Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Earlier today, trademark hunting sleuths in the NeoGAF forums uncovered a filing by Square Enix UK for “Deus Ex: Mankind Divided” under the general umbrella of computer software, computer games, and video games. Given the timing of the filing, the most reasonable assumption is that Mankind Divided is the long rumored current generation followup to the critically and commercially successful Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The existence of the title was first substantiated in a blog post by David Anfossi, the studio head of Eidos Montreal. After a disquieting paragraph about the “Deus Ex: Universe” concept, which sounded mostly to be PR hype about a variety of licensing outlets, he concluded the post with an image (attached above) and a brief description of the political environment the game is set to occur in. According to Anfossi, Mankind Divided is slated to portray Matt Damon as a mechanically enhanced, disgruntled lower class citizen hellbent on: Wait, no — that’s the plot of Elysium. According to Anfossi, the teaser image (suitably golden in hue, I might add) is meant to be evocative of the lower class’s longing for the “Cyber Renaissance,” a despondent state of affairs given the presumed eradication of disease and decrepitude that such sweeping advances in technology are always deemed to portend. Instead of promotion of general welfare, the spread of augmentations has instead become the latest fulcrum of the power imbalance between socioeconomic strata. This theme was vaguely referenced (wasn’t everything?) in Human Revolution, but was first truly developed in the latter entry The Fall (inexplicably released on iOS then ported to PC, rather than being a true release). The Fall had a typically shadowy Deus Ex plot; a seemingly macrocosm of conflicts and struggle being perpetuated and perpetrated by shrouded individuals, leaving the player on a frenetic pierce the veil quest. Without spoiling too much, the lower class members lucky enough to afford augmentations likely cannot afford Neuropozyne, an immunosuppressant drug taken to prevent the host body from rejecting the augmentation. Pharmaceutical companies saw an opportunity to test unproven Neuropozyne alternatives on a captive populace. Private security companies saw an opportunity to help pharmaceutical companies do so surreptitiously. There are regulations and laws in place against just these sorts of activities. In the fight to put a stop to said activities, someone is unceremoniously assassinated, leaving everyone in the lurch. If that sounds perfunctory and unsatisfying, that’s because it was. Human Revolution was at its best when ruthlessly eviscerating the notion that every situation could be met with passivity or neutrality. The illusion of its potentiality was granted in places, but only insofar as it was to be demonstrated as a mistake after sufficient time had passed. The Fall was nowhere near as graceful in its implementation of player agency, leaving one with the feeling of lurching from contrived outcome to contrived outcome. This stung a bit more painfully than usual because the overarching issues were ripe for exploration: shifting, uncertain identities within class structures, ambiguous areas of conflict, and the transmogrification of legitimized political violence. Assuming that Mankind Divided is indeed its sequel, it would be best served by not taking place too far into the spread of augmentation’s aftermath – all of these motifs bring nuance to an already interesting struggle. If the conflict is largely over by the time of Mankind Divided, that would both render The Fall as permanently incomplete and would severely undermine its outcome.
Mankind Divided, while carrying on the tradition of less than opaque subtitles (and perhaps in spite of this particular phrasing), has the opportunity to bring the most definitively framed and compelling conflict of Eidos Montreal’s entries to date. The fact that it’s coming to the current generation of consoles and has been in development for some time should alleviate concerns of rushing it to market. The mixed reception of The Fall, combined with the fact that it will be the foothold of the series on the current generation means Eidos Montreal has even greater incentive to make sure Mankind Divided doesn’t become Fanbase Divided.