I’m a Deus Ex fan. The original had more depth than many other games I had on my PlayStation 2 as a kid and while the franchise has evolved into an action-orientated affair in recent years, I still love it.
The news that Square Enix were putting Deus Ex on ice is still a huge disappointment to me. Few other games create such a beautiful futuristic landscape to explore with gameplay mechanics as rich as Deus Ex. I have been considering ways that Square Enix could revive the franchise and I got to thinking: would a Deus Ex MMO work?
For the last decade, Rockstar released high-quality single-player expansions for their Grand Theft Auto franchise in order to maximise their earnings from each iteration. With the launch of GTA Online, however, they suddenly had the means to generate millions of dollars without focusing on expansions to the single-player experience. Gone is the need to craft an experience to last hours, complete with script writing and extensive voice acting, replaced instead with new game modes and new vehicles. Players throw money at Shark Cards, essentially trading real-world money for pretend currency. Rockstar are literally printing pretend money.
Bethesda has also taken a step into the world of online gaming with The Elder Scrolls Online, which has delayed the release of Skyrim’s successor. Skyrim originally launched in 2011 and since then single-players have only had an endless slew of remasters to keep them content. Meanwhile, Elder Scrolls Online has over 8.5 million players and has a continuous stream of expansions (including Morrowind in all its glory).
In both cases, the step into online gaming has given these two video game behemoths the incentive to shy away from releasing single-player sequels and instead squeeze every last cent out of their existing titles. While I have no doubt that there will be a Skyrim successor and a Grand Theft Auto 6 (we even wrote about 6 potential locations for GTA 6), it is clear that turning a single player game into an online title can be extremely lucrative.
But, still…could it work for Deus Ex? I’d like to argue that, yes, it absolutely could and it should definitely happen.
Players could create their own characters, whether that be an augmented super-cop, a pure anti-augmentation radical, or a criminal dealing in neuropozyne, or something in between. Different storylines and experiences could be available to the augmented and those against augmentation, along with those on either side of the law.
JC Denton, Alex Denton and Adam Jensen could be considered to appear in the story, depending on the year and location. Admittedly, I wasn’t a huge fan of Alex Denton in Deus Ex: Invisible War, so I’d lean towards JC Denton or Adam Jensen, but all three would have a decent case for inclusion.
Deus Ex titles have boasted some of the most beautiful futuristic settings in any video game and they would be a joy to explore with other players, albeit with truly open world maps rather than the more linear maps currently offered. New York City, Hong Kong, Prague, Paris, Antarctica, Cairo, Detroit, Chicago, Seattle, Singapore, Moscow, Panama City, Dubai, London and many, many more have served as locations in Deus Ex Games over the years. This gives the opportunity for Square Enix to launch with a handful of well-realised cities, then add additional cities and locales as paid expansions.
Gameplay could take a Grand Theft Auto-esq style, with stronger stealth mechanics for multiplayer missions. Players could walk the streets, or take to the skies in a VTOL, jump between cities in a Maglev train or explore the streets in a Navig. Upgraded augmentations and weaponry could be upgraded over time, giving players a reason to master their load-out and tweak their arsenal to suit their play-style.
Deus Ex has provided an engaging story in breathtaking locations for nearly two decades. Adapting the experience so that they can be shared with hundreds, if not thousands, of others would be incredible.
Square Enix would need to figure out what to call their version of Shark Cards, though…Credit Cards doesn’t have the same ring to it…