Interview: Designing Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Tom Francis at

PCG: Those wrist-blades: do you upgrade them to unlock a specific move, or can you do all the moves with them as soon as you get it?

Dugas: Yeah, actually, you don't have to unlock anything for that. The way we see it is that getting close to an enemy should be a challenge on it's own, and it's more of a reward for getting close to the enemy.

PCG: So you can do stuff like knocking people out right from the start of the game?

Dugas: Yep!

PCG: On the very first loading screen of that demo, it had a little tip about the different things the strength upgrade. Do you just keep upgrading strength and that unlocks those different functions, or do you have to choose, “Okay, I want to be better at lifting things," or "I want to be better at punching down walls”?

Dugas: Basically, the way augmentations work, it works on two levels. There's the money economy, with the credits, and you also have the XP points. So at the Limb Clinic, you go there to buy the basic augmentations. Let's say the legs, something in your cranium, things like that. And for all the augmentations that you buy you have different abilities associated to that augmentation. Those can be unlocked by spending XP points. So when you go to Limb Clinic, this is the only time when you can buy the new augmentations, but with the XP points, you can level up any of the augmentations that you already have at any moment. You get those arms, those legs, and it's like Jensen is getting used to having them and is able to do more things with them, to explore their full potential. That's the idea behind it.

PCG: What do you earn experience points for?

Dugas: Shooting guys, playing a map stealthily, discovering a hidden area, hacking successfully, convincing a character to do something for you, and even by failing you still get XP points. You get XP points for doing critical path missions, you get XP points for side missions... and I missed a lot of things.

What is cool is that the game rewards you on a constant basis for the smallest thing you do. You can play for ten minutes and still have a few more points.

PCG: Do you spend those same points to upgrade your weapons?

Dugas: For the weapons, those are physical upgrades that either you buy or you find in the world. And you attach them to your weapons. If you want a mental image, it's similar to Deus Ex 1 and Resident Evil 4.

I saw this area in-game, it's surprisingly close to the concept art.

PCG: We saw Adam smash through a ceiling, drop down and blow up everyone in the room. What was that?

Dugas: It's two augmentations. Francis used one, used the other next to it, so it looks like one huge scripted moment, but it's not. Basically the first one is the Icarus Landing System, which allows you when you have this augmentation to fall or jump from any heights without taking damage. So this augmentation, when you try to explore all over the place and you're scared that you're going to fall, it's a good idea. Basically there are two ways to use it. The first way is that if you don't press any button, you're going to land super smoothly, not making noise. If you hold the trigger, he's going to do the punch and stun people around.

If you have the Claymore augmentation, now you can do what he did with his arms and those claymores to make them explode.

PCG: So that's one of those you'd have to go to the Limb Clinic and buy?

Dugas: Exactly. And then you need to refill the charges, because every time you use it it takes a charge. If you don't have any more you can't use it. With all the augmentations- or, not all, but the active ones, you spend energy bar. If you don't have any energy you can't use your augmentations any more, so you need to refill. Like, let's say Claymore takes that, and the takedown takes that, so they all have their chunk of energy that they take.

PCG: Okay, but you have a universal energy bar.

Dugas: Yep. But we don't have universal ammo. [laughs]

PCG: Does the energy regenerate over time?

Dugas: Basically the way it works, it's kind of a different system where at first you have two pips of energy, and you can upgrade to five, six. When you deplete one pip, that doesn't replenish. You need to find the right item to replenish it. The only one that replenishes all the time is the first one. So the first one, when you're totally empty, over time slowly it's going to replenish, but for one. But to replenish it all, you need to explore and find the items.

PCG: And do those takedowns cost energy?

Dugas: Yeah. You cannot just run and do it all the time.

PCG: Makes sense. We saw him use the crossbow, which was always my favourite weapon. Can you still use it to tranquilise people?

Dugas: Right now it's a lethal weapon. We have other weapons that are more non-lethal, but the crossbow in this game is more lethal. It's more mean.

PCG: I guess since it does skewer people to stuff, they're probably not going to survive.

Dugas: It's quite brutal.

PCG: Can you give an example of a non-lethal weapon?

Dugas: We're not ready to unveil all the guns yet, but obviously you'll have guns that are going to put people to sleep. Some are just going to frazzle them and things like that. When we reveal the guns later, we'll have the non-lethal ones.