Deus Ex: Human Revolution Q&A

Game director Jean-Francois Dugas talks to us about what it's like to create a sequel to one of the most respected games of all time.

Deus Ex has become one of the most beloved games of all time since its release at the turn of the century, so it's no surprise that Square Enix is hoping to resurrect the franchise with prequel title Deus Ex: Human Revolution after 2003’s poorly received sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War.

Jean-Francois Dugas says you don't "need to be an old Deus Ex fan to appreciate the game."

Deus Ex: Human Revolution treats its predecessor with the kind of reverence that you’d expect from such an iconic title. Its innovative concepts--choice, morality, and a hefty inclusion of role-playing elements--have become commonplace factors of modern game design, but developer Eidos Montreal is adamant that Human Revolution will be able to pick up the baton and create its own unique experience.

In anticipation of today's new CG trailer for the game, GameSpot UK had the chance to talk to game director Jean-Francois Dugas about what’s new, what’s familiar, and what, exactly, is the meaning behind some of the game’s symbolic imagery.

GameSpot UK: Why should gamers who have never come across the franchise care about Deus Ex: Human Revolution?

Jean-Francois Dugas: Even though some recent games took a page or two from Deus Ex, we believe that the experience hasn't been done since the original game. With Deus Ex: Human Revolution we're really dedicated to re-creating this unique experience for a new generation of gamers that never experienced what it's all about in the first place.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an action RPG set in the near future, 2027. The game lets you delve into a huge and compelling narrative in which you'll meet a great cast of characters, and more importantly, it will let you play the way you want.

GSUK: Why make a prequel instead of a sequel?

JD: Firstly, we wanted a fresh start on the franchise and to make it unique and stand-alone. Therefore, you do not need to be an old Deus Ex fan to appreciate the game--we have a new main character and supporting characters that we’ll encounter during the journey.

Secondly, in the original timeline of Deus Ex, there was an era where mechanically augmented people started to burgeon in society before the event of nano-augmented people. The distinction lies in the fact that nano-augmentations are invisible and the mechanical augmentations are not. We thought it would be an interesting theme to explore from both a gameplay perspective (seeing how your character evolves) and from an ethical/moral perspective (the benefits & dangers of such a world where some can afford to get augmented while others can’t).

One of the major aspects of our story revolves around the social conflict between augmented and non-augmented people. In our story, there are people opposed to augmenting the body since they see it as unnatural and don't think scientists should play God. On the other side, some people think it is the natural evolution of the human race and there's no reason we shouldn't be trying things like this if it can enhance the quality of life or extend it. The gameworld itself will definitely reflect these opposing views, so you will see a contrast depending on where you are in the game.

GSUK: Will Deus Ex: Human Revolution share the same core values as the original game? For instance, will players still be given the freedom to approach objectives in multiple ways?

JD: One of the main things that makes a Deus Ex game is the nonlinear and multipath approach to level design. Deus Ex: Human Revolution's world is full of extra things to find off the beaten path, and you get experience points that you earn for achieving and finding things. So not only will you be able to upgrade yourself even further through the earning of extra experience points, but you’ll also find more ammo, credits, side quests, etc.

As for missions, there is always more than one way to get to the location you need to go. You can try through the main door, but some obstacles might make it challenging for you, so you might decide to look for other ways such as hacking a back door, reaching a roof access, etc. You need to remember that, depending on your play style, the obvious path is not always the best. The different points of access are not always immediately available to all depending on the augmentations you have or not.

Then, once you successfully infiltrate a given location, navigating it will also let you decide how you approach the challenges. Do you want to fight your way in or do you want to stay out of sight, undetected? Do you want to use your hacking skills to open new opportunities or deal with some neutral non-player character to help you out? So, building your character in the way you want to play will influence the available options.

GSUK: It has been seven years since Deus Ex: Invisible War. What made you want to revisit the universe? And why now?

JD: We’re huge fans of the original game, and on a lot of topics we are on the same page as the fans. It is really important to us to respect the core values that made the original game outstanding, but we also know that we need to bring new ideas to the table that will elevate the experience for old fans while adding new levels of excitement and surprises that will draw newcomers into the Deus Ex world. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is going to stay true to the original game on many levels, and of course we’re coming up with new gameplay possibilities, reinforcing the choice and consequence aspect, and introducing a brand-new cast of characters and storylines that will expand the Deus Ex experience for a new generation of gamers and old fans alike.

GSUK: The new trailer shows a sprawling futuristic city, inviting comparisons with sci-fi classics such as Blade Runner. What kind of environments can we expect to see in the game?

