Deus Ex: Human Revolution Interview

Article Index

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Square Enix
Developer:Eidos Montreal
Release Date:2011-08-23
  • Action,Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • First-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
I really hadn't spent a whole lot of hands-on time with Deus Ex: Human Revolution when I was given the chance to sit down with lead writer Mary DeMarle during a recent press event, so I can't help but feel like I overlooked a few topics that I would have otherwise asked about following my full six-hour marathon. Still, with most of the questions focusing on environments, characters, equipment, and information gathering, there are quite a few details to be picked up from Mary's responses:

GB: I'm still a bit perplexed - what is Adam's relationship with Megan? The game is very subtle about what's going on there.

Mary: I should say, "What do you think it is?"

GB: It's obvious that they have a romantic history of some kind, but it's not clear in the demo how extensive it was.

Mary: Yes, they do have a history. The back-story with Adam and Megan is that they were together; they were significant others, or whatever you want to say, for a couple years, but then ended up breaking up. So they are exes, and after Jensen has this incident which you'll learn more about when you play the rest of the game but the Mexicantown incident, he left the force and then Megan got him back working at Sarif Industries.

So they're exes and while their relationship is over, there's maybe something still there, but it's over and now they're working together.

GB: Beyond the relationship between Adam and Megan, are there other NPCs in the game that we can spark some sort of romantic interest with at some point?

Mary: Let me think about that. It's not a game like Fable, where you can go and develop relationships with characters. It's not a game that allows that kind of role-playing. There are characters in the game that you will hopefully like and become attached to, but there isn't anything that you can actually force you can't cause a relationship, if that's the heart of what you're asking. However, there are some very interesting female characters that you will definitely have some interesting reactions to.

GB: We don't actually see Megan die in the demo, even though her picture is next to a funeral shown in a newspaper. Is that something that you always want us thinking in the back of our head - did she die, or was she captured? Perhaps she was even involved somehow?

Mary: I can't answer all those questions. All I can say is that she dies in the initial attack as the newspapers claim. You'll have to expose the rest of the conspiracy as you go.

GB: I have something like 3000 credits in my current game, but since there are no merchants or anything in the press demo, it's tough to gauge what sort of economy system there is. What sort of items can we buy and are we going to have to make tough choices when spending our credits?

Mary: As you move into the city hubs, you can find weapons dealers who will sell you things. You can go to LIMB clinics LIMB standing for Liberty In Mind and Body International, the pro-augmentation supporters. They are the clinics that actually equip people with augmentations, so you can buy things from them: you can buy upgrades, like Praxis Kits. You can buy nutrients and consumables and other things that you'll need.

So you can use your money later in the game, and then there are also times in the game that occasionally people will ask you for money - you can use money to bribe people. So that's where the credit economy comes in.

GB: On the Praxis Kits, does each one unlock a single Praxis point, or are there variations?

Mary: I'm going to take the fifth on this one because I'm not 100 percent sure if I know the correct answer to that. I think it's that a Praxis Kit gives you two points [the one in the demo provided one point]. The way the Praxis points work is that you gain them through exploration or through experience. So as you go through the game, every time you get to a certain level of experience you get a Praxis point. Then when you accumulate the Praxis points, you can use those to upgrade your augmentations, or to buy new augmentations.

But you can also find these Praxis Kits that give you the points right away, rather than having to wait. With the essential amount of money, you could go to a LIMB clinic and buy a lot of Praxis points, and then use those for your augmentation. So that's part of that whole resource management that you want to do... what do you want to do to spend your money on? Do you want to upgrade your augmentations? Do you want to go to weapon dealers and get guns? What do you want to do?

GB: Are you able to buy any augmentations that aren't listed on the character screen at the beginning of the game? Maybe some sort of advanced tech that Jensen couldn't get from Sarif Industries?

Mary: No. All the augmentations are right there.

GB: By the end of the game, will we receive enough Praxis Points to gain access to most of the augmentations and their upgrades?

Mary: I don't think you can I don't believe you can play through the entire game and get them all.

GB: I noticed that when I find weapons for the first time, such as a 10mm Pistol, I can pick it up and add it to my inventory. But from then on, each additional 10mm Pistol I find just adds ammo. Is this just for convenience's sake?

