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Thread: Thoughts on Mankind Divided

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2016
    Location: Strawberry Fields

    Thoughts on Mankind Divided

    So Mankind Divided's been out for a while now. What are your thoughts on it?

    Personally, I can't get it to run without stuttering which is bad enough but I can't get past the shift in tone and atrocious writing. Now I don't know what makes good writing, but I don't think it's anywhere good enough here to deal with the politics it's trying to deal with. Whereas Human Revolution forced its politics down your throat, at least it was handled with maturity. Mankind Divided feels like it was written by some college kids. I can't over look it. The characters are forgettable and totally unlikeable, also nowhere near as well voice acted as HR characters or as interesting and the game plays like some CIA TV show type crap. On top of that gameplay is clunkier and frustrating. I've got 406 hours on Steam playing the original game. It's my favourite game ever. HR is up there as well, so to me this may be the most disappointing sequel I've ever played.
    Apparently I have 72 hours on MD but have only ever gotten a little bit through the ghetto near the beginning.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2005
    Location: Not Kansas
    All stuttering and lags aside (yeah, I had to suffer those, too), I have to say I enjoyed DX:MD immensely. Though the first cutscene was way too long, as was the later cutscene where Jensen first meets up with Vega, as soon as the first mission unfolded in Dubai, I was hooked.

    I disagree that 'the characters are forgettable and totally unlikeable', except for Alex Vega who was way too pushy and too much the knee-jerk reaction type, imo. She seemed like she was always trying to force her views/opinions down Jensen's throat and trying too hard to turn him against Miller. Vega was too much like a ghetto thug and besides, I don't trust her boss, Janus.

    I liked Jim Miller, who hated having 'a desk strapped to (his) ass', but who was a good commander/leader, regardless of the personal drama he was going through at the time (so sad about him & Neil). I liked the crusty and rather aggressive Duncan MacReady because you knew he had your back, regardless of what he thought of you personally. I got the biggest kick out of characters like 'K' (Kazdy), who was great comic relief ('Smash the State before the State smashes your nose') and Vaclav Koller, the street-smart, chatty aug doctor who was nave enough to get himself mixed up with the 'big boys', Radich Nikoladze and Otar Botkoveli. Hell, I even did an extra play-thru just so Botkoveli could overthrow Nikoladze. Okay, I'll admit that the character of Marchenko was pretty formulaic, but he did have a touch of pathos, you gotta admit (I do wonder what happened to his wife & kids, though).

    I'm looking forward to the next DX game and hope this time Jensen can do some serious damage to the Illuminati (I called it on Delara Auzenne, btw, lol). Glitches aside (which were nothing compared to the glitches I've experienced when playing EA/Origin games), I had no problem with the gameplay, either. To each his/her own, right?



    P.S. I really thought Jensen would've been over Megan by now. *sighs*

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    Yeah, it's heavy handed with the apartheid is bad theme, to the point of cliche. I think the characters are supposed to be unlikeable, that's part of the theme. You do warm up to a few of them by the end of the game though. And the breadth of the story is surprisingly narrow for a Deus Ex game. There was a point where I thought it was on the cusp of opening up into something bigger, but it didn't, and the story ends with a lot of loose ends.

    I can't complain about the gameplay though.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    Dia, I'm with you on Vega. The first time you see her, she instructs you to bug your employer/home base for some hacker you don't know. I was disappointed that the game forces you to betray your boss and plant the whisper chip, without offering a good reason why Jensen would go along with it. It was like being forced to send the NSF distress signal, but at least Deus Ex gives you ample justification to believe UNATCO is corrupt before it forces you to do that. I was kind of annoyed with Vega after finding out I couldn't skip that objective. Besides that, the Juggernaut Collective story line seems under-developed and doesn't really serve any purpose being in the game except to feed Jensen some intel.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2016
    Location: Strawberry Fields
    Look, maybe I just need to one day do an actual full playthrough with a computer that can run it better. Maybe I'll grow to like it. I just couldn't look past the writing no matter how badly I tried. Bad writing wouldn't be 1/10th the problem I find it to be here on any other game other than a Deus Ex game. I really do find it that much of a problem. I read a little on how the story goes and I figured I didn't even miss out on anything in that regard since very little seems to happen, but I didn't read right to the conclusion so I guess something huge could easily still happen. Good to hear your thoughts.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2005
    Location: Not Kansas
    @Heywood: I thoroughly agree about Vega. I was annoyed that I couldn't just skip the whole whisper chip part; it sucks that you're railroaded into that action (which I totally disagreed with) or you can't progress in the game. It just seemed so out of character for Jensen to go along with something like that without finding out more about Janus. Of course, the intel Vega gleans from the chip eventually forces Jensen's hand to investigate his own people more thoroughly (using the NSN) which provides more insight as to what's really going on behind the scenes in the TF29 hierarchy, but still, it rankled to have to be forced to cooperate with Vega so readily. The end of the game conversation between Vega & Jensen mollified me a bit, though. I want to know who (or what) the hell Janus is and what his/her/its real agenda is, too.

