The time for CGI is over. With the next instalment in the Deus Ex series nearer to its "early 2011" release, the time for gameplay has arrived. And Eurogamer has it: Deus Ex: Human Revolution's first gameplay trailer, below, for your viewing pleasure.
But that's not all. Here, we chat with lead designer Jean-François Dugas about his inspiration, the action RPG split and, of course, Mr Warren Spector.
Eurogamer: A lot of people looked at your reveal trailer and thought Blade Runner. Was that an influence?
Jean-François Dugas: It was an influence. It was not the only one.
Of course, this cult movie that defined the cyber-punk archetypes, we definitely looked at it. Everything that has to do with cluttering and fog and smoke – it builds a strong archetype of the Blade Runner movie.
We didn't try to reproduce them as is, but we took a page from their book.
We looked at other influences, like Ghost in the Shell, some Japanese anime, even some not so good movies.
Eurogamer: Like what?
Jean-François Dugas: Johnny Mnemonic. But also good old movies like Robocop - that was fun to watch again.
We also dug into some of the books, Ray Kurzweil and other authors that are big into transhumanism. We looked at pretty much everything we could. Greek mythology as well. It was all over the place.
The challenge was, okay, a lot of cool ideas from a lot of different places, but how do you mix it up into one current thing that is going to work on itself and is not going to feel like a rip-off of something else?
Eurogamer: How much of a modern day shooter is this? What's the action RPG blend?
Jean-François Dugas: It's the same blend of first-person shooter slash RPG that the first game was.
Honestly, I know when we said it's going to have auto-regen and a cover system and shooting is not going to be stat-based anymore, a lot of people went, "oh my God! Now they're doing just an action game and it's all about running around and shooting."
It's a fair concern when you just hear that this way. I totally understand it. But it has never been our goal to transform Deus Ex into a shooter game.
We wanted to make sure that the components like stealth and combat, and all the possibilities of being able to upgrade yourself to be better in those areas, the RPG aspect of that, it stays all in place.
Yes we did do some things differently from the first game, or even the second game. But in the end it's still the same experience.
You have a challenge that's not necessarily easy. It's not the case that because the shooting is more straightforward and you have regen that you're going to be invincible.
You'll have to think. You'll have to look around you and maybe find other ways than just shoot and see what happens.
We're balancing the game right now, and I can tell you when there are a few characters on screen that are after you, if you don't take care, a few bullets and you're dead.
Where Deus Ex stands out from other shooter games, that's when Deus Ex is encouraging you to do other things than shooting.
It's where it gets its angle and where it gets exciting and rewarding. This is what we're working at: to make sure that if you want to be a combatant you can be one, but you still have to think and plan and see how you want to upgrade your character and play your fantasy.
The RPG element of that is, you need to build a character for how you want to play. You have to interact with a lot of people. And you have to make decisions that will have some effect on some aspects of the story.
It's not going to be more of an action game than the other ones. It's just when you're in an action segment it's going to be more straightforward.
Eurogamer: What's your favourite quest and what's the most difficult decision the player will have to make?
Jean-François Dugas: I'm not sure I'm allowed to answer this. Even if I'm allowed I'm not sure I want to. It would be spoiling things.
What I can say is we're trying to keep it on a human level. We're trying to explore why people do what they do, and, what are their motivations?
We're trying to explore those kinds of things as much as we can. Sometimes you will have to make choices that might have some sort of impact on the human level for someone else, and on subjects that matter, that you can relate to.
We're trying to make you care as opposed to trying to guess if you say yes or no, if you're going to have a bigger gun or a smaller gun.
Eurogamer: How will Deus Ex emotionally engage players on an adult and intelligent level?
Jean-François Dugas: It's not out yet so I cannot say it does it. I can only say what we're trying to do.
At first, internally, when we were brainstorming and going around with ideas of player choices, sometimes we had heated debates.
'If we don't give a big reward to the player for this then this choice is meaningless.' We were debating that. I was like, no, it's not meaningless.
If we talk about something on a human level that something as a player, as a human being, you can relate to, you probably had that experience in the past or you know someone, you understand the emotional aspect of the choice.
