PAX East 11: Deus Ex: Human Revolution Interview

By Kenneth Richardson

March 12, 2011

Deus Ex: Human Revolution has to be one of the hottest upcoming releases of the year. This Eidos and Square Enix collaboration has been flying under the radar the last few years until recently, when a surge of videos began to hit the intranets. We’ve been seeing trailers that showcase a remarkably stylized world and CGI cut-scenes that wouldn’t be out of place in a movie.

We got the chance to sit down with the game’s director, Jean-François Dugas,  for an interview. We have a ton of information on the title, and you’ll definitely want to check this out if you’ve been as intrigued by it as we have the past few months.

The first thing we wanted to know is what inspired the fantastic looking visuals in the title. The answer is much deeper than you might have guessed. The look is a hybrid of the transhumanism concept (which plays a pretty big role in the game) and the European renaissance. The fusion of humans and machines clashes naturally with the renaissance themes and art, which explains why the game looks so highly stylized.

That isn’t all, though. The overall black and gold motif alludes to Greek mythology: the gold patterning is representative of Icarus and his wax wings and the mythology surrounding the sun also inspired the gold. In a nutshell, the visuals are much more than meets the eye. After all, research for the game’s look took a whopping two years. I hope that the game is able to convey to the player just how deep the idea behind the appearance runs. The engine was contributed by Goldtooth and Visual Works – the latter being a Square Enix owned division.

Since the game’s look is obviously very unique, we next wanted to know if that strong sense of style and vision would be conveyed in the game play as well. In other words, is the game play as unique as the visuals? The answer was an absolute and assured “Yes”. Although Deus Ex is an FPS, it mixes game play elements that have seldom been implemented in the genre. The game play is split up into four distinct sections: social, stealth, combat and hacking. All of these skill paths progress and become stronger through the augmentations.

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The stealth component, of particular note, sounds very unlike in what we’ve seen in most FPS games. Players can go through the entire game utilizing that one style of play, and most likely avoid a good amount of combat. In an FPS, no less! The versatility of the game, and the various ways in which the player can approach it is what makes the game play unique and interesting. It’s also noteworthy how the game was described as spontaneous and difficult to predict. You can walk into an area which appears quiet and safe and filled with civilians, only to have this change in an instant.

Since they’ve aimed to push the boundaries of the genre, implementing these components in a functional manner was not easy. It was emphasized that having a preset template in other similar third person shooters would have made it easier, but that isn’t what they wanted. Taking the genre in a new direction required them to do new things and a lot of trial and error was unavoidable.

By this point it’s pretty clear that they’re working very hard to make the game great. Character progression is handled through augmentations, which refers once more to the games overarching transhumanism theme. Experience points are gained for doing just about any and everything, and these points can be used to strengthen your character’s skills and abilities. This component works so well, that they were able to bypass using a statistics system. So you won’t be aiming to raise your character’s strength or speed, but rather to further tweak the corresponding augmentation.

All the game play mechanics needed to be cohesive with one another, so it was noted that special care had been taken in that department. This adds to the game as a finished product. There will also be a lot about Deus Ex for RPG fans to enjoy. Exploration is encouraged and rewarded. Players can explore to learn more about the fabulous world and the characters within it and discover new things that they could have missed. There are also items to discover and an inventory system that genre fans can appreciate. The game is also pretty long. A straight play-through will take upwards of twenty hours to finish, while playing through whilst trying to see and do everything can take more than forty. When asked about DLC plans for the game, he deviously responded  “No comment”.

The last thing we talked about was the difficulty level, because according to our EIC Yaris Gutierrez, the first Deus Ex game was no cake walk. He said that there were three modes of difficulty. The first is a more casual mode with less aggressive foes and is targeted at those who want to learn about the story and world of the game more than they want to challenge themselves. The second level or standard difficulty level is challenging but less so than the third level. The third and final difficulty level (and the only one with a specified  name) is called “Give Me Deus Ex”. In this mode, the game is ‘thrown’ at the player, providing a ton of challenge.

After the interview, I was even more excited about the game. When the developers are this passionate, only good things can result. Deus Ex: Human Revolution will be available in North America for the PC, the OnLive platform and HD consoles on August 23rd.

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Kenneth Richardson

Kenneth is a Graphics and Game Design student who's worked as an author for since June of 2010. His favorite gaming genres are Fighting, Role Playing and Sadistic Action games like Ninja Gaiden and Bayonetta. In addition to gaming, he is also strongly interested in music, fashion, art, culture, literature, education, religion, cuisine, photography, architecture, philosophy, film, dance, and most forms of creative expression.

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