Feature Article

How Deus Ex: Mankind Divided's Different Play Styles Can Change The Story


Silent and methodical, or quick and guns blazin'?

During my recent hands-on experience with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, I chose to play things by the stealth book: non-lethal takedowns, staying silent and out of sight, and hacking my way past electronic gates. I endeavored to be the perfect ghost, and the game allowed me to make that choice. I completed my mission with resounding success, saving the life of a fellow agent while preserving his cover.

"Did you avoid the sandstorm?" producer Olivier Proulx from developer Eidos Montreal later asked. I’d taken my time sneaking my way through the facility, carefully knocking the enemies I encountered unconscious in order to remain undetected. Upon reaching my destination, a short cutscene revealed the onset of the sandstorm he was talking about.

I'd initially thought the weather event to be unavoidable. It was a key variable highlighted during the pre-mission phase, and it was ultimately beneficial, since it hindered my enemies' escape through the skies. But I was surprised to find out the sandstorm could’ve not happened at all, had I moved faster.

I asked Proulx if the team feared their efforts to differentiate mission outcomes would be missed entirely by players. It never occurred to me that the results could’ve played out very differently if the sandstorm hadn’t hit when it did.

"That's usually my initial reaction as producer,” Proulx said. “I'm always thinking, well, we're putting all that effort there, but a lot of players won't see it. I think it's part of the DNA of the franchise, and that's something that the dev team has to accept. I think that's what makes this game so different from others. There are so many little options for players to have agency in the game world.”

Proulx pointed out that the surge in popularity of online streaming has made fear of players missing out less of a pressing issue for developers.

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"We’re now in the era of Twitch and Let's Play videos,” he said. “I think people will share their experience and keep discovering new things. For us, it's really rewarding when people find out how the different little story elements come through in the game. We're fully embracing it, and that's part of how we plan for the production and budget of the game."

Concessions sometimes must be made, however. Ultimately, Proulx said the goal was to achieve an ending that felt like the result of a combination of choices, not a decision made in the moment.

"We cut things out a lot as we go through the development process,” he said. “That choice-and-consequence aspect of the game, we knew we wanted to invest a lot into it. So all these little moments...are being reflected in the game, and there's some big moments where sometimes, it's a question of life or death for a character. Everything that leads to the ending of the game is much more organic, not ‘push one of your four buttons at the end.’

To help players experience all these possible paths, Mankind Divided will also offer a New Game Plus mode, which carries over all unlocked augmentations. Proulx said that someone rushing through the game and ignoring side missions would be able to finish the main story in 20 to 30 hours, although game time could "easily go past 30 hours." And as a treat for dedicated fans, completing Mankind Divided on Hard difficulty unlocks a mode titled, "I Never Asked For This." In this setting, players will only have one life to get through the game. Progress can be saved along the way, but if the player dies, that save gets deleted.

"It's funny, because when we started, our executive narrative director Mary DeMarle thought about killing Adam,” Proulx says. “That lasted a few minutes, because we felt there was so much more to tell with Adam. He's such an iconic character, and it's difficult to create such a character in their story, how they look, so we felt that we had a great pillar to continue telling Deus Ex stories with. For this [game], we really doubled down on Adam. We gave him more depth. He's a character who's evolving, and he's much more comfortable with what he is.”

Proulx also revealed that the team is looking at "potential narrative updates" post launch, but nothing specific was ready to be announced. It isn't known whether these updates would focus on protagonist Adam Jensen or another facet of the game.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided releases on August 23 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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    Zorine Te

    Zorine “harli” Te is an editor based in GameSpot's Australian office. She wants to save the world.
    Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

    Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

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    15 Comments  RefreshSorted By 

    Avatar image for andreh_felipe

    Well, let me ask one thing: make stealth *REALLY* interesting instead of making us repeat the same couple of choke moves that we'll be obliged to repeat HUNDREDS of time.

    Using Dishonored for example: the game gives you, like, 30 ways of killing a enemy and THREE to making them unconscious, so you'll be applying the same sleep-choke HUNDREDS of times, knowing that you gotta take the non-lethal path to get a better ending, while the game keeps providing you SEVERAL really cool ways to kill them. The previous Deus Ex also had this flaw (although not as bad as Dishonored). Come on, people, if you want to make stealth games with non-lethal approaches, take the effort to MAKE THEM COOL AND MULTIPLE, TOO.

    Avatar image for hermitstyle

    @andreh_felipe: If you're going for a stealth / non-lethal run then you shouldn't be choking out HUNDREDS of people. I just completed my Pacifist run (don't kill anyone) on give me deus ex difficulty and choked out maybe 40 people. There's a reason why you have invisibility, silent movement, and eyes that can see though walls. You can blow through areas quickly like the wind without ever being seen. You don't need to knock out every single enemy. Plus you DO have other tools to incapacitate your enemies. Stun gun combined with double takedown is pretty great. PEPS gun is like a massive AARD blast that incapacitates everyone in front of you. Gas grenades can take down large groups easily and non-lethally. So there are other ways to take down enemies non-lethally without just choking them out or punching them in the face. Plus you can throw random crap around to lure enemies or create distractions. Human Revolution has a pretty good non-lethal / stealth system already but Mankind Divided looks to have improved upon it quite nicely.

