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Clearing confusion about boss battles in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided


There’s been some confusion: you cannot talk through all boss encounters in the new Deus Ex, Mankind Divided. There are debates with key figures, such as the one shown in the 25-minute E3 gameplay video, but they’re a separate thing. Boss encounters require some form of action. Boss encounters and ‘debates’ are two distinct types of gameplay.

Gameplay director Patrick Fortier explained this key point to me in length at Gamescom last week, and his explanation can be read below. I also discovered developer Eidos Montreal will use outsourced help to build Mankind Divided, but, and this is a key but, the boss encounters themselves are being made in house. Fortier had a lot more to say about that as well.

Without further ado, here’s Patrick Fortier and Oliver Proulx, producer, and what they said.

Eurogamer: You’ve talked about being able to ‘ghost’ the game, including boss fights, which you can also ‘stealth’ and ‘dialogue’. So, how do you ‘stealth’ a boss?

Patrick Fortier: That’s interesting. Some of the communication about that has been muddled a little bit. People took all different kinds of parts and muddled them into one. So, there are verbal debates with certain NPCs, [and] classic boss fights are another thing. They’re two separate things. Having said that, in a classic boss fight we will support combat, stealth, lethal, non-lethal, in ways we didn’t necessarily manage in Human Revolution.

Eurogamer: How do you ‘stealth’ a boss?

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Patrick Fortier: If you played Human Revolution: The Director’s Cut, imagine the first boss fight in the game: normally it’s all out and firing and he’s just going to find you no matter where you are in the room. A lot of that was rectified in the Director’s Cut where he actually loses track of you and you can sneak around and get around and manage to use some machines against him, and you don’t really have to fight him – you make the environment fight him through your stealthiness. It’s more – I don’t want to give you an example from Mankind Divided – along those lines where you can stealth your way through things.

Beyond that, and this is where some of the confusion has come from, because I started reading you can take-down bosses by talking to them – it’s like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa! Where did this come from?’ What we said is that through your social interactions leading up to a boss fight you might have talked to people, or you might have explored, or you might have obtained certain elements or means to deal with the boss fight. That’s the kind of stuff we’re going to support. And we’re also going to have stuff like debates which there were in Human Revolution, and that you can see in the demo.

Classical boss fights are another thing, and they will be supported in fully non-lethal ways. When we say you can complete the whole game without killing anybody, bosses are people too, so they’re included – there’s no exception. There used to be [in Human Revolution] the achievement Pacifist that said ‘don’t kill anybody’, and then in parentheses ‘except bosses’ or something like that. And that’s not the case any more.

Eurogamer: How do you *not* kill a boss?

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Patrick Fortier: We get asked a lot about the boss situation from Human Revolution and how it’s going to be rectified and it makes total sense and we totally own it, but part of the answer to that is what we’ve said, and there are ways of supporting not-killing the boss – and doing that you have to deal with it narratively and the repercussions that may have. Another part of the answer is ‘are boss fights relevant in a game like Deus Ex in 2015?’. The traditional, classical boss fight that we know: does it make sense in our world where we’re trying to have so much credibility and we’re trying to make things logical and no matter who you are, a bullet to the head is a bullet to the head. That’s a reflection that we’ve had as well and that’s going to pertain to the final offering of the game.

Eurogamer: OK, so, two things: there will be encounters like we saw in the demo where we’re talking to someone and that’s the encounter?

Patrick Fortier: Yeah, yep.

Eurogamer: And there will also be boss battles?

Patrick Fortier: Potentially, yes. In so far as they make sense. We’re not going to artificially jam in things like ‘OK we did two levels now [slaps hand] finish it with a boss fight’. Why is there a boss fight? We might have specific moments where we set up enemy types and have a particular altercation or challenge put in front of you. Does it qualify as a boss fight? Not necessarily.

Eurogamer: In those boss encounters, whatever they are, people believe we can talk to bosses, negotiate – can we?

Patrick Fortier: Like we said, there’s two things. In the classical sense of the boss fight, it’s not a debate, it’s not an opportunity to have the same mechanic, the debate mechanic that we have using your CASIE [Computer Assisted Social Interaction Enhancer] augmentation to read the body language and the heartbeat and all of that – that’s not happening in a classic boss fight. Having said that, if you’ve equipped yourself in a particular way then maybe specific solutions are offered to you and that will result in some dialogue of some sort, but it’s not debate gameplay.

Even saying that I’m nervous because ‘Patrick Fortier said you will talk to…’ – I don’t want to mislead people to thinking you will talk your way out of any boss encounter or altercation in the game, that you can just stop [clicks fingers] and ‘OK we’re going to talk and I’m going to convince you to…’. And don’t get me wrong, I want to play a game like that, but Mankind Divided isn’t there yet. We’re not there yet. Our social pillar can’t filter all the time through the whole game the way the stealth and combat pillar can.