Deus Ex 3

By Shamus
on Feb 2, 2009
Filed under:
Video Games

There is gossip going around, talking about the details of the allegedly upcoming Deus Ex 3. I try not to invest too much into this sort of thing, since this stuff could be misleading or untrue. It’s also entirely possible that the project will change direction or be canceled before we see the end product.

But one thing I do suspect is true is that they are repeating the Invisible War mistake of trying to pick up where previous plots left off. Each of the previous two games brought things to a final close without leaving much room for more story. This series keeps painting itself into a corner.

This series should absolutely dispense with the idea of an ongoing plot. This is a game about conspiracy theories, after all. There are only so many times you can pull the “behind that conspiracy is another, even larger one!” And the first game hit that point pretty early on. The fun of the game is in revealing these hidden truths, but those truths become simple baggage requiring lengthy exposition in subsequent titles.

A much better idea is for each game to start fresh, in the near future. This is where cyberpunk belongs. Once technology gets too far ahead the story stops being about dystopian futures and starts being about magic.

In my review of Invisible War, I said:

It would have been far better to keep the premise and throw out the story. Start over with a new mix of conspiracies. You could even keep the character of JC Denton, but drop him into a different reality this time around. Instead of working for UNATCO, maybe he starts off as a cop or a bodyguard or a secret service agent. Instead of a plague, society is dealing with some new designer drug. Or weapon. Cyborgs. You know, whatever. The foes would be different and their goals would be different, but the process of unraveling a series of escalating conspiracies would remain the same. The first time you uncover the Illuminati is fun. The second time through, you begin to wonder how these guys ever kept their organization a secret in the first place.

One of the features they list is “squad-based enemy AI”, which seems to be the FPS feature du jour. See also: “Havok Physics”. It’s not bad that they’re including it, it’s bad that they think this is what players are worried about. I had many gripes with Deus Ex: Invisible War, and none of them had anything to do with the behavior of enemy AI. It’s nice if the bad guys will be fun to fight, but there’s no sense in putting a fresh coat of paint on a leaky ship.

I do appreciate them lowering my expectations beforehand, although I doubt that was their intention. Because I am a fool, I still hold hope for this series. I’m sure to buy it. It’s not likely, but the chance to strike Deus Ex gold a second time is too tempting to pass up.

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201131 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.

From the Archives:

  1. Delduwath says:

    There was an article about Deus Ex 3 in the PC Zone magazine a while back; this post on Rock, Paper, Shotgun is where I found out about this (contains a link to a summary of the article, and a summary-of-the-summary). Furthermore, there are scans of the artwork from the article here.

    In short, it’s going to be a prequel, and you’re going to be playing a biomech aug, like Gunther Hermann and Anna Navarre in the first game. Assuming the game doesn’t change direction, as you said.

  2. Invisible War was awful, awful, awful. Like what happens when you let the marketing department make all the decisions.

    The original reminded me a little of the System Shock games and I loved the freedom in it. Good story too.

  3. Cybron says:

    You said ‘the’ twice instead of ‘be the’ in the second to last paragraph, Shamus.

  4. Sydney says:

    Typo above:

    There is gossip going around, talking about the details of the allegedly upcoming Dues Ex 3.

    Cybron: Nitpicky quick-poster high-five! [slap]

  5. Lazlo says:

    @Sydney: typo, or subtle humor? Perhaps Shamus is trying to say that buying this game, even though he knows it’ll probably suck, is just paying his dues to the Deus Ex fanclub…

    Yeah. Probably a typo.

  6. acronix says:

    I wouldn´t be surprised if Deus Ex 3 takes out all the good stuff of its prequels, remplacing them with lots of “shoot´em up” sections, not to mention graphics that almost no computer in this world will be able to handle.

  7. When Ion Storm closed here in Austin in early 2005, one of the developers told me that at that time they were working on a Deus Ex 3.

    I believe that when Ion Storm closed down, Eidos moved the development of the game to their offices in England.

    So it’s been in development for a while. Here’s hoping it’s better than the game’s second installment.

  8. Avaz says:

    I’m one of those freaks that never played Deus Ex nor its sequel, but heard more than enough interesting things about to pique my, err, interest. Even so, I never bothered to go out and buy them. I’d really like to, if for nothing else than to know what the craze was about.