    From what I've seen in all the gameplay trailers Mankind Divided has everything from the first game plus of course more cool new stuff. That new tesla arm augmentation can auto lock on and take down 4 enemies simultaneously. Typhoon can be modified into a non-lethal version. That alone is pretty awesome and ridiculous. Turn invisible - run into large group of enemies - Typhoon. Yeah that's definitely overpowered. Also PEPS blast is now built into his arm as an augmentation. Weapons can be modded on the fly and some have non-lethal ammo. Not sure which ones but I saw in a video they changed to non-lethal ammo on a long range rifle. There will be non-lethal close range pistol type and long range sniper type at the very least. So in summary they already did what you are asking for. There ARE multiple cool ways to take enemies down non-lethally. You definitely won't be forced to "repeat the same couple choke moves hundreds of times".

    But anyways, I'm excited to get my hands on Mankind Divided. I plan to do my first playthrough stealthy and lethal because it's the most fun way to play. Then I'll take that build into new game + and play stealth / non-lethal / pacifist (like I did in the first game). At the end of that second playthrough I'll probably have every augment unlocked so if I feel like playing through one last time I'll have a fully upgraded Jensen who could go in guns blazing / full A$$ kicking mode. Sweet.

    Avatar image for aj87

    @andreh_felipe: The problem is that how many ways can you put someone down without killing? Its just Sleep or pass out. But I always think that if we are going to negatively criticize something, then bring a solution with you. To instantly sleep: darts, syringe, smoke bomb with sleep chemicals. To pass out: choke or a blunt to the head.

    And thats it, I cant think of anything besides those 5. There is other stuff but it wouldnt fit in the universe of the game, like magic or instantly hypnotize.

    Avatar image for neo7hinker

    20-30+ hours for a rushed play through ignoring side missions?!

    'I Never Asked For This' difficulty setting that gives us only 1 life for the whole game and if we die, our save file is deleted?!

    Potential narrative updates via DLC post-launch?!

    Holy. Shit. I'm drenched in goosebumps and I can't control the butterflies in my stomach. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is destined to be a masterpiece and, quite possibly, one of the best games of all-time, let alone the best Deus Ex.

    Fun fact: I was featured in the Breach trailer in the leaderboards section! My alias is 'Neo7hinker' and I was ranked #2! haha That was an awesome gesture of appreciation and fan service. I love #EidosMontreal!

    Avatar image for domiddian

    Does anyone know if Windows 10 is required for this game?

    Avatar image for chano880

    @domiddian: I'd guess you don't need Win10 for it. Wouldn't make any sense for them to lock a major segment of their market out.

    It's also not tied to Windows store, it's also available on Steam.

    Don't quote me on that though - Steam doesn't have its requirements described yet for some reason.

    Avatar image for domiddian

    @chano880: Thanks man. It's either PC or PS4 for me, I've always played Deus Ex on PC historically and I'd rather keep it that way, but I don't have Windows 10!

    Avatar image for chano880

    @domiddian: You should be golden in any case, presuming you have an all right pc ! Hope you enjoy it, PS4 or pc :>

    Avatar image for hystavito

    I like when games are willing to have lots of content that people might not see, it just means there will be that much more variety and possibilities.

    "the surge in popularity of online streaming has made fear of players missing out less of a pressing issue for developers."
    I hadn't thought of that, it's a good point.

    Avatar image for bluebird08

    Can't wait to play this game.

    Avatar image for uncle5555

    I can only hope that they start weaving more of DX1's overall storyline into the new game (and future games) as Bob Page was briefly in the last game, but didn't have a part in the overall plotline.

    Avatar image for hystavito

    @uncle5555: I wonder if/how they will introduce the issue of mechanical augs looking "ugly", since in these new games we have already seen lots of augmented people that look basically normal. I know the overall issue of natural people being against augs is already there, but people looking like "freaks" (eg. Gunther) would certainly add to that.

    Avatar image for uncle5555

    @hystavito: The early teaser I saw was dealing with that issue, and I think that is something they will start to address in this game. So that's what I think the big story will be in this game.

    I want to see the seeds of the Illuminati/MJ12 conspiracy start to ramp up, and of course we'll eventually find out that Adam was the "father" of Paul & J.C. Denton via his DNA. (my theory at least).

    Glad I'm not the only one who wants to see the older games start to be tied to these newer ones in the overall mythology.

    Avatar image for bbq_R0ADK1LL

    Good to see. Hopefully this game will warrant a couple of playthroughs.

    The Witcher franchise hasn't shied away from different story routes & it really makes your decisions seem more impactful. With Deus Ex having the options of violence vs stealth, it's nice to also see some different storylines play out so it doesn't feel too repetitive.