Mary: Yeah. Although I like to and this is my craftiness as a player when I learn where those weapons are, and I knew when I would play in the Detroit area, it'd be like, "Okay, so I know that if I go there I'll find a gun." If you don't have the gun, you get the gun. If you do have the gun, you get the ammo. So I would go and sell the gun that I had, and then I'd go pick it up to get it again. Because I'm crafty, cheat-y that way.

GB: So how many different guns are there in the game?

Mary: I don't know. I should know the exact count, because we had to write all the descriptions for all of them. There's quite a few. There is a whole bunch - both lethal and non-lethal types. I'm not exactly sure of the total count.

GB: Are there unique weapons that you'll only find in hard-to-find locations, as something of a reward for those players who like to explore?

Mary: I think there are a couple of very rare ones that you'll only find in certain locations, yeah.

GB: I also noticed during my play-through that there doesn't appear to be any melee weapons. Are there any melee weapons later in the game? I realize we can perform takedowns, but are all the tangible pick-up weapons designed for ranged combat?

Mary: You mean like swords and batons and things like that?

GB: Yep, or some sort of futuristic brass knuckles or something.

Mary: I'm trying to think of all the weapons in the game. The takedown is the primary form of close combat. Certainly there's a choice you can make about close or far combat, like the choice you were given at the beginning of the game. But even those weapons have a bit of a distance to them. So the stun gun has a small range, as opposed to the sniper that's really far. I don't think there are any weapons like batons or things like that, but I'm not 100 percent sure about that.
GB: The game breaks down Adam's inventory into two tabs - a base inventory and a quest inventory. I have yet to receive any quest items, but will that second tab become quite important throughout the game?

Mary: No, you didn't get quest items yet. The quest items generally most quest items have to do with side quests, but there are some on the critical path as well. For instance, a character might give you something that you need to unlock a specific door I'm just making the example up as we're talking and that would go into your quest item inventory. The difference between the quest items and the other inventory is that quest items stay in your inventory until they're used, so you can never drop them, sell them, or whatever. Whereas, in your normal inventory, we didn't want them to take up room in your normal inventory because resource management is a huge part of the game.

GB: How about city hubs? How many different city hubs are there?

Mary: You travel around the world because this is a global conspiracy, so you go to different cities. [Mary asks the Square Enix rep which hubs have been revealed previously]

GB: I think we know about at least two hubs so far, don't we?

Mary: I think we know about two, yes. We know that you're in Detroit, your home city, and we know that you go to an island off of Shanghai called "Hangzhou." Let's say you go to China, basically. So we know those two. I don't know if we know of others. We might know of others, but I'm not sure, so I can't tell you. [Montreal, Canada is also a previously confirmed location]

GB: Alright. One thing I'm really enjoying in my first play-through is that you've made a significant effort to put pertinent and background information in inconspicuous spots - emails, newspapers, magazines, e-books, and that sort of thing. There appear to be dozens just in this demo.

Mary: Oh, yeah, there is a lot.

GB: I noticed that reading through some of the e-books even grants you experience, though not all of them do.

Mary: Yes. Okay, that's what we call behind the scenes the "e-books" and the "XP books." XP books are also e-books, but the difference is that there are certain books in the world that give you experience points, that can be applied to your augmentations. Those are called the "XP books." Eventually, if you start collecting them and reading them, there are the ones that tell you all about augmentation, and they tell you about how the augmentations came to be the theory behind the development of them, et cetera. So they're more scientific than the rest of them. All the other e-books in the game are just fun to read, but these particular ones are there to give you experience points.

GB: There's a lot of relative information to be found within emails - passcodes, passwords, and that sort of thing. For the e-books, were you mainly looking to inject additional lore and back history to the game? Or will there be important in-game information that can be picked up from the e-books?

Mary: With the e-books, it's everything to create that immersive world, and to help you understand the characters in the story, and the conspiracy that the player is following in the story. For instance, when you're in Sarif headquarters, you might find an e-book, which is the Sarif Industries employee manual, and it tells you all about the philosophy of Sarif Industries. Or you might find some about other companies or that fill you in about the game's conspiracy groups.

At the same time, we have additional e-books in there - we have the whole series of the Global Politic Review, and it basically gives you the history of the world in all the different perspectives you know, to help set the world environment - where is the world in 2027?

And we even have a romance novel that exists in there.

GB: Is it true that the team cut the ability to hack ATMs?

Mary: Yes.