    But chances are, I probably won’t since, well, I’m still enjoying Fallout 3 way too much. And I’m not even halfway done with it.

  9. Nick C says:

    I’m surprised that no one has said this yet: DX3 is NOT a sequel, it IS a prequel. It’s about the founding of UNATCO.

  10. Colonel Slate says:

    Let’s just get it over with, shall we?

    This game sucks, it will suck, what they did to it sucks, it isn’t a Deus Ex game, they tried too hard to do it, there isn’t any reason for it to be called a Deus Ex game, it’s not by the original people, everything they tried to make it into failed, there is no way I’m going to play this game because it sucks, it’s not the first game at all, it sucks, there is no way in hell that this game will live up to the first so it sucks, I don’t think that it will be any good so it sucks, this game sucks sucks sucks.

    There, did I leave out anything? Probably, but now that we have gotten that out of our system, can we actually talk about the game, instead of how badly it will suck?

  11. krellen says:

    Colonel Slate:
    There, did I leave out anything? Probably, but now that we have gotten that out of our system, can we actually talk about the game, instead of how badly it will suck?

    No.

    This is not about this game. As soon as you give something the name “<blank> 3”, you’re instilling it with particular expectations. If you don’t want your game to have those expectations, stop calling it <blank> 3!

    I am sick of people complaining about fans being upset over so-called sequels/continuations of a franchise that are not real parts of that franchise. It is an entirely fair criticism, and frankly the people that don’t want to hear it don’t belong in the conversation anyway.

    If you just want to judge the game as an entirely new game without paying attention to its predecessors, fine. But telling other people that they cannot and should not do so is completely out of line. If developers would like to have their work not be compared to earlier works, they need to stop trying to capitalise on those earlier works’ popularity by making “sequels” or even “spiritual sequels”. These are not claims made by fans that are being unfulfilled, but claims made by the developers. Thus, when they fail to deliver, it’s completely valid to call them on it.

    And I am sick of people telling me I can’t.

  12. Hal says:

    A prequel isn’t necessarily a bad idea. We heard a lot about the civil war between the NSF and the rest of the US during the first Deus Ex.

    I didn’t read any of the links, but I can only hope that they’ll try not to make the same mistakes that were made with the sequel. The biggest one for me was the lack of depth to the world.

    The first Deus Ex was incredibly immersive. Everywhere you went, you could find newspaper articles lying around, snippets of books (which shadowed the story, in a very fun way), notes left by people, etc. You could read someone’s email, you could peek into their closets, you could overhear their conversations. The world felt alive.

    The sequel took away a lot of those elements, and the world simply felt flat and shallow. I suspect it was part of the “consolization” of the game, and I can only hope they won’t fall into the same trap this time around.

  13. skizelo says:

    Leslee, didn’t that DX3 turn into Project Snowblind, which got a new title when they realised quite how bad it was and didn’t want to poison their IP.
    And I think that the lack of true sequels is one of the things western games should nick from JRPGS. Allows you to rinse and reuse the plot without it getting too depressing.

  14. Jansolo says:

    Forget about plots.

    You will have “The best graphics ever seen” and “available for PS3, XBOX”

    What about PCs? A new exciting chapter in the “DRM for avoiding piracy”

    Just like BIOWARE’s Dragon Age Origins (maybe it will have a better story. Or at least similar to Mass Effect)

  15. Patrick says:

    While I don’t mind at all that games have sequels or prequels, I’m not sure that either is a very good idea in this case. Deus Ex 2 was a decent game, but following up Deus Ex (1) it seemed really sucky and dull. But moreover, Deus Ex 2 necessarily put limits on Deus Ex 1. Surprise! It didn’t matter what your J. C. Denton was or did, because now he’s been stuffed into the new plot (which kinda sucks). And then the ending was pretty pathetic, because all factions were really unpleasant. Heck, I actually favored the Templars because they were actually by far the most honest and least manipulative; their whole schtick was being against everyone else trying to rule everything. Even their ending was much more ambiguous (it showed them having apparently strung up the Illuminati leaders) and that was about it.

    The problem with the prequel is somewhat the same. You can’t really change the ending much, because the game has to end with UNATCO mostly in charge and MJ-12/The Illuminati pulling the strings behind the scenes. Unless the whole plot is about something wholly different, it’s not clear what you could actually do to have a serious impact on the game world.

