Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

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Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Deus Ex, Mankind Divided Box Art.jpeg
Developer(s) Eidos Montréal[a]
Publisher(s) Square Enix[b]
Director(s) Jean-François Dugas
Producer(s)
  • Olivier Proulx
  • Marc-André Dufort
Designer(s) Richard Knight
Programmer(s)
  • David Gallardo
  • Daniel Letendre
  • Sébastien Michel
Artist(s) Martin Dubeau
Writer(s) Mary DeMarle
Composer(s)
Series Deus Ex
Platform(s)
Release
Genre(s) Action role-playing, first-person shooter, stealth
Mode(s) Single-player

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is an action role-playing video game developed by Eidos Montréal and published worldwide by Square Enix in August 2016 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Versions for Linux and macOS systems were released in 2016 and 2017 respectively. It is the fourth game in the Deus Ex series, and a sequel to the 2011 game Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The gameplay—combining first-person shooter, stealth and role-playing elements—features exploration and combat in environments connected to the main hub of Prague, in addition to quests that grant experience and allow customization of the main character's abilities with items called Praxis Kits. Conversations between characters feature a variety of responses, with options in conversations and at crucial story points affecting how some events play out. Alongside the main campaign, players can complete a cyberspace-set challenge mode called "Breach". Breach later released as a free standalone product.

Set in the year 2029, two years following the events of Human Revolution, the world has become divided between normal humans and humans using advanced and controversial artificial organs dubbed "augmentations". Following an event dubbed the "Aug Incident", augmented people have been segregated, prompting heated public debate and an era of "mechanical apartheid". Main protagonist Adam Jensen, equipped with advanced new augmentations following Human Revolution, acts as a double agent for the hacker group Juggernaut Collective to expose the Illuminati, which is orchestrating events behind the scenes. The story explores themes of transhumanism and discrimination. It also uses the series' recurring cyberpunk setting and conspiracy theory motif.

Production of Mankind Divided began following the completion of Human Revolution expansion The Missing Link. Eidos Montréal wanted to improve and polish their established gameplay and narrative elements, in addition to addressing criticisms made by fans and reviewers of Human Revolution. The gameplay and graphics engine were rebuilt from scratch for next-generation hardware. A greater focus on realism and the story's darker themes resulted in a subdued color range compared to the previous game. Human Revolution composer Michael McCann returned to write the score with newcomers Sascha Dikiciyan and Ed Harrison.

The game was announced in 2015 following a lengthy promotional campaign. Subsequent marketing slogans drew controversy from journalists, and a divisive tier-based pre-order campaign was cancelled due to player backlash. Post-launch story-based downloadable content was released during 2016. Reception of Mankind Divided from journalists was positive, with praise going to the game's narrative, graphics and gameplay. Criticism focused on the brevity of its campaign and the handling of its themes. While it reached high positions in sales charts, it was rumored to be a commercial disappointment, leading to speculation that the series would be put on hold.

Gameplay[edit]

A street in Prague, the game's main hub level. Shown are the HUD with available hotkey options, Adam's health and currently equipped weapon, ammunition level, and remote hacking UI.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is an action role-playing game with incorporated first-person shooter and stealth mechanics. Players take the role of Adam Jensen, a man equipped with mechanical cybernetic implants called augmentations.[3][4] The game's environments, ranging from open world hubs to more scripted environments, are explored in first-person, although actions such as hiding behind cover, conversing with non-playable characters (NPCs) and some attack animations switch to a third-person view. In these environments, players can find NPCs that will advance both the main story quest and optional side quests; completing quests, along with other actions such as combat with enemies, rewards Adam with experience points (EXP), which unlock equipment called Praxis Points to upgrade his abilities. Also accessible are black market vendors which supply equipment, materials and weapons for Credits, the in-game currency.[3][5][6]

There are a variety of approaches players can take for various situations. They can use a violent approach and shoot their way through environments while using cover to hide from enemy fire. Alternately, Adam can take a stealthy approach, avoiding guards and security devices, again using cover to avoid enemy sight lines. Adam can move between cover elements and around corners while staying hidden. The melee takedown system offers lethal and non-lethal options, in addition to an assortment of lethal and non-lethal weapons. Adam can also move the bodies of enemies into hiding places, preventing them from being seen and raising an alarm.[3][7][6] A key part of Adam's abilities are augmentations, which can be acquired and upgraded using Praxis Kits either bought from special vendors, found in the game environments, or are automatically unlocked by leveling up: higher-level augmentations require more Praxis Kits to unlock. Augmentation functions can range from passive enhancements to Adam's vision or damage resistance, to active upgrades such as allowing Adam to fall from great heights without being injured or increase his strength. Some augmentations are dependent on Adam's energy level, deactivating after an amount of energy has been drained.[5][8][7][6] Other augmentations available, dubbed "Overclock" abilities, which forces players to deactivate another augmentation to allow them to work.[9]