JD: We feature numerous locations across the globe, and the ones we’ve spoken about so far are Shanghai and Detroit with more to come. There’s a big range in the environments, from the archetypal cyberpunk look and feel, to modern-day locations and slums, to locations still rooted in the current day but augmented with the technology 17 years in the future.

GSUK: Previous Deus Ex games used nanite-based augmentations, but Human Revolution uses mechanical augmentations. How will this change the game, and what kinds of new features will they bring?

JD: Deus Ex: Human Revolution doesn’t have nano-augmentations, but for mechanical augmentations we can provide some info! Our augmentations are based on scientific concepts (some are already happening to a certain degree, and some others are a bit more futuristic, yet still credible). Actually, we have consultants that help us make it grounded. Unlike the first Deus Ex, which had nano-augmentations, augmentations in Deus Ex: Human Revolution are the precursor to that technology--mechanical augmentation, like Anna or Gunther from the first game. The big advantage of going mechanical is that it allows us to see the character's augmentations, and it also allows us to come up with some sort of uncanny physical moves that wouldn’t make as much sense with nanotechnology.

Our augmentations will also play a central role for the four gameplay pillars: combat augmentations will allow you to be a more dangerous opponent (i.e. perform lethal melee attacks); stealth augmentations will allow you to become a stealth master (i.e. get a clearer sense of the enemy patrols and line of sight); hacking augmentations will allow you to hack more difficult devices and open up more post-hacking possibilities (i.e. turret domination); social augmentations will allow you to get a better sense of which direction your interactions are taking and then adjust to these. And for things like exploration, there are more subtle augmentation upgrades which will allow you to see things and access parts of levels previously unknown.

GSUK: The FMV trailer at GDC 2010 showed Adam dreaming of flying close to the sun--similar to Icarus in Greek mythology. What’s the significance of this dream?

JD: The beginning of the video is Adam’s dream. In the world of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, society has mixed Renaissance elements with archetypal cyberpunk stereotypes, and the Icarus myth weaves its way through the story of the game. The Icarus myth dealt with Icarus being given wings to fly. But the wings were made of wax, and he was perhaps not ready for such a gift; so in his haste, he flew too close to the sun, which melted his wings, and he fell to the sea and to his death. This story parallels our Deus Ex universe where mankind is using mechanical augmentations but there is still much to be determined in terms of their effect on society and the ultimate direction it will lead us in.

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Discussion

181 comments
GodOfSyn
GodOfSyn

will be awesome if its like the first 2, i dont see why they made the comment that the sequel wasn't well received. back in 03 i knew many of people who played the hell out of the game, not to mention it was a solid shooter with unique concepts especially for its time. i'm sold already, day 1 buy for me guys

weissengel86
weissengel86

I absolutely agree with Saije. Games should make us think and force us to use our reasoning skills. Focusing on making games "accessible" often seems to me an excuse for dumbing down the content. All the best games I have ever played were deep in content and had meaningful challenges that didnt require mere button mashing to overcome.

detectivepbert
detectivepbert

The graphics look awesome but so do those for Crysis 2, Killzone 3, and a slew of other upcoming games. What will make or break this game for me is its story, RPG elements, and gameplay. The developers seem to be saying all the right things both on their website and when interviewed, so I am keeping my fingers crossed. I mostly hope it has a good balance of RPG and shooting so does not turn into a shooter, and that the shooting does not use something like VATS in FO3 - looking at disgusting creatures and watching heads get blown off got boring/disgusting realllly fast for me and I stopped playing that one.

malavos
malavos

@Fancelot Like what i said, deus ex 1 used the first Unreal Engine, which had limitations. Valve used the GoldSrc, but they made adaptations for it, almost creating a new one. Don't compare two different engines - the unreal does not get good with heavy models and textures. It's great with lighting tough. Ill explain my comment again. For the year deus ex was released - the mechanics was rather great. The AI was not that good, but in overrall, it was a great game. Game of the year, remember? And if you knew Ion Storn, you knew that they had limited funds for investing in deus ex that much. They lost much with daikatana and Dominion. Buying a game engine like the GoldSrc costs - and costs MUCH.

Taj201186
Taj201186

Wow impressed with the graphics on this new piece. Excited ta c wat the computer science world has revolutionized to.

Jewelspoint
Jewelspoint

I just hope they include lightup arrows and lines to guide you to each objective. (sarcasm) This interview made it sound like they're on the right path!!

DrugSkill69
DrugSkill69

@Saije So true. It's cool to see there's still people thinking this way.

