Once more unto the breach, dear friends!
That’s right, we dive again into the world of Deus Ex with Mankind Divided’s first piece of downloadable content: System Rift. Thankfully the DLC has enough here to satisfy your cyberpunk cravings, unfortunately you don’t get to do it with the Jensen you’ve been building up in the main game.
System Rift is ostensibly a single, larger scale mission set within the city of Prague. It takes players through a new hub area, and a large, multi-level, highly secured bank vault - chock full of computers to hack, conversations to overhear, rooms to explore, and people to either sneak by – or kill.
Playing to completion and taking the stealthier, less lethal way, gave me a run time of about 4-5 hours, and contained everything you’d expect from a Deus Ex mission. Multiple paths (several of which I saw but was unable to access with my augmentation loadout), plenty of options in deciding how to accomplish the overall task, people to talk to that open up a few side missions, and plenty of in-world storytelling through emails and interactions.
The story starts by reintroducing players to a character from Human Revolution, Jensen’s old hacker-frenemy, Francis Pritchard. This also leads to Adam meeting ShadowChild - who players might know from the online multiplayer component of Mankind Divided. I found this to be quite a nice way to set things up, continue the story, and – thanks to the way Adam and Frank interact – provide a source of levity that, in hindsight, the core campaign really did miss.
I liked the way the conversations with Frank help make Jensen a bit more relatable, and more human. They showed me a side that Adam doesn’t like to show, and one that almost feels out of place in the main campaign - which is probably why it feels like it was once a part of the story, but was ripped out and turned into this add-on. The downside to this mission being something of a semi-stand-alone piece is that you aren’t actually playing your Adam Jensen, at least not in any way that matters for the story.
Much like Desperate Measures – the first Jensen’s Stories mission – System Rift is set during the middle of the core title. While finishing the campaign would mean the DLC wouldn’t have a chance of spoiling anything, (and I’ll do my best to not do so with the rest of this paragraph), I honestly think that in order to get the most out of the content, you should probably play it sometime after you gain access to the new modifications, and before you continue to the new story based hub areas - just so the information you learn is new and interesting, and you aren’t yet used to having a fully decked out Jensen.
So why isn’t this really your Jensen? Well, because of the nature of the content. It’s a stand-alone story, so when you start System Rift up, you have an idea of when it takes place due to the time of day, and the knowledge of the content that the characters bring up in their conversation - but none of the decisions or augmentation you’ve selected during the campaign carry over, so you have to deck this Adam out with the supplied number of Praxis points.
Luckily the conversations are ambiguous enough that none of the choices you would have made up until this point would really change the outcome of the mission. it’s just a little annoying because it feels like it should have been in the main game – especially with the number of Praxis points I received at the end, when there is literally no time or reason to spend them.
As far as gameplay goes, System Rift provides plenty of chances to sneak around, kill, break into places, hack, read, listen, and talk to people. Some of the areas you sneak around within the vault also provide a touch of challenge, at least for someone trying to do everything without raising an alarm. The Breach moments of hacking in the digital world were also a welcome inclusion, and (despite it being in the core campaign) made the game feel more cyberpunk than any moment of either the Human Revolution or Mankind Divided campaigns.
The only real issue I had with the DLC was that it feels like it should have been a part of the main game, not some tacked-on content making it feel more inconsequential than it is. Also that you don’t get to play as the Jensen that you have worked on since the start of the game, with all the baggage of your decisions and augmentation choices following you.
Despite my annoyances however, System Rift really was a fun way to jump back in the world and spend an afternoon or two. Being so short, it’s also a great way to jump in and replay multiple ways with a good number of augmentations, and see everything the content has to offer - although I did manage to unlock all the trophies in a single playthrough.
The story it tells is fun and interesting, and although it feels like it should have just been in the main game, it’s easy enough to do a little mental gymnastics and slot the events into what your chronology of the main game. If you want more Deus Ex, System Rift is a fine way to dive back in, but unless you already own it, for now I’d say hold off buying the Season Pass - at least until the last of Jensen’s Stories has been released.
Luke received a code for System Rift from Square Enix for review.