I did it, I beat Deus Ex: Mankind Divided before Mass Effect: Andromeda came out! Well, okay… before our preorder copy arrived. It counts! Of course, that means that I’ve plowed straight past Dishonored 2…
After making my way through the opening tutorial quest, and some of the initial questing in the Prague hub, I wrote an initial reaction to the game: http://www.comparativegeeks.com/2016/10/18/deus-ex-mankind-divided-first-impressions/ Rather than rehash any of that, I’ll just leave that link!
As to playing the game from there, I have generally been having more trouble finding time to game. When the Geek Baby was young and napping a lot – often on us – there was a good deal of time to game, often with limited alternatives since we had a baby on us. I couldn’t move my arms, but I could use my hands to hold a controller! But with this recent round of games, finding time for single player games – amidst watching shows, life, and the Geek Baby, has been very difficult. Often I was only finding 1-2 sessions in a month, most of those late-night insomnia.
There are two major points I want to make because of how I played the game like that. One is that this game, over time, had a number of huge updates (one up to like 8GB). So with my limited number of sessions, most were eaten up with time to download and install these updates. Were they content? Hotfixes? I don’t know, but it was annoying.
The second point is that, while it took me a long time to beat and I feel like I did quite a bit in the game… it also doesn’t feel like I should be done. I don’t feel like I should be at the end – I’m not sure I should be very close to the end! Did I miss something by playing the game in such a fragmented way?
The game is patterned for a mission off in a location, which with my stealthy playstyle was often quietly and quickly traversed. A lot of it was very instinctual, or perhaps my stealth gaming instincts have improved, but I found myself often picking best routes all on my own. So these big locations went by fairly quickly.
Then the pattern brings you back to the hub, to Prague. There, you have a number of side quests, as well as several steps of main quest, before your next travels. Though the majority of the time in-game was spent on these parts of the game – and the main quest elements in Prague probably took more time than the off-site quests – these elements didn’t feel like they were the big parts of the game. They were diversions, fun, world-building. The meat felt like it should be the location quests.
A big comparison I realized to the first game is that, in each of the big quest completions, you had a boss fight. Like you might expect in a video game, but it worked: there was a team of augmented mercenaries you were hunting and fighting, each of them with different skills and abilities, and they provided some of that feeling that was lacking from this game. The feeling of completion as you finished off a quest chain, as you left a location.
Instead, the sequel really just had the one main antagonist, but when fighting him finally at the end, I really felt like he should have been the first of several boss fights in the game. He was the big guy, the muscle, the soldier: not the brains of the operation, just a big footsoldier.
But given what we know of the big bad in the series… and the fact that this is a pre-sequel (after Human Revolution but before the original Deus Ex) means that it was never going to resolve the Illuminati. I was really enjoying having the choice of really treating them as the villain in the game, of working in secret with a hacker group and approaching the game with them in mind constantly. There was even a great point when you can only complete one of two quests (in the Prague hub) and the other can’t be completed; I went with the quest that was aimed against the Illuminati.
I was hoping for more big choice moments like this, but there was really just the one. It was good, but more would have been better. Which is, indeed, my overall statement on the game.
So back to how I played it: it both felt like I put a lot of time into the game (I felt like it was “the game I’m playing right now” for 6 months), but also just that I was only getting warmed up. There were a number of abilities that I never had cause to use. I ended the game sitting on almost 10 Praxis points (used for your skills, from leveling) without a clear plan to use them.
Sure, I could replay the game on New Game+, or on a higher difficulty. Neither of those things give me more content in actual practice, however. There are several “Jensen Stories” of DLC, $12.99 each for a new episode. One is before the game, another is after, and a third appears free (and after the plot) or maybe it came with my preorder. Sinking more money into the game – when I have new games to turn to – isn’t what I’m necessarily looking for either. But I may return to the game later and dive into these DLC, maybe after they’re on sale.
All-in-all, this game felt more like an expansion pack, maybe compare it to Dragon Age: Awakening and the way that it added more than a normal DLC, but less than a full game, to the original Dragon Age. It added a new chapter to the story of Adam Jensen, who is still pursuing the threads he was pulling on in the first game, but isn’t necessarily getting anywhere. You fail to stop a couple of bad things from happening, then stop a final big bad thing from happening. And scene.
Because as a full game, it just doesn’t compare, in my mind, to Human Revolution.