Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Good news! If you liked Deus Ex: Human Revolution, you’re going to like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Developer Eidos Montreal hasn’t really screwed with the magic formula here, which depending on what you come to a sequel for, could be both good and bad. The good, of course, is that the whole open stealth/action style gameplay of Human Revolution remains intact here. You still have large, expansive hubs to check out, with various quest givers and secret areas to uncover. You can tackle most objectives in a large variety of ways. And the main story missions still allow for full stealth or all-out action methods of tackling those missions.
The bad, if you want to call it that, is that the overall experience doesn’t feel that far removed from Human Revolution. Meaning that despite the new setting and new story, protagonist Adam Jensen still relies heavily on the same set of skills and abilities he obtained in the first game. The intro to Deux Ex: Mankind Divided even goes the route that most Metroid games take, in that it strips Adam of his mechanical enhancements at the onset after an explosion, and has you build those enhancements back up throughout the course of the new game. There are definitely new abilities involved, but I was a little surprised as how much felt recycled and similar compared to Human Revolution.
That said, I really, really liked Human Revolution, so I’m not particularly upset about this. It took a good couple of hours to get reacquainted with the world of Deus Ex when I first sat down to play Mankind Divided, but once I was in the swing of things again, it was easy to remember why I loved the first game so much. The initial hub location features lots of nooks and crannies to uncover, with quest givers that aren’t highlighted, meaning you’ll typically stumble across them naturally. There’s a decent number of indoor locations to explore, multiple paths to uncover, hidden sewer routes, vents to displace, windows to open, and door locks to hack.
You can still opt to mess with, or outright kill, pretty much any NPC you encounter. You can skip over questlines entirely by just getting to the root of an issue, and new dialogue focused encounters give you alternate options to plain old-fashioned violence (but that’s still an option too). Honestly, you can basically tackle quests however you want. It’s pretty hard to trigger any fail state outside of Adam Jensen actually dying. Essentially this is what I want out of Deus Ex, and Mankind Divided definitely delivers.
Still, not everything is fantastic. There’s some noticeable framerate issues playing on PS4, which aren’t super frequent, but you’ll certainly see them often enough to take note. I’m also not in love with the look of the character models. This is something that I wasn’t too keen on with Human Revolution either, and that art design just carries over here. I also think the animation work isn’t on par with most AAA releases, reactions and faces look wooden during dialogue sequences, noticeable because some of those sequences are kinda lengthy. The actual world design, and mission areas, fare much better though.
One other technical issue for me was loading, which felt a little excessive when reloading a save file. The way I tend to play these games is to make liberal use of the save anywhere feature. So if I’m hacking a terminal in a sensitive area that’ll set off an alarm, I tend to save and reload if things go south. Doing this is what really made me come to loathe the loading screen, but just allowing your character to die and load back into the world will certainly have the same effect. This isn’t quite Too Human levels of bad, but it’s a bit more than I’d expect from a modern video game.
Outside of those relatively minor issues, I really enjoyed my time spent with the campaign of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. It’s not that far removed from its predecessor, and maybe hews a little too closely to Human Revolution’s mechanics at times, but there’s no denying that Mankind Divided’s campaign makes for a really solid game playing experience.
The other component that makes up the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided package is the new Breach mode. This is another single-player focused mode that also features online leaderboards and a storyline separate from the main campaign. In Breach you take on the role of a nameless hacker referred to as a “Ripper”. You’re essentially mining a virtual world for data revolving around one of the largest banking institutions in Deus Ex.
Breach features a series of small virtual reality styled stages that require the player to download data from a number of locations within the small map, while avoiding digitized humanoids that serve as guards, along with other security measures in place. It’s essentially just a truncated version of the missions you’d take on during the campaign, but more stylized with a handful of unique concepts. As you complete challenges you’ll unlock booster packs containing various items and upgrades with differing degrees of rarity. You’ll also level up over time, allowing you to spend Praxis points to upgrade various abilities, much like you do with Adam Jensen.
I don’t know that Breach is an exceptionally noteworthy experience, but I think it provides a solid alternative to the main game. There’s a fair number of missions to unlock and tackle, and some replay value when it comes to improving your run through a level and uploading your final score against other friends. The fairly constant stream of upgrades also further incentivizes the mode, giving even more reason to spend time with it.
All in all, I definitely think Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is worth your attention as the summer season dwindles away. It provided more of what I loved from Human Revolution, and certainly scratches a stealth-action itch that few games not called Metal Gear Solid fail to provide. I love the level of freedom granted to players with this series, and Mankind Divided capitalizes on that concept constantly. Absolutely check out Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, you won’t be disappointed.