Non-lethal and lethal Weapons, which can either be bought or picked up from enemies, can be modified with parts salvaged from other areas. New components and elements such as one-use unlocking devices called multitools can be either bought from vendors or built using salvage in each area. Using salvage in crafting new components requires blueprints discovered in areas of the overworld.[5][8][4] While in the game's environments, Adam can engage in hacking a variety of devices, with hacking split into two modes. The first has Adam hacking static devices such as computers, which triggers a separate minigame which allows players to capture points called nodes and access a device. The second mode involves hacking devices such as laser traps and security robots, triggering an altered minigame where zones on a graph must be triggered to deactivate a device.[4]

At multiple points within the game, Adam partakes in conversations with NPCs related to main and side quests, some of which add lore to the game's world. When talking, Adam is presented with different conversation options that affect the outcome of conversations: choosing the right option can help with completing objectives while choosing the wrong option closes off that route and forces the player to find an alternate solution. A "Social" augmentation enables better reading of an NPC's expression and judging their psychological profile, improving chances of selecting the right dialogue option.[3][8][4] Most boss battles can be negated by using the right dialogue options.[3]

An additional mode available to players is "Breach"; players take the role of a hacker infiltrating the cyberspace realm of the Palisade Bank to retrieve data from companies within the Deus Ex, then escape the level within a time limit once all data is collected and the local enemy monitor is activated.[4] Styled similar to an arcade game with a surreal polygonal graphical style, the player inhabits an avatar and navigates environments, with augmentations unique to this mode which enhances the avatar in a variety of ways. The enemy monitor alters its responses depending on how the player approaches levels.[3][8][4][10] While Mankind Divided does not possess true multiplayer, "Breach" includes leader boards which allow players to compare their scores and positions online. Rewards for completing levels in Breach include randomised rewards and elements which alter gameplay elements in individual maps.[8][10]

Synopsis[edit]

Setting[edit]

Mankind Divided is set in the year 2029, two years after Deus Ex: Human Revolution.[11] The Deus Ex series is set in a cyberpunk future rife with secret organizations and conspiracies: among these forces is the Illuminati.[12][13] In the lead up to Human Revolution, advances in biotechnology and cybernetics have led to the development of "augmentations", artificial organs capable of greatly improving and enhancing the human body's performance; the price of augmentations is taking Neuropozyne, a limited and expensive immunosuppressive drug that stops the body rejecting the technology. The creation of augmentations created new social divides between those who use augmentations, those too poor to afford them, and those who are either opposed to them or cannot use them.[11]

During the events of Human Revolution, the Illuminati created a plan to place limitations on augmented people as they threatened their control using a new biochip. They are opposed by Adam Jensen, chief of security at the pro-augmentation corporation Sarif Industries who is heavily augmented after an attack on his employers leaves him critically injured. Illuminati member Hugh Darrow subverts the Illuminati's plan with the intent of prejudicing humanity against augmentations, broadcasting a signal from the Arctic research base Panchaea that made anyone with the biochip go berserk. This mass chaos is later dubbed the "Aug Incident". Jensen stops the signal, and is left with a choice; broadcast stories which can support Darrow, the Illuminati or his employer, or destroy Panchaea and let humanity decide. In the canon ending, Jensen destroys Panchaea, but social trauma from the Aug Incident and the Illuminati's manipulation cause people to stigmatise augmented people. By the events of Mankind Divided, humanity has initiated a "mechanical apartheid" against augmented people, segregating them in ghettos and stripping them of many rights.[11][12]

The story focuses on events in the city of Prague, with some events being set in Dubai and London.[14][7] Several factions play key roles in the world. One of the most prominent is the Illuminati, a group of corporate elites that influence human society for their own benefit. The Illuminati are opposed by the Juggernaut Collective, a group of hacktivists led by the shadowy Janus, acting as the precursors to underground movements in the original Deus Ex. The two main factions in the story of Mankind Divided are Task Force 29 (TF29), an Interpol-run anti-terrorist team based in Prague; and the Augmented Rights Coalition (ARC), originally an aid group for augmented people and now a controversial body opposing the abuse of augmented citizens.[12][13]

Characters[edit]

