Future gaming: What we know about Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

The much-awaited sequel to the utterly brilliant transhumanist game Deus Ex: Human Revolution has finally been confirmed, and with a full announcement scheduled for later today, it’s safe to say we’re pretty excited.

Here we look at what we know about the game so far ahead of tonight’s announcement.

The year is 2029

Mankind Divided is set two years after the events of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and again stars our gruff hero Adam Jensen. However, there is no word yet as to the return of fan favourites Faridah Malik or Francis Pritchard, and it is entirely possible they will not feature in this game.

Mankind has turned against augmentations

The events of the previous game have resulted in a division between the augmented and the non-augmented, with augmented people apparently not enjoying the same rights and recognitions of traditional humans. As a result, augmented people are derided as ‘clanks’, and in some cases live in ghettos away from normals. During the game, the player will visit one of these ghettos, based in Prague.

Eidos Montreal concept art for what appears to be the augmented ghetto in Prague.

Eidos Montreal concept art for what appears to be the augmented ghetto in Prague.

Yet augmentations have improved

Although humanity may not entirely approve, Jensen has acquired a host of new augmentations that will bring new elements of gameplay to Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Among the new augmentations will be the ability to hack security systems remotely, activate a bullet-stopping nanoshield and shoot non-lethal PEPS  blasts from a weapon built into his bionic arm.

There also seems to be an improved battery system, presumably meaning that players will not have to lug around massive tubs of Cyberboost Proenergy if they want to fully re-power their augs.

Intrigue and morality are storyline staples

Jensen has switched jobs in Mankind Divided: no longer an employee of Sarif Industries, he now works for Interpol spinout Task Force 29, which appears to be engaged in combating aug-related terrorism.  However, all may not be what it seems, and Jensen is hedging his bets by passing intel to an organisation (or possibly an auganisation) known as the Juggernaut Collective.

As with Human Revolution, the player will be faced with conflicting issues to resolve, and no clear sense of the morally right path. The events of Mankind Divided will ultimately build towards the events in the original Deus Ex game, which is set in 2052.

Weapon-based combat is set to see a marked improvement from Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

Weapon-based combat is set to see a marked improvement from Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

Gameplay will be more rounded

As brilliant as Human Revolution was, it was definitely more geared towards stealth gameplay than outright combat. Mankind Divided will apparently seek to remedy this by offering greatly improved gunplay and easy weapon switching mid-combat. Stealth fans, however, will still be catered for as well as before.

Eidos Montreal also say the game will be more polished, with more diverse environments to explore. As the game will be available for PC, PS4 and Xbox One, there will no doubt be a significant graphical update from Human Revolution.

Factor will bring you the latest on Deus Ex: Mankind Divided following the main announcement later today.

With the unveiling of Valve and HTC’s Vive, and a release date for Sony’s Project Morpheus, virtual reality is finally making the jump to consumers. We look at how VR is set to rule

After the unveiling of Vive, HTC and Valve’s virtual reality offering earlier this week, Sony has provided long-awaited updates to Project Morpheus, the gaming giant’s VR peripheral for PS4.

Significantly, Project Morpheus has also been given a preliminary release date: it will be available to buy in the first half of 2016.

VR is looking to be a consumer hit, making it the biggest new class of consumer tech devices since Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad

This follow’s HTC confirmation that Vive will be released for the 2015 holiday season, meaning we are likely to see it go on sale to consumers in early November.

Given that the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, the pioneer of modern VR, is widely rumoured to be coming out this year as well, it looks as if our January prediction that 2015 would be the year of virtual reality is coming true.

VR is looking to be a consumer hit, making it the biggest new class of consumer tech devices since Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad.

Project Morpheus: Premium VR console gaming

As the only major VR device designed for console gaming, Project Morpheus is going for the premium living room gaming experience.

Not only has Sony upgraded the screen from a 5 inch LCD to a 5.7 inch 1920 x 1080 OLED, but the device will also be capable of rendering at 120 frames per second, giving the impression of reality-like movement and contributing to a sense of hi-def realism that will be prized by graphics-loving gamers.

