Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was originally slated for launch in February this year, but was pushed back to its current ship date of August 23. And according to Eidos Montreal executive game director Jean Francois Dugas, all that extra time should hopefully result in a lot of things that players won't necessarily notice. "Polish" is the term that Dugas uses to describe what the extra months of development has achieved, although with today's announcement of a brand-new mode called Breach, it seems that polish isn't the only thing that was being worked on. GameSpot spoke to Dugas about Breach, what "polish" actually entails, and how the narrative of Mankind Divided will -- like Human Revolution -- result in multiple endings for the game.
If you go by the game's original launch date, it would have been released by now. What have you used that extra time for?
Jean Francois Dugas: Polish. Making sure that we're balancing the game. Making sure that some things that were rough around the edges were fixed. It was really taking the time to massage the game. Development sometimes it takes a lot of time. More often than not, the actual game comes together very late in the process. If we had released in February like we were supposed to, we wouldn't have had the chance to step back and look at what we have and massage it to the way we wanted it. This game is so dense that it demanded more love before we shipped it.
In what ways do you think the audience will notice that extra polish?
I think they won't notice anything if we do our job well. For us, when we look at the result in February, we knew that there were too many rough edges, but we could have shipped it. But personally as a dev and then as a player, that would've been disrespectful. But it's mainly more for us knowing what the game should be versus what it was (in February). It's as simple as that.
In the end, you will have a more solid AI, you'll have a more robust frame rate. You'll have more robust loading times. It's plenty of things like that.
That's great, because the alternative could have been that you just ship a product and hope to release patches later to address any issues.
And I'm sure this game will have patches, like most games out there. But our goal was not to say "Oh, let's release this and we'll do patches." No, let's make sure that we're releasing the best game we can with that extra time, and the patches will be more about certain other things instead of trying to make a broken thing thing work.
You're adding more, too, with Breach mode. Was that something that was always in your plans or was that something that came about pretty late?
No, it didn't come late. It came early on. When we were working on Human Revolution, we were considering trying something different, or have a challenge mode, something like that. But we didn't have the resources back in the day, our hands were full with the main game and everything. Early on with Mankind Divided, we knew that we wanted to bring back the idea and try something different, reuse the mechanics and do something totally fresh that had the Deus Ex mechanics but not strictly be Deus Ex. Early on, we had a part of the staff that was dedicated to push that forward, and it was built in parallel with Mankind Divided.
Why does it look so different? Why didn't you just have Adam and the usual visual style of the main game as well?
It's because it's a virtual world. The narrative demanded that. It's not about Adam Jensen. In Breach, you go into this virtual world with a bunch of Rippers, which is another version of hackers, that are invading the virtual reality world and trying to steal data or important information from big corporations. Actually, in the Rippers, there are some people that are there for justice, some are there for the money, and some are there just because they can do it. That's what we were trying to represent.
Breach, narratively speaking, is totally connected to the Deus Ex universe. It's not something we did on the side and has no relationship. It's connected to the world.
Are there any hints you can give me on how it actually integrates within the main narrative of the game or is it completely separate?
It's completely separate yet connected.
Haha, OK. Was there ever any consideration to actually spinning it off into its own title or was it always meant to be integrated into this package?
We had plenty of discussions left and right about what it should be, but the one thing that was always clear to me is that it was part of the offering of Mankind Divided.
It seems like the multiplayer challenge aspect of this is where you're trying to get that competitive mode into the Deus Ex experience.
Yeah. It's a single player/social competitive thing because you play against the game, but eventually you can send a challenge to your friend with some modifiers [to the game]. You have to do this by X amount of times, doing this and that, and I send it to you and you accept and if you succeed then you get the reward. If you fail, I get the reward.
Will the updates and upgrades that you do to Breach be part of a DLC program, or is that going to be free content?
Those details, I'm not exactly sure.
Is there a monetization side to it?
There will be a monetization in the sense that there will be accelerators, but there are no paywalls. I hate paywalls. There's no way that paywalls are going to be in these things.
But it seems like you can buy ammo and guns...
Exactly. Accelerators. You can totally play Breach without going into this, just playing the levels and everything. But if you're the kind of player that you like to optimize everything and "I want to be the best at this level right away," and "I want all the best gear" and all the best whatever, you have those accelerators that are going to allow you to achieve that. But you don't need to do it.
Can you talk a little bit about how players will actually deal with choice within the game and how many different narrative permutations there possibly could be.
It's very similar to Human Revolution. Back then, what I was saying is that you have one big storyline, but the way you experience it will be different from player to player because we all make different choices. Therefore, you have a different story within the main story.
But there will be way more choices in this one. And when I say choices I don't always mean, "will you save that person over there that is about to fall off the cliff, or are will you stop this rock from falling from the sky." There are moments like that. But there are little things, like if you talk to a character, or if you don't, [it will mean] you will have a certain relationship. You can either deepen your story with this character, and maybe this guy might offer you a deal later.
The consequences of those early choices can have ramifications to almost the end of the game. There's a lot of intertwined possibilities within the story that will make that story tailored to your own investment.
How many endings will Mankind Divided have?
I don't know. It confuses me and gives me headaches (laughs). Seriously, the last narrative map of the game, I'm not going into the details because we're not talking about that today, but it was a nightmare. You get to the last map and you have a choice and you do this with that or that or that. It's things that you might have discovered through the journey or not that might give you possibilities within the endings, or not at all. It's a completed mess.
So more than one ending?