GB: With the absence of ATM hacking, how prominent is theft in the game? Does it mainly just consist of rummaging through lockers and desk drawers, or is there full-on theft that we can engage in while working with weapon dealers and other merchants? Can we go into a store and steal weapons?

Mary: We definitely want to encourage exploration, and we want to reward you for that. So when you go into apartment buildings, you can steal when you find things in them. Maybe you'll find weapons; maybe you'll find more credit chips; maybe you'll find more of what we call the "pocket secretaries," which reveal codes and things like that.

So there definitely is the possibility to be stealing throughout the game. But there probably isn't a situation where there's a gun store and you can go in and steal every gun in the store because we have to be careful about the balancing for the game.

GB: The game is obviously quite linear during the game's opening act, but once the city hubs open up, how non-linear does the game become? Can we do whatever we want on a per-hub basis? And once we go to Shanghai or wherever, can we come back to Detroit if we choose?

Mary: The best way for me to answer that is to say that in essence the story is linear in that there is a sequence of events that carry the plot. But there's a lot of branching that happens within it. Overall, it is a linear story, but within each segment of the linear story things can happen that will affect it and change it. For example, in this demo, how you end up dealing with Zeke at the very end. There will be repercussions to that that will come in a later environment, depending on what you did. If you killed him, he's out of the story for good. If you don't, then there are other options that come up.

But within in a city hub itself, the way it opens up in a non-linear way is how you start achieving objectives. For example, the first time you go to Detroit, David Sarif gives you two objectives; you can do these in any order that you want. The way you do it will be reflected in that sense.

Also, when you get into more of those open-ended objectives, you can diverge from the critical path. You can do side quests, but eventually the story will keep you going forward to your next hub, and your next hub, and your next hub.

GB: Once we move on to the second hub, will we ever return to Detroit?

Mary: I can't comment. [laughter]

GB: Alright. It's clear that hacking is a very important aspect of the game, and that a lot of time went into it. But it also seems like there's always a random element to it, too, because I had something like a 60 percent detection per node without adding any hacking augmentations.

Was that something you were striving for, to ensure that some sort of luck was always involved?

Mary: Yeah, I think so. I'm not too familiar about the design behind the hacking. I do know that Francois LaPica, the game designer who designed it, he worked really hard on that, and went through many, many revisions to get it to where it is. It was initially super complex, and then he brought it down a bit and worked with it over time. I think, in the end, he's created something that's really, really fun and will always keep you interested regardless.

GB: The tutorial mentions that you can even earn item bonuses while you're hacking.

Mary: Yes.

GB: I didn't really notice that during my time with the game. Do you mainly just earn credits?

Mary: You can get credits, you can get XP points. There are a number of different kinds of computer software programs that help you in the hacking, like the nuke and the stop viruses. You can find these as pick-ups in the game. Or, while you're playing a hack and you open one of those data key ports or data cubes, it will say "One Nuke Virus Found."

GB: And do you retain the Nuke Virus and Stop! Worm programs even after the hacking is finished?

Mary: You would retain them, but only if you are successful at the hack. If you fail your hack, you lose all those rewards.

GB: Health regeneration is something that's been a bit of a sticking point, and I know that it's even been addressed in some of the "Ask JJB" videos. Have you ever considered giving players the option to turn it off, or to pick a difficulty that features no health regeneration?

Mary: I don't think they ever had decided to make that an optional thing, because I think it was part of the game design philosophy to give you that chance. But as you've probably noticed, it's very slow.

GB: It is, but that might not be enough for some players.

Mary: I think it works quite well, and I think it actually makes sense in a story way because it's all about mechanical augmentations, and it's a part of the mechanical augmentations that Adam has: it just naturally happens. But it's very slow, and it's not something that's supposed to be the quick fix solution kind of thing.

GB: You've teamed up with DC Comics for a new Deus Ex comic book series, and the first issue is already available. Are there any plans to do further spin-offs?

Mary: Well, there is a novel that is going to be released soon. I don't have the date, but one of the writers who worked on the game, he's based in London James Swallow he's written a novel that is not the novel of the game, it's a prequel to the prequel. It doesn't deal with Adam Jensen, but it deals with some of the characters that are in the game, and a new hero character that's in it. So he's created a story in the Deus Ex Universe, and that novel should be coming out soon, I think. So there's a novel and there's a comic.

GB: Thanks for your time, Mary!