The updated Project Morpheus, courtesy of Sony.

The updated Project Morpheus, courtesy of Sony.

Combine this with a latency of only 18 milliseconds, and the device is set to achieve the all-important sense of “presence”; the Oculus-coined term that has become the key goal for VR headset makers looking to ensure maximum immersion and avoid side-effects such as motion sickness.

Sony also said that the device will have improved tracking and will be lighter and easier to take on and off, features that should help to widen the appeal from the converted hardcore gamers to those still on the fence.

Those waiting for game details, however, will have to wait a little longer. Sony has confirmed those details will be announced at E3 and beyond.

In reality, the games will be the ultimate maker or breaker of Morpheus. Xbox’s Kinect was met with similar excitement when first announced, but few traditional games made use of the peripheral, rendering it a second class device that really only worked well for dance and fitness games.

Sony’s E3 presentation will need to include an array of triple A PS4 games designed specifically for Morpheus if it is to avoid a similar fate.

HTC Vive: Steam-powered VR from Valve

The HTC Vive, or Re Vive as it is also known, has very much been the curveball of this year’s Game Developers Conference. Essentially a PC peripheral for Steam games, it will bring high-quality VR gaming to computers, with Valve’s movement-tracking tech Lighthouse allowing wearers to move around in reality as well as in the virtual space.

The final consumer specs for Vive are still to be announced, but the developer version suggests that when these are released they will be similar to Morpheus.

Developers, who will be able to get their hands on Vive from April, will be using a version of Vive that doesn’t quite match Morpheus for specs, but still achieves that all-important presence.

The 1,200 x 1,920 screen will have a 90 frames per second refresh rate, a level HTC says will be enough to provide true immersion.

There will also be a custom controller, which will be designed for use while wearing the headset and so presumably will be easy to use without having to actually look at. This may be a feature that where Valve has an edge over Sony.

The developer version of Vive, courtesy of HTC.

The developer version of Vive, courtesy of HTC.

However, despite being a remarkable and exciting announcement, Valve’s lack of comment about a certain long-awaited game has left a small cloud over the news.

Anticipation for Half Life 3 has been building for years, turning fans into cryptographers as they pour over announcements for clues.

There was a hope that yesterday would be the big day, thanks to a Valve-run GDC session booked on 3/3 at 3pm about gaming physics.

However, it was just another red herring, and for now the hype train seems to have slowed. There could still be an announcement at GDC – Valve does have more talks scheduled – but at this stage unbridled optimism just seems foolish.

But if Valve want to make Vive a guaranteed success, HL3 as a launch title is an obvious choice. As always, fans will just have to wait and hope.

Oculus Rift: Left in the dust?

From a gaming perspective, Oculus is starting to look like the last one to the party, despite being responsible for the re-emergence of VR as a viable form of technology.

It has no consumer release date, although will probably be released this year, and last year’s purchase by Facebook left many baffled.

The Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, courtesy of Oculus.

The Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, courtesy of Oculus.

Valve had previously had talks with Oculus, and it is entirely possible they had originally planned to partner with them before Facebook came on the scene.

The company does, of course, already have a mobile VR offering in the form of the Samsung Gear, but the mobile VR market is unlikely to be the main area once VR-proper makes the jump to consumers.

As it is, it is increasingly looking like Oculus will be as much about non-gaming VR uses as it is gaming ones. And that isn’t a bad thing.

Virtual reality has some incredible possibilities outside of gaming, from exercise to cookery and VR internet to healthcare, and it would be a shame to see these swallowed by the gaming behemoth.

However, unless Morpheus or Vive open up to non-gaming uses, Oculus will need to tackle these areas alone, and the popularity of these other applications will rely on high device ownership.

Given that gaming is set to be the main way most people will access VR, Oculus will need to work for gamers too if it is to be guaranteed the level of ownership that has been projected.

But one thing looks certain: VR headsets are going to be in high demand, and it may not be all that long before we struggle to imagine a time before they existed.