You Don’t Need To Have Prior Experience With The Series
First and foremost, it’s important to note that you don’t need to have any prior experience with the Deus Ex series before playing Mankind Divided. The game takes place nearly 20 years before the original Deus Ex that released back in 2000. It is the sequel to Human Revolution, however Eidos Montreal has noted that they want Mankind Divided to be accessible to new players as well, by telling a fresh story in a new setting.
This isn’t to say that there won’t be some links to Human Revolution, as Mankind Divided does have a lengthy section catching players up on the story of the previous game. You’ll merely have more context for the story that the new game tells if you’ve played Human Revolution.
Where and When It Takes Place
Mankind Divided picks up in 2029, two years after the events of Human Revolution , once again starring the augmented former private security officer, Adam Jensen. Jensen has joined the Interpol-funded Task Force 29, that helps deal with the augmented terrorists that have sprung up after the “Aug Incident.”
His work in the task force will take Jensen across the world once again. Human Revolution saw us visiting cities like Henghsa and Detroit, and by the same token Mankind Divided will also have multiple hub areas. Dubai and Prague are just a couple of these, each with their own distinct look and feel. The yellow sepia tones of Human Revolution are changed up this time too, as cities like Prague have a much more varied and realistic looking design. Although Mankind Divided does take place two years after Human Revolution, the events of the game still take place quite a bit before the original Deus Ex, which took place in 2052.
The “Aug Incident” was the big event at the end of Human Revolution that set the events in motion that would lead to Mankind Divided. While the new game does explain what this event was to you, going in with previous knowledge of it can only be beneficial.
The incident was prompted by Hugh Darrow, the main antagonist of Human Revolution. In 2027 the Illuminati created a “glitch” in the software within augmented people. LIMB (Liberty in Mind and Body) International issues a replacement biochip in response, which the Illuminati had already planned to use in order to shut down people’s augmentations at will. Unbeknownst to them Darrow, one of their members, had hijacked the biochip and changed its original intent. He then gained the ability to cause augmented people to lose control and act violently across the world.
Darrow tries to use this power to change public opinion on augmented humans with a worldwide televised event. Jensen ultimately ends his plan at the end of Human Revolution, but the world had already started feeling the effects of the “Aug Incident.”
Choices From Human Revolution Don’t Carry Over
Human Revolution was a game filled with choices, ranging from small to world shaking. Even the end of the game during the “Aug Incident,” has three different choices that could drastically change the entire world. Unfortunately, none of these choices are exactly represented in Mankind Divided.
The events of the Aug Incident are fuzzy, with no one in the world besides Adam Jensen really knowing what happened, while the incident itself caused mass confusion among the populace, no matter what ending you chose. By keeping things ambiguous like this, Eidos wants you to feel like whichever ending you chose is the “canon” one.
Stealth Or Combat, It’s Your Choice
One of the biggest talking points of Human Revolution was the way it allowed you to approach each combat encounter in your own way. That holds doubly true for Mankind Divided, as it gives you even more options for making your way through enemies. Going in guns blazing is an option, or you can choose to take the quieter, more stealthy route.
Abilities like being able to hack objects remotely open up your options for exploration, and this time it’s even possible to make your way through the game without being detected by or killing anyone. Both ways are viable options for completing the game, and it ultimately comes down to your preferred play style.
Adam Jensen Is Much Faster In Combat
Mankind Divided’s gameplay is very similar to Human Revolution, but of course there’s a few updates. Primarily among these, is the speed Jensen has during combat. Combat in Mankind Divided just feels faster, snappier, with Jensen dashing between cover points and using some particularly useful augmentations to dash straight into enemies.
The way you use augmentations in battle has also been changed, assigning them to the D-pad and shoulder buttons, and allowing for a smoother, faster experience. Updated hardware with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One certainly give the game quite a boost over its predecessor as well. You’ll need to keep all your wits about you this time, to survive each combat encounter.
Boss Battles Are Designed Better
By far the biggest complaint about Human Revolution was it’s lackluster boss battles. They didn’t really reflect the freedom of the rest of the game, requiring you to beat bosses a certain way, mainly through open combat. This presented a problem if you’d chosen to specialize in stealth or hacking with your upgrades, and there also wasn’t a non-lethal way to beat bosses.
Eidos has taken feedback to heart with Mankind Divided, and changed things up. Each one can now be brought down non-lethally and in different ways depending on your play style. Oliver Proulx even told IGN in an interview that calling them boss battles may not be exactly correct,”You will have some important encounters, but are they boss fights? I think at this point, it’s semantics. But you’ll certainly have some intense encounters with some key characters at different moments in the game,” said Proulx.
Breach – A New Gameplay Mode
Single player isn’t the only thing in the new Deus Ex, there’s a brand new arcade-shooter mode called Breach coming to the game. This trippy looking mode has you taking the role of a Ripper, someone sent to infiltrate secure servers and extract data via a digital avatar.
Gaining XP, credits, and booster packs will allow you to upgrade skills, weapons, and augmentations to use and help you through more difficult levels. You can also compete against other players for high scores in challenge modes. Breach may be a nice break from the melodramatic conspiracy story set up in the main game, and its unique visual aesthetic only makes it more interesting.
New Abilities and Augmentations
Adam Jensen’s arsenal and abilities are expanded like never before in Mankind Divided. First off, certain weapons can now be customized to your liking, with different sights, ammunition types and more. Of course the main draw of Deus Ex is the augmentation system.
Mankind Divided will see quite a few of the augmentations from Human Revolution return, while adding on some useful new ones. These include a detachable ceramic blade, protective nanoshield, fist-mounted electro shock system similar to a taser, and the Icarus Dash which allows Jensen to instantaneously dash forward in the blink of an eye. You aren’t the only one with augmentations however, as certain enemies will come equipped with them too. Making smart use of all your new powers will be the key to success.
Your Choices Matter
Choice was a big part of Human Revolution, but Mankind Divided ups the ante with choice even more. This time around every choice matters, at least when it pertains to the story. Mankind Divided will have multiple branching paths, that can be decided by choices made in dialogue with both allies and enemies.
We won’t know until the game is out, but Eidos has said that they want choice to influence mutliple levels of the game, even to the point where the ending sequence may play out differently for two different players. On top of this, the game also features a number of sidequests and exploration options that will help flesh out Mankind Divided’s world and story, if you choose to seek them out.