Hands on with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided's powerful augs and new arcade mode

Somehow, Adam Jensen stabbing people with giant retractable forearm spikes, turning himself into a giant fragmentation grenade, and stuffing a dozen dead police officers into an air duct hasn't led to a warm and fuzzy future where people completely trust augmented humans. In fact, even if you played Deus Ex: Human Revolution as a kinder, less-lethal Jensen than I did, the cyborg situation is pretty grim. In Mankind Divided, augmented humans have been, well, divided. They've segregated from the rest of the population after the "Aug Incident" in which their implants took over and turned them into rampaging killing machines.

Thanks, Illuminati.

I recently got a little playtime with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and even more recently I was sent some in-game footage. Instead of very quickly adding a track of my droning narration, I pulled out some animated gifs so you can take a peek at Adam Jensen's augs, some new and improved, some just plain new.

And, further down, I'll tell you about Breach, DXHR's new arcade challenge mode. First though: augs!


Jensen's wall-penetrating vision system is back, letting him spot enemies through obstructions. This enhanced vision has been further enhanced, as you can see above, actually detailing what weapons, ammo, and loot each enemy is holding. 

Now you can make informed decisions about whether or not you want to risk incapacitating/brutally killing someone based on what kind of loot you'll receive as a result, and presumably target characters who may be carrying items you need to progress through restricted areas.

Remote hacking

Well, everything is wireless nowadays. With this aug, Adam doesn't need to scuttle over to a terminal and start tapping keys, he can keep his metal hands clean and hack security devices, like one of the drones above, from a distance. I also saw footage of him disabling a security camera from across a room.

Maybe it's just me, but the remote hacking aug feels a teeny bit OP. Half the fun is safely slithering your way to the terminal in the first place, right? If I can do it from across the room, I'm afraid I'm just going to get lazy, the same way I use an app on my phone to change TV channels if the remote control is a few feet out of reach.

Sharp-eyed viewers may have also noticed Jensen's arm turn into a PEPS cannon at the end to deal with the second drone. I'm definitely okay with that aug.

Icarus Dash

Here's another new aug that feels like Jensen is turning into some sort of arcane wizard instead of just a gloomy robot. The Icarus Dash is essentially a cross between a grappling hook—which all games are now required to have by law—and Corvo Attano's blink ability. Look up at a ledge, summon a little battery power, and swoosh, Jensen is whisked to his destination.

Take another look below.

I won't go as far as to say it's a complete stretch—Jensen can become invisible, after all, so he's at least a science wizard—but it does, again, worry me that rather than painstakingly skulking my way through a level I'll start blipping around it like Nightcrawler.

I am definitely looking forward to using it as an exploration tool, though. Deus Ex has always been great about hiding little secrets and tidbits around its levels, and this will be an excellent way to search for them. Also, an excellent way to get high above people's heads, for the following:

Icarus Strike

In DX:HR, the Icarus Landing was an enjoyable, almost ridiculously angelic way to prevent fall damage—and if you were feeling devilish it could also be used to stun any bystanders rude enough to loiter in your landing zone.

The Icarus Strike feels considerably more vicious, what with the blood flying out of that soldier and all, but as the Merciful Soul XP indicator popping up indicates, it's still a non-lethal move. Plummeting down like a rocket and punching the pavement so hard with your metal fist that half of a man's blood just falls out of him? It's non-lethal. Somehow.

Tesla arm

Speaking of non-lethal, there are plenty of options for players who want to leave bruises instead of tombstones. Jensen's stungun is naturally available, and melee takedowns can still be non-lethal.

Above, you can see another option: the nifty Tesla arm weapon, which can target up to four different opponents and zap them simultaneously. Jensen will also have access to gas grenades, good for incapacitating groups of enemies.

Titan shield

We first saw this aug at the end of the original trailer, as Jensen covered himself with, I don't know, robot crystals? Here it is in-game. I personally think it looks kind of silly the way the stuff just covers him from head to toe: I wish it looked more like some sweet futuristic armor instead of turning Jensen into a weird black fuzzy featureless shape.

No matter. I know I'm going to be using it the Titan Shield constantly since I screw up stealth a lot and wind up having tons of gunfights as a result. Being able to completely cover myself with diamond-hard crystals at a moment's notice is going to be a must.


Casie—the Computer Assisted Social Interaction Enhancer, which helped you navigate conversations and even analyzed pheromones to provide you with additional dialogue options—is back! Here's a little look at the targeting of personality types and dialogue options you can use to manipulate the people you talk to.

One note: you'd think it would list 'incredibly patient' as one of this guy's personality traits, seeing how he's just standing there politely waiting for you to decide what to say.

Speaking of augs, Adam Jensen isn't the only one who has them, and in Mankind Divided, Jensen isn't the only character you'll get to play. There's a new game mode in which you play a hacker fighting your way through a virtual security system. It's called Breach.

Deus Ex: Breach

Breach is a connected mode launched from the main menu (you don't play it while you're running around as Jensen). It's a stylized arcade mode with online leaderboards and score challenges: players tackle a series of maps filled with AI defenses, using stealth, weapons, and augs to bypass security and steal data. It works essentially the same way as a level in the base game, though as you can see from the screens it's a departure visually.

The backstory for Breach is that VR technology, originally used to help people suffering from PTSD, has been acquired by hackers who now use it to virtually infiltrate the world's most secure data facility which houses a number of different corporations. While you're not Jensen, your VR avatar will have augs. Before you play a map, you have to choose your aug loadout, and you're limited by how many abilities you can bring with you. You can see the trailer below.

While some augs are the same ones Jensen uses, others are new and a bit more playful, such as a multi-jump aug which lets you double and even triple-jump. There are also abilities you can apply to your weapons, such as your pistol. You can augment your gun to give you HP when you shoot an enemy, or have that enemy become hostile to other AI, and so on.

You'll earn a score based on your actions, and you'll be timed on each level. Challenge a friend to beat your score or time under the same conditions and same augs you used, and if they fail to beat you, you'll gain extra credits and a leaderboard position to brag about. While I didn't get to play Breach myself, it both looks and sounds fun, and a more colorful and playful challenge mode feels like a welcome addition to Deus Ex.

Deus Ex: Go, real-life prosthetics, and VR

There's a lot more Deus Ex arriving than just Mankind Divided. Square Enix Montreal is developing puzzle-strategy Deus Ex: Go, which you can read about here. Eidos, Razer, and Open Biotics are developing real prosthetic limbs inspired by DX, which you can see here.

And, there's even a bit of VR coming to Mankind Divided. You won't be able to play the full game with a VR headset, but there will be four in-game locations you can visit and explore in virtual reality. I know our Andy Kelly will be excited: not only is he a big fan of VR, he also loves Adam Jensen's apartment, so I'm hoping he'll be able to visit it in person and maybe even punch that mirror himself. He never asked for this, but he'll be happy to have it.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.