In 2011 Deus Ex: Human Revolution
revitalized the Deus Ex
series, releasing to critical acclaim thanks to its engrossing story and open-ended gameplay mechanics. After a long five year wait for fans of the franchise, it’s now time for Adam Jensen to continue his journey with the release of one of the most engaging and rewarding single-player experiences on the Xbox One to date, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
’s story takes place two years after the conclusion of Human Revolution
, when mechanically augmented humans became uncontrollable and were forced, against their will, to kill and injure millions of innocent people indiscriminately. The result of those events is a deeply divided world where the "Augs" (mechanically augmented humans) are forcibly segregated from the "Naturals" and are visibly treated as second-class citizens thanks to the Human Restoration Act.
In the middle of the mess is the game’s protagonist, Adam Jensen, who is now working for an Interpol funded team called Task Force 29. His job is to investigate a group called the Augmented Rights Coalition that have formed as a response to the treatment of Augs and are suspected of committing several terrorist attacks. The fact that Adam is an Aug himself allows you to witness first-hand the way in which segregation, discrimination and oppression are effecting the world and means that you have a constant target on your back from both sides of the social divide.
In addition to his work with TF29, Jensen is also collaborating with a hacker group called the Juggernaut Collective in an attempt to bring down the Illuminati following his discovery of their existence in the previous game. Thankfully, for those of you that need a refresher or for those of you who are stepping into the Deus Ex
series for the first time, a 12-minute intro to the game does a brilliant job of bring you up to speed with the dizzying past events and introduces you to some of the key characters.
It’s a globe-trotting story that is filled with plot twists, conspiracy theories and branching storylines where your interaction with other main characters, actions and decisions all help to shape future events and missions. It’s a real feat that despite its complexity it is all cohesively strung together in an immersive and thoroughly enjoyable way. However, there are a couple of missteps along the way, with a real lack of character development in most of the major characters leaving them forgettable, and a weak ending that leaves many unanswered questions and a feeling that some of the overarching story threads are left lingering in a "to be continued" fashion.
The city of Prague acts as a central hub in Mankind Divided
, with other locations being introduced for an occasional change of scenery during single missions. While it would have been nice to explore these different locations further, it has allowed Eidos to fill the world with an incredible amount of detail. Every street is full of life which helps to provide an insight into the situation people are being forced to live in, and buildings are full of rooms which are begging to be explored in the never ending pursuit of replenishing dwindling ammo and health items, and finding intel from hacked computers and digital newspapers that are left lying around.
The only downside to the open-esque world is that the lesser characters in the game don’t have anywhere near the same level of graphical detail as main characters, and at times the lack of lip-syncing is almost comical. It shatters the sense of immersion in what is otherwise a captivating world that is crying out to be fully explored.
The main takeaway from Mankind Divided
’s campaign is that Eidos have almost bent over backwards to provide the player with choice. Upgrades to Jensen’s augmentations can be carefully tailored to how you want to play. Similarly, levels have been meticulously designed to be open to different play styles. Ultimately there is no right or wrong way to play Mankind Divided
, and whether you decide to go in guns blazing, take a stealthy approach and sneak up on enemies for silent takedowns, try to avoid confrontation completely - or even a mixture of all three - the strategic gameplay always feel extremely rewarding.
The best part is that each play style feels equally fleshed out and well executed – playing Mankind Divided
as a shooter feels like a first-person shooter with a more than competent cover system, play stealthily and it feels just as good as any HITMAN
or Splinter Cell
thanks to the large array of gadgets and augmentations you have at your disposal and fantastic level design.
Speaking of augmentations, there are seven different categories that you can upgrade and tune to the way you want to play, and early in the game the story adds a believable reason as to why Jensen suddenly has new additional ones that weren’t available in Human Revolution
and why you are starting somewhat from scratch again, though you are given some augs from the start that weren't automatically with you in the last game. How you want to build your own version of Adam Jensen is totally up to you. By the end of the game you’ll feel like a complete badass who is capable of dealing with every possible scenario, but somehow you never feel so overpowered so that it becomes easy.
Even the main story missions and side missions – which are just as well thought out and as interesting as the main ones – give you a wide range of choice. Intense conversations with some enemy characters have several branching points that will change both the immediate outcome and alter events later down the line, and it’s not always clear if you’re doing the right thing or not. There’s very rarely a black or white answer, instead it’s contrasting shades of grey that will leave you nervously awaiting the outcome.
There are also times where you’ll be given the choice of playing one mission over a different one. Choosing one means you’ll miss out on the other completely on your current play though, but on the upside it gives you another reason to replay the game with a different play style so that you get to see everything Mankind Divided
has to offer.
In addition to the campaign, Eidos have included a new game mode called Breach, a series of virtual reality hacking missions where you work your way around the map in order to download data and escape before you are spotted by the AI. Boiled down it’s an arcade like version of the main game but with additional features such as time trials and online leaderboards which try to constantly sell you “packs” in order to improve your previous performance. It’s not terrible, but it feels like an unnecessary add-on to the game's story mode which would've remained strong on its own.Mankind Divided
’s achievement list isn’t dissimilar to the one found in Human Revolution
, with the majority of the achievements awarded for completing conversations, specific missions and performing actions using some of the available augmentations. A minimum of two playthroughs will be required as the hardest difficulty
setting doesn’t become available until after you finish the campaign for the first time.
SummaryDeus Ex: Mankind Divided
provides an interesting and at times thought provoking story which is set in a detailed and immersive world that is begging to be explored. The lack of character development in some of the enemies, the occasional technical issues, and the ending which leaves too many questions unanswered are blemishes, no doubt, but for anyone looking for a rewarding single-player experience the variety of gameplay and replay value on offer makes Mankind Divided
an easy recommendation.
- Multiple play styles allow you to be in control
- Varied and rewarding gameplay
- Interesting and thought provoking story
- Immersive world that needs to be explored
- Story leaves many lingering questions
- Missed opportunities with underdeveloped characters
- Some minor bugs - mainly involving NPCs
The reviewer spent approximately 25 hours exploring the game's world, finishing the story and immediately restarting on New Game +, earning 17 of the 50 available achievements. An Xbox One copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review.