Human Revolution was brilliant at letting you play the way you wanted. Its boss fights were terrible for not doing that. When it emerged that they'd been outsourced to another developer, you had to wonder: what would they have been like if Eidos Montreal had made them?
Here's one they did. I won't spoil anything about the plot of the new Missing Link DLC, but I'll tell you how I took out its boss.
After ten minutes of methodically stalking and knocking out the guards patrolling the area, I hacked a turret. Bulletproof glass separated the room the boss was in from the larger open area I was clearing out, so I couldn't make the turret shoot him directly. But I could get beneath that room, and when I did, I found an open doorway at the back. Too high to jump to, even with my augmented legs, and no crates nearby to stack. But there was that turret.
Avoiding the gaze of a well-armed heavy on a high balcony, I snuck out to grab the gun emplacement with my strength aug, carried it beneath the boss room, and climbed on top of it. Using X-ray vision to see the boss through the floor, I waited until he turned away from the opening, leapt up through it, and grabbed him from behind in a sleeper hold.
It was tense, tough and brilliant, and this whole enormous mission is tense, tough and brilliant. It inserts itself into the timeline of the original game, between leaving Heng Sha on a mysterious boat and arriving in Singapore. Rather than sleeping soundly in a stasis pod, as the main game implied, you're discovered and wake up in captivity.
You've lost your items and all but the basic augmentations – punching and level one hacking – but you're soon given a generous windfall of praxis points to buy new ones. Starting from scratch, using what you find, and trying new options in a hostile environment – it's all an intentional nod to the excellent prison break in the original Deus Ex.
I assumed that was the whole thing – an exciting escape section on a prison ship – but that's just the intro. The bulk of it takes place after you dock. It's a huge mission with masses to discover, and Eidos Montreal have given it an almost hub-like structure. A lot of the later encounters take place in areas you've already cleared out, repopulated with guards and hastily set up defences – like that turret I used for a boost to take out the boss.
It's not like the main game's cities, Detroit and Heng Sha. This isn't a friendly area, and despite a few sidequests, it doesn't have that same sense of open exploration. But there is a surprisingly in-depth story, and some tricky decisions to make.
While the backtracking is necessary for the story to make sense, the way it's handled isn't ideal. There are no loading screens, but you have to sit through a suspiciously long 'bioscan' between each area, during which the game is obviously loading the chunk of level you're about to enter. When objectives lead you back through two or three areas you've already visited, it means a boring walk through covered ground with several painfully long waits along the way.
It's not a big deal. The levels themselves are magnificently rich with alternate routes, plot detail, and subvertible security systems – including a new turret that fires Typhoon mines. The structure makes it possible to complete later objectives before you've been given them, and it's handled elegantly – you can even steal the boss's personalised weapon before you fight him. And the whole thing is just massive. It took me five hours to play through, with a quick and brutal stealth combat style, exploring the levels but not scouring them.
The excellent boss fight and a satisfying story conclusion end it on a high note, with a strong hint at more to come. It's rare for DLC to live up to a great game, rarer still for it to fix that game's biggest flaw.
The Missing Link is priced at £8.99 / $14.99 / €10.99, and it's out on Steam next Tuesday - October 18th.