Is it your first foray into the Deus Ex franchise? Do the themes of sci-fi cyberpunk, transhumanism and human vs robotics scare you as much as they fascinate you? The Deus Ex franchise is a fantastic series of games that are worth exploring, but if you’re jumping into 2016’s Mankind Divided as the first game, don’t worry, here’s everything you need to know about Deus Ex.
The series of Deus Ex consists of four games (three if you’re talking to diehard fans), with Deus Ex creating a critical and commercial juggernaut back in 2000. The original cyberpunk setting and gameplay were acclaimed, but what made Deus Ex a staple of RPG’s is how open ended it was. Every objective had many different solutions but the main pillars of gameplay were Stealth, Combat, Hacking or Dialogue. Gamers in 2000 were blown away by the vastness of the open world, and just how open ended each mission was. It was such an achievement that many believe that no game today has managed to meet or surpass Deus Ex’s standards.Thusly, the four pillars are carried into each Deus Ex game. In each game you can choose how to approach a situation. Stealth was encouraged due to the very well-crafted level design, which had multiple routes through each situation. Combat was less focused but still appealing due to the tight gunplay, cover and takedown system. Hacking was utilized, opening doors, turning turrets and robots against their controllers, clearing out a combat situation without even stepping foot near it. And dialogue encouraged analysing character situations and talking or bluffing your way through.
It’s worthy to note that while Deus Ex came out in 2000, its set in 2052 and the latest games are actually prequels, with Human Revolution set in 2027 and Mankind Divided 2029. Previous knowledge isn’t necessary at all to play these games, but it is well worth exploring Human Revolution due to Mankind Divided being a direct sequel. Not only that, but Human Revolution carries very interesting and relevant themes of transhumanism that will only become more and more relevant in the coming years.Mankind Divided is revolved around the Mechanical Apartheid: where augmented humans are segregated and abused due to the Aug Incident that occurred at the end of Human Revolution. You play as Adam Jensen, a super-augmented soldier who works for an international taskforce (the seeds of which are linked to the original Deus Ex) investigating a train bombing in Prague.
Human Revolution used a very controversial black and gold colour scheme, which gave a tint of yellow and orange to the environment (humorously dubbed the vomit filter) that many players disliked, while many others loved. The colour scheme represented a Cyber-Renaissance ideal that robotics and augmentations slowly were taking over the world. Mankind Divided eschews this scheme for a Corporate Feudal look, where mysticism and extremism are the new reality. This means the colour scheme is far more realistic and less pronounced this time.
Mankind Divided utilizes music composed by Michael McCann, who previously created the magnificent soundtrack to Human Revolution. His music plays a key role in immersing the player in this near-future augmented world, while staying true to Deus Ex’s distinctive and signature style.
When jumping into Mankind Divided, be warned that the world of Prague is truly huge in all directions. Make sure to augment your jumping abilities as there are a lot of vertical elements that are begging to be explored. Every room contains something noteworthy, whether it is money, resources, PDA’s and codes to unlock doors or e-books that explain more of the story. This is a game that begs for exploration through stealth, combat, hacking and dialogue. It’s necessary to explore each pillar of gameplay to get the true Deus Ex experience.Finally, Mankind Divided is the start of what is officially known as the Deus Ex Universe, which consists of phone apps, comic books, novels and more. There are certain collectibles in Mankind Divided that require the use of a phone app to scan, that then reveal more information. This is all completely optional and easily ignored, but to truly immerse yourself in the mechanical universe it’s encouraged to slow down sometimes and do a bit of reading.