    @Walrus: I'll have to respectfully disagree. I thought the writing was satisfactory for the most part and yeah, having a PC that is capable of handling the game with no glitches, lags or stuttering would, without a doubt, help one's enjoyment of the game. Not everyone is going to like the same game, though. To each their own. Peace.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    I mean, no DX game has ever had truly good writing. There have been interesting concepts in every one, certainly, but the first two games are very cold and don't feature fleshed out characters or good dialogue (plus plenty of great cheese), while the last two are a little thematically focused to the point of repetition and their final acts flop. I come to DX for amazing gameplay and some epic story concepts, but the actual writing has always been b-movie and the games themselves have historically been a technical mess. Sounds like walrus is wearing rose colored glasses.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Not to kidnap the thread, but since the people posting in it are most likely to be able to help me: any tips to someone who's just got started on Mankind Divided? Any "I wish I'd known xyz when I got started on MD"?

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    A few tips:

    If you're playing the PC port, turn off MSAA. It kills performance.

    Choose "Give Me Deus Ex". MD seems a bit easier than HR was, especially early on, so there's little reason not to play on the highest difficulty. Also, I suggest you turn off your radar and quest markers. I liked playing without the radar, it adds some challenge by forcing you to actually observe enemy patterns and patrols rather that just sitting under cover and watching little arrows. It also helps with immersion. I wished I had that option when I was playing HR.

    Get the Remote Hacking aug as early as you can. The other aug choices are personal preference.

    Regarding weapons:
    In the opening cut scene, chose the dialog options that get you the tranq gun.
    Don't bother with the sniper rifle. It takes a lot of inventory space and you can't silence it. Besides, you can fit a scope and silencer to the AR and use that for sniping.

    If you feel the desire to hoard cash, you can sell every weapon you pick up in Prague (and ammo too). But if you already have a certain weapon, and you pick up one of the same type, all you get is a spare round of two of ammo, you won't have the second weapon in your inventory to sell. This means that if you want to scavenge weapons for cash, you have to sell them one at a time: pick up a weapon, take it to a merchant and sell it, go back and pick up another weapon, repeat. It was too tedious for me to bother with, but if you feel like you need cash e.g. to buy a praxis kit, there are a lot of weapons out there.

    As Dia and I were discussing, one of the first objectives you'll receive after the intro level is to plant the "whisper chip". I tried to skip this objective because I didn't feel like bugging my boss' office as a favor to some hacktivist you don't even know. But there comes a point where you can't progress if you haven't completed this objective. So don't do what I did.

    There are a couple of choices you make which affect the plot, but nothing Earth-shattering. I won't spoil them for you.

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Great, thanks, heywood! I've switched off the quest markers - though I'm hoping there'll be an in-game map giving me at least a rough idea of what is where in Prague.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    Yeah, there is a map of Prague

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    In the meantime I've played on a few hours and definitely feel more at home in the game. As with Human Revolution I wish it was more fun to navigate the environments with Adam (IMO a light version of Mirror's Edge-style parkour would fit the augmentation premise) and I'm not a huge fan of the Prague hub, mainly because it never feels like a real place, but I enjoyed the hour or two I spent at the bank (the Samizdat side mission) and Golem City is a great environment. There've also been a couple of characters that were more interesting, although I still think that the writing is one of the game's main weaknesses.

    While they're completely different games, I wonder if a game like Mankind Divided would benefit from the kind of NPCs that Rockstar puts in its games. Sure, the AI of Los Santos' inhabitants is pretty thin, but as a backdrop for your interactions they are varied and convincing, definitely much more so than the static NPCs hanging around Prague. If the place felt more real, more alive, my interactions in the world would feel more meaningful too.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    I think maybe they tried to stuff too much in one place. Deus Ex levels have always been static, but exploring Prague feels more like strolling through a menagerie than Hong King or Hengsha. Everything is just that much more obviously staged waiting for the player's interaction.

    Another thing is that Prague is not a very nice place to hang out in Mankind Divided. I know they made it that way on purpose, in case you might have thought that living under apartheid would be fun. But it turns out that exploring a bleak city full of unlikable, mostly grumpy characters isn't that memorable.

