Explore the Dystopian Future of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

The story of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided takes place two years after the events of Human Revolution in the year 2029. Adam Jensen, the main protagonist, is facing the fallout of the Aug Incident. The Aug incident occurred when augmented people worldwide went berserk. In the previous game the Illuminati had a biochip implanted into augments. Jensen could not stop in time a signal from Hugh Darrow, a former Illuminati and CEO of Darrow Industries, on Panchaea to be broadcasted. The broadcast in turn caused augments to go insane and attack everyone around them. Though he could not stop the signal from being broadcasted initially he did shut down the signal but not before fifty million people worldwide lost their lives. It left non-augmented people afraid of augments and new laws to be enacted forcing augmented humans to be segregated and forced into slums.

Combat in Deus Ex is fast and furious, with a wide variety of weapons with different effects, ranges and damages.
Combat in Deus Ex is fast and furious, with a wide variety of weapons with different effects, ranges and damages.

Two years later, at the start of Mankind Divided non augmented people still continue to have a distrust for those augmented pushing them further to the fringes of society.   Police stop anyone who has any form of augmentation for documents they must carry. Adam Jensen must endure this discrimination while working as an agent for Task Force 29 in Prague. The story of Mankind Divided is about Adam Jensen wanting to prevent another Aug incident from happening and take down the Illuminati or any other group wanting control over mankind. To do this he joined with the Juggernaut Collective, a global hacktivist group led by a mysterious figure known as Janus. His main contact with the collective is Alex Vega who we meet following Dubai and prior to the Prague bombing. Jensen is assigned to Task Force 29 in Prague, a division of Interpol, by the Juggernaut Collective to learn what is going on and if the Task Force is being run and controlled by the Illuminati.

Alex Vega
Adam joins the Juggernaut Collective after the Aug incident. Alex Vega is his contact in Prague.

At the beginning it is hard to tell where the story is headed as there are a lot of players involved. I feel that Adam Jensen’s loyalties will be tested throughout the game and the true enemies eventually revealed. As an RPG you the player have control over where the story goes, and I find myself siding with some unlikely characters, like crazy conspiracy people who only seem to have good intentions. It also feels as if there are hidden agendas of the different groups, like what are the true goals of the collective? Some characters from Human Revolution make appearances, including David Sarif which kind of compounds the plot a bit. Again many players. As for Sarif’s role, by now David Sarif’s company has been sold and he contacts Adam in the beginning to ask for a signature on some papers.  Then the experimental augs are discovered and Adam has more questions for Sarif and find any secrets he may be hiding. Then there are these experimental augs found by a bizarre but helpful tech named Vaclav Koller.  Who placed them in Adam Jensen was it Sarif, Tai Yong Medical, or someone else?

Throughout the Deus Ex games we control an augmented character and interact with both augmented humans and non-augmented humans. Augments are cybernetic implants and mechanical replacements for organic tissue such as limbs that by the year 2027 people can opt for or for need for necessity. Adam was severely injured during a terrorist attack during the early events of Human Revolution while working security at Sarif Industry headed by David Sarif. He had large parts of his body replaced by augments that were also highly militaristic. Sarif did this because it was found out by Megan Reed that Adam had a gene that allowed augments to integrate with his body without the need for Neuropozyne. Neuropozyne is a drug that prevents a body’s rejection of the mechanical augments. For gameplay, these augments give the player abilities that can help through missions, sneak by enemies or take them down stealthily, and hack into computer and security systems.

Adam Jensen Choices
In Mankind Divided you get choices on gameplay. Here Adam must choose which type of weapon to take into the Dubai mission.

There are two main choices on how to play the game, or that’s what at first it seems. For the first mission in Dubai you get a choice to either go in lethal or non-lethal. When you regain control of your augments following the Prague bombing and meeting with Koller you can reactivate the typhoon system with a choice to be non-lethal or lethal.  Going non-lethal means that the ammo you acquire does not kill but stuns. In the Dubai mission you get a stun gun if you choose non-lethal or a choice between rife and pistol if you go lethal.

The way players play is up to them, which makes this game more about the player than what the developer wants you to play. Let’s go back to the beginning when I said this is what it seems to be. When I played I choose the lethal method, for the choice to finish off enemies and take care of business. Because my word choices don’t always go over well or my stealth technique lacks and I need to fall back on something. However, I still went through missions without causing to much destruction by choosing to go in under cover and using stealth. Even if a player chooses non-lethal you can still grab weapons and start shooting everything in sight or pick up a grenade here and there. Also, get close enough and do a takedown, with a choice of stun or kill. It all depends on the situation and personal style.

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This game is not all about choice, word or how you complete a mission, it’s about the augments. Adam Jensen is after all an augmented individual, not by choice, but still you do get lots of different augments to choose from. When in Dubai at the beginning you start out with four augments; the glass shield cloak, leg silencers, typhoon, and smart vision. The glass shield cloak allows Adam to become invisible for a short period of time and the leg silencers remove mechanical noise when walking making you virtually silent. Combine the two for perfect stealth. The smart vision allows players to see enemies, throwable objects, and vents. You may need to know where vents are on many occasions when you are in situations where your surrounded, out of ammo, or need a different route into a secure area. The typhoon system, produces projectiles that launch from the base of the spine and can be configured lethal or non-lethal. These are triggered by the controller, others are not but have distinct functions.