JJMikhail
JJMikhail

I just hope we have some bad ass like Walton Simons in there, kept the rivalry between the good and bad throughout Deus Ex 1.

spongebob53186
spongebob53186

please.........please make the cover system optional. im sick of cheats being added to games making them way to easy. coversystem ruined what was otherwise good combat in mass effect 2

Saije
Saije

@DrugSkill69 No I understand your point completely. In this age of games it seems like everyone tries WAY to hard to make games "accessible" to new audiences. This usually translates to a complete lack of depth, complexity, and anything else that makes games worth playing. We like complex systems! Stories! Characters! Things that stimulate our intellect and make us y'know "THINK" now there's a bold game design decision, make a game where the player actually NEEDS a brain to play. For once make a game that is DEEP and COMPLEX for the "HARDCORE" gamers. If your audience has the I.Q. of a typical lab rat it shouldn't be your target audience to begin with. I'm sick of the simplistic garbage they make these days. They are like games for toddlers, except they have gore in them.

DrugSkill69
DrugSkill69

Sorry, I woke on the wrong foot this morning. After reading the actual interview, I calmed myself down. He's talking about respecting the core values, so I guess I can still hold hopes on this one. I'm just tired of developers taking a popular IP into their hands, and crushing it till there's almost nothing of what made the original so cool left, just so they can please everybody, everybody who aren't a fan, which always represents the biggest market share for the product sold.

DrugSkill69
DrugSkill69

@Fancelot What you fail to understand is that there's been absolutely no advancement in the RPG genre in the past 10 years. On the contrary, it gets more dumbed down at each day passing by. "Jean-Francois Dugas says you don't "need to be an old Deus Ex fan to appreciate the game." Really? Well, being a Deus Ex fan, I won't be buying nor playing your game. Thanks again for proving me there's absolutely no spirit left anywhere in the gaming industry. You almost got me fooled with your hot trailer.

darkdoom2
darkdoom2

@BornGamer Well, i believe it will be the other way around.

BornGamer
BornGamer

This will be a good console game and a terrible PC game.

Fancelot
Fancelot

@malavos I don't no if you realize my context, but what I meant I'm not the type of person that simply want the exact same game but with improved graphics. If I want to play Deus Ex, I'll play Deus Ex, but if they're making a sequel/prequel, I expect them to include all the advancements/innovations that have came along in the past 10 years to make the game more fun, etc while still retaining Deus Ex's soul and atmosphere. There are too many people, especially in the RPG crowd that holds to firmly to tradition, and since I love Deus Ex, I want the series to evolve and be more than tradition. As for the original Deus Ex not being able to implement better combat mechanics or AI due to technology... Half Life/ Half Life opposing fronts...

Megamen13
Megamen13

wasn't a fan of the first and second deus ex but this one look's great :X

malavos
malavos

@Fancelot First Deus Ex was made in the UEngine 1... they have not the technology that we have to this day - and they did not had that amount of money to pay for more time for producting the game. The publishers are always f***** the deadline. About the human revolution... Thanks square, thanks eidos!

BLaZe462
BLaZe462

multi-platform? "what a shame" -JC Denton

npkgardens
npkgardens

One of the great aspects of the original game was that, if you were willing to work (play) hard enough, you could have it all. Unlike some action rpg's, it wasn't as much a "this OR that" character development scheme, but rather just keep exploring and interacting long enough, and you could develop several sets of skills together. That made it really rewarding to find all of the not-so-obvious nooks and crannies and npc interactions, which then fleshed out the story in magnificent detail, because it was all coherent and pertinent to the consistent game world. That was why playing through the second time, when you weren't so intent on moving the story forward, was even more intense that the first. Man, do I ever hope they do this right. The original Deus Ex caused me to go out and splurge my hard-won cash upgrading my Rage Pro to a TNT2. And boy it was worth it, while playing Deus Ex!

Fancelot
Fancelot

@RyuRanVII I loved Deus Ex (played it when it first came out, loved its open ended setting, it was revolutionary as a RPG), but I'm not such a fanboy to not realise its flaws. The combat/shooting mechanics of the first Deus Ex was incredibly bad. You basically had to suspend disbelief as you played a highly trained nanite augmented agent that couldn't even hit the broad site of a barn from 2 meters. This however evened out due to the original Deus Ex's laugable AI, however two bads should not equal a good imo. As a Deus Ex fan, I hope the combat and AI gets a huge overhaul so enemies just dont stand in an open space and charge straight at you. I am in favor of combat where enemies use cover wisely, flank you, use squad tactics etc. As for the skills of the main character when it regards to combat, I believe it should be the Player skills, not Adam's skills that limits him. What I mean is, you're playing someone trained in combat, his baseline combat "skills/capabilities" already far surpasses even the best of gamers. So what they should do is make it so in combat, "skilled/fast reflex" gamers should find the game challenging, but not impossible to beat without emphasizing on combat augmentations. While very low skilled/slow reflexed gamers should find the game challenging/but not impossible when they prioritize combat augmentations. Thats just my two cents, hope it makes sense to you all.

