In an interview with PlayStation Blog, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’s Executive Narrative Director Mary DeMarle delved into the games story and branching choices.
“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. 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?”
She explains how they wanted every choice the player makes to have some payoff on levels throughout the game.
“One of the things we really wanted to do was make your choices and consequences pay off on many levels throughout the game. 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.”
The game’s “Tree of Life” system, which tracks the player’s possible choices in the game was also explained.
“As a writer you still have to get the scene to an emotional beat which makes sense, taking into account the variable player choices. 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! 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!”
DeMarle then delves into Mankind Divided’s side missions which while not as necessary to the plot, offer a new spin on the game’s overall mission and Adam Jensen’s 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. 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.”
The New Game + option was discussed next, with DeMarle talking about how it breaks the narrative but opens up the environments in the game.
“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. 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.”
To end the interview, she was asked if Eidos Montreal would consider doing a steampunk version of Dues Ex.
“That would be really cool! 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…!”
I would personally like to see a steampunk version of Deus Ex. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided releases for PC, PS4, and Xbox One on August 23.