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E3 2016 – Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Hands-On Preview – Embrace the Augs

It’ll have been five years since the last main entry for Deus Ex when Mankind Divided launches this August. Square Enix had the game front and center at their booth this year at E3, and we spent around half an hour playing through one of the game’s early missions. Read our thoughts below.

Sit Back and Enjoy the Show

Much like Human Revolution before it, this entry began with a lengthy, thought-out cutscene explaining where we find ourselves. The year is 2029, just two years after the events of the previous mainline game. Protagonist Adam Jensen is back, this time working with Interpol to take down terrorists who just so happen to also be augmented. There is reference to an “Aug Incident,” where it seems all augmented humans turned inexplicably violent all at once, though whether the news being depicted in the game reflects the player’s choice in the previous game remains to be seen. It all fits right in with what we’ve come to expect from an Eidos Deus Ex game: politics, intrigue, social upheaval, conspiracy, and other weighty topics.

For this mission, Adam was tasked with taking out a terrorist leader, ideally by capturing them. Just like in Human Revolution, I was given a few choices with regards to my weapons that I would have equipped. I could opt for non-lethal weaponry, or go in a bit more heavily armed. In the interest of time, I opted for ammunition as deadly as possible, and a rifle instead of a pistol. The game is no doubt more challenging with non-lethal ammunition and shorter-ranged weapons, but I did not have the time to try that route.

Decisions, Decisions

After a brief rooftop area involving a few obstacles to get re-acclimated to the control scheme, I then proceeded to take out my first few enemies. Even though it’s been a few years since I last played a Deus Ex game, things felt fairly familiar within a few minutes. Selecting and using an augmentation, such as seeing people through walls, was as simple as pressing a button on the directional pad. Using an augmentation costs energy; how much depends on how powerful the augmentation was. Combining augmentations was also possible. For example, I could enable cloaking to prevent enemies from seeing me, but they could still hear me; enabling a second augmentation which silenced my footsteps helped to offset this. I’d have to move quickly though, because combining augmentations sucked out energy very quickly.

Mankind Divided appears to be as tough as its predecessor in the sense that maintaining stealth will require careful observation of all enemies in an area. I ended up progressing around one-third of the way through the demo without being detected. I’m confident that given enough time with this level, I could make it much further without having to resort to deadly force. Since we were limited on time, I had no choice but to play a little carelessly, a bit rogue, a bit loud. Still, evading enemy sight was doable, as long as I found suitable cover.

Helping Newbies

A new tutorial system could be seen in Mankind Divided, one which felt much improved over the previous game. Whereas Human Revolution featured videos to explain what concept the game was attempting to convey, Mankind Divided allowed me to attempt, in real-time, an upcoming scenario. I was tasked with reaching green silhouettes, and could retry the scenario, such as using grenades to take out foes, as many times as I wished. Then, by holding L1 and R1, the game would resume from exactly where I left. This should help to let people get used to the game’s controls and mechanics without any penalty to their game in progress.

It seems Mankind Divided is likely to continue in the footsteps of Human Revolution. There will be multiple routes to success, each with their own challenges and advantages. Hopefully Eidos has bosses figured out this time, and those of us who don’t want to kill anyone will be able to do so for the entire game, much like in the expansion The Missing Link. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is currently scheduled for release on August 23, 2016 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.