to us especially, so it’s intriguing to see how far Eidos choose to explore this narrative thread.
It could end up being a powerful message about our constant overbearing attachment to the technology we hold dear, or just how far we’re wiling to go for enhancement. They’re themes that Human Revolution wasn’t shy to dabble in either, but the potential for proper extrapolation is there. I just hope Mankind Divided takes it with both hands tactfully.
Last Updated: June 17, 2015