PIXEL BURN – Mankind Divided in Deus Ex sequel, while Freddy Fazbear goes to the movies

In which Matt augs himself up ready to crack the Gibson.
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[TRANSCRIPT]

Hello you beautiful misfits. My name’s Matt and this is Pixel Burn, where I take a sarcastic look at the more important, interesting or irritating things that happened in the week’s gaming news.

The week began somewhat puzzlingly with this cryptic livestream on Twitch.tv from Square-Enix, featuring the hashtag “CAN’TKILLPROGRESS”, to build hype, awareness etc for a new game from one of their western studios. Most of the footage was pretty much this: some bloke lying on the floor in a cell with a timer ticking down, although viewers could change the camera angles by typing commands into Twitch chat.

These long stretches of mysterious bugger-all were occassionally spiced-up with moments straight out of a Guantanamo Bay staff orientation video, only with lots of “Generic East European” accents yelling at each other.

Whenever the timer ran-out a scenario arose with two outcomes the audience could vote on, like this one where they could choose whether or not to shield the unfortunate prisoner here. A tidbit on the #CANTKILLPROGRESS instagram account would then be unlocked, and the whole thing would begin again.

In short, all very mysterious and interactive in typical Alternate Reality Game fashion. Who were the man’s captors? What did they want from him? Why did he have a cybernetic arm? In short, what was it all about?

Well, it’s in the bloody title of this video isn’t it?

Indeed it was all to build hype and anticipation for a sequel to 2011’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution. As everyone and their electric sheep discovered when this Russian site leaked a bunch of screenshots for it prematurely, thus killing the mystery of the #CANTKILLPROGRESS livestream while at the same time spoiling Gameinformer magazine’s exclusive reveal. And since Deus Ex: Human Revolution is not only a bloody good game but also a worthy successor to the original Deus Ex, a genuine gaming classic in every sense, plenty of people were very excited by this news.

Some of us more than others.

Sporting the title “Deus Ex: Mankind Divided,” the sequel once more stars gravel-voiced bionic protagonist Adam Jensen strutting his grumpy stuff in a post-cyberpunk world of corporations, conspiracies and cybernetic augmentation. Set two years after the events of Human Revolution, Jensen now works for a covert branch of Interpol called Task Force 29, whose job is to combat a new form of terrorism.

Namely the kind of terrorism performed by jacked-up persecuted transhuman cyborgs with a grudge, who are treated like vermin and forced to live in ghettoes.

The trailer might give some the impression that this instalment is more guns and ammo this time round. But people had the same worries when the trailer for Human Revolution came out, and we all know that wasn’t the case at all. In fact the stealth approach was considered the most effective way to play the game, since exploring and sneaking gave you more experience points than merely running and gunning your way through rooms of disposable mooks did.

Except when it came to the boss battles, which were outsourced to a different studio that didn’t get the memo about the game having alternate playstyles. Meaning players who went for a stealthy ninja or grandmaster hacker playstyle – like me – got a nasty surprise when they reached their first boss battle, suddenly finding themselves locked in a small room with an angry walking artillery platform and barely any means of doing damage to him.

Thankfully this issue was corrected in the Missing Link DLC, which even let you knock the main boss character unconscious instead of just killing him, and in the Director’s Cut which overhauled the boss fights entirely to ACTUALLY accommodate stealth and hacking playstyles.

So it’s good to know that one of the first things Eidos Montreal confirmed about Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, is you’ll be able to approach boss encounters any way you want. Eidos Montreal are also saying they’ve spent several years working on the gunplay, so you can truly go full stealth or full combat throughout the whole game.

Which is great news. Because Deus Ex has always been about options, and even the hardest of hard-core stealth players like me, sometimes just want to say “sod it” and let rip with automatic weapons.

Augmentations also make a return of course, because it wouldn’t be Deus Ex without them, and with it an overhaul of the energy system. Augmentations will consume a fixed amount of energy this time round and Jensen will get a portion of the energy back when he stops using them. Unlike in Human Revolution, where you regularly had to break into the offices of Jensen’s coworkers to steal their precious energy-restoring candy bars.

And while we’re on the topic, as well as keeping all his existing cyborg superpowers Mankind Divided will also be giving Jensen some brand new ones to play with. Such as the Tesla augmentation that lets him knock out single enemies from a distance, the ability to shoot Jensen’s cyborg armblades and skewer people to walls with them, and a version of the PEPS gun built into Jensen’s cyborg arms that allow him to knock out entire groups of enemies with a concusive blast.