Human Revolution protagonist Adam Jensen returns as the lead character; presumed dead following Panchaea's destruction, he was rescued and secretly implanted with advanced augmentations.[12][15] Due to a genetic trait which allows the use of augmentations without taking Neuropozyne, Jensen occupies a middle ground between humans who mistrust augmented people and those whose augmentations are decaying due to a lack of Neuropozyne.[16] Following his return, Adam becomes part of TF29, acting as a double agent for the Juggernaut Collective in his quest to expose the Illuminati. Jensen interacts with the Collective's unseen leader Janus through Alex Vega. Jensen's co-workers in TF29 are director Jim Miller and psychologist Delara Auzenne. His main opponents are ARC leader Talos Rucker; and Viktor Marchenko, a member of ARC who turns to terrorist action.[13][15] Central characters in the downloadable content (DLC) episodes are Frank Pritchard, an old associated from Sarif Industries; Shadowchild, a skilled hacker with a grudge against the Palisade Bank corporation; and Hector Guerrero, an undercover agent in the "Pent House", a prison for augmented criminals.[15]

Plot[edit]

Note: While the general plot of Mankind Divided follows a distinct path, many elements are subject to the player's decisions. The game also offers several subplots which the player may or may not encounter, depending on their actions within the game. This synopsis concentrates on the main, unavoidable plot thread of the game, along with key choices and options.

During a mission in Dubai for TF29, Jensen is attacked by an augmented mercenary group and narrowly escapes. He returns to Prague and speaks to Vega, then the two are caught in a bomb attack which damages Jensen's augmentations. After repairing them and learning of the hidden augmentations planted during his recovery following Panchaea, Jensen spies on a meeting between Miller and his superiors and learns that the recent attacks are to be pinned on ARC by the United Nations leadership. Jensen is sent by Miller into the Golem City ghetto and confronts Rucker, who dies after confirming that ARC was not responsible for the attacks. The Illuminati-aligned Marchenko assumes Rucker's place and begins steering ARC towards militancy. Jensen learns that TF29 director Joseph Manderley and VersaLife CEO Bob Page—prominent Illuminati members—used a biological weapon dubbed "Orchid" to kill Rucker.

Rucker's death causes unrest in the augmented population, eventually bringing Prague under martial law. With help from Vega and Janus, Jensen learns of two different opportunities to confront Marchenko; the Orchid data stored in a vault of the Palisade bank, and a fanatical augmented ex-soldier called Allison Stanek who helped produce the bomb. Via either route, Jensen infiltrates Marchenko's base in the Swiss Alps. Upon discovering him, Marchenko injects Jensen with Orchid. Due to his genetic traits, Jensen survives and gives an Orchid sample to Vega for analysis upon his return to Prague. After spying on a local crime family, Jensen learns that Marchenko is planning an attack on a London summit hosted by influential CEO Nathaniel Brown. Brown is lobbying against the Human Restoration Act, an Illuminati-backed law that would permanently segregate augmented to the isolated metropolis of Rabi'ah.

After failing to convince Brown of the threat, Jensen confronts Marchenko's men after they infiltrate the summit's security, poisoning Miller with Orchid; Miller's fate depends on Jensen's earlier actions. If Jensen fails to save Brown, his death at the hands of ARC galvanizes support for the Human Restoration Act, while saving Brown empowers him to block the Act. After confronting Marchenko, Jensen can kill or apprehend him. Regardless of the outcome, Vega vows that the Juggernaut Collective will pursue Manderley and Page, and Jensen insists that Vega introduce him personally to Janus. In a post-credits scene, a council of Illuminati members led by Lucius DeBeers convene and decide to watch Jensen closely. DeBeers then privately talks with Auzenne, his agent in TF29, revealing that they are using Jensen to locate Janus.

The narrative is expanded with the DLC series "Jensen's Stories". In Desperate Measures, Jensen discovers that footage of the bombing was edited by a member of Tarvos Security to protect a family member. In System Rift, Jensen is contacted by Pritchard to break into the Palisade's Blade vault and investigate the logistics of Rabi'ah. He infiltrates the Blade vault with help from Shadowchild. When Pritchard's avatar is trapped in the system, Shadowchild and Jensen are forced to punch a permanent hole in the Blade's firewall as a distraction so he can escape. In A Criminal Past, Jensen talks with Auzenne about an early mission; he went undercover in the Pent House when Guerrero went dark. After contacting Guerrero and being involved in a prison riot, Jensen discovers an augmentation harvesting ring called Junkyard, who uses an inmate called the Fixer to perform operations. Guerrero has become affiliated with Junkyard and wants to kill the Fixer after he discovers their identities. Jensen can diffuse the situation or take sides, leading to different fates for Guerrero and the Fixer. The scenario ends with Jensen asking Auzenne whether she would kill to protect a mission.

