When E3 showcased a demo of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Nobody was crying, mind you, they simply stopped blinking over the course of 15 minutes of intense assassin action.
The anticipated sequel to Human Revolution, Mankind Divided drops us two years after the previous title’s end. Augmented humans, or auggies as nobody calls them, are the outcasts of society. Scrutinized, despised, and beaten down, augmented citizens are corralled away from civilization by a fence that’s tearing at the seams. Terrorist organizations, and the government’s stern response, serve as the tense setting to Jensen’s adventure.
As for Jensen, he’s working within Task Force 29, a covert operation he believes to be controlled by the Illuminati. His double agent position, layered onto his strained position between the two competing sides of society, is looking to excitingly shape his role in the civil unrest.
Right out of the gate, a hardy cutscene reminds us how powerful a role atmosphere will play in this title. As Jenson walks along a train station, the player witnesses daily struggles of the augmented through dozens of tiny interactions. Subtle, fearful glances from passerby’s, a tense conversation between a guard and a citizen, a slight flinch as someone brushes against an augmented – these thorough and painstaking additions immerse the player in a world filled with a level of subtext and action that pleasingly resembles real life.
Returning to the series is the critical role of choice. Whether you will move through environments with expert stealth or violent gunfights is up to you. Sneaking, hacking, and shooting compromise the main pillars of action. The notorious stealth suit makes a return, alongside new enhancements that offer a slew of ways to be a cyberpunk badass.
The nanoblade, perhaps the most enticing weapon showcased, allows Jenson to quickly and precisely insert spectacularly sharp blades into his enemies. These blades have the ability to pin enemies to walls, or they can be shot towards the ground and detonated, taking out enemies in cover.
For more obtrusive combat, there’s a variety of guns and ammo types for getting the job done explosively, electrically, or just plain fatally. Not to mention Jensen’s new augmentation, which coats him in protective armor, turning him into a tank.
Levels are designed with an uplifting amount of freedom, as well. Multiple paths to an objective are available, making observation and execution crucial to the player’s experience. The environment is exceptionally fleshed out with choices, taking advantage of every nook and incorporating an impressive level of verticality.
Outside of combat, choice plays a crucial role in Mankind Divided’s narrative progression. Player actions will determine the outcome of dialogues, scenes, and the overall flow of the tale.
There’s tons to explore, tons to blow up, and tons of choices to make that will hopefully lead to substantial and satisfying impacts on the narrative, a quality fans felt was missing from the previous Deus Ex title.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is slated for a Q1/Q2 2016 release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.