Right from the start of my time with Level Designers Frank McCann and JF Champagne, they made it clear that the multipath, multi-outcome objectives from Deus Ex were a huge focus for the new game. They wanted to ensure that an intrepid player could explore and find a number of different ways to solve a problem and
have different consequences play out for choosing different methods. Overall, and this is key, their main focus was to support every play style one-hundred percent, right from the start of the game.
When it came to side quests, the team went with a quality and breadth over quantity approach. What this means is that you won't see JC Denton asking you to find his sunglasses or Gunther Hermann asking for a soda. Instead you'll find large, multifaceted side quests that explore the world and expand on the themes of the main plot. The reasoning behind not having small fetch quests was a completely logical one. As Adam Jensen, you become embroiled in a multinational conspiracy where the stakes are huge! So if you're going to take time away from that pressing task, it had better be for a good reason.
In contrast to main story missions, side quests are a bit more freeform and less focused on one particular area, allowing players to dictate how events play out. You won't be punished for not clearing these side missions, but you will learn a great deal more about the world and find a few nice rewards along the way if you opt to play ball. What's more, events in the main story can be affected by your side quest completion, so there really doesn't seem to be any reason not to hunt down and complete every last quest in the game!
On a somewhat unrelated note, we then took to discussing the combat in the game- another area the developers wanted to improve on from the original. They believed combat was somewhat clunky in the first game; it relied on dice rolls and skill levels to dictate damage which led to some odd moments. To this effect, they have made gunplay punchier, more fluid, and much more based on the player's own skill.
Like the other two sessions, we had the chance to discuss the game in more general terms after the presentation. McCann and Champagne mentioned that one of the biggest challenges in developing the game's combat scenarios, since the game does not have scripted combat encounters, was to compensate for player agency, and all the varied entry points that one could enter a fight from. They also said that overall, this is a tactical shooter, not a run-and-gun experience, so even if you opt for the combat approach, you have to think carefully about engagements. If you run into a room with five enemies, guns blazing, you can be assured that you're going to get mowed down. Lastly, when asked how the game varies on different difficulties, McCann explained that it was primarily a numbers thing. Higher difficulties give enemies more power and more health, so you won't be seeing AI changes or environmental variations on the hardest modes.
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