Hands-Off Preview: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

on June 23, 2015 3:00 PM

In 2011, the cybernetically-enchanced assassin Adam Jensen returned to gamers in the long-awaited Deus Ex: Human Revolution. While the wait between Invisible War and Human Revolution took the better part of nearly a decade between releases, Deus Ex fans can breathe a sigh of relief that the wait for Adam Jensen’s next chapter will be much, much shorter in next year’s Deus ExMankind Divided.

During our time at E3 2015, DualShockers had the chance to experience a special hands-off preview session of the upcoming Deus Ex: Mankind Divided for a 20-25 minute gameplay demo. Picking up about two years after Human RevolutionMankind Divided shows that while the core dynamics of the Deus Ex series – stealth, action, and social interaction – are set to be intact from the previous title, Adam Jensen will also have a wide assortment of other tricks available to him in his next adventure.

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Split into two segments, the first part of the demo for Mankind Divided set the background in motion for what players can expect coming two years chronologically from where Human Revolution left off. In this case, Adam Jensen and his companions find themselves locked in an ongoing struggle between regular humans and those with cybernetic augmentations, creating what the development team has referred to as a “Mechanical Apartheid.”

During the early portion of the demo, Adam and his companions are passing through a military checkpoint at a train station, and right from the get-go the demo was able to convey its social war between regular humans and augmented citizens not just through expository dialogue, but also through the world and environmental storytelling.

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Reminiscent in a way of the memorable opening to Half-Life 2 in its trek through City 17, the world of Deus Ex remains visually stunning to look at as shown in our demo of Mankind Divided, and yet still managed to convey a time of unrest and tension brewing. As NPC characters in the background decried cybernetically-enchanced humans, a terrorist attack on the train station concluded the opening portion of the demo, leading into Adam Jensen’s investigation behind the attack and moving deep into Mankind Divided‘s combat mechanics and gameplay.

Much like Human RevolutionDeus Ex: Mankind Divided focuses heavily on a mix of stealth-shooter action, taking place in a first-person perspective for the game’s shooting combat, while zooming out into a third-person perspective when moving between points of cover. Placing a big emphasis on player choice and decisions of how to approach a combat situation – whether that be lethally or non-lethally – Mankind Divided looks to be taking the core of Human Revolution‘s combat style with plenty of new augmentations all its own.

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Following the terrorist attack at the train station, the demo soon launches Adam into a stealth-heavy section, giving a good glimpse of how playing with stealth and strategy once again plays a crucial role with success in Deus Ex. However, going in all-guns blazing is now just as viable an option: in particular, the demo took to showing off plenty of the new moves that Adam will have at his disposal for taking out enemies quickly, and effectively.

During the demo, several of the new abilities and augmentations shown for Adam this time around included the Icarus Dash, a new move that allows Adam to cross large gaps quickly and quietly when needed for movement, but also doubles as an effective combat maneuver that slows down targets. Think a mixture of “Blink” from Dishonored and “Charge” from the Mass Effect series and you’ll have the right idea: however, in Adam’s hands it’s an effective move for both quietly getting near enemies in stealth, or more directly being used in combat scenarios to get the quick edge on an enemy.

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Likewise, Adam’s nanoblade also showed lots of new tricks that’s sure to make stealth effective as much as it will be satisfying, thanks to the new ability to launch them at enemies from a distance. Sure to make the Assassins of Assassin’s Creed jealous, the demo showed off new tricks where Adam can launch a wrist-mounted nanoblade from a distance for singular targets and pinning them to a wall: for groups of enemies or those behind cover, Adam can also utilize an explosive nano blade launching shrapnel at multiple enemies.

Having new tricks not just for the more stealthy and silent approaches, Adam also is carrying new equipment and gear for those that prefer the “go loud” approach, in particular with new abilities such as the ground-pounding Icarus Fall to slam down multiple enemies. If going in guns blazing is more of your style, Mankind Divided will also provide the new Titan Shield, encasing Adam in sleek black armor to provide him with invulnerability to gunfire for a short period of time. Likewise, other new gear like the arm-mounted Tesla gun allow Adam to lock onto multiple enemies at once and phase them with non-lethal laser darts, showing in the demo Adam quickly disposing of four enemies at once.

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Moving from the combat heavy section of the demo to give a taste of what Adam’s new combat skills will have to offer, the final section of our Deus Ex: Mankind Divided preview included a new boss fight: however, this particular boss fight showed how Mankind Divided may be trying to approach them in a slightly different way. In this instance, the final section concluded with Adam interrogating the suspect he’s been after, showing a great deal how player choices and decisions will play a part in the outcome of some events, such as being able to get more information out of a particular character or, in the more unfortunate circumstances, having to lead to some violent negotiations.

With a wide variety of new skills and abilities, the ability to switch weapon ammo/upgrades/configurations on the fly, and more at his disposal like remote hacking, Adam Jensen’s arsenal has only grown bigger in what we’ve seen so far of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. However, for the player that’s going to mean having more freedom and accessibility of how to approach the game than ever before. While Adam’s story in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will determine the outcome of a heated struggle between the “augs” and the “non-augs,” Mankind Divided also shows that players will be assisting with determining those outcomes just as much: maybe even more so.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will release for PS4, Xbox One, and PC in early 2016.

 /  Features Editor
Ryan is the Features Editor at DualShockers, with over five years' experience in the world of video games culture and writing. He holds a BA in English & Cinema from Binghamton University, and lives in New York City.