'Deus Ex: Mankind Divided,' Hands On

When we first saw Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, it was at last year’s E3. The developers at Eidos Montreal presented a hands-off demo to showcase some of the gameplay that fans could expect from the final release. A few weeks ago, I was able to finally have some hands-on time with the game, thanks to an invite from Square Enix, the game’s publisher. Instead of playing on the Prague and Golem City areas that were in the hands-off demo, I controlled Jensen as he infiltrated an abandoned building in Dubai.

Can’t Ignore His Talents

Mankind Divided is set two years after the events of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Resentment towards augmented humans grew to the point of conflict because of the fact that the so-called “Augs” couldn’t control their mechanical parts. Eventually, all augmented humans were separated from the “Natural” humans due to the Human Restoration Act.

Obviously, Jensen didn’t join his fellow Augs in a segregated holding facility. Instead, his enhancements made him a valuable asset to Interpol’s Counter-terrorism Task Force. Unlike the rest of the team, Jensen is armed with a full set of augmentations. Even before the mission (the objective was to bust a weapons deal and rescue an informant) starts, the rest of the team look at Jensen with disdain.

However, it’s because of his augmented enhancements that Jensen is part of the team. Whereas the rest of the squad infiltrates the building through a different route, he jumps from the plane and lands on the roof of the abandoned structure, taking on multiple enemies as a one-man army.

Same Approach, New Features

Inside the structure, guards patrolled the half-built hallways. Many of the rooms were lit by either a floodlight or natural sunlight. After reacquainting myself with the controls, I started sneaking around, observing enemy patrols and knocking out foes.

One feature that I especially liked was the new method of presenting tutorials. In Human Revolution, you learned about the new controls by watching short video clips within the game. It wasn’t the best way to show off the game’s controls, but the developers certainly learned their lesson in Mankind Divided.

When a new mechanic is introduced, such as distracting guards or sneaking through a room, I could actually try the new moves on dummy enemies before trying them on the real-world foes. For example, in terms of stealth movement and distraction, the game’s tutorial showed a series of waypoints in a room. As I moved from point to point, the system told me when to correctly use the Silent Feet augmentation or when to throw a large object across the room to distract another guard. I could repeat the exercise again and again until I was confident with that specific maneuver.

Cover is important in the game, as it's used to sneak past patrols or shield Jensen from enemy fire. Thankfully, the method of moving from cover to cover was improved. I could simply look at a nearby piece of cover and press a button to move towards it. It's a minor improvement, but it allows Jensen to move faster than before and get the jump on an unsuspecting enemy.

Guns (Or Fists) Blazing

As I approached the area where the enemies met for the weapons deal, all of my plans were out the window (to put it nicely). The informant was shot, the rest of the Interpol team arrived to complicate matters, and mysterious augmented beings appeared with strong armor and a powerful arsenal. Obviously, stealth wasn’t the best option in this scenario, so I opted for a lethal approach.

Thanks to the cloud of sand that rose up in the wake of an incoming helicopter, I was nearly invisible to enemies. However, I had augmented vision capabilities at my disposal that allowed me to see through the mini-sandstorm and locate the enemies. After a few melee sneak attacks, the dust settled. I shot the rest of the enemies with my rifle before the demo ended.

However, it wasn't easy. I still had to hide behind cover and time my attacks in order to survive the firefight. On top of that, there were more enemies than allies. Even with the rest of the Interpol team shooting from a higher vantage point, I had to be careful about running into two or more of these augmented foes. This was a stealth mission that turned into mayhem in the last five minutes of the demo, and it was an exciting end to the experience.

Breach The System

On April 1 (aka April Fools' Day), the team put out a video to show the game’s “new art direction.” Instead of the traditional black and gold color scheme, the entire game would be re-colored in pink and white, went the announcement. As it turns, out, the developers did keep their promise. Before the start of the demo session, the developers also showed off a new addition to the game: a separate experience called “Breach” that uses that pink and white scheme (along with some other colors).

In Breach, I took on the role of a Ripper, a hacker that uses virtual reality to break into corporate system in order to steal information and release it to the public. One might think that this mode is somewhat similar to the hacking mini-game in Human Revolution, but that’s not the case. Instead, you have a digital avatar that has to traverse the virtual space while avoiding security systems. Once you gather the necessary amount of data from the level, you’ll have to make it back to the starting point before the system shuts down.

Just like Jensen, the avatar also receives boosts to gain an advantage in each level. However, I had limited options for the boosts that I wanted to use, because each one took up a certain amount of memory space. This makes Breach more challenging, as you have to strategically think about which tools and boosts to use before entering a new system. When I leveled up, more memory space was allotted to me, which meant that I had more boosts to use.

I could increase the number of boosts in my arsenal with the help of booster packs. Obviously, these packs contain some common boosts, but sometimes they will have a rare item that can provide a significant advantage in each level.

It doesn’t take long to get through one or two levels, but there were many challenges between me and the data. I had to evade guards and cameras but allow ample time to reach the objective and get out. It’s a nice distraction from the main game, but it still packs the same intensity as Jensen’s latest adventure.

The Countdown Continues

After a significant delay, the developers at Eidos Montreal have less than three months to finish the game before the scheduled release. However, it seems that the extra time they put in was worth it. The game was enjoyable and provided a challenging experience. The addition of Breach mode was unnecessary, but nevertheless, it allows you to learn more about the world of Mankind Divided.

We’ll see a few trailers between now and August 23 (the game’s release date). The developers are in the home stretch of development, and it looks like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided could be a worthwhile addition to the series.

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NameDeus Ex: Mankind Divided
TypeFirst-person shooter, RPG
DeveloperEidos Montreal
PublisherSquare Enix
Release DateAugust 23, 2016
PlatformsPC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Where To BuySquare Enix Online StoreSteamAmazonBest BuyTargetWalmartGameStop

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  • dstarr3
    Now that Doom is out and is brilliant, I can now focus my tempered enthusiasm towards Deus Ex. Like I was saying about Doom for months, "I can't wait! Please be good please be good please be good!"
  • Biscuit42
    But ... can you go through the whole game just in stealth/knocking out enemies, without resorting to killing them?
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    But ... can you go through the whole game just in stealth/knocking out enemies, without resorting to killing them?

    Yes you can. Developers stated so multiple times. That's what makes Deus Ex what it is, after all.
  • belegCZE
    Deus Ex in Prague - aight, you got me.
    as a gamer from Czech Republic, this takes whole game to next level :)
  • cats_Paw
    THe only part I really did not like about HR is the gunplay. Dont get me wrong, I am a Stealth Guy myself (i always go that route even in games where its not supposed to work) but I do like to have the chance to go guns blazing from time to time.

    In HR, only the revolver felt like a gun to me. The rest felt a bit like toys (futuristic good looking and sometimes huge that should give away your position toys).

    I hope the gunplay is more fun in this one but overall, Im probably gonna buy this game myself.
  • salgado18

    is this the best FPS Shadowrun-without-magic ever? :D

    I mean, look at that Matrix side-game! Why have no one done that to a Shadowrun game before? :(
  • Vesalius1
    Someone, talk me out of preordering this.