We recently had a chance to chat with James Swallow, who’s recent work reads like a who's who of videogames. On top of credits for Fable, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Killzone and Disney Infinity, he's also one of the writers on Eidos Montreal’s Deus Ex Mankind Divided, and Auroch Digital have snapped him up for scriptwriting duties on its upcoming Dark Future: Blood Red States.
The bulk of our conversation dived into the importance of quality writing in games, be it dialogue, visual cues, or notes strewn about the place. We also talked about the aforementioned Dark Future: Blood Red States, a promising tactical car combat game based on the Games Workshop tabletop game, which we previewed earlier this year. Lastly, James Swallow's position as one of the chief writers on Eidos Montreal’s Deus Ex: Mankind Divided lead us to finding out a little more about Adam Jensen’s upcoming jaunt.
Swallow’s got plenty of previous with the Deus Ex series, having written both Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Deus Ex: The Fall. He’s back at the typewriter for Mankind Divided, exploring the events occurring two years after what has now become Human Revolution’s canon ending.
Adam Jensen is back, this time working with an international coalition to prevent terrorist attacks related to human augmentations. Following the events at the tail end of Human Revolution, which saw ‘augs’ brainwashed and turned against other humans, mankind as a whole distrusts the augmented, rising up against them.
“It's going to be awesome,” said Swallow. “This is my third game in the Deus Ex franchise after working on Human Revolution, and The Fall for mobile. It looks really, really great.
“The 20-minute gameplay video out there really shows off some of the great stuff that the Dawn Engine can do. And we've got some fantastic storylines. It's great to be bringing that character (Jensen) back, revisiting him and putting him a brand new situation.”
I did chance my luck and try to find out a little about the unfolding plot and how many endings there could possibly be, but James remained tight-lipped.
“I can't talk about that. But there is going to be some interesting stuff paying off. Choice and consequence has been something that's been in every Deus Ex game. If you look at the 20-minute playthrough you'll see that element going Golem City, which is the ghetto that turns up very early in the game. There are multiple paths and we'll give you an entire tool set, so you can approach it the way you want to do it. So if you want to go in and kick down every door, shoot every bad guy in the face, the game will support that. If you want to ninja your way through; if you want to be the ghost that no one ever sees; if you want to sneak in and open every draw and steal every candy bar you can find, you can. Deus Ex was always a great kleptomania simulator, and we're making sure we do the same thing with Mankind Divided as well.
“It's a core pillar of the franchise, that choice and consequence. It goes all the way back to the original game. It's in the DNA of what Deus Ex is and I hope we can deliver that here. I'm very confident we will deliver the same thing with Mankind Divided.”
Right now James Swallow is working on the Deus Ex: Black Light book, which will be coming out early next year to coincide with Mankind Divided. There’s also an art book in the works and a comic book series coming in 2016 to tie up some of the finer plot details.
“At the moment I've finished my work on Mankind Divided and I'm actually working on the tie-in novel (Black Light) which is going to bridge the gap between the end of Human Revolution and the beginning of Mankind Divided,” he explained. “That's fun to revisit Adam Jensen in a different environment. It's basically the missing time; the two-year gap that explains how he got from where he was at the end of one game and the beginning of the next.”
Square Enix recently announced Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will be out on February 23rd 2016, for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. There’s also a rather controversial pre-order scheme going whereby you can potentially access the game four days earlier on PC.
Next up we'll be chatting to James Swallow about Auroch Digital's Dark Future: Blood Red States. We took a look at this adaptation of Games Workshop's iconic tabletop game earlier back in May, and we've got plenty more details from James about where this tactical car combat game is heading.