Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Preview – E3 2015

June 22, 2015

While E3 2015 wasn’t short on surprises, it was also home to formal reveals for many of the industry’s worst kept secrets. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is one of those. We all knew it existed, it was the logical next project for Eidos Montreal, but nevertheless it was very welcome to see it announced just prior to the event’s commencement. Following up the debut CGI trailer, Eidos Montreal invited us to take a look at how Mankind Divided‘s gameplay is coming together, and we can safely say this is a true successor the wonderful Human Revolution.

Set two years after the events of Human Revolution, the world of Deus Ex has changed dramatically. Augmented humans are treated like outcasts, regulated to ghettos. Adam meanwhile has begun working for a specialised task force, one he believes may have ties to the Illuminati. The guided demo we witnessed began reminiscent of Half-Life 2, with Adam arriving at a busy, graphically detailed train station in Praha to meet a seemingly nano-augmented contact. The two of you talk plans and conspiracies, pondering just why Adam was sent to meet up with the group, but the conversation is cut short when a terrorist attack strikes the populated location.

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The next section demonstrated to us took us right into the gameplay. Similar to Human Revolution, you’ll be tasked with infiltrating or mass murdering past opponents in order to reach your objectives, whatever they may be. Doing so will require crafty use of your equipment and augs, Mankind Divided returning several staples while adding a few cool tricks of its own.

Returning augs include the X-Ray vision, which now provides additional information on targets such as equipped weapons. Cloak will allow you to slip by unnoticed if at a high energy cost. And the Icarus landing system will allow you to take down multiple opponents from above.

We can imagine most people are excited for the new augs though. Expanding the Icarus landing is a jump-like boost that functions quite similarly to Dishonored‘s blink, allowing Adam rapidly “boost” towards ledges and platforms. Titan shield generates a polygonal-like black barrier around Jensen’s body to soak up damage. And the nanoblade turns Adam’s arm swords into projectiles that can pin enemies to walls or act as remote explosives.

Balancing lethal and non-lethal approaches, along with loud vs. quiet, appears to be just as much of a focus as it has been in previous Deus Ex games. Eidos Montreal is promising that the entire game can be ghosted from start to finish, and new augs like the non-lethal electro darts, which are shot from the fist and can target multiple opponents, will certainly assist players choosing this path. But combat-heavy players haven’t been left on the sidelines, the devs hoping to improve the feel and fun of the action heavy approach over the previous game, such as having more destructible props in the environment. Takedowns, both lethal and non-lethal varieties, have more animations to improve their presentation. And an assortment of ammo types will allow you to use armour piercing rounds to break through defenses, and EMP to disable equipment.

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Towards the end of our demonstration we saw the return of another Human Revolution aug: the ‘debate’ system. It’s Ace Attorney investigations all over again! Not really. In the demo Adam negotiated with the leader of a pro-augment group. Adam loses the debate leading to an outcome where the leader’s augmentations turn against him, malfunction and kill him, so Adam can’t bring him in to be questioned. Adam then had to escape, leading to another combat section, where a new “slow time” aug was demonstrated to mow through bad dudes (taking more notes from Dishonored).

There’s still plenty to see and learn from Mankind Divided. Our main antagonist in the demo was a large, bald guy missing an eye, who looked a little bit like Sundowner from Metal Gear Rising or Letho from The Witcher 2, but we wouldn’t be surprised to learn he’s not the true villain. Much like you we’ll just have to wait and see.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is aiming for a release early 2016 on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.