    Despite this, I’m inclined to give the game a break. Ion Storm (or whatever their new incarnation is) has had a good run, and I belive they can learn from their mistakes. I’m cautiously optimistic about the possibilities here.

  16. gyfrmabrd says:

    I just recently read a preview on a german games-website.
    Apparently, the people behind the project did at least look into what elements made Deus Ex a great game. The lead designer claims that choice, an immersive, organic game-world and (gasp!) a good story were among the things he wanted to incorporate into the game. Which is not the worst of intentions. He also stated that they would get rid of the “clunky” combat mechanics (so, no skill-based influence on your weapon handling.) Having recently replayed DX, I am torn on this. Because, lets face it, gun combat in Deus Ex is wonky. And I know you don’t have to play it like a shooter, but it is a game about choice, and if I choose to play a total gunslinging badass, I don’t necessarily feel that reflected in the game when I have to spend the first half of the game not hitting the broad side of a hovertank. On the other hand, taking character-skills completely out of the equasion… well, it makes me suspicious.
    Anywhoozah, I remain carefully optimistic. Which means I will wait to dismiss the game as utter crap and an insult to the franchise after its actual release…

    Huh. Long post.

  17. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    Shamus, I believe there is an important post you should be posting today. A post of congratulations perhaps to the Pittsburgh Steelers

  18. K says:

    After reading this, I don’t think I will buy it. Did I mention that I consider the first part one of the best 10 games (or so) I every played? I did not manage to even leave the first city in the second part, because the boring plot, the atrocious loading times and terrible character-building-system annoyed me so much.

  19. Nymbo says:

    @ Skeeve
    You know this is a nerdy gaming site, right?

  20. Colonel Slate says:

    @Krellen

    You missed the point entirely

    The point is, they have annouced the game, named it Deus Ex 3, you should instead of doing what you just did, have hope, not hate towards a game that isn’t even out yet…

  21. Cuthalion says:

    A post of congratulations perhaps to the Pittsburgh Steelers

    No. The Cardinals should’ve won. I’ll give you two good reasons:

    1. Their uniforms are better looking.
    2. The Steelers beat the Seahawks a few years back, and thus really needed to lose. (I’m from WA…)

  22. Zolthanite says:

    I’m almost tempted to pop in the old Deux Ex and hunt down a copy of Invisible War just to compare. I’m utterly curious now.

    @krellen and Col. Slate: I’m with krellen here, although you two are slightly different in what you’re talking about. Take the famous ‘XXX 3’ from this year.

    NMA spent a very long time talking about how much the game was going to suck and why, although there was a large contingent of “The game is going to blow, but I hope against hope that it won’t”. Which isn’t QUITE what Shamus is expressing, but very similar (Semi-irrational Hope with varying amounts of ‘Why should I trust you guys again?’).

    Instead of allowing NMA to be NMA, a lot of people would roll in, flame the posters and the forum mods for being the “glittering gems of hatred” that “hated the game before you did and with much more fervor”. Which wasn’t true, and is fairly disrespectful of anyone who posts at NMA.

    The game is allowed to suck. Mechanically, FO1 and 2 are atrociously slow with combat and I hate that about both games. But I like the universe, which is the completely opposite opinion I have about FO3.

    But the second you put it in the context of an existing universe, you’re opening up yourself to criticism from people who are fans of that universe. More importantly, you’re not allowed to tell said fans that they need to ‘Be chill’ because the game isn’t out yet.

    The problem is, sequel continuation by an alternative group being a success is so rare in gaming (Metroid Prime being the only concrete example I can think of at present where it makes sense), people like krellen who will call developers like Howard and Hines out on being full of it are almost guaranteed to be right. Hope in the face of that is almost insanity.

  23. Colonel Slate says:

    See, I agree with Shamus’s third to last sentence.

    Thinking that I’m just telling fans to be quite is quite strange, considering Deus Ex is on my top ten favorite games in the history of ever.

    I personally tend more towards optimism than pessimism when ever something is announced, I love games and I love the ideas that games bring with them.

    I also love to tear them apart to change the pieces I don’t like into something more enjoyable.

    But all I’ve heard recently, when it comes to any new game, continuation or not, I only hear how bad it is going to suck, I personally, am tired of the pessimism.

