The original Deus Ex became a cult hit when it released in 2000, directed by industry legend Warren Spector and inspiring countless games that came later, from BioShock to Bethesda’s modern Fallout series. After a lackluster sequel in 2003, the franchise lay fallow for nearly a decade, until 2011’s Human Revolution wound the clock back a few decades and managed to prove there was still plenty of life left in Deus Ex. Now the success of that game has spawned a sequel, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, which is due to hit PC and consoles in 2016.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will pick up two years after the events of Human Revolution, with protagonist Adam Jensen now working with an international coalition to put down terrorist attacks spurred by the growing tensions between “augments” and mainline humans. Early looks at the game suggest developer Eidos Montreal is taking an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to the sequel, running with and refining the mixture of stealth, action, conversation, exploration, and player choice that worked so well in the previous game (and the original, for that matter). Any gamers hoping the next Deus Ex might add a multiplayer component, however, are due for disappointment.
Deus Ex has always been an exclusively single-player experience, but a hypothetical Deus Ex multiplayer mode certainly wouldn’t be the first time a traditionally single-player franchise has branched out beyond those roots. BioWare managed to find a way to add multiplayer to its well-honed single-player template with Mass Effect 3, and to a lesser extent with Dragon Age: Inquisition. The same can be said for Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed titles. In fact, Mankind Divided gameplay director Patrick Fortier specifically name-checks Mass Effect 3‘s multiplayer in a new interview, but then goes on to explain why Deux Ex isn’t going down that road just yet.
Speaking in the new issue of Official Xbox Magazine, Fortier says that any potential Deus Ex multiplayer would have to make sense from a narrative standpoint. In Mass Effect 3, BioWare presented the multiplayer as battles within the larger war against the Reapers, and the multiplayer gameplay provided bonuses toward the single-player campaign. Fortier tells OXM:
Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer is a very good experience. It’s proof that it can be done. I’m not saying that we can’t do it, but you know [BioWare is] in the fourth iteration [of its game] now, almost, whereas we’re only on the second of ours. There’s a lot of learning we need to go through! In the future, I think if we were to go in that direction it would have to be the topic of the game itself. The way we’re applying the formula, in the sense of the narrative component [impacting] all across the different disciplines, I think it would have to be that it makes sense story-wise.
Of course, it’s not unprecedented for a AAA game to enlist an outside developer to handle the multiplayer side of things while the core team focuses on the single-player campaign. (And Eidos isn’t developing the PC version of Mankind Divided, so that theoretically wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibilities.) However, Fortier dismisses notions of letting somebody else handle multiplayer for their franchise; Deux Ex is very much their baby now. Fortier says, “I don’t think it’s something that can be tacked on and supported sufficiently well through a third party developer, out of the office. It has to be fundamental right from day one that you’re trying to do that. You have to have the right idea and the right vehicle.”
It’s a refreshing attitude given how many times single-player games have had sad excuses for multiplayer modes tacked on. If multiplayer is going to become a part of a given franchise, it had better be given due diligence to make sure it works, it’s fun, and it’s the sort of thing that’s actually going to hold players’ attention. After all, there’s no point in dumping buckets of money into developing a feature if everyone’s just going to bail on it five minutes in and go back to playing Call of Duty. And since Deus Ex is the sort of game that attracts a passionate single-player fanbase, there’s a real question as to whether enough of those players would be interested in multiplayer to make it worth the effort. All things considered, it’s better for everybody if Eidos just focuses on making the best single-player Deux Ex experience they can.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will release on PC, PS4, and Xbox One sometime in 2016.
Source: GamesRadar/Official Xbox Magazine