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A Story You Control in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

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A Story You Control in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Combat or stealth? Lethal or non-lethal? Plasma rifle or fire extinguisher? There’s nothing quite like freedom of choice in video games (fire extinguisher every time, by the way) — and between its wealth of combat and dialogue options, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided offers plenty.

But in a world where biotech has been blended into a Molotov cocktail of paranoia, segregation, and racism, what you perceive as “right” and “wrong” may end up being more mixed-up than you planned. Which is exactly the perfect storm Eidos Montreal is striving for.

A Story You Control in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

“He chose… poorly”

“We wanted to take a look at the human condition in the face of the tragedy that came at the end of Deus Ex: Human Revolution,” says Mary DeMarle, Executive Narrative Director.

“As Adam Jensen you’re dropped into scenarios where you’re deployed against terrorism and the people behind it — but are they really terrorists? Will you actually see them as ‘evil’ when you encounter them? And how will that affect your decisions?”

Set two years after Human Revolution, protagonist Jensen may have embraced his new technological augmentations, but you’re the one who decides what he does with them.

“One of the things we really wanted to do was make your choices and consequences pay off on many levels throughout the game,” explains DeMarle.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, PS4Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, PS4

“Sometimes you may not be aware of them but others require you to choose between two specific paths which impact your end game. And how you approach the final mission will depend on all these choices through the game, meaning you’ll get a different experience of the ending to someone else.”

Mankind Divided’s Tree of Life

While from the player’s perspective it’s great that you have a say on whether Jensen is a charismatic, cool pacifist or a cold-blooded, fire extinguisher-wielding maniac, but for the game’s principle writing staff, making sure you had all of these options was a colossal task.

“As a writer you still have to get the scene to an emotional beat which makes sense, taking into account the variable player choices,” says DeMarle. “So a three minute scene may end up being around 30 pages of script.”

“We ended up creating what we call The Tree of Life, which tracks all the possible choices in the game — and we did it via Excel, which was probably not the best program for that sort of flowchart!” she laughs.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, PS4

“From a script standpoint, every time I have to go back to that final mission and try and keep track of everything that could lead to it, my head wanted to explode!”

Augmenting Your Story

With the team’s ability to be as agile as your in-game choices, DeMarle is also keen to make sure you have plenty of side missions that, while not as crucial to the plot, are important to the game’s themes and offer a new spin on both your overall mission and Jensen’s evolving personality.

“Some of my favorite stories in the game are the ones which are totally optional, but you could still miss an awful lot if you ignore them,” says DeMarle.

“You can solve some side missions in 10 minutes, but if you take your time and explore you can start peeling away at the story and meet additional characters.”

“We wanted to add more environmental storytelling like we did in Human Revolution, so by exploring apartments you see these little micro stories through their appearance — things like emails and other details that have nothing to do with your objective, but flesh out the world you’re in.”

And then there’s the ultimate choice. When you complete the game, you have the New Game + option which lets you start over with your fully kitted out version of Jensen.

“We know New Game + totally breaks the narrative, but this is a game about choice, so we wanted players to explore that in this aspect too,” smiles DeMarle.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, PS4

“Your augmentations in New Game + really let you take advantage and get access to stuff that you didn’t know was there the first time, especially as we designed the game to feature more verticality and 360 entrances for some of the buildings.”

Deus Ex — The Steampunk Years?

No matter where your version of Adam Jensen ends up, the future looks shiny when Deus Ex: Mankind Divided launches on August 23 — but DeMarle had an interesting revelation to close on.

“We had all the usual points of inspiration, like William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Scientific America magazine, articles on transhumanism and a book called Radical Evolution, but I also watched a lot of good TV like Sons of Anarchy and Breaking Bad when working on the game,” she says.

“Even things like The Shining are influential because the characters are so well rounded. And I like China Miéville’s work, which is more steampunk.”

Would she consider a steampunk version of Deus Ex, complete with a tweed wearing Jensen?

“That would be really cool!” laughs DeMarle. “I certainly wouldn’t be adverse to it! But it’s a collaborative effort with the team… although I think Jonathan [Jacques-Belletête, Executive Art Director] would love that!”

