Imagine a world where the augmented – people with robot-like enhancements to better their lives – are segregated on trains, walking the streets in fear when confronted by the corrupt police. Imagine living in a massive, condensed slum with thousands of other augmented people wishing you had a better life and that people weren’t so mistrusting of you because you need an enhancement to help your poor vision or your limp. This is an awful reality in Deus Ex Mankind Divided, set in Prague two years after the events of 2011’s Deus Ex Human Revolution. Thanks to memorable side quests with difficult choices and new abilities for Adam Jensen to play with, Mankind Divided is a fantastic sequel that allows the player to tackle objectives in numerous ways.
Like I mentioned before, the game takes place two years after Human Revolution. SPOILER ALERT FOR HUMAN REVOLUTION: After Hugh Darrow activates the kill switch causing all people with augments to lose control of themselves and attack each other, there becomes a major divide in society, and it’s front and center in Prague. Augmented people are treated very poorly: subways have areas sectioned off specifically for those with enhancements, and police are checking each person’s identification as they wait in line.
One of the more interesting things I noticed is how the Naturals [people without augments] react and treat those with augments. I inadvertently went on a train where normal people are allowed, and during my time on the train as the game loaded my next destination, children would tightly hug their parent or I’d receive angry looks from the other passengers because I was on the wrong train. And when I got off, an officer was there waiting for me, instructing me to use the train relegated to the augmented as he was verifying my identification. Prague is a sad place to walk around but I was impressed with how real the world felt. There were consequences for shopping at certain stores, like the worker making snide remarks when I wanted to purchase an item. The events of the previous game brilliantly have an effect on society in this one.
The story revolves around Adam Jensen joining Task Force 29, an elite anti-terrorist group. The team travels to Dubai to prevent a weapon smuggling deal, only for the exchange to be interrupted by a third party: augmented soldiers in gold masks. When Jensen returns to Prague, a series of bombings occur throughout the city and the blame of these attacks fall on ARC, the Augmented Rights Coalition. This group stands for the fair treatment of augmented people, and they’re located in Golem City, the aforementioned slum where the augmented are exiled. Though the blame falls on this movement group, the reason behind these attacks go much deeper.
The story is complemented by mysterious characters like Jensen’s boss, Jim Miller, and Alejandra Vega, a member of a secretive group. Miller and Vega held their cards close to their chest, and I wasn’t quite sure what their intentions were, but I appreciated that. They leave you with questions and cleverly suggest that things aren’t what they seem. My biggest complaint about some of the other characters is that I felt they lacked closure; I’d do an important task for someone or learn about their motives, and it never went beyond that. Still, though, there are numerous interesting characters.
The side quests are fantastic and often left me not only in a moral quandary, but wanting more missions with difficult choices that never led to an easy decision. These missions go quite in depth and you encounter some interesting events along the way. In other games I’ll eventually grow tired of side missions and feel ready to advance the main story, but in Mankind Divided I was so engrossed with the side missions that the main story took a back seat.
One of my favorite missions involves acquiring two forged documents so two augmented people can pass through a checkpoint without issues. They need forged documentation because the guard controlling the passage is making it nearly impossible for any augmented person to clear the checkpoint, whether it be through bribe or inflated prices. Just when it seems there’s nothing in the way, the machine to forge these documents breaks down and I’m only able to create the documentation for one person, meaning one person can safely go ahead and the other is left behind, waiting longer. It was not an easy decision and while I wanted to help both people, I decided to help the person who I connected with more and, in my conscience, felt needed to pass the checkpoint more.
I love Deus Ex because each mission can be completed in different ways, and they’re all satisfying. There’s never a direct path you can take, so exploring becomes fun because you use your augmentations, or abilities, to bypass any obstacles. While I could go through the front door and take out any resistance head on, I could also sneak through a hidden vent and take out the baddies inside out. Or if I want to feel like a ninja, I’ll activate my cloaking shield and sneak by my enemies unseen. There is no right or wrong way to complete a mission, and playing to the style you’re comfortable with is an amazing feeling.
My favorite thing is to invest Praxis/skill points into the hacking skill tree and utilize that ability to disable any cameras that can catch me trying to sneak through, or change the settings on an enemy turret so it shoots my enemies for my benefit. The many different play styles incentivize tinkering around with the different skills and playing an Adam Jensen that feels distinct. I didn’t anticipate playing Mankind Divided in a stealthy fashion, so I want to play through it again but with a more offensive approach and experimenting with different abilities to take out my enemies.
For reasons I won’t spoil, Jensen comes across new augmentations that allow for some creative takedowns and impressive abilities. These additional augmentations include an impenetrable shield to help you survive a tough firefight. You’ll use energy as a result of these skills, but it feels badass to use these new augmentations as a new means to be a deadly (or passive!) super soldier. I unlocked the Nano Blades and Typhoon skill, but I didn’t utilize them like I could have. For my next playthrough I’m excited to slice through enemies with the aforementioned Nano Blades or walk in the middle of a group and knock them all unconscious with the Typhoon aug. I haven’t even touched the Icarus Dash to quickly move from cover to cover, or the remote hacking ability to open a door from afar.
Mankind Divided feels smoother than Human Revolution did. The gunplay isn’t as clunky, the cover system is easier to navigate and weapons are more customizable. Even though having greater hand-eye coordination augmentations will make you more accurate and reload faster, it’s nice for the accuracy to naturally be better. I wasn’t nearly as frustrated when shimmying around corners only to get caught in the enemy’s line of sight. It’s a lot easier to move about quietly and make more precise movements when tracking your prey.
While I love attaching silencers and scopes to my weapons, what I like even more is being able to change my weapon’s rate of fire and equipping or unequipping attachments I want to use on the fly. On top of that, you can upgrade a weapon’s damage output, ammo capacity and rate of fire with crafting parts you’ll collect.
Deus Ex Mankind Divided is an amazing game that rewards you for exploring its levels. You don’t have to play one specific way and you don’t need to choose a certain path to achieve your objective, which is why I had so much fun with it. The new abilities allow for even greater customization on top of making your weapons feel unique. Prague is a great setting with some rich and difficult moments among its side missions.
+Creative ways to play
+Better gunplay and cover mechanics
-Lack of bosses
-On the shorter end
Deus Ex Mankind Divided is the sequel you should play, even if you haven’t played Human Revolution. The best part? There’s a video recap so you don’t need to play the last game!