Development[edit]

Eidos Montréal developed Human Revolution as a prequel to the original Deus Ex and a reboot of the brand after several years of dormancy.[17][18][19] Though Human Revolution was met with scepticism during development, it released in 2011 to critical and commercial success.[20] Lead writer Mary DeMarle said that the team had no plans for a sequel during production of Human Revolution, as their main aim was to bring Deus Ex back into the public eye. As development finished, the core team realised that they wanted and needed to produce a sequel.[21] The sequel was originally going to be produced by Obsidian Entertainment, according to an interview with studio CEO Feargus Urquhart. Urquhart estimated that their version would have been out in 2014. Due to unspecified circumstances, the plan failed to materialise.[22]

Production of Mankind Divided began in 2011 following the completion of The Missing Link, an expansion of Human Revolution.[23] When developing Mankind Divided, the team's aim was to improve and streamline the experience from Human Revolution, keeping well-received elements intact while polishing those that had either been criticized at launch or left unpolished due to time constraints.[24] Production for the sequel spanned five years. The long development period was explained by DeMarle and gameplay director Patrick Fortier as being due to both the upgraded technology and the depth of narrative.[25] Production was completed on July 29, 2016, with Eidos Montréal confirming that the game was declared gold (indicating that it was being prepared for duplication and release).[26]

Scenario[edit]

According to DeMarle, the team sat down to discuss where to go from Human Revolution. Their inspiration came from the "Aug Incident" triggered during the closing sections of Human Revolution, with the team wanting to explore its impact and aftermath. Human Revolution ended with a player choice, but the team realized that the world's population would be too busy dealing with the tragedy to take much notice, allowing them to develop a sequel while allowing each player's choice to be valid.[21] DeMarle was in charge of the entire narrative design, overseeing a large team of writers. Writers were split into teams, with some handling the main narrative with DeMarle, others dedicated to side quests, and others still helping with elements such as major dialogue trees with boss characters.[27] Describing the narrative design for Mankind Divided, producer Olivier Proulx said that they wanted to redesign the overall narrative structure so there was less opportunity for players to use a save to play through several set endings, which was the case in Human Revolution. This was done by carrying key plot twists through to the end of the game, having them impact elements such as dialogue and story options during the final segments.[16] Some plot elements were left unresolved by the end of Mankind Divided, attributed by DeMarle to production time limits and problems caused by the game's narrative ambitions for level of detail.[28]

Talking about where the narrative was supposed to go, Fortier said they wished to realistically evolve the first game's focus on transhumanism. This led to incorporating the theme of discrimination, as that seemed the logical outcome from the social divisions created by augmentations. While these themes aligned with several real-world events at the time, Fortier said these were more coincidental than intended, as the team's focus was building the world as they envisioned rather than referencing reality.[29] These elements also played into both the series' overall cyberpunk setting, and its focus on conspiracy theories.[23][28] The choice of Prague as a setting was due to the team's wish to focus on Europe after much of Human Revolution was set in America. Prague was a good example of a long-standing city which blended old and new architecture. The team also chose it because of the local myth of the golem, which was referenced with the Golem City ghetto.[20]

A consideration DeMarle needed to remember was the established narrative of the original Deus Ex. She approached it as a case of history being written by winners, with what was known in the present of Deus Ex not being accurate. This fitted in with one of the themes of Mankind Divided of seeking out truth.[16] Supplementary information scattered through the game helped connect Mankind Divided both to Human Revolution and the future Deus Ex continuity.[23] The Illuminati, key antagonists across the series, were portrayed differently in Mankind Divided than they were in the original Deus Ex, described as being part of "'90s-era X-Files-style paranoia". DeMarle instead wrote them as a loosely-aligned elite who pursue their own goals.[13] She compared the Illuminati of Mankind Divided with the way powerful bankers were written in the book Too Big to Fail. Both were too arrogant to band together over a common cause, and that such an incarnation was the closest she could get to a realistic version of the fictional Illuminati.[13][28]

An early decision was to bring Human Revolution protagonist Jensen back for Mankind Divided.[16] Proulx explained that it was because of his "badass" persona and being a favorite among staff.[23] DeMarle did not see Jensen as having a long life within the Deus Ex series, with one of her drafts for Human Revolution having him die at the game's end.[30] A core part of Jensen's portrayal in Mankind Divided was his embracing the augmentations in his body when they had originally been forced on him. Described by the game's director Jean-François Dugas as being "a tool and a weapon", Adam in Mankind Divided has accepted his augmented status and decided to use it for both the greater good and his personal goals.[31] While Human Revolution portrayed Jensen as reactive, in Mankind Divided DeMarle insisted that he was rewritten to be proactive. A cited example were his interactions with Miller, which had to take into account both Jensen's reworked persona and the necessities of a mission-based game.[32] Elias Toufexis returned to voice Jensen, being called in to begin recording in 2013. Speaking about returning to the role, Toufexis described it as easy as he knew Adam's character better, although it was still difficult as Jensen's personality was ultimately defined by the player. To this end, Toufexis needed to have several versions of Jensen in his head so he could switch his voice accordingly.[33]

