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In addition to technical improvements, Eidos Montreal is also showing off a slightly evolved sense of level and puzzle design. I was caught completely off-guard by a set of horizontal lasers guarding a vertical ladder shaft, for example. In another section I drug an unconscious guard next to a set of lasers in order for them to recognize his friendly biometrics, thereby disabling them, allowing me to pass.
The Missing Link doesn't include a new hub for gamers to explore, but Eidos Montreal has stated that the DLC contains around five hours of solid gameplay. The developer told IGN that some thorough play testers have taken up to seven, while those that cruise straight through could get through it in as little as three. The DLC's spine features a linear set of primary missions, with a handful of optional side-missions, for those that want the additional story background (and EXP, of course). Since The Missing Link takes place in the middle of the Deus Ex story, Eidos Montreal decided to make it accessible at any time from the game's main menu. Convenient!
The Missing Link's beginning definitely calls for more stealth, patience, and exploration than you might be used to (if you were an aggressive player like me). I find myself avoiding guards until I find the perfect opportunity to take out one in an isolated area. I slowly harvest guns and ammo by following this patience-for-lone-opportunity method. Even with a scavenged weapon, I either wait for my target to turn his back towards me to line up a headshot, or a find a spot that lets me use the shotgun and then quickly retreat. I'm glad that the level designers still use plenty of vents and opportune crates in designing the level layout.
Later on, you're guided to your gear, which includes some token weapons (it would be nice if this DLC somehow reads your savegame for inventory, but in this preview build it mostly adds health items and ammunition for the pistol and shotgun), your body armor, and seven Praxis points to re-distribute to your Augmentations. Though, there could be a reward for trying to go through the entire DLC without upgrading yourself or grabbing gear -- just saying.
While there are plenty of weapons on offer to support players of a violent disposition (mainly shotguns and pistols, so far - where are the new firearms?), the narrative driving things along certainly tries to sway you down a stealthier path. Without giving too much away, shortly after making your escape you're contacted by a voice (think Deepthroat from Metal Gear Solid) who starts issuing objectives. Who this man is and how he's involved in the bigger picture appears to be at the heart of the DLC's plot.
I managed to squeeze in an hour and a half of play before the preview code came to an end, although the expansion as a whole is reported to last around five hours. The original announcement promised "sprawling new environments" and a "new layer to the conspiracy", but neither of these things have made themselves evident so far. It plays out much like any of the other missions in the game, which is fine, but I'm hoping for more conversational set-pieces, more choice, more consequence, and perhaps a new aug, given the slate has been wiped clean and all. You can bet your ass the mission will end in a face-off with Burke, too, so prepare yourself for another one of those really popular boss fights that everybody loved so much.