Hands on: ‘Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’

When hacking fails in 'Deus Ex: Mankind Divided,' it's time to crack skulls

Unsurprisingly, our hands-on demo of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, a sequel to 2011’s stealth-action RPG hit Deus Ex: Human Revolution, begins with a timed hacking puzzle. More unexpected, however, is the fact we perform the digital archive infiltration as a “Ripper,” rather than returning protagonist Adam Jensen.

A faction of elite hackers said to be skilled at accessing the world’s most secure servers, Rippers, it turns out, are the playable avatars of a brand-new game mode dubbed “Breach.”  According to producer Fleur Marty, Breach is “a stand-alone, connected puzzle-shooter … an arcade twist on Deus Ex gameplay.”

Upon diving from a chopper and sticking a landing that would make Black Widow blush with envy, Jensen enters a Dubai construction site.

Connected is the key word, as the accessible, challenge-based mode is meant to spark competition among friends. In addition to leaderboards, which track both time and score, Breach  features character leveling, upgrades, unlocks, and currency. None of these elements are shared with the main game, but instead aim to encourage replays, speed runs, and quick fixes that don’t require jumping into Jensen’s story.

Our short time with Breach didn’t earn us any bragging rights, but it certainly satisfied our itch for hacking terminals and shooting bad guys. Much like the main game, it also offers different paths and the option to complete objectives silently, violently, or somewhere in between. As we discovered upon earning a double-jump enhancement, it also borrows the ability to augment our avatar.

E3 2016: Dishonored 2 emergent gameplay surprising developers even before its release

Breach’s gameplay provides a similar, albeit stripped-down, streamlined experience, but its visual style represents a significant departure from the campaign’s attention to detail and realism. While its environments and characters sport a minimalist, virtual reality-inspired presentation evocative of the shards appearing so prominently in the series’ marketing, the levels’ abstract look and bite-sized length recall a modern take on an old-school Metal Gear Solid VR mission.

Our brief look at Breach provided a fresh, arcade-like take on cracking code, but our time behind the mechanically enhanced Jensen felt familiar in all the best ways. Now a member of an elite military force, the black-clad protagonist awkwardly sits as the only augmented agent in a unit tasked with stopping his kind from spreading terror. Of course, the potential rift between Jensen and his peers doesn’t stop him from letting the leash off his cybernetic implants.

Upon diving from a chopper and sticking a landing that would make Black Widow blush with envy, Jensen enters a Dubai construction site where an arms deal is about to go down. Having already absorbed the impact of the epic sky dive with his bionic legs, we go back to the augmentation well and fire up Jensen’s Smart Vision ability. Behind the controls, we’re able to utilize the enhanced eyesight to identify a structural weakness and immediately break through it like peanut brittle.

The stylish attack creates both a pile of corpses and a cloud of chaos that allows us to get closer to our objective.

While crushing concrete with Jensen’s fists is endlessly satisfying, we take a subtler approach against the unsuspecting foes patrolling the area. Complementing the game’s basic cover and stealth mechanics — which can be mastered via optional tutorials — with Cloak and Leg Silencer augmentations, we’re able to creep behind marks and, ultimately, leave a lengthy trail of incapacitated goons in our wake.

Following a couple of keypad hacks and a quiet crawl through an air duct, we come to a heavily guarded area not far from the exchange point. Our stealthy strategy continues to serve us well until backup arrives and we’re suddenly surrounded by six or so thugs. Trading our non-lethal tactics for a more, er,  aggressive approach, we trigger Jensen’s Typhoon ability; a favorite from Human Revolution, the augmentation sees Jensen elegantly spin in a circle while dropping explosives at his foes’ feet.

E3 2016: Battlefield 1 will bring the EA shooter franchise back to World War I

The tiny bombs create a pile of corpses as well as a cloud of chaos that allows us to get closer to our objective. Unfortunately, a strengthening sand storm also approaches, making it difficult to discern whether it’s the whipping wind or the blades of the bad guys’ helicopter that’s compromising our visibility. As all hell breaks loose, the deal goes down and the evildoers high-tail it to their transport. Further complicating matters is the fact the weapons exchanged are—spoiler alert!—actual arms, well, augmented limbs.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

As the storm consumes everything in its path, including some foes attempting to flee, we’re able to hack the chopper’s power source and, for the moment, put the deal on ice. Sadly, our demo also concludes on this cliffhanger, leaving us craving more time behind the controller and, ya know,  wondering how Jensen’s going to clean all that sand from his cybernetic joints.

