For many, Deus Ex: Human Revolution was one of the best games of the last console generation. Eidos and Square Enix came together to create one of the most finely-crafted action-RPGs ever made — and while some purists balked at the idea of a new, different Deus Ex, most gamers were too enthralled by the world of Adam Jensen and augmentations to notice the game's few shortcomings.
Now, four years later, it's time to return to the world of bionics and espionage: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is looking to do everything that the last game did ... only better. Combat is faster and more fluid, conversations feel more realistic, and the augmentations have only gotten better since 2011.
Then again, not everyone got to play through Adam Jensen's debut adventure — and with a world as complex as Deus Ex's, getting left behind isn't really an option. With just a few weeks left before the game is set to launch, now is the prime time to catch up on everything Deus Ex — even those who already played through Human Revolution once may want a refresher before diving into the next game.
So, without any further adieu, here's everything you need to know about Deus Ex: Mankind Divided:
Players take on the role of Adam Jensen, the augmented ex-cop from Human Revolution. Jensen is a quiet, calculating, to-the-point kind of guy — though he's been known to dabble in sarcasm from time to time.
Our hero's defining feature is his heavily-augmented body: in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, much of Jensen's biological body was damaged beyond repair, and augmentations were installed in order to save his life. These augmentations provide Jensen with a number of different abilities, including the ability to fall from great heights, persuade others via pheromones or wear some seriously stylish shades.
Depending on the player's actions, Jensen can either come to terms with his newfound abilities or curse his doctors for altering his body without his consent. From what Eidos has shown, Jensen seems to have accepted his fate in Mankind Divided, though there's always the possibility that players will have more input when the game launches.
The Story Thus Far:
The last game in the series, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, saw Jensen slowly uncovering the plot of an extremely powerful organization known as the Illuminati. As the augmented population continued to grow, the Illuminati sought to seize control over anyone with bionic implants — though the member's motives began to pull the group in different directions.
Eventually, Jensen was able to confront the group's leaders on a massive research station located in the Arctic. After confronting one of the Illuminati's artificial intelligences, Jensen was left with several choices — though Mankind Divided assumes that Jensen survived the station's self-destruct sequence, and that the public was left without any one true story to go on.
Most importantly, augmented individuals regained control of their implants ... though many unaltered humans began to fear anyone with any sort of bionic augmentations.
The Story of Mankind Divided:
Two years after the events of Human Revolution, Jensen leaves Sarif Industries and joins an international anti-terrorist task force. While Jensen's intentions may seem pure, he's actually working as a double agent, keeping tabs on the task force for a hacker group known as the Juggernaut Collective. Both the Collective and Jensen know that the Illuminati survived the events in the Arctic, and our hero is determined to expose them.
In terms of the bigger picture, the world is now gripped in what Square Enix describes as a "mechanical apartheid": augmented individuals are now treated as second-class citizens in most parts of the world, and even as dangerous weapons at times. The appearances of an augmented terrorist cell certainly doesn't help matters, though Jensen believes the group to be a result of the Illuminati's meddling and volunteers to investigate.
How's It Play?
For the most part, Mankind Divided plays very similarly to its predecessor. Jensen is controlled from the first-person perspective, and most of the game revolves around a unique blend of stealth and combat.
As previously mentioned, players can take advantage of Jensen's different augmentations, and each individual playstyle can take advantage of different abilities. For instance, players who jump straight into combat will want to make use of Jensen's nano-shield (more on that later), while stealthy players will gravitate toward powers like cloaking or silent footsteps.
A reworked dialogue system will also be appearing in Mankind Divided, though Square Enix hasn't gone into too much detail on what's changed since Human Revolution. The basic facets of the system are still intact, and conversations can still lead to new options or entirely optional side-quests — though the specifics are still under wraps.
Hacking also returns from Human Revolution, though Square Enix hasn't revealed much about the new systems. Again, the basic mechanics have carried over from the last game, though hacking seems to be a bit less cryptic and random in Mankind Divided.
In a lot of ways, Human Revolution rebooted the franchise. The game, while still rooted in the ways of the older titles, introduced a litany of new concepts and mechanics — that being said, it wasn't always as polished as gamers were expecting. Mankind Divided is looking to address most (if not all) of these issues, though some may say that it's not taking as many risks as a result.
First and foremost, combat has received a makeover. Aiming and gunplay are now as responsive on consoles as they are on PC: playing Human Revolution with a controller was a clumsy, frustrating affair, but Eidos has promised that Mankind Divided has been developed with a console-centric control scheme in mind. Fear not, PC purists — you'll still have a largely similar experience to that of the last game.
Of course, combat doesn't mean much if there aren't new toys to play with: Mankind Divided features a wealth of new augmentations, including a new nano-shield, wrist-mounted dart launchers, remote hacking and a pair of jet-propelled nano-ceramic blades. Better yet, these are just a few of the augmentations that Square Enix has shown off — expect even more abilities to debut in the final game, along with several returning favorites.
The various environments of Mankind Divided are also a step above those found in Human Revolution. In the previous game, environments often felt like long hallways stuffed between larger, more open rooms — in Mankind Divided, however, environments feel much more organic.
Hubs now transition seamlessly into combat zones, and actually getting to and from different areas has been vastly improved. Human Revolution featured a lot of air vents — and while ducking into a ventilation shaft is still a valuable tactic in Mankind Divided, players will have a wealth of options on top of that. Plus, as one might expect, environments are even more intricately-detailed, with some spaces looking like something out of an interior decorator's catalog.
Finally, there are the boss battles. In Human Revolution, fighting against the main baddies typically meant finding a glitch or exploit, then shooting them in the face until they fell over dead. Needless to say, these fights were the worst part of the entire game — thankfully, the developers have been listening.
While fans have yet to see any of Mankind Divided's boss fights, Eidos went back to the drawing board after the poor reception of Human Revolution's climactic moments. Details are still few and far between, save for the fact that the studio has confirmed that boss battles now feature non-lethal solutions. As a result, truly non-lethal runs are finally a reality — though they remain completely optional.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is the sort of sequel that fans dream of: Square Enix is taking what worked about the first game and pushing it even further, while looking at what didn't work and tweaking it until it does. Mankind Divided many not be as drastic an upgrade as Human Revolution was back in 2011, but it's hard to complain when a studio devotes so much time to making an amazing game even better.
The best part is that the wait is almost over: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is due out on Aug. 23.