Game design[edit]

When discussing how they approached the game design of Mankind Divided, director Jean-François Dugas said that, while their first game had been characterised by their overall "naiveté", Mankind Divided required courage to bring the Deus Ex gameplay to "the next level". While they had a solid base with Human Revolution, the whole team wanted to evolve from that base and address problems raised by players and critics.[34] Particular points raised were balance problems, stiff mechanics, weak combat and boss fights that seemed to punish a non-lethal playstyle.[34][35] Some of these problems were sorted by the team with the director's cut of Human Revolution, and feedback from it enabled the team to further tailor and balance the design of Mankind Divided. The gameplay also had to reflect the narrative themes surrounding Jensen's acceptance of his augmentations.[34]

When creating the gameplay, the team focused on creating both an immersive environment and opportunities for player choice, ranging from non-linear exploration to primitively completing objectives; these necessities had to be implemented on both a large and a small scale. The Praxis upgrade system was carried over from Human Revolution, and weapons were based on real-life counterparts. The AI system was upgraded, with two different subsystems for open combat and stealth that would both react differently and transition smoothly based on player actions.[36][37] Augmentations were designed based on telemetry from Human Revolution, which showed which were popular with players.[7] When discussing boss battles, the team evaluated their worth within the context of Mankind Divided, then included both classic-style bosses that needed to be fought, and encounters which could be navigated using conversation alone. While Fortier did not want classic-style, he realised that the game's mechanical limitations demanded it. In direct response to complaints about the outsourced boss battles from Human Revolution, boss battles in Mankind Divided were developed entirely in-house, with every encounter either being navigable using conversation alone or offering non-lethal options for players.[35]

The Breach mode came about when the team wanted to break away from the realism of the main game. A dedicated "live" team led by Fleur Marty created Breach with the aim of carrying over the mechanics of Mankind Divided into a non-realistic setting. The team also wanted to experiment with a multiplayer mode, but as this would be difficult to fully implement and explain within the Deus Ex setting, they decided upon an asynchronous system.[38] The team also implemented elements which encouraged fast completion time. Early builds had a more difficult path back to each level's exit, but changed it due to its negative impact on stealth-based gameplay.[39] The team did include microtransactions, but Marty stated in an interview that players need not pay anything. Their aim was to make the system "lighter than Hearthstone" as the mode released as part of a retail game rather than a free-to-play standalone mode.[38]

Technology[edit]

Mankind Divided runs on the Dawn Engine, a game engine designed for eighth-generation gaming hardware.[40] The engine was built upon Glacia 2, an in-house engine created by IO Interactive.[41] When evaluating what engine technology to use following Human Revolution, the team had several choices. These included the Unreal Engine, which was being used by another team within the company to develop the 2014 Thief reboot; the CDC engine created by Crystal Dynamics for Tomb Raider: Underworld and its upcoming 2013 series reboot; and IO Interactive's Glacier 2 engine used by for Hitman: Absolution. Due to its more extensive tool suit, Eidos Montréal chose Glacier 2 and expanded upon the basic framework to create the Dawn Engine.[40] As part of the redesign, the team introduced physics-based rendering, a new animation system. Due to the game's narrative-based foundation, the engine was optimised to serve this aspect.[41]

Creating the environments was a challenge for the developers, as they wanted to be as realistic as possible while remaining within the bounds of their planned game design and available technology. The characters' hairstyles, designed to appear as lifelike as possible, were animated using in-house technology based on TressFX. Dedicated lighting programming allowed it to maintain realism within changing light conditions.[42] Environmental scale was troublesome, as interior rooms with realistic proportions and high detail were too large to fit inside their associated exterior structures, so the team employed programming tricks to maintain an illusion of reality.[43] Multiple lighting filters were created at different levels to achieve a dynamic and realistic lighting system. The use of light played into the artistic themes of the game. Due to a lack of console-specific functions, in-house technology was used for the anti-aliasing filters to maintain a smooth image when navigating its environments.[42]

A noted element of the original Glacia 2 engine carried over into the Dawn Engine was the "entity system", an advanced AI system which allowed the quick creation of new AI behavior based on existing designs, negating the need for a dedicated programmer.[41] The advantage with the Dawn Engine technology was its ability to hold a large number of entities at one time, which was suited to large game environments. The "entity-driven" architecture allowed artists deep involvement alongside the environment and level design teams. The more powerful technology allowed the inclusion of more interactive and environmental objects, in addition to elements central to the Deus Ex series such as air ducts and cover.[44] The team wanted to avoid having any obvious walls preventing the player from moving beyond the map boundaries, so they integrated some areas into the environment and looped the main streets to create an illusion of scale.[43]

