E3 2015: Talking Conversation System and Gameplay Changes in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

One of the most anticipated games to come out of E3 is easily Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. While we were lucky enough to attend a theater presentation during E3 last week, we also sat down with Eidos Montreal’s Executive Narrative Director, Mary DeMarle, to talk about her upcoming game and how it will change the action-RPG genre.

Hardcore Gamer: Let’s get right down to it. Can you give us a quick general overview of the plot thus far?

Mary DeMarle: The Game takes place in 2029 and is two years after Human Revolution. The world has changed a lot since that time. Mechanically augmented people, like Jensen, have become outcasts because Human Revolution ended where there was that terrible, tradgic event where a lot of people went crazy. So now the world is looking at these people with a lot of fear and paranoia, and they’re being segregated from society, often being forced to these augmented ghettos. Jensen has left Sarif Industries and has now joined Interpol where they have a new division called Task Force 29 which is a division tasked with capturing terrorists and black market organizations that have been rising since the incident. A lot of it is caused by Augs and a lot of it is against Augs. While he’s working for Interpol, at the same time, he has an ulterior motive. Because he believes the task force is an Illuminati creation, he secretly joined the group, Hacktavists, hacker-activists, who are looking to take out the Illuminati and expose them. So he has gone into the task force as a double agent to try and determine if the Illuminati is involved.

How have the events of Human Revolution affected what happens in Mankind Divided?

The big ending of Human Revolution was a big part, and in terms of the endings, you could have chosen one of four, and the truth is, at this point, whatever ending you chose is the cannon ending. So all of them are because, what happened that day, and after that event, the world went into chaos and the Illuminati began to overload the world with disinformation to bury the truth. We are now looking at a situation where Adam knows the Illuminati have perverted his message and he wants to get revenge.

dxmd_2015_06_12_e3_screen_online_005
Can we expect characters from past games, whether Human Revolution or even older titles, to make an appearance in some fashion?

We don’t have anything to announce at this time, but there will be surprises for fans.

Considering Jensen is now a part of Interpol, surely he will be traveling to all sorts of exotic locations around the world.

What we can currently tell you about is Prague, because Jensen’s Task Force is centered there and you’ll see on the outskirts this massive Aug ghetto called the Udalek Complex, otherwise known as Golem City, so it’s kind of a city in of itself. At least these two locations. There will be others, but we can’t tell you just yet.

Moving more towards the actual gameplay, how has the conversation system changed from Human Revolution?

We spent a lot of time on the conversation system to kind of make the performance better because the key to the conversation debate is it’s a psychological debate. You have to perceive the body language and the facial expressions. We put a lot of time and effort into the motion capture and technology behind the animations so you can really read those. We have also made them a little more reactive so that, for example, in the playthrough we showed you, we played it combat. So we were acknowledged that we were combative, and started the conversation on a bad footing with him. If you played non-lethal, he would have reacted to it being non-lethal and we might have started on a better footing.

dxmd_2015_06_12_e3_screen_online_003
Human Revolution had a random element to the conversation system. Has that carried over to Mankind Divided?

Well, there was a bit of a random element which made it very challenging and fun to write because we never quite knew what would happen because it was this background gameplay that was going on under the seams that would randomly throw out one of the three different choices. You had an attack and the NPC had an attack, and the randomness came from what he was going to throw at you. But I’m not entirely sure…

Jean-Philippe Chicoine (Marketing Coordinator): Not yet. We have a lot more to reveal about the social part. I mean you got to see a very small slice of it today, but Mary and her team have been working on something you need to see. But in the future.

What would have happened if Jensen successfully won the debate in the demo?

So we lost that debate, so what happened was you saw he triggered an alarm. Had we won the debate, he wouldn’t have triggered the alarm, and we would have had more time to explore the environment. He might have given us crucial information that you’d need for the story later on, and we would have been able to get out of there much calm and quiet fashion, along with searching a couple extra rooms in that area. But as it was, we lost and we trigged his men and now we had to get out fast.

How open is the story? Is it linear in the sense there is a direct story you’re trying to tell, or is there a lot branching paths, like characters who may or may not make it in the end?

Yes. We tried to push the story even further this time. I mean in Human Revolution it was intended to be a much more linear game, but this time you can do side quests, and things you do in side quests will come back and affect the critical path, so you might get aid later on because you helped them. Also within the critical story itself, the way you handle potentially a debate with a character or if you meet a character and get rid of him right away, obviously if you get rid of him he’s out of the story, but if you don’t, how you dealt with him will affect your critical path story. So the story you play will be different from the story I play.

dxmd_2015_06_12_e3_screen_online_001
How has combat been changed from Human Revolution?

Well, in Human Revolution, everybody felt stealth felt really good, but it wasn’t as much fun to play in combat. What we have done, we really wanted to make the combat as rich in experience for people who want to go guns blazing, so we worked on making it a lot more visceral. A lot more explosive and interactive environments, and we’ve added new combat abilities to Jensen with his gun arm, and to the weapons themselves. So we’ve beefed up the combat experience for those who want to play combat.

JPC: While still making sure the stealth is great.

MD: Yeah. And in terms of that, one of the problems in Human Revolution, if you were trying to play stealth, the takedowns would pull you out of cover, they would make noise and would suddenly blow your stealth game. But not anymore. We now have it that you can play the takedowns lethally or non-lethally, never breaking your gameplay flow. So if you want to be stealth, you can.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy E3 to speak with us.

Thank you!