Hopefully that is going to help the player focus on choosing because of that, as opposed to, oh, it's going to give me this or that.
Sometimes we have choices where it gives you something, and if you choose something else it gives you something different. What is good is normally something the player decides.
But we're trying to stay away as much as possible from that.
In the end, do we succeed? Is it going to work the way I explain it to you? I have no idea.
The feedback we received with play tests, we received comments that people were experiencing certain interactions with a character. They said, 'I want to kill him.'
It was the reflection that this person was emotionally engaged with that character. If you want to kill him, he was pissing you off or annoying you.
In the end we'll see when the game ships.
Eurogamer: How many endings will the game have? What choices will determine the endings?
Jean-François Dugas: I don't want to reveal too much. What I can tell you is yes, we have multiple endings. At some moment in the game where you'll be facing an important decision to make, it's going to influence your ending.
But also some of your actions you'll have done throughout the game, how you have managed certain situations, is going to have an effect with the ending. That's as far as I'm going to go into it.
Eurogamer: How big is the game? Is it as big as Fallout 3? How long will it take to finish?
Jean-François Dugas: No, it's not going to be 80 hours at all. It's not going to be as big. Fallout is mainly and solely an RPG. Deus Ex is more a blend of action and RPG.
It's a pretty big game. On the critical path it's roughly 20 hours. If you explore beyond the critical path to find all the secrets and all the side quests and the secondary objectives, it's going to clock roughly at 30 hours.
It might be a little bit more depending on one player to another - if they have the strategy guide or not!
It's still pretty big. It's bigger than BioShock but it's smaller than Fallout 3. It's in-between.
Eurogamer: Once you've finished the game, will you be able to replay it with a new game plus option?
Jean-François Dugas: That's something we're still looking into doing if we have the time to do it.
What I would like to do is, once you complete it, you have an option that lets you start the game all over again but with all the augmentations you already have, because in one play through we're balancing it so it's impossible to have them all.
We're still toying with that idea, but depending on how much time we'll have to do it and what is needed, we might drop it or not. It's still an open question.
Eurogamer: How does the PC version differ from the console versions, if at all?
Jean-François Dugas: It takes advantage of the power of the 3D graphics cards on PC and Direct X11.
But in terms of the experience itself, we're not looking at it as, this is the console version and this is the PC version.
We're looking at our game as just a game, and this is going to be the game on all the platforms.
The only thing for me that's important is I want us to be able to adapt the enemies a bit with the hit points to be on PC more challenging.
With the mouse you're way more precise than with the controller. It's not the same experience, exactly. I want to make sure the PC version is tailored to the fact you play with a mouse, and it doesn't feel like it's dumbed down.
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Eurogamer: Will you need a powerful PC to play it?
Jean-François Dugas: At this point the specs are not totally nailed so I can't answer that question.
Eurogamer: Deus Ex will be released early next year. Kinect and PlayStation Move will be released very soon. Will the game support them in any way?
Jean-François Dugas: Unfortunately they came too late in the development process. So it's going to play like traditional games right now.
Eurogamer: Will the game be playable in 3D?
Jean-François Dugas: The technology lead has had some discussions with a few people about that, but at this point I don't think... I can't answer. I'm not sure if we're going to support it or not.
That's to do with what we need to do and the time we have left and the resources we have.
Eurogamer: Have you spoken to Warren Spector about the game?
Jean-François Dugas: Unfortunately not. But I can tell you we spoke with other members of the original team.
For the development of the story, Sheldon Pacotti, who was the lead writer on the first two games, helped us as a consultant. He came to Montreal and we showed him the game. He gave us feedback on the story and we worked together.
It was great to have the input of some of the original members. The reaction has been enthusiastic. It's been cool.
When you know that some of the original members are coming to see your game and you present, it's nerve-racking!
We take it seriously. We want to revive Deus Ex. We want to make it a worthy addition to the franchise.
When they came and gave us feedback it was really like, 'wow.' It was really cool.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is due out on the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 early next year.