It’s not all shooting, sneaking and punching people in the face however. Gameinformer hints that the so-called “conversation battles” will also be returning, allowing players to try a diplomatic solution before breaking out the fancy toys and breaking people’s faces with them.

So far so very reassuring to Deus Ex fans. One thing Eidos Montreal have said which might raise a few controversial eyebrows however, is whether the depiction of past events from the original Deus Ex are actually true. That’s a roundabout way of saying they might be retconning some of the backstory of the original game, to which my initial reaction was…something like this.

And it could be a beefy bone of contention with some elements of the Deus Ex fanbase if it’s not handled well. Although it is somewhat fitting for a setting where shadowy conspiracies manipulate history and distort the truth. And Eidos Montreal did do sterling job tying Human Revolution’s story to the original Deus Ex without relying on it, maintaining all the narrative and thematic connections while still being very much its own thing.

Another addition which could cause some needless controversy, given these more sensitive times we live in now, is that women will be among the regular enemies encountered in the game. Unlike in Human Revolution where antagonists, like the private mercenary company Belltower for example, were notable for their lack of equal opportunities policies in active front-line combat roles. A decision that will, no doubt, either be hailed as a victory for gender equality or condemned as further proof of insidious misogyny riddling the video game industry.

Either way I’m sure we can expect to see an episode of Feminist Frequency on the subject. In about five years.

In short, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided sounds like it’s shaping up to be a strong, story-driven single-player experience that keeps what made Human Revolution great, refines the things that didn’t and adds more goodies to play with. What more could a Deus Ex fan ask for?

Even better than all that however, is I got through this entire news item without once referencing:

[“I NEVER ASKED FOR THIS”]

Because that would’ve been a lie. I totally asked for this. So much so in fact that I can barely contain my excitement.

Staying on the topic of games I’m excited for, CD Projekt Red announced this week that The Witcher 3 will be getting two paid DLC expansions after its release, available individually or with a season pass.

Tsk, bloody typical eh? Game isn’t even in stores yet and CD Projekt Red are already pimping paid DLC for it. Alright, what can I expect to have to pay extra for on launch day?

The first DLC, called “Hearts of Stone”, will be a new 10-hour plus adventure taking Geralt into the wilds of No Man’s land and the shadowy alleys of Oxenfurt to complete a contract for a cryptic figure called “The Man of Glass.” And according to CD Projekt Red it won’t be out until October this year.

October?! That’s about five months after release day! Everyone will have exhausted the main game by then and…might be keen for more content.

Meanwhile the second DLC, “Blood and Wine”, is described as a 20 hour adventure that adds a whole new in-game region called Toussaint where, according to CD Projekt Red, “an atmosphere of carefree indulgence and knightly ritual masks an ancient, bloody secret.” And if that sounds right up your dingy monster-haunted alley, well, you’ll have to wait until the first quarter of 2016 before you can play it.

2016!? Everyone will have finished the Hearts of Stone DLC by then and…might be keen for more content.

According to CD Projekt RED Co-founder Marcin Iwinski:

“We remember the time when add-on disks truly expanded games by delivering meaningful content. As gamers, we’d like to bring that back. We’ve said in the past that if we ever decide to release paid content, it will be vast in size and represent real value for the money. Both our expansions offer more hours of gameplay than quite a few standalone games out there.”

Look CD Projekt Red, I don’t think you get how this DLC thing is meant to work. What you’re meant to do is chop a chunk out of your game before release, package it up separately and then sell it on launch day. Y’know, like what BioWare did with the From Ashes DLC for Mass Effect 3. Still, at least you got the season pass thing right. Hook ’em right at the start eh? Yeah, you guys are good with stories and all that shit. I bet you spun a really good one to convince all the suckers it’s essential to the game and they’d be idiots not to buy it. Phew! You guys had me worried for a second there!

“While we’re offering the Expansion Pass now, we want to make one thing clear: don’t buy it if you have any doubts. Wait for reviews or play The Witcher and see if you like it first. As always, it’s your call.”

Jesus Christ guys, what’s your fucking angle here? You’re going to have people thinking you DON’T see your customers as desperate, brain-dead money dispensers. What are you playing at? You all fucking communists or something? Next you’ll be telling me you’re literally giving away stuff for free!

