Interview by Wesley Yin-Poole. Introduction by Martin Robinson.
You're dropped in a prison cell, stripped of all your powers and with escape your aim. We've been here countless times before, but Deus Ex: Human Revolution's substantial add-on performs an effective trick; this time it's challenging, engaging and far from a chore.
The Missing Link dumps Adam Jensen in the hold of a Belltower boat on its way to Singapore, set some way into Human Revolution's own plot and plugging one of its plot holes.
If it's an awkwardly attached appendage to Jensen's tale, the game itself at least fits comfortably within Human Revolution's blend of action. With no abilities or weapons at the outset there's a razor-sharp focus on stealth, and it's a focus that's well served by the ship's sprawling corridors.
Narrow walkways are interlinked with vents and, of course, boxes, ensuring that while stealth is the only option it can at least be approached from multiple directions.
It does open up eventually; a little while into the demo, which presents a mere slice of the five-hour running time claimed for The Missing Link, you're presented with a hunk of Praxis Points. These allow you to experiment with augmentations that can take your Jensen in a vastly different direction than the one that's served you in the main game.
There's more to the game than the steel and oak of the ship's interior: a trip to the upper deck shows off some of the steps forward Eidos Montreal has made with Human Revolution's engine, with rain lashing the deck in a scene that's reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid 2's stunning introduction. We caught up with Eidos Montreal's Marce-Andre Dufort to tell us more. (MR)
Eurogamer: What exactly are we getting with this DLC?
Marce-Andre Dufort: You will get some technical improvements. We reworked the post-process, shaders, lighting and stuff like that, since we weren't really happy with what we had on the core game. We worked a lot on that. It is about five hours long, give or take.
Eurogamer: How have you improved the visuals?
Marce-Andre Dufort: It's mostly the contrast. The objects are more defined and it's a bit less flat.
Eurogamer: Why weren't you happy with some of the aspects of the visuals?
Marce-Andre Dufort: We had to take some decisions going forward to deliver the full game, so we took some notes and decided to maybe keep that for later. We just wanted to improve.
Eurogamer: Just how improved are the visuals?
Marce-Andre Dufort: Since the lighting was the biggest thing we needed to improve, this was what we worked the most on. The art direction is pretty much the same because Jonathan [Jacques-BelletÍte, art director] was working with us. The whole design is, in my opinion, better because we learnt a lot working on Human Revolution. We used that experience to build the levels on The Missing Link.
Eurogamer: What makes them better?
Marce-Andre Dufort: The layout and multi-path and stuff like that is better because... I don't really know how to explain that, but the fun factor is even better going through the level because of the layout and the story we tell with the environment. All of that has been improved.
Eurogamer: Have any improvements been made to character faces and animations?
Marce-Andre Dufort: We worked a lot on the facial animation for the cut-scenes. It was an area we identified as something we needed to work on for the DLC.
Eurogamer: Will the DLC address the repetition of NPC faces and voices throughout the world?
Marce-Andre Dufort: The kind of DLC we have, it's more of a compound than a city hub. We didn't really have to address the repetition of faces and bodies. You reach a point where everything ends up to be... not similar, but you will see stuff you know you've seen in other city hubs. We didn't really have to address that for The Missing Link.
Eurogamer: Are there any new augmentations?
Marce-Andre Dufort: We don't have any new augmentations.
Eurogamer: Any new weapons?
Marce-Andre Dufort: We actually have one. It's a modified weapon from the main game. I don't want to elaborate on that because it's a surprise and it's a bit hidden in the DLC. You'll probably hear more about it in a couple of days.
Eurogamer: You've mentioned the DLC is five hours. That's quite beefy for DLC.
Marce-Andre Dufort: It depends on how you play. You know, with the main game, some people have finished it in 20 hours, others in 50, 60 hours. During the play tests here, the average amount of time was about five hours.
Eurogamer: Did you start work on The Missing Link alongside the main game, or did you start work on it after you finished?
Marce-Andre Dufort: We didn't actually plan to do a DLC at the beginning of the production. Since we improved the visual theme on the DLC we had to wait a bit. The team was composed of only the core team of Human Revolution, so we had to be less busy on the main game, to work on the Missing Link.
Eurogamer: How will players access the DLC? There's no new game plus option in the main game.