Mankind Divided‘s impressive visuals — the sandstorm is especially easy on the eyes — are clearly harnessing all those horses beneath the new consoles’ hood, but the gameplay feels more comfortably familiar than groundbreaking. Not necessarily a bad thing, but we hope the final release still has some surprises tucked into Jensen’s trench coat.

Based on our short time with Breach, the new mode seems like a welcome online addition. Assuming its creation doesn’t come at the cost of polishing the core campaign, we’ll happily embrace this visually stylized, competition-fueled take on the franchise’s defining gameplay.

We look forward to learning more about Deus Ex: Mankind Divided before it hits shelves on August 23rd.

Smart Home

Fraudulent sales of home alarm systems are on the rise nationwide

According to a new consumer survey from the Consumer Federation of America, there are increasing reports of bad actors using scare tactics and manipulation to sell fraudulent alarm systems.
Gaming

How to connect a Nintendo Switch controller to your PC

Nintendo's Switch controllers, including the Joy-Cons and the aptly titled Pro Controller, use Bluetooth, which makes them compatible with your PC. Here's how to start using them for PC gaming.
Computing

Gaming on a laptop has never been better. These are your best options

Gaming desktops are powerful, but they tie you down to your desk. For those of us who prefer a more mobile experience, here are the best gaming laptops on the market, ranging from budget machines to maxed-out, wallet-emptying PCs.
Music

How to convert and play FLAC music files on your iPhone or iPad

The high-resolution revolution is upon us, and FLAC files are a popular way to store hi-res sound. But what if you’re an iOS user? Check out our article to find out more about FLAC files, and how to use them on Apple devices.
Computing

Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 20 Series starts at $500 and features real-time ray tracing

Nvidia revealed its new GeForce RTX 2000 Series of add-in desktop graphics cards for gamers during its pre-show Gamescom press event. The new family is based on Nvidia’s new “Turing” architecture focusing on real-time ray tracing.
Computing

Nvidia GeForce RTX GPUs are coming to Alienware and Predator gaming desktops

Dell and Acer have both announced support for Nvidia's new GeForce RTX 2000 graphics cards in refreshed gaming desktops, including Predator Orion series systems and Alienware desktops.
Product Review

'Battle for Azeroth' lets you play Warcraft without canceling evening plans

‘Battle for Azeroth’ promises to put you in the middle of a new war between the Alliance and Horde. The plot too quickly unravels into dull fetch quests, but the game’s variety keeps you itching to log in it even as the story…
Gaming

‘Battlefield V’ beta with new multiplayer experience kicks off September 6

Battlefield V's open beta comes to consoles and PC on September 6. If you pre-order the game, you'll get a two-day head start on September 4 to try out the story-driven multiplayer experience Grand Operations.
Gaming

‘Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice,’ next game from ‘Dark Souls’ dev, coming March 22 2019

Activision has announced that Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, an upcoming game from the developers of Dark Souls and Bloodborne, has finally earned a worldwide release date for next March.
Gaming

Amazon is killing off Prime’s new-game, pre-order discount

Amazon is ending its 20-percent discount on pre-ordered games for its Prime members later this month, instead offering a small voucher for a select number of pre-ordered games. Previous orders won't be affected.
Gaming

‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’ gets ‘Blackout’ beta on all platforms next month

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will hold a beta for its battle royale Blackout mode in September, and it will be available first to those who pre-ordered the game on PlayStation 4. The game releases October 12.
Computing

Nvidia’s new GPUs look amazing, but that doesn’t mean you should buy one

Nvidia's GeForce 2080 is a powerful graphics card that supports ray tracing to deliver real-time cinematic renderings of shadows, light, and reflection in games, but unless you were already planning on upgrading, you'll probably want to…
Computing

Asus gets ‘tough’ on gamers using two TUF Gaming FX laptops built for abuse

If you’re looking for a “tough” gaming laptop that won’t set your wallet on fire, Asus introduced two new solutions under its TUF Gaming FX banner. The FX505 dons a 15.6-inch screen while the FX705 sports a 17.3-inch screen.
Gaming

PlayStation 4: New DualShock colors will jazz up your gaming sessions

If your current DualShock 4 controller looks a little on the dull side, then check out these funky new designs just announced by Sony. There are four in all, with Sunset Orange the most likely to brighten up your PS4 sessions.