Deus Ex: Mankind Divided delivers with an awesome combination of action and roleplaying elements. Some mechanics work better than others, with systems like hacking becoming somewhat repetitive while others such as augmentations providing some real ownership over how you play the game. The end result is a title that feels like it is the second part of a bigger trilogy and fans of Deus Ex should find plenty to like with this release.
With clear ties to the prior Deus Ex game and some dangling threads that leave the story open for a third, it would be easy to think of Mankind Divided as a expansion, or more of an add-on than a true sequel. That combined with microtransactions will no doubt rub some people the wrong way, but if that is what you focus on, you'll find that you are missing the point as Mankind Divided offers an excellent story set in the year 2029 and tackles some interesting topics with protagonist Adam Jensen.
One thing that really helps to sell the world building here is the outstanding mission structure, which avoids the pitfall so many other games fall into where they create puzzles or challenges that don't really align with the world they are set in. Here the mission structure is organic to the world composition and it really creates a more immersive game as a result. It also helps that stealth and combat are both options, which when combined with the augment system allow you to tackle Mankind Divided however you like.
Admittedly I am not a big stealth person. In games that offer both direct combat and stealth as options, I almost always go in guns blazing. It is therefore a credit to the game design that I did often find myself taking the time to sneak around, darting from one cover element to another as I took down opponents subtly. Inevitably almost every one of these scenarios would break out into a gun fight (I suspect one of the reasons I seldom rely on stealth in games like this is because frankly, I am just not very good at it), and combat is a thrill.
Still, the ability to augment in ways that assist you with shooting precision and better armor suited me really well and that was what I fell back to more often than not. However, if sneaking about, avoiding combat and trying to hack machines is more your style, there are augments that suit that as well. However, my personal tastes found the sneaking to be solid if somewhat tedious at times, and the hacking mechanic was highly repetitive. That being said, I felt that I was going against the grain - as though being more 'shoot first, sneak second' is not the development team's preferred method of play as the environment offers far more stealth options than reasonable combat ones.
The storyline here is a much more micro level one, focusing more on local events than the world-impacting ones from the last game. The ripples of those events are still felt throughout the proceedings here, but the narrative will likely be divisive. I personally enjoyed a slightly more intimate story that doesn't revolve around world changing events (I think superhero movies that follow the smaller scale approach are generally more engaging than overly bombastic world-altering ones and the same applies here), but to some the story might feel like a step backwards as Adam's actions carry far less importance overall this time around. That being said, this also creates a somewhat narrow, linear narrative. There are a lot of things to see and do, but the primary story doesn't really have a lot of detours along the way, for better or for worse.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is an ambitious game that tries to afford the player a lot of control over how the action plays out, even if the story itself in mostly set fashion. The overall experience is ably assisted by an excellent presentation, with visuals that really help to sell a dirty, dark world that is both intense and suits the moody music to create an atmosphere that I really enjoyed. The biggest downside is that the ending ends far too abruptly - a poor payoff for the time spent with the game. Also while the stealth and combat are both solid, neither one is quite polished to the point of great. Compromises are small, but they are made to allow players the freedom to tackle things how they see fit. Thankfully the augmentation system helps make whichever method you prefer to use more enjoyable. All in all Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a good experience that gets far more right than wrong, but I do hope we get one more chapter to cap off the loose threads.
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Article by Nick