‘Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’ Preview: Choice And Consequences Are The Focus Of E3 Demo

The Deus Ex universe was amply showcased at Square Enix’s E3 2016 booth. Hands-on opportunities were available for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the newly announced game mode Breach, and mobile game Deus Ex GO. With Mankind Divided set for its PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One release on August 23, the E3 demo provided fans with a glimpse of what they can expect come launch day.

Deus Ex At E3 2016
‘Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’ advertisement hangs in the Los Angeles Convention Center during E3 2016. [Photo by Asma M.]
First off, Mankind Divided makes good on its commitment to customization by prompting the player to select a difficulty setting and control scheme. There are four control options to choose from: Mankind Divided, Human Revolution, Standard, and Breach. Those who loved Human Revolution and are not wanting to learn a new control system don’t have to. The same goes for those who may prefer controls of Breach. The “Standard” control scheme is set up for players who may be new to Deus Ex, but are accustomed to typical first-person shooter controls.

To see how the developers have tweaked the controls specifically for this game, I decided to play through the demo using the Mankind Divided controls on the normal difficulty setting. Adam Jensen feels a little lighter on his feet. Moving in and out of cover is slightly more fluid in this demo than what I remember from Human Revolution. Perhaps it’s thanks to all those new augs and implants Jensen didn’t know he had (per a recent trailer). To be fair, as someone who played Human Revolution, sometimes I’d find myself slipping into old habits and forgetting about Jensen’s new augmentations, too. But, after getting into the swing of this brave new world and becoming accustomed to some of the new abilities, it becomes hard to imagine playing as Jensen without them.

“I once thought I could save the world.
Now look at it.”

Adam Jensen speaks those words, and the E3 demo’s opening cinematic begins. En route to a broken down facility somewhere in the desert, Jensen is debriefed but not without being chided for his robotic enhancements. The mission is to infiltrate a camp to stop a weapons sale from going down. Jensen is also tasked with ensuring Arun Singh, an undercover agent, makes it through the ordeal alive and well. As his colleagues remind Jensen, Singh’s got a wife and kids. And Jensen’s just an augmented soldier. Guess who takes the blame should anything take a turn for the worst? It’s moments like these that show how deep the prejudice against humans with augmentations runs in this dystopian society of tomorrow. If this is how Jensen’s comrades in arms treat his augmented existence, it’ll be interesting to see how scathing his enemies turn out to be in the full game.

Deus Ex Mankind Divided E3 2016 Demo Screenshot
[Image via Square Enix/Eidos Montreal]
With the task at hand, the player is given the option to suit up for a lethal or non-lethal playthrough. I opt for the tranquilizer gun and hope to get in and out quickly. For the most part, sneaking about undetected and refraining from killing anyone is a challenge but certainly not impossible. That is, until the mission’s end. A helicopter descends into the camp in the middle of a sandstorm. The weapons deal is about to go down but an unexpected team of troops wearing gold, Ripper-like masks enters the fray, putting Singh’s life in even more jeopardy. Jensen has to stop the chopper and keep Singh alive. Without heavy artillery and being outnumbered, it’s no simple task.

On the first attempt, my instinct is to quickly land on the scene using the new, non-lethal Icarus Strike. The sandstorm kicks up, visibility is low, and the pressure is on. There’s no clear path through to the chopper and enemies are seemingly everywhere. It takes a long time to tranquilize or perform a non-lethal take-down on all these enemies. Not being fast enough, Singh is attacked and taken out.

It’s certainly possible to complete the mission after Singh’s death and live with the consequences, but I choose to restart and take a different approach. This time, I take note of Singh’s position and focus on tranquilizing any enemies close to his location first. Then, after making a break for the helicopter, it’s not instantly apparent how to shut the thing down without something like a rocket launcher. But that’s when Jensen’s augmentations fill the gap. Activating Smart Vision allows Jensen to find and disable the power supply. Mission complete, and nobody had to die (this time).

Through this brief demo, Mankind Divided highlights the signature elements of the series: choice and consequences. From what I’ve seen so far, it’s promising to see the sequel remains true to the series’ roots, while expanding the world and refining the gameplay.

For another Deus Ex demo experience, watch the “City-Hub Gameplay” video below.

[Photo by Asma M.]

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