Marce-Andre Dufort: It will be in the main menu. There will be a DLC tab that will give you access to the Missing Link. You won't be able to, let's say after the Sea Port, you won't be able to play The Missing Link and then go back to Omega Ranch (research facility in Singapore). The reason is, because of the technical improvement, we couldn't switch from one to the other in-game. So we need to go through the main menu. It's a standalone DLC, but you need to have the Human Revolution game to be able to play The Missing Link.
Eurogamer: Will you release The Missing Link simultaneously on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360?
Marce-Andre Dufort: It will be at the same time for every platform in October.
Eurogamer: The trailer you've put out shows Jensen being tortured. Can you talk about the characters in the trailer?
Marce-Andre Dufort: Natanya, the girl, is the head of the Belltower officers in the sea base. And there's Burke, the head of the Spec Ops, who are also on the sea base. They are torturing Adam. Actually, they don't know who he is. They want to know who Adam is and what is he doing on the boat. That's what they're doing.
Eurogamer: Does the DLC introduce any new types of gameplay?
Marce-Andre Dufort: We have some new challenges. We have a new kind of turret. We have a boss battle at the end, but it's different from the main game boss battles.
Eurogamer: How is it different?
Marce-Andre Dufort: You can actually not kill the boss. You can do a non-lethal takedown on him. And you can kill him from afar. You can even kill him without him seeing you. It's more of a bigger challenge than a standard boss fight like we have in many games. It takes place near the end. The DLC doesn't end at the boss fight, but it's near the end.
Eurogamer: Did Eidos Montreal make the boss fight or was it outsourced like those in the main game?
Marce-Andre Dufort: Everything was done in Montreal at Eidos.
Eurogamer: Will this new boss battle feel more in-keeping with the main game?
Marce-Andre Dufort: It's a lot less frustrating, depending on the way you play. If you played more combat in the main game, you probably didn't have any trouble dealing with the boss fights. So we allow the adaptation of the way you play for that particular boss fight.
Eurogamer: Were you happy with the way the boss fights in the main game turned out? Some say they were frustrating.
Marce-Andre Dufort: I was playing more of mixed stealth and combat style, so I had some good weapons in my inventory. I didn't have a lot of trouble dealing with them. No, I didn't get any big frustrations dealing with them. But I can understand people playing more stealth style having some frustration dealing with those bosses.
Eurogamer: Does this new sea base area for the DLC act like a hub from the main game?
Marce-Andre Dufort: No. It's more like a compound, like, for example FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) or Tai Yong Medical or Omega Ranch. It's more of a map like those maps.
Eurogamer: The DLC is called The Missing Link. What does that title relate to?
Marce-Andre Dufort: There is a story component related to that. Adam is missing. When Adam arrives at Omega Ranch, Pritchard didn't know where he was, so that's one thing. And, there's something else I can't reveal right now, but something else is missing. It's story related. Adam will find something that is missing. That's pretty much all I can say.
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Eurogamer: You say there was no plan to do a DLC originally. Is The Missing Link a one off, or should we expect more?
Marce-Andre Dufort: I can't really comment on that.
Eurogamer: I'm struggling to think of events in the game or sequences that have the space and time to fit more content in. The Missing Link takes place in the obvious one.
Marce-Andre Dufort: It was the easiest one we could find, the only one that really makes sense.
Eurogamer: Do you plan to update and patch the main game? Some fans of the PC version have called for bug fixes.
Marce-Andre Dufort: The patch we did on the PC version, there were a lot of bugs that have been fixed on PC that will be fixed on the consoles as the same time as we release the DLC. It will fix bugs for the side quests. I think it's the Motherly Ties side quest that you couldn't finish depending on how you played in the police station. We fixed that bug. There's also one for the Tai Yong Medical pass that was broken. We fixed stuff like that - major things that mean you cannot finish the game if we don't fix those bugs.
Eurogamer: Human Revolution was critically acclaimed and enjoyed good sales. Would you like to make another Deus Ex?
Marce-Andre Dufort: I would like to, but I don't know what the future is right now. I know that Wada-san [Yoichi Wada, Square Enix president] said he had a plan for the future, but right now we're celebrating the success of the game, since it's the first game of the studio. I don't know if you've seen the credits of the main game, but there were a lot of production babies, so I think people want to spend some time with their families and take some time off. That's pretty much where we are right now.