“It may not even end up being Jensen, though — maybe someone new…!”

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17 Comments

  • maxnorthstone666

    AMAZING! i cant wait to play! this looks great! keep up the great work! :)

  • I didn’t play the last one. I want to play this one.

  • I loved Human Revolution, and already have Mankind Divided pre-ordered. Can’t wait! Deus Ex is truly unique.

  • PDominatorS3

    Time to finish human revolution, already preordered mankind divided.

  • A great game, I played Human Revolution (and the old games too) and is one of my favorite games… Keep up the great work!

  • Looking forward to this, loved the previous games in the series and already preordered this one. keep them coming!

  • 1:59 -> Uncharted 4 rope takedown lol.

  • You know what, you’re talking a whole lot about how your choices matter about the ending and whatnot, but I’m sure when it’s time for the next Deus Ex sequel to come out, you’ll retcon the ending without a second though of the “choices” we made. Just like with Human Revolution.

    No amount of lip service can rebuild that trust, Mary DeMarle. Fool me once…

  • death_nation100

    Finally the wait of Deus EX Mankind Divided is getting close to being release . I have been talking about this game ever since it was announce on E3 last month.

  • Apollyon_Vice

    They said that about the previous game.
    Then we got pick a button ending.
    Given stink eye realllll hard right now.

    • BadboyStudiosInc

      I played The Witcher 3 for 200 hours and at no time did I ever feel as if what I was doing was remotely changing the world around me. Yes, people would say something to you here and there, but it seemed shallow. Even when you saved a town from monsters and people moved back in, then you came back hours or days later… it was as if you were a stranger to those people, even though you saved all of their collective behinds. Every decision you made, no matter how big the game made it seem, went with barely a mention by those you came in contact with. Even the end game was inconsequential to your actions throughout the rest of the adventure. It just seemed like a very linear story set in an open world.

      So, Im hoping that this game doesnt suffer from the same shallow “interaction” that The Witcher 3 did. Dont get me wrong, I loved every second of it(You generally dont play a game for 200 hours, if you dislike it), but your “supposed” ability to change its story was only skin deep and didnt fulfill the promise to allow gamers to affect the outcome(other than the end cutscene) and the world around them.

    • @ BadboyStudiosInc – I’m sorry to say this to you but then you didn’t payed attention to the game cuz the choices and consequences are nowhere near shallow…I dunno how you played the game but you don’t feel that your choices made changes in the world around you because the game does not tell you,you have to notice.And the game is so filled with this that I can’t believe in what you’re saying which is 100% rubbish…even in small side-quests you can clearly see that your choices make a change.I doubt there is a game out there with better choice/consequences than Witcher 3.

      Ma bet is that you ran through the game even with your 200h as you say…cuz when you save a village from monsters and you go there people say things like “If I have a son I’ll name him Geralt”,”Geralt no matter what people say about you,I’ll never forget what you did for us” and etc.

      You might wanna play again and make different choices…just saying.

  • Looks interesting

  • Really looking forward to this Game played the previous game really enjoyed it just hoping it’s not been over hyped like so many of PS4 game don’t pre order any games now wait and see the reviews

  • AssaultMonkey150

    The fall AAA game spectacular season is only 6 weeks away! Can’t wait for this one, hopefully they don’t expect you to remember too much from the previous game

  • Very excited for this! Human Revolution was a really good game and had such a good original Deus Ex vibe about it. I hope a lot of people get the chance to experience this game as well too. I think Square and Edios really care about this property.

    Cool to learn about NG+! I generally play Deus Ex with an adaptive style: silent with necessary, loud when necessary, and lethal when necessary, but it will be fun to replay with potentially a new style such as full combat or full stealth the second time around.

  • This is the game I am most looking forward to before VR comes out. I loved the last one. Got my platinum on PS3 and later bought it again to play on PC. I loved how you could have the option of going complete stealth, except for the boss fights. I am glad boss fights can be non lethal in this game. All the detail that went into the levels made it so fun and challenging to look for those out of the way hidden routes to find your way through the levels.

    Of course, a lethal playthrough was a lot of fun, too. Nothing better than an upgraded typhoon system.

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