Much has changed in the two years since Human Revolution. The aftermath of having millions of augmented people going on a rogue rampage induced by hallucinations has seen augmented people treated with fear and revulsion, forced to live in the slums.
I was initially worried when the conference mentioned a ‘mechanical apartheid’, but their world design in spot on there. In a sequence that reveals that Adam Jensen has moved on from Sarif Industries to join an international anti-terror organisation, one which Jensen is covertly investigating for potential ties to the Illuminati, a strong picture of the hatred is formed.
At a train station in Prague, Jensen is scanned and treated with hostility due to his augmentations. A man bumps a woman over and while helping her pick up her dropped documents notices an augment and drops the papers, calling her a clanker. Police officers respond to augs with distrust and aggression and there are two queues for leaving the station: augs and normals. The parallels between the this timeline and Apartheid South Africa are all too apparent.
The demonstration then zoomed ahead to a section in the game set in the slums near Prague called The Throat, a place for outcast augs. The game has kept its stealth mechanics from Human Revolution, a fairly robust and well-rounded system and have instead focused on improving combat as well as adding more verticality to movement and maps, allowing for even more paths through levels and situations.
Jensen can cloak, disable groups of opponents non-lethally using a Tesla charge from his arm and can now perform takedowns from cover. He also has a damage absorbing titan shield, where nanobots cover your body in a black mass of moving polygons, turning you into a tank. The path we took to the objective included impaling people to walls with nano blades and overloading the same blades to explode a few seconds after clinking into a wall. Even pivotal encounters can be solved through speech, avoiding, hopefully, those terrible boss fights from Human Revolution. The number of potential paths through the level seemed numerous, even with just a short glance at the lay of the land. Jensen now has an Icarus Dash which allows him to rush into enemies or to traverse horizontal spaces or make impressive jumps.
Jensen is no longer a ‘yes man’, allowing for even more opportunities for you to decide how to deal with characters and issues. In a social encounter he could respond in three different ways, from patronising to turning the topic back on the speaker.
The cluttered world of Deus Ex is back, a lot darker than last time, but with so much to see and do. Now the wait begins.