Art design[edit]

The art director for Mankind Divided was Martin Dubeau. The art director for Human Revolution, Jonathan Jacques-Belletête, remained on as executive art director.[45] As with Human Revolution, artwork of the Renaissance period provided design inspirations for the team, including Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci. Humanity's attitude to augmentation was described as a metaphor and overt expression of the transition between the Dark Ages and the Age of Enlightenment. Gold continued to be a symbolic representation of pro-augmentation factions.[46] While black and gold were the dominant colors for Human Revolution, Mankind Divided made less use of these colors due to the narrative situation, instead making more use of blue and grey to create a subdued setting.[46][47] When creating the world of Mankind Divided, the aim was to make locations recognisable while adding futuristic and cyberpunk elements, as the time in which the game was set was not far into the future.[47] Dubeau represented the more subdued tone and violent reaction against augmentations by using "cold, raw, and opaque materials" for modern architecture.[48] Golem City, Prague's ghetto for augmented citizens, was based on Kowloon Walled City and corporate housing.[45] For the Dubai location, the team drew inspiration from the work of Zaha Hadid.[47]

Jensen was given an altered outfit for the game, referencing both his first appearance in Human Revolution and his evolution following that game's events. While Jacques-Belletête was satisfied with the first game's design, Dubeau wanted to use it as a starting point for a new design. After working on it internally for some time, the art team decided to collaborate with an external partner. They contacted Errolson Hugh, co-founded of the Berlin-based design house Acronym, to design Jensen's coat. Jensen's new outfit aimed for a military feel while incorporating stylistic elements from its earlier form, fashion elements common to Hugh's work, and practical fastenings and alterations to accommodate Jensen's augmentations.[49] Marchenko's design reflected a life of work and hardship. The character of Rucker was designed as symbolic of his own hardships and his position in ARC. His death scene also included the symbolic presence of a sunset, which Dubeau said represented the death of the cyber Renaissance.[45] The police officer designs reflected the theme of "regression", their armor being modelled after Medieval knights.[48] Aside from Jensen's coat, Hugh and Acronym also collaborated on general clothing design for the game.[49] The costume design was inspired by the work of fashion designer Gareth Pugh.[47]

Music[edit]

Michael McCann, composer for Human Revolution, returned as a co-composer for Mankind Divided.[50] He was joined as co-composer by Sascha Dikiciyan, whose work included Borderlands and Tron: Evolution. According to audio director Steve Szczepkowski, the team wanted to build upon the musical foundation of Human Revolution while communicating the darker themes of Mankind Divided, and due to the game's scale searched for a composer to join McCann. Having heard Dikiciyan's music, Szczepkowski talked with Dikiciyan about joining the team. As they shared an enthusiasm for the series, Dikiciyan was brought on board.[50][51] The music for the Breach mode was composed by Ed Harrison.[52] The ending theme was composed by Misha Mansoor of the progressive metal band Periphery.[53] Two soundtrack albums for Mankind Divided were released on December 2, 2016; a standard edition, and an "Extended Edition" with additional tracks.[54][55]

Release[edit]

The existence of Mankind Divided was confirmed in 2013 in a press release from Eidos Montréal about the Deus Ex series. It formed part of a series-wide project dubbed the "Deus Ex Universe", with both future games and additional media designed to expand upon the series setting.[56] The game's announcement was leaked a day in advance of its official unveiling in early April 2015; it was announced for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows personal computers (PC).[57] The reveal was the culminating moment of a three-day promotional event organised by Eidos Montréal and publisher Square Enix. The event was called "Can't Kill Progress", featuring a live Twitch stream of a man pacing, sleeping, and meditating in a nondescript room.[57][58] Viewers were allowed to change the camera angle and vote on how the man should act during his interrogation.[58] This campaign was inspired by the choice-based narrative and gameplay of Deus Ex, intended to show fans that the series had returned.[59]

The reveal trailer was produced by Visual Works, the CGI department of Square Enix. Visual Works had been involved with Deus Ex and Eidos Montréal since Square Enix acquired the series' previous owner Eidos Interactive was purchased by Square Enix in 2009. Adam's character model was based on original CGI models from Human Revolution and Eidos Montréal's design documents. Eidos Montréal collaborated with Visual Works over the trailer's aesthetic design and content. While their previous projects had settings based on European fantasy or advanced science fiction futures, the team were able to use the real-world version of Prague for reference for scenes showing the bombing. The actions scenes needed to be worked out beforehand with the motion capture actors. The most difficult scene for Visual Works was a sequence where Adam activated the Titan Armor augmentation to block a hail of bullets.[60]

