“I tried to save the world; now look what it’s become.” —Adam Jensen
Set two years after the events of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (for brevity, just Mankind Divided from here on out) follows Adam Jensen’s journey to uncover the truth in the aftermath of the “Aug Incident”, where augmented individuals became violent and resulted in massive deaths worldwide. Now working for Task Force 29, Jensen is investigating terrorist weapon smuggling, while at the same time, is involved with the Juggernaut Collective, a hactivism group seeking to expose those behind the shadows. After returning to Prague from a mission in Dubai, Jensen finds himself caught in a terrorist bombing. Koller repairs his augmentations but discovers that new ones are installed. He confirms with David Sarif that these augmentations were not originally installed by Sarif Industries, and learns that the wave of terrorist attacks will be pinned on the Augmented Rights Coalition (ARC). Along the way, Jensen locates a neuroplascticity calibrator that would allow him to bring all of his augmentations safely online, takes down a fake checkpoint extorting citizens, as well as helping a Samizdat and his underground conspiracy news group reveal the truth about Picus News when they begin digging into TF29’s existence. With all of the side-quests that I can think of under my belt, I’m now ready to head into Golem City and converse with one Talos Rucker, the leader of the ARC.
While opinions of Mankind Divided seem to suggest that mankind is divided on whether or not Mankind Divided is a worthwhile game, I’ve so far put in around ten hours just exploring Prague and completing the missions as they are presented. The biggest difference between Mankind Divided and Human Revolutions is the atmosphere: whereas Jensen and other augmented citizens could walk around openly without too much trouble in the latter, in Mankind Divided, there is now a very heavy police presence, and numerous checkpoints that halt augmented citizens for inspection of their documents. Bathrooms and train stations now segregate citizens as either naturals or augmented, and trouble can be started if Jensen disregards the rules. The tone and manner that naturals now take towards augmented citizens is also quite harsh, doing much to emphasise that two years after the “Aug Incident”, the world has split down the middle into what the developers have called a “Mechanical Apartheid”. Although this term has apparently offended some folks, Mankind Divided manages to capture some of the atmosphere surrounding segregation in history, making players feel uneasy at times, even with all of Jensen’s augmentations. Consequently, its incorporation into Mankind Divided is a powerful one, exploring a direction that seems plausible should humanity explore the limits of technology without considering the social impacts of said technologies.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Here I am at last, nearly three months after pre-ordering Mankind Divided: the game opens up in Dubai, and the mission is to get the drop on an arms deal where a mole is present. Despite the presence of a heavily armed opposition, I decided to roll with a non-lethal weapon. Whereas I opted to go for a close quarters weapon (a stun gun) in Human Revolution, this time, I elected the tranquiliser rifle for its range, reasoning that I would probably be able to purchase one later in the game.
- It was the summer of 2014 when I first played through Human Revolution, and it was a time for many fantastical experiences as I experienced a game with a fantastic amount of depth and intrigue. At the time, I was working on the Giant Walkthrough Brain project, and it never ceases to amaze me as to how quickly the time’s passed by — even January’s Giant Walkthrough Brain presentation in Kelowna seems like a life-age away.
- The visuals in Mankind Divided represent a rather noticeable jump from those of its predecessor: Human Revolution was no slouch in the graphics department, but Mankind Divided adds a range of new effects that give the game a new degree of immersion. These new aspects drive up the requirements required for the game, and the recommended video card, a GTX 970, is only sufficient to play the game on “high” settings at reasonable frame rates.
- It took me a bit of time to acclimatise to the controls in Mankind Divided: the new features in the game give Jensen access to more abilities than before, and for ease-of-use, some active augmentations can now be accessed via shortcuts. In the Dubai mission, Jensen is equipped with the cloak, Typhoon system and silenced movement, as well as the ability to see through physical obstructions to gain a better sense of nearby threats and assets. In this mission, I manage to save the contact in time after the transaction goes south.
- Jensen’s new apartment interior is spartan but nonetheless feels like home: here, volumetric lighting creates the sense that the apartment is quite dusty, as light beams stream into the interior from outside. I spent a few moments looking around and getting more familiar with the controls, taking stock of my surroundings before getting in touch with David Sarif, Jensen’s former employer.
- Sarif Industries went under after the Aug Incident and was absorbed into Tai Yong Medical during the two years that have elapsed. Sarif gets in touch with Jensen to clarify some loose ends, and for me, it was welcome to see Sarif again. In Human Revolution, I picked his ending owing to how well his outlook aligned with mine, but it seems that none of the endings can be considered canonical.
- There are several areas in Prague to explore: Prague seems much larger than the combined areas of Detriot and Hengsha in Human Revolutions, and is intricately detailed. There are people on the streets, browsing shops or relaxing at a café. The cobblestones were a nice touch, and I was quite impressed with the effects. I later learned that bump mapping was used, allowing for more detail to be created without increasing polygon count.
- After snooping around, trying to find a way into Koller’s workshop, I eventually snuck through an open window, quietly knocked out two goons guarding the top floor, requisitioned their weapons and made my way into the bookstore’s inner rooms. This shotgun is equipped with a holographic sight, and although I was tempted to try it, I was going for a non-lethal playthrough, so I promptly holstered the weapon.
- The terrorist attack knocks out Jensen’s augmentations, and after Koller resets them, he discovers a slew of ultra-high end augmentations in Jensen. These new augmentations initially can create some minor problems for Jensen, but a neuralplasticity calibrator can be obtained to alleviate these issues. Despite my stealth-driven approach, I will stick with a pistol and combat rifle to ensure that I’ve always got options: weapons can be used as distractions to lure guards for a take down, or else engage robots.
