We recently got a chance to speak with Jean-Francois Dugas, Game Director of Deus Ex Hum Revolution. We talk a lot about the various gameplay mechanics, the story, the length of the campaign and more. Check out the full interview below.
GB: First of all, how have the developers been holding up with the pressure from all sides? Deus Ex is a huge series, and Human Revolution is probably the biggest game in the franchise. Have you guys been under a lot of stress, or are you just taking the job easily, doing it at your leisure?
Jean: The pressure has been constant from start to finish. We worked really hard, with passion, because we wanted to make this game special. Now, we’re really anxious to see what people think of the game. We hope players will enjoy it!
At first sight, to anyone who has not been following Deus Ex, HR seems like just another First Person Shooter. But it is not an FPS. But what exactly is it? What kind of elements does it have? How many genres have you thrown into the concoction?
It’s an Action-RPG that blends combat, stealth, hacking, social elements and exploration. It’s a game that lets you live the fantasy the way you want while still being a story-driven experience. It’s the kind of game that you really have to play to understand, to immerse yourself in the game world. It’s rich, full of details and, I think, it’s a very rewarding experience for those who want more from their shooter games.
GB: Is Human Revolution doing as good a job of blending several genres together as Deus Ex fans would want? Is it living up to its fabled predecessors?
Jean: I really think it does. The different possibilities blend smoothly in one cohesive experience. That being said, it’s not for to me to answer this question, but the fans, new and old alike.
GB: Just how comprehensive is the choice system in DXHR? Will it be rivaling the likes of Mass Effect and Dragon Age?
Jean: I’ve never compared DX:HR with other games. What I can tell you though, is that there are tons of things to discover through choices and exploration and that one playthrough won’t be enough.
GB: The most important thing in a Role Playing Game is, for many people, the story and how well it is presented. Do you think HR delivers in those areas? Can you tell us a bit more about the plotline?
Jean: You’re Adam Jensen, a security specialist, working for a bio-tech corporation called Sarif Industries. Specializing in augmentations and other prosthesis, the corporation is on the verge of a scientific breakthrough that might allow even more people to afford these enhancements, but everything is compromised when a mysterious group of black ops attack Sarif Industries leaving destruction and death behind them. Adam Jensen is left for dead but his life is saved through the help of augmentations. When he comes back from the dead, he starts a quest find out the truth. We really worked hard on delivering the best story experience we could and I’m confident that players will enjoy its intrigue.
GB: Just how long will the campaign of DXHR be, approximately and what elements are you adding to make users replay the campaign?
Jean: The game is at least 20-25 hours long if you stay on the critical path and you don’t lose time. Otherwise, 30-40 hours is more like it.
The nature of our game makes it perfect for replay value; with all of the story choices leading to different outcomes to the various augmentations/weapons to choose from, the play styles, etc. it won’t be possible to experience it all in one playthrough.
GB: With so many RPGs being released these days, and most of them making huge impacts, do you think DXHR will be able to make an important and memorable place for itself in the market?
Jean: We’re an Action-RPG. We’re not totally an RPG nor a shooter. We’re the best of both world, lol!! So, yes, I think DX:HR has its own spot in the marketplace. It feels unique, and it plays differently than most games out there, so, I don’t think you can confuse our game with another one.
GB: Can you explain a bit more thoroughly how the four gameplay types, Combat, Stealth, Technology and Social, play their roles in the game? Can you give an example of a specific part of a mission where all four of these come into play?
Jean: It’s really about how you want to play the game – it’s about choice and consequence.
The game world is designed around a multi-path, multi-solution approach so any objective can be approached in different ways. Whether you like action, stealth, hacking, or social, you can complete objectives in different ways. In DX:HR there are four gameplay styles:
The two primary gameplay styles are combat and stealth. You can basically play the entire game by going “frontal” or by going “sneaky” and/or back and forth as you please. For us, it’s really about letting players express themselves the way they want.
The two supporting gameplay styles are hacking and social interactions. You can expand your possibilities through these means to open up new paths, find new solutions to problems, acquire useful goodies or information, etc.
Augmentations will also play a central role for the four gameplay pillars:
Combat augmentations will allow you to be a more dangerous opponent (i.e. perform lethal melee attacks)
Stealth augmentations will allow you to become a “stealth master” (i.e. get a clearer sense of the enemy patrols and line of sight)
Hacking augmentations will allow you to hack more difficult devices and open up more post-hacking possibilities (i.e. turret domination)
Social augmentations will allow you to get a better sense of which direction your interactions are taking and then adjust to these
Open-ended gameplay allows the player to take advantage of multipath/multi-solutions to accomplish their objectives and explore the game world for side quests, hidden treasures, etc. Some RPG dialogs will be mandatory but most will be available to players in an optional form. Obviously there are benefits from a story and gameplay standpoint to talk to other characters but it’s not forced. If your play style is more centered on shooting, then so be it.
As an example on how the four gameplay pillars can be exploited, we showcased a mission last year at Gamescom in which you had to retrieve classified information from a dead body in a police station located in Detroit. Here’s how you could play through this scenario:
Combat: You could try to fight your way in and retrieve the info.
Hacking: You ccould use your hacking skills to sneak in through a locked alternate door.
Social: You could go to the main lobby and try to convince the desk sergeant to let you in, thus giving you access to the entire station without having to fight or hide.
Basically, you’re not forced to do one or another but each way to approach the situation has its own set of challenges. So, it’s up to you what fits the best your playing style.
GB: Deus Ex seems to have awesome graphics, and seeing how heavy and complex the game is, it will definitely require multiple discs on the Xbox 360 and the PC? Is that the case, or have you found a way around it?
Jean: The game is going to fit on one disc.
The AI seems to be very impressive so far, in HR. But just how impressive is it? Can you describe it in-depth?
I think our AI programmers managed to do a good job at making sure that stealth and combat are fun to play. You can get spotted and then AI will hunt you down, but if you manage to hide for a while, AI will lose your track and then it’ll go back patrolling but on different patterns forcing you to think again, etc. It really adapts to what is happening and it makes for a very engaging experience no matter your play style. It might seem as an obvious statement of what is expected from AI behaviours, but most games have one (combat) or the other (stealth), and rarely both. We managed to have both types of behavior on a solid level of quality and fun.
GB: Will those who have not played other Deus Ex game before be able to enjoy Human Revolution just as much as those who have?
Jean: Absolutely! I think new fans will discover a game that plays and feels like no other games they might have played so far. It’s a rich universe, an expansive game experience and it really feels like reading a great, interactive novel. 🙂
GB: Is there anything else you want to tell us about Deus Ex: Human Revolution?
Jean: You mean… Other than it’s a must have game for 2011? 😉