Deus Ex: The Fall preview: augmenting mobile

By John Keefer, Jun 07, 2013 11:30am PDT

Fans of the Deus Ex franchise have been hoping for another installment after the success of Human Revolution. While Deus Ex: The Fall for iOS and Android devices may not have been what players were expecting, the game has all the flavor of the Deus Ex universe, and an early look proved to be a promising work in progress.

The game is set in the year 2027 after the events of James Swallow's tie-in novel Icarus Effect, where ex-SAS agent Ben Saxon goes rogue. The story happens at the same time as the events of Human Revolution, while Adam Jensen is in recovery. While the story and platform are different, Eidos Montreal game director Jean-Francois Dugas told us the game will still offer the same "core pillars" of the Deus Ex single-player RPGs. "You determine whether you want to go in shooting or play stealthy. It's still the same experience with hacking and different solutions to problems. It keeps the same essence of the franchise."

However, the game was designed from the ground up with mobile in mind, Dugas said. Eidos Montreal wanted to take advantage of the growth and popularity of the platform, but had little experience with it. So it brought in mobile developer N-Fusion to build the title. "They were fans of the universe and even proposed the story for the game," he said, adding that the core team of Human Revolution and even author Jim Swallow worked with them to make sure the story and game stayed true to the Deus Ex universe.

Dugas said that the team also relied on N-Fusion's mobile expertise to rework some of the game dynamics and controls for better performance on the platform. For example, bodies will now disappear after a short time when they are unconscious or killed, instead of forcing players to drag them out of sight. Also, players won't be able to pick up and carry objects, but instead players with the requisite strength augmentation can push certain objects where they need them. Another aspect that needed to be changed was jumping because "it would have been a tough thing to do on the platform," but that has been replaced by allowing players to vault over low objects. "We felt these changes still stay faithful to the Deus Ex experience," he said.

It wouldn't be a Deus Ex game without plenty of weapons, augments and upgrades. And while players can pretty much find--and carry--everything they need in the game, players will be able to utilize the in-game store to purchase things they haven't found or want sooner. But Dugas said that players should be able to complete the six-hour experience without spending any money on microtransactions.

The game utilizes a dual thumbstick format common in adaptations of console-style games like this. There are other touch commands, however: players can also tap the screen to sprint to a wall for cover, or walk up to characters to interact for a bit more fluid experience. Combat is similar: tap an enemy to fire or sneak up behind them to take them down. An interface appears on either side of the screen, allowing a simple tap to access inventory to swap out weapons or augments, and update messages.

N-Fusion certainly captured the look of Human Revolution, with some areas looking on par with the console game on the iPad mini used for the demo. It definitely had the right futuristic feel of the universe, and solid voice acting added to immersion. It was rather simple to get around guards and avoid some confrontations, and others playing the demo were able to play through areas differently than I did. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to try the hacking or explore too much because of a couple lockups and some unresponsive controls, but the game seems to be accomplishing its goal of delivering a Deus Ex experience.

Dugas said Eidos Montreal sees The Fall as the first chapter in a new storyline in the Deus Ex universe for mobile. He didn't rule out the possibility of bringing the title to other platforms, but he qualified it saying "we'll have to see how successful this is."

The game will cost $6.99 for iOS when it launches this summer. It is also confirmed for Android, but no release window was revealed.

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