Spartan1017
Spartan1017

@soeppel exactly! i actually played iw first and feel like i can appreciate it more as a game than just as sequel. but after i played the first i can say that it had something that iw just didn't. but what that is, i don't know

RyuRanVII
RyuRanVII

The new game won't be better than Deus Ex (not with heath regeneration, cover system and reflex based combat - not based on Adam's skills), but at least it seens to be much better than Invisible War. I can hardly wait to see if the rest of Human Revolution gameplay is really inspired by the first game.

jean_borrero
jean_borrero

Deus EX: Invisible war wasn't poorly received. It got an 8 here on gamespot and what other xbox games in the same category were better?

Psycold
Psycold

Only thing that bugs me is how low tech the original Deus Ex looked in comparison to it's prequel (as far as future technology goes). The original will always be one of my all time favorites, I really hope this isn't some linear, on the rails FPS with a couple rooms to look in for ammo and a data-pad. I want a TON of re-playability, I don't care if the graphics suffer, I want a huge game with plenty of choice for how you go about missions. Think Mass Effect 2 and then multiply it by 5, that's what I want.

quikstrike98
quikstrike98

I loved Deus Ex. Never picked up Invisible War. I have to say that the one thing which gives me pause about this game, is with all the hype, we have not yet seen ANY game play video! The trailer is nice, but trailers and intro movies ain't game play. They're just movies. Please guys...let's see the game, huh?

Terror_666
Terror_666

I remember breezing trough Invincible War in a weekend and it taking literally months before I had finished Deus Ex and then repaying it several times whereas IW sits collecting dust.

Commando47
Commando47

Played both Deus Ex games and loved them both, the storylines and gameplay were both great. I hope the third one will be able to stack to its t predecessors.

Sixtysixx
Sixtysixx

@ FallenAngelXBL: I agree as do many other people, but it doesn't quite compare to its predecessor. It went from gaming masterpiece to a solid title that really doesn't stand out.

Excedra
Excedra

Only games that come out after summer can be Goty, face the sad truth. if mass effect 2 came out earlier like at november, it would have been.

halobullet
halobullet

With games like Dues Ex the story line is the bottom line and so far from what we've seen, this seems like it's going to be of EPIC proportions.

RandyRedCat
RandyRedCat

Gonna be brilliant, not just a revamp of a long loved game but a visit back to the turn of the centrury which made Deus Ex ones of the most innovative games of it's time. So many game rely on mechanics laid down by this iconic series, to see it again is gonne be OLD SKOOL! xD

CrookedCrown
CrookedCrown

Can't Wait!! Hopefully we get to see some gameplay at e3 :)

yavo
yavo

Reinstalled : /

ad_rock
ad_rock

2027 is only 17 years away, so I guess a lot of sh*t is about to happen

chrispicard
chrispicard

Here's hoping this is Mass Effect 2 with bells on!

The-Techspert
The-Techspert

@Ferretshob The article says that the game is a prequel in the first paragraph (in the very first sentence even). And even if you skipped right to the Q&A, the second question is all about the game being a prequel. Not to be a dick, but...come on dude

xtrazyx
xtrazyx

@ferretshob : this game appears to be in the past of Deus Ex 1 thats why there is no nanotech but mechanical upgrades. The trailer leaves good impression, hope the game will be as good as it.

Switchblade777
Switchblade777

wow impressive, seriously impressive. to be honest, the only game with potential to beat this, at its best mind you, is Metal Gear Solid 5

ferretshob
ferretshob

This game is going to be awesome, however can anyone tell me, the first game was dated in the 2040's and the third installment is dated in 2027. What is going on? Have I missed something?

organbank
organbank

Sign me up for a pre-order. Anything has to be better than Mass Effect 2!

ImpliedBunny
ImpliedBunny

im with DAMSOG, the invisible war was very decent and i found a lot of fun in it. sure it wasnt as deep as the first game, but it was still awsome and offered plenty of freedom.

DAMSOG
DAMSOG

Am I the only one here that thought that invisible war was a decent game? I played through it multiple times and found many different paths etc...heres hoping the 3rd installment can offer some of the same.

Psycold
Psycold

This is making me want to replay the first game

Crazyholic
Crazyholic

So heres hoping that SQ-E don't screw it up and get stupid like FF XIII and let Eidos work their magic and I'm NOT refering to the crap-tastic Tomb Raider series