2011’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution was hailed as a strong reboot for the classic franchise that, while not without some issues, still captured much of what made the original Deus Ex great. Its sequel, Mankind Divided, is set to launch in August, and a new six-minute gameplay trailer manages to both fill in the backstory of what’s happening in protagonist Adam Jensen’s world as well as showcase the different ways the game can play out.
The Deus Ex franchise has always focused on two things: Shadowy government and corporate conspiracies, and flexible, player-directed gameplay. Want to crawl through ducts, become invisible at will, and stealth-murder your way through secret labs? Deus Ex allows it. Feel like impersonating the Juggernaut from X-Men, with heavy melee attacks, wall-smashing takedowns, and embedded weapon systems? You can.
According to the trailer, the events of Deus Ex: Human Revolution have turned the public against mechanically augmented individuals, even when those people lost limbs in the service of their country or through no fault of their own. Violence against the augmented (and in some cases, augmented violence against ordinary humans) has exploded. Tensions are extremely high as the augmented are treated as second-class citizens in many countries. Jensen has joined Interpol as part of a global antiterrorism unit to investigate the activities of the politically active remaining augments. The game is based in Prague and while DXMD has been in development for years, the debate over augments and their place in society echoes the fears and issues surrounding Syrian refugees and their arrival in Europe.
(The entire Deus Ex trilogy has an unsettling tendency to capture history before it happens — the issues of surveillance and control that are raised both the original game and its 2011 sequel are downright timely in 2016).
The trailer also illustrates the various ways that Adam Jensen can move through the game world. Perform your missions with an emphasis on stealth and non-lethal takedowns, and some enemies will view this as either a sign of respect or weakness with different outcomes as a result. Deus Ex games typically emphasize player freedom more than most titles — in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, delaying too long before starting your first mission will result in most of the hostages being dead when you arrive. The game, to its credit, doesn’t fade to black and start the mission over at this point — I’d played several hours into the game before I realized I could’ve actually saved the hostages and restarted in order to do so.
We already know that Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will be a game you can beat without killing anyone, including boss battles, a major sore spot in the original title. The game is set for launch in late August of 2016 — we’re looking forward to it.