Eidos Montreal's follow-up to 2011's Deus Ex: Human Revolution is to introduce an all-new challenge mode, featuring self-contained levels, leaderboards and booster packs which can be bought via microtransactions.
Dubbed Breach, it's being developed by a team within Eidos Montreal who will be supporting the mode after Deus Ex: Mankind Divided comes out this August, with new maps and weapons due to release for free.
"We've been wanting to give something on top of the main game for a while," Fleur Marty, producer on Deus Ex: Mankind Divided told Eurogamer. "We've been thinking what kind of experience we could offer the players. We thought that, with all the systems, the core pillars of Deus Ex, if you could forget for the minute the credible set-ups that are heavy on level design, if you could just take the systems and put them in little bite-sized abstract levels and have fun with them, it could be something."
Breach's levels are contextualised within the Deus Ex universe by taking place in VR-inspired space - giving them an aesthetic similar to Metal Gear Solid's own VR missions - with the player hacking into various corporations from the game's own fiction. They're short levels focussed on various objectives - such as data extraction, enemy elimination and data fragment collection - and come complete with online leaderboards.
Card packs with modifiers and boosters are also available, which feels partly like a nod to Netrunner, and mostly feels like an appropriation of the collectable card game fad that's infected countless games in recent years.
"It makes sense to us - when you're going to play Breach, a lot of players will experience it after the main game," explained Marty. "They'll have their own playstyle, their favourite weapons - but with the booster packs, maybe they won't get their favourite weapon right away, it'll come later, so they'll have a chance to experiment."
As for those microtransactions, Marty says they'll be sensitively handled. "It's going to be light, because we want players to be able to go through the game without spending any money. There'll be booster packs you can buy with real money, that'll allow you to better the odds, and some cosmetic ones too."
As for Mankind Divided, a brief demo of two previously revealed levels - Dubai and Prague - showed a game that's very similar in feel to Human Revolution. Gameplay director Patrick Fortier outlined the areas where Eidos Montreal has improved upon the 2011 original.
"We've been trying to tweak and polish a lot of the mechanics," he told Eurogamer. "The onus is the same, but we're trying to express it a little differently. You could jump before, but now you have a ledge grab. Everything's been modified under the hood in the way the camera moves, the effects, the control schemes. The cover system's been thoroughly reviewed - you've now got cover forward, so you can paint the environment and head where you want to, so you can move cover to cover and that completely changes the map."
Mankind Divided also allows for a more fluid transition between different styles of play. "In Human Revolution it was take cover or die," said Fortier. "It was like, play how you want, but if it doesn't happen to be stealth, good luck. That felt wrong -the promise is freedom, and we have to support it either way."
As to what will make Mankind Divided stand out from competition like this year's Dishonored 2, the action stealth game directed by Harvey Smith, one of the designers on the original Deus Ex, Cortier provided a compelling explanation.
"A lot of games, they take a stab at the freedom, but not necessarily of the consequence. It's the consequence of the choice that really makes it interesting -then you have to see the effects of your actions in the world, because you know it's something that's going to carry on in the world. That's a key part of playing Deus Ex. You have to think about things that you don't have to think about in other games."