The PC version was created by Nixxes Software and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).[1][61] The focus when creating the PC version was the control scheme and various graphics options for multiple types of computer systems. Nixxes partnered with AMD to enable the game's smooth performance on DirectX 12 systems. The DirectX 12 system included a new application programming interface which was similar to that used for the console versions, allowing equivalent optimization and exchange of technological improvements. A priority for the PC version's graphics was improving bokeh and depth of field to create a more realistic environment. These effects were implemented using AOFX, a part of AMD's GPUOpen middleware tool. Another enhancement was to the TresFX hair effects, which was altered so much by AMD that it was christened as a new graphics tool called PureHair.[1]

Mankind Divided was originally set for release on February 23, 2016. However, in November 2015, the team announced that the release would be delayed to August 23. According to Eidos Montréal, once the team had a fully playable version, they needed the extra time to polish the game to the standard of quality expected from players.[62] The game was released as both a standard adition and a Digital Deluxe Edition, which included access to all DLC content and in-game items such as Praxis Kits.[63] As a pre-order bonus for the PC version, an announcer pack featuring the voice of Jensen was released for the multiplayer online battle arena game, Dota 2.[64] A port for Linux and macOS were developed and published by Feral Interactive.[2] The Linux port was released on November 3, 2016;[65] while the macOS version on December 12, 2017.[66] It was released as both a standard edition, and a Digital Delux edition featuring in-game items and DLC.[2][67]

Controversies[edit]

Shortly after its announcement, Mankind Divided was subject to criticism online surrounding the use of the word "apartheid" as part of its marketing. The criticism stemmed from the word's historic associations with "apartheid", a system of racial segregation in South Africa during much of the 20th century.[68] Members of the game's staff defended their use of the term due to its relevance to the story's subject matter.[68][69][70] Later, further controversy was created among both the public and other game developers due to the use of the phrase "Aug Lives Matter" in promotional concept art for Mankind Divided. The slogan is very similar to Black Lives Matter, an activist group which opposes racism against black people.[71] The developers responded that the similarity was a coincidence rather than a conscious reference, with its choice predating the emergence of the actual movement in 2013.[71][72]

One of the original marketing campaigns for Mankind Divided revolved around a tier-based pre-order campaign; with five tiers, each with their own pre-order bonuses, players who had pre-ordered the game could pick items from each tier depending on how many pre-orders there had been worldwide. The highest tier would have allowed players access to the game four days prior to its official release date.[73][74] According to Square Enix, the system was intended to offer more freedom to players about what pre-order content they received, rather than the developers choosing pre-order content packages for release in each world region.[74] Game journalists and fans were highly critical of this style of pre-order campaign.[73][75] Due to the negative reactions, the system was cancelled, and all content was available to those who pre-ordered the game or purchased a Day 1 edition.[74] There was also negative feedback following the game's release due to its use of microtransactions, compounded by rumors surrounding internal troubles with the game's development.[76][77]

Post-release content[edit]

Following the release of the core game, the development team focused on post-release content and DLC, ranging from story-based DLC episodes to updates to Breach.[20] A free standalone version of Breach was released on Steam on January 24, 2017. Released the same day was Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – VR Experience, a non-interactive virtual reality tour through four environments from Mankind Divided.[78] Access to the DLC was given via both separate purchases and as part of the season pass released as part of the Deluxe Edition.[63]

The story DLC was released under the umbrella title "Jensen's Stories".[3][79] Desperate Measures, a short mission set after the main game's events, was first released as a pre-order bonus, then made available as a free download in January 2017.[80] The next DLC, System Rift, released one month after the main game on September 23, 2016.[81] In addition to a new location to explore, the narrative of System Rift provided an explanation for the Breach mode.[82] The final DLC expansion, A Criminal Past, released on January 24, 2017[83]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic(PC) 83/100[84]
(PS4) 84/100[85]
(XONE) 83/100[86]
Review scores
PublicationScore
EGM8.5/10[87]
EurogamerRecommended[8]
Game Informer7/10[88]
Game Revolution4/5 stars[89]
GameSpot8/10[9]
GamesRadar+4.5/5 stars[90]
IGN9.2/10[5]
PC Gamer (US)88/100[91]
Polygon8.5/10[92]

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided received "favorable" reviews, according to video game review aggregator Metacritic.[84][85][86] The PS4 version of System Rift also saw positive reviews, with a score of 75 out of 100 points based on 11 reviews.[93] The PS4 version of A Criminal Past was positively reviewed,[94] while the PC version ended up with "mixed or average" reviews.[95]

