For me personally, the most exciting thing about PAX East 2013 was finally having the opportunity to give fans their first hands-on experience with Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut on the Wii U. Keeping such an exciting project under wraps for so long has been an incredibly difficult job for a chatterbox like myself (to say the least), so finally being able to put the game in the hands of fans and see their reaction to the ultimate incarnation of Human Revolution was something I’ve been anticipating for a while now.
The community reaction to our announcement of the Director’s Cut a few days before PAX kicked off was, in a word, amazing. Of course, knowing that the initial release of the game in 2011 earned it such accolades as Best Game Design, Best Console Game and Best Writing, and that the team at Eidos-Montréal and Straight Right have been hard at work implementing a multitude of updates and improvements directly requested by legions of passionate Deus Ex fans, I had an inkling that we would have a positive reception – but nothing could have prepared me for just how overwhelmingly enthusiastic the community response would be.
A few days before I departed from snowy Montreal to slightly-warmer-but-still-snowy Boston, I got word that one of our biggest Deus Ex fans – John - would coincidentally be nearby visiting friends. You might better know John as “Jerion”, one of the tireless and dedicated Square Enix Deus Ex forum moderators who rides shotgun daily across the digital frontier that is the Official Deus Ex message boards. I invited John to stop by to the event and take a look at Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Director’s Cut firsthand, and then we had a chat about his impressions:
Hey John, tell us a bit about yourself?
I'm a twenty-something fellow in the audio field, based in Vermont in the northeast US. I co-manage the forum parts of the Eidos-Montréal community. Bit of a gamer; my first shooter was Wolfenstein 3D as a kid and I've been enjoying the hobby ever since. I'm also a sci-fi geek; cyberpunk and to a lesser degree steampunk are some of my favorite sub-genres. Spaceships and bow ties are cool.
How many times have you completed Deus Ex?
The 2000 original? At least ten times on PC and Mac. Probably a few more than that, it is a kind of yearly tradition. DX:HR I can only claim to have properly played three times, all on PC.
What’s your preferred playstyle?
I default to stealth and non-lethal-ish for the most part, but I have a simple rule that should be familiar to fans of a certain TV series: "If somebody tries to kill you, you try to kill 'em right back". I typically choose a relatively lean kit that packs a lot of flexible stopping power; in DX:HR, that generally means the crossbow, stun gun and silenced pistol, with plenty of grenades for good measure.
Although Deus Ex: Human Revolution was widely acclaimed when it was released in 2011, one thing that the game was criticized for was the difficulty of its boss battles – particularly by players that favoured a more stealth or hacking-centric play style. What were your impressions of the redesigned boss fights created in-house by the Eidos-Montréal team?
I felt that the boss fights were one of the weakest and most frustrating parts of the base game. Limited in scale, utterly disconnected from the multipath-friendly nature of the rest of the game. I’m quite impressed by the radical redesign of the boss fights. The Barrett fight, for example, is almost a whole new experience that is finally as flexible and expansive as I feel it should have been in the first place (perhaps, to a small degree, even more so).
What impact would you say that the addition of anti-aliasing plus the updated lighting and smoke system had on the visual quality of the Director’s Cut?
Among the console versions, this DC edition of the game is the best looking. It is a somewhat subtle but quantifiable improvement, the same one seen between the core game and the excellent Missing Link DLC.
Did the integration of the in-game menus, inventory, radar or hacking functionality into the Wii U GamePad have any effect on your feelings of immersion or improve the flow of the game for you?
Yes. The transition of those elements (particularly the inventory and hacking interfaces) to the GamePad was an excellent move, one that makes me wish for a corresponding ability to use my tablet for the same functions on my personal machine. Hacking especially is very much at home on a touch interface.
What play style would you favor if you were playing through the game while listening to the directors' commentary?
Probably non-lethal. Excessive levels of gunfire, stabbing and the murderous throwing of fridges can be distracting. I like to take it all in when I play, and rushing through this game with guns blazing seems to miss much of the point for me. Doubly so when there is commentary to be heard.
What would be the first thing you’d share with your friends in the Miiverse with the new Infolog system?
I could see myself leaving tips for friends in the hub areas or just prior to boss fights. Warnings or suggestions to explore for routes and opportunities they may have otherwise missed, that sort of thing. Somebody clever might find a way to use them to leave little in-universe short stories and things lying around, or something like that.
What fan-feature would you take advantage of first – the developers' commentary, the making-of video or the official strategy guide?
Commentary. I like hearing their thoughts on the world they spent so long creating.
What was your favorite new feature from the Director’s Cut?
The boss fights were my biggest issue with DX:HR and from what I had time to see, the Barrett fight redesign is more or less just what I was hoping would happen. Speaking more generally, the retouches to the in-game content are what have me the most excited, followed by the commentaries and graphical improvements.
Overall, what did you think of Deus Ex: Human Revolution – The Director’s Cut on the Wii U?
I’m a keyboard+mouse gamer first and foremost, so controllers are a bit foreign to my hands. Because of that, playing the Wii U version almost required playing steadily and somewhat stealthily (me being unfamiliar with the controls meant I didn’t survive in extended firefights). In just about every respect, this is the game that many people wanted the original 2011 release to be. Between enhanced graphical detail and polish, improved AI, redesigned and smartly-executed enhancements to the boss fights, just about every outstanding weak point (and more than a few subtle ones) in the execution of DX:HR's original design has been remedied. The uses of the GamePad’s touchscreen are smart and Wii U players are going to appreciate that. In terms of content, this is the best version of the game yet.
Did you manage to get your hands on Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut while you were at PAX East 2013? Let us know how you enjoyed the ultimate Human Revolution experience in the comments below!