Life is all about choices. Left or right? Puppy or kitten? Do I vote for that massive pile of crap that gained sentience after starring in the first Jurassic Park film or make a mark on my ballot for the nanny-state proponent who makes Judge Dredd look tame in comparison? And having that kind of freedom is a good thing. It’s what makes life interesting, and to an extension, video games as well.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution had plenty of those decisions to make when it was first released, choices that eventually culminated in separate endings for Adam Jensen and a brave new world to explore in the end, but it also had ramifications on society as a whole. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided brings back that layer of story-telling, but the morality has 50 shades of grey attached to it this time as the line right and wrong begins to blur.
“We wanted to take a look at the human condition in the face of the tragedy that came at the end of Deus Ex: Human Revolution,” Executive Narrative Director Mary DeMarle said on the PS Blog.
As Adam Jensen you’re dropped into scenarios where you’re deployed against terrorism and the people behind it – but are they really terrorists? Will you actually see them as ‘evil’ when you encounter them? And how will that affect your decisions?
One of the things we really wanted to do was make your choices and consequences pay off on many levels throughout the game. Sometimes you may not be aware of them but others require you to choose between two specific paths which impact your end game. And how you approach the final mission will depend on all these choices through the game, meaning you’ll get a different experience of the ending to someone else.
To do that, Eidos Montreal worked on giving players the freedom to be the kind of character that they wanted to be. Techno-buddhist, ruthless killer and hopefully Pritchard-puncher were all thrown around, resulting in numerous pages of script being written for even the smallest tasks. “As a writer you still have to get the scene to an emotional beat which makes sense, taking into count the variable player choices,” DeMarle said. “So a three minute scene may end up being around 30 pages of script.
We ended up creating what we call The Tree of Life, which tracks all the possible choices in the game – and we did it via Excel, which was probably not the best program for that sort of flow chart! From a script standpoint, every time I have to go back to that final mission and try and keep track of everything that could lead to it, my head wanted to explode!
To keep Jensen’s personality on an upward evolutionary track, side-missions aplenty will be available. They’re not exactly massively crucial to the main storyline that you’ll follow, but they will open up the world of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided up that much further as you augment your own tale. “Some of my favourite stories in the game are the ones which are totally optional, but you could still miss an awful lot if you ignore them,” DeMarle explained.
You can solve some side missions in 10 minutes, but if you take your time and explore you can start peeling away at the story and meet additional characters. We wanted to add more environmental storytelling like we did in Human Revolution, so by exploring apartments you see these little micro stories through their appearance – things like emails and other details that have nothing to do with your objective, but flesh out the world you’re in.
All of this eventually builds up to the conclusion of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, but more importantly, a restart as well with the New Game + mode. Select that, and you get to start afresh with your custom build of Jensen and kick the narrative in the teeth along the way. “We know New Game + totally breaks the narrative, but this is a game about choice, so we wanted players to explore that in this aspect too,” DeMarle said.
Your augmentations in New Game + really let you take advantage and get access to stuff that you didn’t know was there the first time, especially as we designed the game to feature more verticality and 360 entrances for some of the buildings.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided drops on August 23 for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. And now for the obligatory, heavily overused and paraphrased line from Human Revolution: I asked for this.
Last Updated: July 11, 2016