Nick Plessas of Electronic Gaming Monthly appreciated the enclosed nature of the narrative and how the game gave Jensen personality while keeping him as a cypher for players.[87] Eurogamer's Edwin Evans-Thirlwell found the story structure among the best in the game's genre,[8] Andrew Reiner of Game Informer felt that Mankind Divided sacrificed the narrative's potential to service its themes.[88] Nicholas Tan, writing for Game Revolution, said the narrative was "successful is in its ability to juggle and weave multiple complex and modern themes together".[89] GameSpot's Edmond Tran enjoyed the game's tone and narrative, but thought that some players might find it overly complex.[9] Phil Savage of GamesRadar praised the continuing conspiracy narrative carried over from Human Revolution, but felt that it left the game's main narrative and characters underdeveloped.[90] IGN's Vince Ingenito called the plot "well produced",[5] and Andy Kelly of PC Gamer found the side mission stories more interesting than the main narrative.[91] Polygon's Arthur Gies called the environmental storytelling and its side missions the greatest strengths of Mankind Divided.[92] Multiple reviewers faulted the short length of its campaign and problems with the writing of its characters and main narrative.[5][8][88][89][92] There was also criticism of how the game handled its themes, particularly in contrast to the game's pre-release controversy.[88][92]

Reiner praised the visuals and music, but described the voice acting as "hit or miss".[88] Tan similarly praised the game's graphics,[89] and Tran enjoyed exploring the environments of Prague due to their design and combination of realistic and futuristic architecture.[9] Savage found the setting superior to that of Human Revolution while noting some poor facial animations for minor characters.[90] Ingenito similarly noted inconsistent facial animations, and said that Prague was "gorgeously realized".[5] Kelly praised the graphics and called the level design "brilliant",[91] while Gies lauded the seamless nature of Prague compared to other games of the time.[92]

Speaking of the upgrade systems and balance, Plessas was generally positive about how they had been implemented, but found the AI lacking.[87] While noting an emphasis on stealth and hacking, Evans-Thirlwell enjoyed the freedom for players to approach missions however they wished.[8] Reiner found the action-based approach less appealing due to the AI and dull implementation, but greatly enjoyed the stealth mechanics and associated augmentations.[88] Tan praised the expanded options for players, but noted that hacking had been played down compared to Human Revolution.[89] Tran praised the variety of approaches which would be taken to different situations and the augmentation systems despite some of the new augmentations being lacking due to negligible impact. He also praised the removal of boss battles.[9] Savage called Mankind Divded "a game that's best enjoyed slowly and deliberately" due to its combination of augmentation upgrades and new customization options.[90] Ingenito praised the whole gameplay experience, noting the improvements to combat and the UI compared to Human Revolution, and praising new additions such as gun customization.[5] Kelly called Mankind Divided "a great immersive sim with some of the best level design in the series", lauding the gameplay variety and added augmentation options.[91] Gies enjoyed the variety of gameplay options, but noted that the game subtly pushed players towards taking a stealthy and non-lethal approach, going against some of its core gameplay concept of choice.[92] The Breach mode was generally praised.[5][8][87][88][9]

Sales[edit]

Upon its debut in the United Kingdom, Mankind Divided topped gaming sales charts during its week of release. While impressive, it was noted as having a weaker debut than Human Revolution. This was attributed to the lower install base on consoles compared to its predecessor.[96] In North America, Mankind Divided was the third best-selling game of August, with console game sales for that period being partially attributed to its release.[97] In their fiscal report for 2016, Square Enix attributed an increase in net profit to sales of Mankind Divided alongside other 2016 titles including Final Fantasy XV.[98]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Result Ref
2016 Canadian Video Game Awards 2016 Best Console Game Won [99]
Best Game Design Won
Best Narrative Won
Best Performance Won
Game of the Year Won
The Game Awards 2016 Best Role Playing Game Nominated [100]
NAVGTR Innovation in Game Technology Nominated [101]
2017 ACTRA Outstanding Performance in a Videogame — Victoria Sanchez Won [102]
Outstanding Performance in a Videogame — Chimwemwe Miller Nominated
Outstanding Performance in a Videogame — Claudia Besso Nominated

Legacy[edit]

Following the release of Mankind Divided, rumors began circulating that a prospective sequel had been cancelled and Square Enix had put the Deus Ex series on hold due to disappointing sales. These rumors were compounded after Eidos Montréal shifted to work on both Shadow of the Tomb Raider and an untitled licensed game based on the comic properties of Marvel Entertainment.[103][104] Speaking later in 2017 and 2018, both Square Enix and Eidos Montréal denied rumors that the series was cancelled. While Eidos Montréal was not working on another Deus Ex title due to their other projects, they would return to the Deus Ex franchise when they had both the available staff and the inclination.[105][106]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Ported to Microsoft Windows by Nixxes Software and Advanced Micro Devices,[1] and to Linux and macOS by Feral Interactive.[2]
  2. ^ Linux and macOS published by Feral Interactive.[2]

Citations[edit]

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