- Once Jensen is back online, it’s time to visit the TF29 headquarters, located underground and accessed via a secret elevator in the back of a store. Here, I utilise hacking for the first time to break into the server room and place a special device that allows the Juggernaut Collective to intercept TF29 data. One of the thrills about Mankind Divided that was absent in Human Revolution was a protagonist whose hunt for the truth leads him to play on both sides of the fence.
- Completing missions is the fastest way to earn experience points that go towards Praxis points, which are used to unlock and upgrade Jensen’s augmentations. After talking with Koller, I picked the remote hacking and the Tesla abilities, inadvertently locking myself out of leg augmentations. Gaining the power to take control of distant elements and taking on multiple opponents in exchange for high jumps, I suddenly realised that I would have to live with my mistakes until I complete the quest where I can obtain a neuralplasticity calibrator.
- After making use of the CASIE mod to negotiate my way through acquiring a neuralplasticity calibrator, I am able to enter Otar Botkveli’s casino without being shot at to pick it up. If the conversation is unsuccessful, players must resort to stealth or force to obtain it, but being able to talk through something is an immensely useful option. Consequently, the CASIE mod is a must for those looking to complete Mankind Divided, since it could allow Jensen to avoid unnecessary combat.
- Of course, players who’ve already got the Pacifist achievement can play the game however they please, and I might go back later to play the Rambo technique, shooting my way through things rather than sneaking and talking to victory. Here, I’ve equipped the combat rifle, a 5.56 mm assault rifle making a return from Human Revolution. It was a rather ineffective weapon there, and I’ve yet to test it out, but I’m hanging onto it and testing its armour-piercing rounds on robots before deciding whether it’s worth keeping.
- When one of the TF29’s IT staff realise that someone is snooping around, Jensen is tasked with figuring out what’s going on. It turns out an underground group is looking for news stories that present the truth to their viewers, but doing so could compromise TF29. Utilising the CASIE mod, I managed to convince the leader to stand down, but as a gesture of goodwill, I agree to help the group out with another project. I general, I am not fond of the media, since they tend to present a substantial bias and do not disclose everything. I prefer being presented with the facts in whole and make my own decisions based on what is given.
- It is for this reason that I don’t get along with the more popular folks from my old high school, but that’s a story for another time. Back in Mankind Divided, I’ve taken on a mission to help some citizens obtain forged documents to leave Prague, after listening to a forger’s story, I decided it would be more worthwhile to help out. While I was disappointed that I could only save one person, that’s life. In general, I usually make a judgement after I’ve heard more information, and consequently, I don’t make decisions on the fly very often.
- Even with something like Battlefield 1, I’ve done enough research to ensure that I am getting value for the money I spend: I bought Battlefield 1 today and began trying out the multiplayer. It’s been quite fun so far, and I look forwards to unlocking different weapons for the classes that will enable me to experience Strike Witches/Brave Witches in the Frostbite Engine. The campaign also looks like it’ll be a blast. Of course, this isn’t a Battlefield 1 post, so I’ll be returning to Mankind Divided, where I’ve entered the Palisade Property Bank to obtain intel on Picus News.
- Remote hacking is remarkably useful, allowing Jensen to shut down and alter items from a distance. Although its initial applications are seemingly limited to turning radios and TVs on or off, it’s actually a powerful ability; Jensen can close blinds remotely and obstruct views into a room, making it easier to sneak around and complete one’s goals.
- For the time being, holograms appear to remain within the realm of science fiction, but augmented reality technologies have begun taking hold of the consumer market. This could drive forwards innovative uses for AR that previously remained in prototype stage, making it easier to accomplish different tasks. Of course, the military has utilised AR for a few decades: fighter jets have a HUD that projects information about a pilot’s surroundings without needing the pilot to look away.
- I look over the streets of Prague after completing the mission to broadcast the truth about Picus. With all of the side quests complete save for one, I returned via train to the starting area to finish the last objective before heading off to Golem City.
- The trick to taking out Drahomir is to speak with a female police officer, who will then lead a squad of police to shoot out Drahomir and his fake checkpoint. If Jensen should fire on anyone, the cops will also mark him as a hostile, so the best thing to do here is to let the cops do their job, and then loot the corpses afterwards. Because the cops cause the deaths, rather than the player, this should not affect the pacifist run. The break offered by the delay in Brave Witches‘s release turned out to be more advantageous than originally expected, but scheduled programming should resume in the upcoming week. The only question that remains now is whether or not Battlefield 1 may affect my progression through Mankind Divided.
Ten hours into Mankind Divided, I am reasonably impressed with the gameplay and how this new world is presented. The new augmentations and how Jensen is reverted into a more limited state is cleverly integrated into the narrative, and it feels fantastic to be playing through the game. I recall stating in my Human Revolution discussion that I was interested in playing through Human Revolutions without getting any kills, and although time was a major contributor to hindering that particular endeavour, this time, in Mankind Divided, I will be going for the Pacifist achievement. So far, I’ve made extensive use of oatience and non-lethal equipment to deal with my foes. I’m rather curious as to whether or not I’ll be able to unlock I do not believe I’ve killed anyone or allowed any direct deaths by my hand yet, and to make it easier to complete this particular style of gameplay, I will likely continue investing points into the stealth augmentations to better my capacities for sneaking through entire areas undetected, allowing me to try a style of gameplay that I do not often successfully execute.