    I’d once again, prefer to talk about the game when it has come out, and when it has been played, instead of telling me that it’s going to suck because it’s a continuation.

    I mean really, when is the last time you heard, it’s a new game coming out, it’s a sequel it’s going to be awesome.

    Halo 3? Gears of War 2? don’t even try telling me you heard that, because it was a lot more “this sucks” than “this rocks”

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheyChangedItNowItSucks

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Ptitlezx89c5u5txaj?from=Main.ItIsTheSameNowItSucks

    I hear that, and that, all the time… it’s flat out irritating…

  24. Flying Dutchman says:

    Congratulations on the Pittsburgh thingies. And don’t be too cynical about the game, now.

  25. B.J. says:

    Er, Shamus, you DO realize that Deus Ex 3 is a prequel, right?

    Anyway, the magic of Deus Ex will never be repeated. The whole idea was that the game was based on real world conspiracy theories (their mantra was, “If it’s in the game, someone believes it in real life.”)

  26. Evangel says:

    Slate, there’s a reason for the pessimism. No recent games have captured the magic of the “good old games”. Sequel or not, we’re getting a lot of “ooh, shaders” rather than “ooh, compelling storyline with no plot holes”.

    I read somewhere (think it was a french gaming mag preview) that you play a nano-aug’d agent, which leads me to believe that the devs haven’t played the first one. They also mentioned Doc Ok style tentacles, which is beyond both nano-augs and mech-augs.

    Even if that’s a complete load (and it probably is, what developer would make a sequel without playing/understanding what made the first game special? ;) ), that it’s being made by a different team a decade later leads me to think that it’s going to be shit.

  27. Zaxares says:

    I love dystopia games, and the Deus Ex universe holds a special place in my heart, despite the lacklustre impact of DX2. (Unlike a lot of others, I actually thought DX2 was a decent play. Nowhere near as masterful as DX1, but still an entertaining game.) I’ll be keeping an eye on news of DX3 as the year goes on.

  28. krellen says:

    Colonel:

    KotOR2 was better than KotOR.
    I’m looking forward to Mass Effect 2.
    I’m also cautiously optimistic about Starcraft 2 (if I’d never played WoW, I’d probably be moreso. I hope Metzen’s influence on SC2 is minimal, because the man is a hack.)

    On the other hand, my primary reason for not wanting Gears of War 2 is because I’m afraid it’ll be too much like Gears of War – there are aspects of GoW I despised and I don’t look forward to them again.

    And while I have never been a member of NMA, I know Bethesda’s work – I’ve tried both Morrowind and Oblivion. The pre-release criticism, if listened to, might sway a developer to change their direction. Keeping your mouth shut won’t help anything, and might hurt – if developers don’t know what elements they’ve hinted at might not fly with fans, they can’t change them. Speaking up, on the other hand, cannot hurt and might help – developers might never hear it, and if they do might at worst ignore it, at best take it under advisement.

    There is no downside to being pessimistic and vocal, and no upside to being optimistic and silent. So why, logically, would anyone choose the latter?

  29. Tacoma says:

    DX1 was better in every way except perhaps AI and graphics. I didn’t notice much in the way of bad or good AI in either game. And certain the graphics of DX2 are superior – they’d have to be.

    But DX1 was superior in the following ways:
    Length of the game
    Variation in locatons
    Sensibility of locations and their layouts
    Size of the play area
    Loading speed
    Depth and innovation in the plot
    Side quests
    Equipment management
    Nano-augmentations
    Character development
    Variety of interesting choices and tactics
    Impact of choices made on the plot
    Feel of the setting, the cyberpunk conspiracy setting

    In DX1 you start on Ellis Island where the statue of liberty sits. The area is huge. In DX2 you end on Ellis Island but the island is both smaller and also split up into about 4 areas instead of 1. And it loads slower, is more empty, makes less sense, etc. If I could have dropped the visual settings down low enough to play the game on my old video card I would have, I don’t care about graphics enough.

    I just cannot emphasize enough how much DX1 was good and how much DX2 was bad. They would do well to just ignore everything they did in DX2 except as a warning for what doesn’t work at all, go back to DX1 and other games for inspiration, and pop out DX3 on a new graphics engine.

  30. Blue_Pie_Ninja says:

    Well, you all know this now but Deus Ex 3 is Deus Ex Human Revolution is is great.

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