Forget boss fights, Deus Ex on Wii U has graphic improvements, new game play, and a strategy guide
Adam Jensen is coming to the Wii U, and he's bringing his cyborg sunglasses and pointed goatee with him. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is getting a Director's Cut edition for Nintendo's console, and the Report was able to sit down with Emile Pedneault, game designer on the Wii U version of Human Revolution, at PAX East to learn more.
The U in “Wii U” stands for “ultimate”
Pedneault reiterated several times throughout our time together that this was the best version of the game, the ultimate version of the game. He and his team were able to do new things that couldn't have been done before, thanks to the touchscreen of the Wii U GamePad and the dual-screen experience it provided.
“The hacking by touch is so cool, it's like it was intended all along to be done by touch. And by leaving the main screen open, you can look around and make sure no one will spot you while hacking,” Pedneault said. “So that's one of the things that we instantly thought, seeing the Wii U, that would work well, and that's exactly the case. We have this ultimate experience.”
I asked Pedneault if the game had seen any improvements thanks to the Wii U's hardware. New controls were neat, but did the game actually run any better? Pedneault was cagey about details and wouldn't get into specifics, but said that the Wii U hardware allowed the team to feature a new lighting system, improved fog, improved shadows, and antialiasing.
“Right now, this is the best-looking Deus Ex,” Pedneault said. “It's even sharper than the PC version.” While the game does look noticeably nicer than it did on 360 and PS3, I couldn't compare it to a high-end PC, and when I pressed Pendeault to be specific about performance differences, he would only say that the team has worked on adjusting the game's engine, and that the Wii U hardware “helped” with that task.
I asked Pedneault if he thought all these new features and graphical tweaks would be enough. The Wii U's lineup of games thus far has been dominated by ports, and Human Revolution is the oldest of them all. Ubisoft delayed one of the system's few exclusives so that it could launch alongside its Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 siblings later in the year, and sales figures for the console have been less than positive. Could Human Revolution for the Wii U have a future?
Pedneault started by clarifying that he didn't want me to think of this game as a simple port. “Our goal right off the bat was not to make a port. We really wanted to take this opportunity working on the game again to just change what was ehh, so-so with the game and bring some new features to the game,” he said.
As for the business side of things: “I'm not here to speculate about the status of it right now, but we just delivered the ultimate experience and we just took advantage of all the Wii U features in every possible way we can. So hopefully, things will pick up in the future, and we'll make some new and old fans pretty happy with this version.”
“Who knows, maybe we'll be that one game that makes the Wii U sell.” I doubt that will be the case, but it's looking like those who do pick up the game won't be disappointed, and Pedneault said the team is not currently planning to institute any changes made for the Director's Cut into the Xbox 360, PS3, or PC versions of the game.
So, about those boss fights
Much of the Wii U version's buzz has centered around the re-purposed boss fights. I saw a hands-off demonstration of the game's first fight against the Belltower cyborg, Barrett, and while players who opted to go a more stealth or hacking-minded route will feel vindication for their choices, they're not what I would call spectacularly redesigned.
In Barrett's case, the small, square room of the original game opened up into a larger version of itself, with two side rooms and an upper floor. Stealthy players could find vents to travel from area to area safely, while players who had taken strength augmentations could removed heavy obstacles which impeded their path. Players who took the proper hacking levels could take control of two sentry turrets.
Pedneault showed how a player who explored all three branches could sneak around through the side rooms, through vents, hack the turret, and then pick it up to blast Barrett. So yes, the game's boss fights are redone, but they'll still familiar. The good news is, they're not the only change Pedneault's team has added to Human Revolution.
For starters, Jensen will have access to a new augmentation that upgrades smart vision. The original game's smart vision allowed players to see through walls, but now you'll be able to use the Wii U GamePad to look around and gather even more information about your surroundings, including enemy armor, health, and loot. Low on tranquilizer darts? Check that guard using the upgraded smart vision to see if he's carrying any.
There will also be a very Demon's Souls-inspired addition thanks to the addition of Infologs. “The Infolog is an information package,” Pedneault said. “You're able to take a screenshot of the game, put some drawing on it, type a note, and record your voice. Everything put together, with the single touch of button, you can share that with your friends and all throughout the Miiverse.” Players can then download your Infolog and, when they walk over it in-game, it will display whatever note you left behind.
Since this is a “director's cut” version of Human Revolution, you'll be able to access developer commentary while playing through the game. Pedneault said the game contains more than 8 hours' worth of audio, from the original team that worked on Human Revolution. The commentary doesn't stop the game, but narrates over it.
Most surprising of the additions was the inclusion of a digital version of the official Deus Ex: Human Revolution strategy guide from Future Press. We've done an exploration of how strategy guides operate before, and this seems like an intriguing path for publishers to take. Pedneault said he couldn't comment on the business deal with Future, but if the company was paid a lump sum instead of relying on sales with little to no tail, it seems a safe bet to assume we could see more games ship with strategy guides included in digital format.
These new additions don't feel minor or gimmicky, and in hindsight, the revamped boss fights seem like one of the least interesting things about Human Revolution on the Wii U. I never asked for this - but I'm glad someone did.