“Everyone who buys Wild Hunt will receive 16 specially prepared DLCs absolutely for free, regardless of platform. You don’t have to pre-order, you don’t have to buy any special edition to get them — if you own a copy of Wild Hunt, they’re yours.”

[…]

So yeah, CD Projekt Red once again shows the rest of the industry how to do DLC in a consumer-friendly way. Like The Witcher 3 the season pass is now available to pre-order through Steam and other outlets although, like Marcin Iwinski says, you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

Finally, in what was possibly the most surreal gaming news this week, entertainment news site The Hollywood Reporter claimed this week that Warner Bros has picked up the rights to make a movie based on YouTube sensation jump-scare fest Five Nights at Freddy’s, by indie developer Scott Cawthon.

Really? What sort of coked-up movie studio idiot thought that was a good idea?

“I’m telling you guys, the kids can’t get enough of this Teddy Fezbear shit!”

But then this is the same creatively bankrupt industry that’s trying to make a Tetris movie after all. And while Five Nights At Freddy’s: the game isn’t my particular cup of horror tea, it’s a stronger basis for a movie than bloody Tetris is.

The basic premise of Five Nights at Freddy’s, for those of you who don’t know, is centered around a Chuck-E-Cheese’s-style pizza restaurant called Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria. During the day children and families are entertained there by giant animatronic robot animals while they stuff their faces with pizza. By night however the animatronics come alive and stalk the darkened restaurant. Players take the role of a night watchman whose job is to guard the premises, and must avoid being caught by the animatronic nightmares by watching them through security cameras and closing doors to block their path. Otherwise the animatronics capture the player and fatally stuff them into an empty bear suit.

The game never shows this humiliating death in any gory detail however. Instead it’s left up to the player’s imagination, making it a curiously kid-friendly sort of horror that initially seems about as dark as an episode of “Goosebumps.”

Until you poke into the game’s backstory.

A story conveyed through voicemail messages from the player character’s predecessor, and by newspaper clippings that gradually reveal how a man disguised as one of the animatronics murdered five children at the restaurant. The children’s bodies were never found, but another newspaper clipping reports parents later complaining about the mascots leaking “blood and mucus” from their eyes, and smelling like “reanimated carcasses”

According to prospective producer Seth Grahame-Smith, speaking to The Hollywood Reporter:

“We’re looking forward to working with Scott to make an insane, terrifying and weirdly adorable movie.”

Ah yes, because you can’t get more weirdly adorable than child murder, can you?

Which brings us to the main hurdle facing this movie adaptation. Five Nights at Freddys is curiously popular amongst children, most of whom are oblivious to the Lynchian heart of darkness beating evilly beneath the game’s surface-level jump scares. Millions of them watch YouTube let’s plays of the game and the game’s creator, Scott Cawthon, is by all accounts now a comfortably wealthy man. Probably even more so now he’s sold the movie rights. Conversely, it’s also popular amongst adult horror fans who love the creepy visuals, the dark murderous backstory and, of course, the adrenaline rush of death-by-a-thousand jump-scares.

So which audience does the studio cater to? Well, the kids obviously. There’re more of them. But will their parents want to take them to see a film about murderous animatronics that may or may not be stuffed with the corpses of murdered children?

Well they might if the studio tones down the darkness somewhat. So no child murdering or other similar such undertones. And the animatronic animals can’t look TOO creepy, oh no, not on the big screen. You know, a bit of slapstick comedy would go a long way to making it less-scary for the little tykes. Hey, why don’t they get Ben Stiller to star in it? I mean a night at a pizzeria is sort of like a night at the museum, right?

Alternatively it could make for a decent horror movie for an adult audience. Albeit one that some American parents will drag their kids to a midnight screening of anyway, because for some reason they allow that sort of thing over there.

The more likely outcome however is that Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Movie will be stuck in development hell, like the Minecraft one. Or canned completely like any number of other video game adaptations. In short, don’t expect Freddy Fazbear and friends to be appearing in multiplexes anytime soon.

That’s all for this episode of Pixel Burn. If you liked it then please do let me know, and let your friends, family and the Illuminati know as well. At the very least I hope you found it tolerable. If you didn’t like it however then feel free to stuff yourself inside an animatronic bear suit. Until next week, as always, you can go now.

 

Matt

About Matt

Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind bitscreed.com and the sarcastic writer, editor, director, presenter and tea boy of Pixel Burn.