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    To be fair, I think that few games other than the Rockstar/Ubisoft-style open worlds feel even somewhat alive - but you'd think that almost 20 years after Deus Ex their locations would feel less static than they do. It feels like less of an issue with Golem City, but on the whole I'd like more effort put into places that are supposed to feel alive in general.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Location: Somewhere
    and the subway stations were really annoying

  16. #16
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    I recently completed MD because, well, reasons? Anyway, I liked that the ultra textures had less obvious compression, and there's a lot of love that's been put into the advertising campaigns and modernist design dropped into Prague's architecture.

    I'm not gonna go over the criticisms everyone had, the main campaign was clearly weaker than the side quests, and the apartheid through-line wasn't a great idea. What, in fact, is there to say about apartheid apart from 'it's a bad thing'? That it pushes people to extremes they would normally never consider? That the oppressed would use extremism as justification for their own treatment? All been done. What could have been done better was drawing some nuance out of it for a more human main story, and it's surprising they failed here considering a lot of the side quests go out of their way to do exactly that. Which is a bit of an organising issue here, because if you split Deus Ex into its central topics of transhumanism/technology, conspiracy, governments and shadow groups, there's a neat demarcation to where all the mind-numbing conspiracy dialogue went in MD: mostly, right into the main quest.

    You can't have the idea of shadow governments and conspiracies and the public spectre of apartheid competing in the same narrative bracket without being spectacularly nimble about it, and even if you were a nimble writer, if you had any sort of survival instinct, you'd only prod at it with a very long stick. It's not a coincidence that the more interesting stories were told in the side quests, computer logs, and tragic little tableaux, divorced from the Illuminati and the Templars.

    And the bigger issue is, how do you address mechanical apartheid without examining its effect on the populations that were the first to experience apartheid? You'd think they'd have something to say about the sudden increase in signage that harks back to dimmer times in South Africa/the US's histories.

    Anyway, I think the idea that Jensen is actually a clone is definitely on the money, because there are too many blanks and unresolved threads around it, plus all the hints that Sarif and TF29's double agent psychiatrist dropped, and it sets up the third entry for the big segue into Deus Ex's world with the Illuminati and Page & co. If we get a third entry - and we should - there's going to be more than a few things to wrap up there.

    As a game, MD was pretty good. I got all the Deus Ex I wanted out of it. Sure, there could have been more hubs and more unpredictable design (I'm a simple man; like Gordon Freeman, if you give me a vent, I will fold myself into it), but Prague was fine. I enjoyed lolloping around its byways and carving my way through like a scalpel slicing into the anatomy of something impressive yet ugly and festering at the same time. Or maybe the more accurate analogy is that when you play a game like this, you're a free-roaming infection, knocking out an immune system. A time-lapsed top-down view of the maps in my playthroughs would show electronics shutting down, bodies crumpling into sleepy heaps, and crates being flung aside to expose entryways into the circulatory system that is building ventilation. Make no bones about it, this isn't emergent design - like Hitman, this is puzzlebox design. But when it's this good at challenging and empowering you, I'm not going to complain about it. Sure, the AI is primitive at best, but I've never played Deus Ex to be challenged by its combat.

    Also, I have to say that one of the highlights of both HR and MD is how well-versed they are with corporatespeak. I've seen e-mails like the one fruit per person guidance from HR, the security logs, the managerial warning recommendations, and the stupid inter-office e-mail flirting that everyone knows about. Half of the e-mails are excuses to spell out passwords or locker numbers (which is the one area this diverges from reality), but the other half make me grin at how accurate they are in capturing the specific and the banal - it's almost satire, and it's almost not.

    And that leads me to infer something: the writers at EM - you know, the guys who fashioned these inter-corporate espionage yarns - have intimate experience with how the corporate layer works, and spend a lot of time daydreaming about systematically taking it down. They've managed to weave that with gusto into a game series about transhumanism and technology and conspiracies, and their publisher hasn't batted an eye at their making Jensen - i.e., you, the player - an agent of corporate subversion.

    Or, to complete my analogy from two paragraphs ago, you're also their transmission vector. It's kind of remarkable.
    Last edited by Sulphur; 16th Dec 2018 at 15:11.

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2002
    Location: Edmonton
    I’ve got it in my queue, but all of these comments kind of make me not want to play it. I liked Human Revolution fine, but with the integrated expansion pack it was too long, and I quit before finishing it. Some reviewers said Prague was a well-realized and interesting world to explore, but I’m not getting that impression here. And I didn’t particularly enjoy the exploration aspects of the previous games either; they didn’t feel like living worlds. I might finally cross MD from my list.

