“Every time we add new augmentations we try to see how versatile they can be,” says Fortier. “Even something like the nano-blade—which thematically is more offensive because it’s a blade—you can still use it as a distraction as well, if you want to maintain stealth. We’re trying to think about augmentations in that way, that they can serve multi-purposes.”
I still haven’t found a clever second use for the amazing shock-blast, however. Human Revolution’s PEPS gun is now built into Jensen’s arm. Firing it hits the area in front of you with a massive concussive shockwave that sends enemies and any nearby detritus flying. It’s Deus Ex’s equivalent of Skyrim’s Fus Ro Dah dragon shout. The Icarus landing system also returns, cushioning long drops with a deeply satisfying golden electric forcefield. If you tap as you fall Jensen releases the forcefield as a destructive blast.
If you prefer a more subtle approach, try the hacking game. Cracking a complex device like a workstation sends you into a familiar minigame in which you capture nodes on a web. Each node you seize carries the chance of activating a countermeasure system that races to turn nodes red before you can take control of the device. Bonus nodes grant you extra currency and hacking power-ups, adding a fun element of risk-reward brinkmanship.
With the right upgrades you can also hack smaller devices such as security cameras quickly and at range. Jensen makes a safe-cracking gesture at the target and a box appears showing a soundwave with several spikes, and a line moving rapidly from left to right. As the line moves over the spikes, you can tap to remove them all and activate a disruptive affect. A range-hacked camera shuts down. A hacked security robot is temporarily disabled. The minigame is basic, but it turns hacking into an offensive tool that you can use in the middle of a gunfight. It speaks to the evolved philosophy of the sequel, which says that whether you opt to play loudly, quietly, lethally or non-lethally, most of Mankind Divided’s tools should be useful to you.
Even the core movement and cover systems have been refined. You can now dash a short distance from cover. The distance of the dash is indicated by a faint line. If it touches another point of shelter, a faint outline of Jensen shows that you’ll snap into cover at your new location. You can also dash into open ground to quickly close with an enemy, or make a hasty dash to a ladder or a vent without being spotted. It minimises the amount of time you spend slowly squat-stalking guards and makes stealth movement faster and more decisive.
Mankind Divided feels familiar, but from the cover system to the new augs, almost every system has been touched up. The result is a sleek power fantasy with enough sandbox freedom to let you own your anecdotes. I still have plenty of stories from my hours in Prague. I threw a sniper off his rooftop perch at the guards below, stole his rifle and cleared out the lobby from the streets. I’ve distracted guards with a traffic cone and walked right around them, invisible. All this in one small corner of the game. There’s still plenty more to discover about the story and the conversation systems, but Mankind Divided is a few months of polish away from being another great Deus Ex. We definitely asked for this.