Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a very political game. It wears its politics on its sleeve with a narrative and world steeped in a race allegory that has proven controversial in the run up to the game's release on PS4, Xbox One and PC earlier this week (23 August 2015).
In marketing material for the shooter, a banner saying Augs Lives Matters appropriated the current Black Lives Matter movement. Prior to this, the use of the phrase "mechanical apartheid" has also proven controversial.
In the fiction of the games, humans have grown intolerant of other people augmented with technology. This can be a robotic prosthetic arm, an eyepiece or more advanced and extensive tech. After a spate of violence, tensions grow between humans and augmented humans.
The terminology used in the game's promotion has been criticised as the cheap employment of current events and politically charged terminology for marketing purposes, but the proof of how true that is will be in the game itself. At Gamescom 2016 IBTimes UK spoke to the game's producer Oliver Proulx and gameplay director Patrick Fortier about it all.
Asked how they decided to approach the delicate subject matter, Proulx said: "Early on, we knew we wanted to hit on those things. Mary [DeMarie, the lead writer] and her team of writers approached the overall story in a way that was respectful."
Fortier added: "Really, it wasn't such a hard decision. If we're going to make a sequel, we don't want to make the same game over again. With the incident at the end of [Deus Ex:] Human Revolution, there was an event that would transform the world.
"Right off the bat, when you're looking at that narrative, it's a little bit scary to think about pressures like that and what they place on society. That's what led us there, and if there are any similarities or whatever with actual philosophy, events, it's more because we're trying to be so honest and consequential with our world. We're trying to build something that feels real."
Human Revolution, Mankind Divided's 2011 predecessor, was about transhumanism – the belief that human beings can use technology to evolve beyond their physical limitations. It feeds naturally into the themes of Mankind Divided.
"I think games are a great media to be able to explore these things because you're right there in the action," said Proulx. "As it happens, those themes, the story was written, like, four-and-a-half years ago. We didn't set out to make a topical game, what's going to happen in 2015, 2016 with the world. I think what happened is those themes unfortunately became very much part of our time in the last 2 or 3 years."
Fortier added: "Our desire is just to create a world that is tangible and feels real that you connect with and feel like, even if I wasn't there, this world still exists, these people still have their lives and they can still have their concerns and people still have their issues. That's how we want the world to feel."
You can read the rest of our interview with Proulx and Fortier here.