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    Excellent post Sulphur.

    Puzzlebox design isn't a term I heard before applied to video games, but I get what you mean. I think emergent gameplay was more present in the original Deus Ex because many of the levels were pretty wide open, with more than just two or three possible paths, and the systems were exploitable so you could creatively solve some problems in a way the designers never anticipated. There was much less of that in Invisible War. The levels were small, so there were often just two paths: go the direct way or through the vents & utility tunnels. There were a few places where you had more freedom, like the entrance to Mako ballistics and Liberty Island, but not many. Human Revolution opened things up again somewhat, especially in places like Derelict Row. But most of the time I felt like I was just choosing between one of the approaches the designers had carefully crafted for me, rather than making up my own way. Same with Mankind Divided. Some open levels, but a lot of just choosing between the direct path vs. stealth path. I'm not complaining though, because both paths were generally well designed, and you didn't have to be a late-game ber-Jensen to take the direct path without getting your ass handed to you on GMDX difficulty.

    For Aja - If you liked Human Revolution, then you will probably like Mankind Divided as well. The core gameplay is nearly the same, but with a bunch of little refinements over HR. There are new augs and weapons, of course. And the weapons are better balanced. Combat is now a viable option early in the game. Stealth is still rewarded through the XP bonuses, but unlike HR you can start to run & gun from pretty early on if you want to. The main reason why I didn't like this game as much as HR is the writing/story. It seems more like a side story or fan-fic than a major episode. It wasn't thought provoking and didn't help pull me into the game. So if you liked previous DX games for the grandiose "uncover the conspiracies" plots and the themes they explored along the way, you'll be disappointed with MD. But if you liked them for the gameplay, you'll probably like MD.

    Re: living world. The design of Prague seems to be inspired by Warren Spector's idea of a one city block RPG. It is richly detailed and densely packed with quests, things to see, loot, NPCs staged for quest purposes, and scripted events to stumble into. The first hour I spent there, I got some sense of a living world. But the more I explored it, the more it feels like some kind of interactive theme park. With all the side quests and "points of interest", I think the devs went a bit out of their way to make sure you don't miss anything they put in there.

    There's also somewhat of an inherent conflict between trying to make a living world and trying to make a compact, super-dense RPG. RPGs are all about questing, and the more you try to make the world feel alive and reactive, the harder it is to avoid broken quests.

  19. #19
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Thanks heywood! Yeah, the EM Deus Ex games aren't designed with systemic emergence in mind, more of a streamlined set of paths and fixed options that aren't 'breakable' in the classic Deus Ex sense, hence the comparison to Hitman and puzzlebox design. I didn't see the 'city block' aspect of the design until you mentioned it, and it makes perfect sense in retrospect. MD's not quite halfway to the ideal Spector had in mind, but it's heartening to realise they were trying for it at least.

  20. #20
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2006
    Location: Berghem Haven
    The
    spoiler:
    clone theory
    explains the start menu screen too (the one with 2 jensen faces looking one at another)

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2006
    Location: Berghem Haven
    ->


  22. #22
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    You can find a frozen Jensen torso in a crate in the VersaLife vault amongst other recovered bits from Panchaea. There's also a lot of hints in conversations and emails that you're not playing the original Jensen from HR. Especially in the conversation with Eliza. The hints seem to suggest that Jensen died in Panchaea, but his body was recovered and cloned. But I guess it's possible that the Jensen from Human Revolution isn't original either, and was one of multiple clones made at White Helix.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2006
    Location: Berghem Haven
    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    You can find a frozen Jensen torso in a crate in the VersaLife vault amongst other recovered bits from Panchaea. There's also a lot of hints in conversations and emails that you're not playing the original Jensen from HR. Especially in the conversation with Eliza. The hints seem to suggest that Jensen died in Panchaea, but his body was recovered and cloned. But I guess it's possible that the Jensen from Human Revolution isn't original either, and was one of multiple clones made at White Helix.
    spoiler:
    As seen for the 3 Denton......
    Can you post a screenshot of this "frozen torso" ?

    EDIT: OK, found on Reddit: https://imgur.com/a/5wsZO

  24. #24
    New Member
    Registered: Oct 2018
    Location: Tucson, AZ
    Excuse my ignorance but I'm just curious as to why this is the only thread in the Deus Ex discussion board?

  25. #25
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    By default this forum only shows threads that have been active in the past month. You can extend that at the bottom of the screen where it says "Thread Display Options".

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