A screenshot of the augmentation menu.

One important augmentation is hacking. Hacking allows you into locked doors, past security systems, into computers, and other locked and secured places. It can get you into places, control systems, or find information. Players can activate hacking capture, which captures nodes in the system, fortify to protect against detection, and hacking stealth. Other augmentations are the Icarus landing system that allows players to land safely when jumping from high elevations and social augmentations making it easier to decide on the proper dialogue.

Once Adam meets Koller and repairs the damaged augmentations, he then tells Jensen that there are experimental augments in him. These augs are bonuses when it comes to advantages over enemies. Some of the experimental augs are the Tesla that shoots electricity to incapacitate enemies. The nanoblade, which is a blade that comes out of the arm prosthesis, and the titan shield are augments that the player can control. Remote hack is also available as a way of not being seen when trying to hack into systems. The only downside to using the experimental augments is the system becomes unstable.

Adam's Expressions
Adam finding out he has experimental augments.

To stabilize your augmentations a normal augmentation must be disabled. Also, augmentations drain energy fast and some more than others. The only way to recharge to 100% is by consuming biocells.

Biocells can be purchased at vendors or found in mission areas and exploring rooms. On the other side is health, which also needs to be replenished with food items, painkillers, and hypostims. In this game exploration is key. You can go to a vendor but a lot of what you need is found by raiding rooms and fallen enemies.   Also, take advantage of hacking into apartments and offices to find needed supplies, pocket secretaries that could contain codes to open security locks, and crafting materials. You will run out of ammo, biocells, and hypostims quick so stock up. Ammo especially, as you don’t get many rounds from a magazine and constant looting is a must.

Mankind Divided has a good menu with a detailed page for objectives.

The game has the main story missions but also many different side quests. These quests can help gain allies and more information while providing extra praxis points to acquire more augments. On the main title screen there is also a mission called Breach. Breach is a side game where players must hack into a data bank using virtual reality. When I mean data bank I actually mean a physical bank that stores data for big corporations, organizations, and influential individuals. Adam Jensen infiltrates the bank to gather incrementing evidence for some conspiracy theorists in a side mission.

The gold masked guys
The gold masked guys from Dubai.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided story takes place in Dubai and Prague, though Prague is the main city hub for most of the game. There are a lot of places to explore in the city and many quests along with the story missions.

It’s not just one main story mission but several at the same time. Adam does work for two organizations and both have him running around doing all kinds of missions and errands for them. In addition, Adam has his own missions, such as finding who is behind the experimental augments or getting to the bottom of Dubai. Dubai is where originally the Task Force was going to stop a black market deal on augmentations, but some gold masked augmented terrorists come in and start taking out everyone. In the end Jensen and his team survive. Adam afterwards wants to find out who was responsible and without any support from Interpol but help for the juggernaut collective he goes on a mission to find the truth.

As far as gameplay goes its good with a well designed HUD and menus for inventory, missions, guides, database, map, and even the ability to craft needed consumables. The Dubai mission had a very good tutorial to learn about stealth and cover.  Also how to use weapons like rifles and grenades but also the typhoon system. Most of the game was good but a few things irked me , two being the way the characters moved and the inventory system.

Flying over Dubai

First I kept running out of ammo and there doesn’t seem to be enough storage in the inventory even though I pick up a lot of it. The inventory menu holds a lot of gear and consumables, biocells and hypostims, but I never have enough and weapons take a lot of room in the inventory. I need to stop collecting weapons in this game, but with so little ammo storage I need them.  Another thing is energy depletes rapidly and never fully recharges without a biocell, same goes with health and hypostims or painkillers.

The next issue was the developers took a lot of time to get the graphics looking really good with so much detail in the settings, people, and even small touches in the weaponry. By the way you can also customize weapons. However, in cut scenes or when Adam Jensen is having a conversation the movement is stiff. Very mechanical, and not because he is augmented, but the motion capture is not good. Although NPCs in the street and not during cut scenes move fine. Lots of graphic details, I can see Adam’s pores its such good detail, just not enough motion details. Besides those things it’s a decent and fun game.

Players run into all kinds of characters in Mankind Divided, if your lucky you can talk your way out of situations. If not prepare to take out the bad guys to get to your objective.

It’s not the gritty dystopian hardcore cyberpunk future of Human Revolution. However, Mankind Divided has other dystopian future qualities to make it an impressive game. The whole social struggle between augments and non augments feels real and you can feel the frustration that Adam and augments must go through. But Adam has his own internal struggles that need to be resolved and loyalties to more than one faction. This story and game is about choice and saving the future from the past. In that sense its good. Add the nice gameplay dynamics and Mankind Divided holds its own as a shooter and RPG. I would not say its better than Human Revolution but I would recommend playing it.

If you would like to see the first mission of the game check out my Let’s Play review.

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