Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Preview - E3 2016
We get one more look and go hands-on with the upcoming RPG game
The E3 2016 event is not the first time that we've crossed paths with Deus Ex and Adam Jensen. And I am not just referring to the 2011 release of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The fact is, we had a glimpse at the new game at last year's E3, so seeing and playing another demo for a new Deus Ex game at an E3 was unique. But that's just what happened this week, as we had a chance to see Deus Ex: Mankind Divided one more time and play a demo level, before the game is released later this summer.
During the presentation, narrative director Mary DeMarle walked us through the demo that was released via video online a few weeks ago. The demo focused on the exploration pillar of gameplay; the others being hacking, stealth, combat and social. Taking place in Prague city hub following the very recent terror attacks, we found Adam Jensen in his apartment, still recovering. His augmentations are malfunctioning from damage sustained during the attack, and the goal is to visit a tech in another section of the city for repairs. We observed as Adam got up and explored his living quarters; here players can see a variety of non-essential bits of information (such as emails and newspapers) if they wish to get a deeper insight into Adam's situation and recent history.
Adam lives in a poor district, usually reserved for those that have augmentations and are thus somewhat shunned by the rest of society. On our way across the courtyard we encounter a cop, who, like the rest of the police force, is on edge following the attacks. She demands papers and we comply, and eventually can proceed. Walking by a subway station entrance, we note two lines – one for “pure humans” and one for those with augments. Adam can use either line, thus is the game's freedom of choice, and the consequences will be appropriate (let through in augmentation line, questioned and potentially denied at the human line). But we continue on, and soon arrive at a barricade, where the cops won't let us pass. Here, Adam has a choice to press his luck, eventually finding out that cops want payment – this opens up a side quest, to find out why these officers are corrupt. His other choice is to enter combat, or walk away, as he does. The focus on exploration remains a key element, so we soon bypass the barricade using the classic air ducts, which also house hidden loot sometimes. The game promises added focus on verticality, and access to rooftops.
Adam is close to the repair shop now, but must choose how to get in. There's the front door, which may require hacking. The hacking minigame will return and is similar, but promises added depth and tactical challenge. Using an upgraded version of the smart vision augmentation, Adam can observe all enemies in the area and plan an optimal path – be it stealth or combat focused. Augmentations such as cloaking and sound suppression can be combined for effective non lethal approaches. Or, go for lethal takedowns, throw your nanoblade that can explode, and gas the enemies. After clearing the area, Adam finds the secret entrance and meets with the man that can repair his systems. This is where the demo concludes.
We then also had a chance to play a very early level in the game. It began with a deployment on a mission in Dubai, in the year 2029. Adam is tasked with going in first to assess the situation and get in position for an illegal deal that's about to happen. Players get to choose a lethal or non lethal approach, as well as if they prefer short or long range – this dictates what loadout you start with; a setup that's very familiar to the one in Human Revolution. Adam has access to a variety of augmentations that enhance your abilities, and they can be further upgraded later on. The inventory screen seems uncluttered, and a few sorting options should make things easier later in the game. You can also craft consumables using parts, and customize your weapons on the go with attachments and different ammo types.
After a cool Icarus Landing, we make our way through the building. It is mostly in ruin, though there are also many materials simply lying around, blown in by the winds. Enemies occupy the large rooms as well, and we used stealth to get up close for some non-lethal takedowns (which still trigger cool looking cutscenes). The new cover to cover movement system shows where you'll end up with the press of a button; whether it's around the corner, or across to another cover. Takedowns now let you remain in cover as well, instead of leaving you exposed after the animation. However, Adam is eventually spotted and has to engage in some combat; one option is to simply flee. In this case, enemies will search the area of your last known position (visible as an outline) and there is a Metal Gear-like countdown timer of how soon they will finish searching. Alternatively, you can also throw a couple of smoke grenades, as I did, and run in for some quick single and multi-enemy takedowns. Lastly, you can also grab a rifle from one of the dispatched foes and engage in the firefight.
Following the few enemy encounters, there were a couple of occasions that hacking was needed to bypass locked doors. The minigame looks different but played out relatively the same as before; you must overtake nodes one at a time until eventually reaching your destination. Avoid triggering the firewall protocol, and if you do, reach your goal before it's too late. Upon reaching the penthouse, the friendly Task Force 29 soldiers are in place for the meet that's about to happen. The dealer arrives via helicopter, and reveals his smuggled augs to a buyer working undercover for TF29. However, the deal suddenly goes bad when an unknown, augmented third party arrives and begins killing everyone. It also just so happens that a sand storm begins to blow in. Adam is tasked to prevent the helicopter from leaving, and also save the TF29 contact if possible. Making our way through the area, due to limited visibility everyone considers you a threat, even the soldiers that are on your squad, so we had to carefully manoeuvre our way to the helicopter and remove its battery. Unfortunately, our contact was killed in the meantime, but at least the deal was stopped. This is where the demo concluded.
Based on what we've seen from Deus Ex: Mankind Divided at last E3 and this year, it is shaping up to be a very promising follow up to a game that was already excellent to begin with. Mankind Divided retains most of the qualities that made its predecessor so enjoyable, from strong player choice to enjoyable combat and flexible stealth. It is a game that will be sure to please existing fans and attract new ones, when it ships this August on PC, Xbox One and PS4.