There's a lot of baggage to keep up with the "Deus Ex" franchise of video games -- "Mankind Divided," out August 23 on PS4, Xbox One and PC, is the fourth main game in the series, but in the timeline it's the second. That creates a delightful mess of important stuff to remember that took place both before and after the events of this specific game.
You could, of course, play "Deus Ex: Mankind Divided" without thinking about what comes later, but that will suck out some of the fun when characters like Bob Page and Joseph Manderley pop up. So in case you're rusty on your "Deus Ex" history (or just never played the old games), we've got you covered with our primer on all the story stuff, past in present, you really ought to know before delving into the latest entry in the series.
The year is 2029
That puts "Deus Ex: Mankind Divided" two years after the events of the last game
, 2011's "Human Revolution," and 23 years before the original game. That "human revolution" fueled by mechanical augmentations (think: robot arms) didn't end up happening because an intentional glitch in those augmentations caused everyone who had them to violently attack everyone around them for a couple hours at the end of that last game.
That incident is referred to as, uh, the Aug Incident, because nobody really knew what happened or why. And the world it left in its wake is not pretty. "Unaugmented" people are pretty much terrified of the "augs" and institutional segregation has become a regular thing. In some places, like Prague, where much of the game
is set, there are even aug ghettos set up by the government.
The Human Restoration Act
This United Nations resolution would formalize that segregation in member nations, and require augmented individuals to receive a control chip -- a killswitch, basically -- and submit to, like, a remarkable and irritating amount of personal scrutiny.
Paranoid conspiracies form the heart of "Deus Ex," and so this secret ruling class naturally has a hand in events. In the past, augmentation, albeit regulated, was see by the Illuminati as a boon because one of its members was responsible for the creation of the tech and they planned to use it as a means of controlling the population via a control chip they'd designed and has surreptitiously installed in most augmented people back in 2027. The Incident was the result of that plan going very, very wrong.
The father of augmentation was a member of the Illuminati who went rogue after deciding that mechanical augmentation was a perversion that upset the balance of natural evolution. Having invented the tech and feeling personally responsible for it, he had the previously mentioned control chips altered so that he could broadcast a signal that made everyone who had one go crazy, with the hope that would turn public perception against augmentation. Darrow is dead now, but it's important to remember him.
After Darrow's rogue action, the Illuminati has been forced to follow his lead -- they're now pushing for the Human Restoration Act, and have been orchestrating by various means a number of terrorist attacks by augmented people to help shore up public support. Meanwhile, the Augmented Rights Coalition is pushing in the other direction, and naturally the Illuminati likes to pin terrorist attacks on the group.
The richest man in the world, leader of the Illuminati offshoot Majestic 12, and protege of Morgan Everett, one of the members of the Illuminati's ruling council. Though sort of behind the scenes in both "Human Revolution" and "Mankind Divided," Page is a crucial part of "Deus Ex" history. He'll pull a coup in the 2030s, positioning Majestic 12 as the new secret ruler of the world in place of the Illuminati. And in 2052 he'll be the main antagonist of the original "Deus Ex."
The protagonist and player character in both "Human Revolution" and "Mankind Divided." Jensen is the most heavily augmented man alive, receiving his enhancements after being mortally wounded at the beginning of the last game
. Jensen's body can handle so many augs only because of secret experiments that were done on him when he was a child. Another side effect of those experiments is he doesn't require Neuropozyne, the drug everyone else needs that prevents the body from rejecting augmentations.
Jensen is also one of the few people alive to know the cause of the Incident. In "Mankind Divided," he's determined to root out the Illuminati's influence, and to that end he's joined up with the Juggernaut Collective, a conspiracy-minded hacker group run by a mysterious person named Janus. He also works for Task Force 29, Interpol's anti-terrorist unit, which Jensen believes is a puppet for the Illuminati.
Panchaea was supposed to be the first of several oceans stations, designed by Hugh Darrow, that would be intended to by some means reverse the effects of global warming. It was also home to a "Hyron," a quantum computer that was powered by the brains of a bunch of people who would permanently be hooked up to it. And Panchaea is also where Darrow sent his signal that would cause the Incident. Panchaea was destroyed at the end of "Human Revolution."
The former head of Sarif Industries, a leading manufacturer of augmentation tech and where Jensen previously worked as security chief. After the company was bought out by Chinese rival Tai Yong Medical, Sarif has also gotten into the conspiracy business a bit -- in the past he'd been invited to join the Illuminati but he declined, and so he's got a vested interest in current events.
An augmentation scientist and Jensen's ex, Reed worked at Sarif Industries and was secretly using Jensen's DNA to develop a "universal augmentation serum" that would eliminate the need for Neuropozyne. That is, until a group of mercenaries invaded its HQ and kidnapped her and faked her death during "Human Revolution." She was then pressed into service on the aug control chip, and now she works at VersaLife under, in some capacity, the supervision of Bob Page.
Task Force 29 and UNATCO
Interpol's Task Force 29 would appear to be the predecessor to the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition, which "Deus Ex" protagonist JC Denton works for two decades later at the beginning of the original game. The two groups happen to have the same official overload, one Joseph Manderley.
though not actually appearing in "Human Revolution" and popping up only fleetingly in "Mankind Divided," Manderley's name comes up a lot. In 2027, Manderley was an administrator for FEMA, officially -- in truth he was running government blacksites and oversaw the mercenary group, the Tyrants, who had kidnapped Megan Reed. In 2029, he's in charge of Task Force 29, and by 2052, Manderley will be running UNATCO at the behest of Majestic 12. So you can imagine what that says about Task Force 29.
The leader of the Illuminati at the time of "Mankind Divided," though he only has a few years left on that lofty perch with the ambitious Bob Page getting ready to pull his coup. In this game, though, he's the one pulling the strings on the conspiracy Jensen is trying to unveil.
Tai Yong Medical
This Chinese megacorporation pretty much owns the city of Shanghai. It functions also as an arm of the Illuminati, as its CEO was a member until her death in 2027. After the incident, Tai Yong was pretty much the only non-black market source of mechanical augmentations.
In the early 2020s, Taggart formed the Humanity Front, an anti-augmentation lobbying group which pushed for legislation that would regulate the augmentation industry. After the Incident, the U.S, passed the so-called Taggart Bill to do just that. Taggart also, not coincidentally, happened to be a member of the Illuminati, though no he's missing and presumed dead.
Publicly known as the face of the news conglomerate Picus Group, Cassan is actually an artificial intelligence programmed to monitor and influence the spread of information via mass media, as well as to attempt to shape public opinion in support of the Illuminati's goals.
A pharmaceutical and biotech giant, VersaLife is a subsidiary of Page Industries and the sole producer of Neuropozyne. VersaLife will someday be responsible for the Illuminati/Majestic 12's ultimate attempt at control: a nano-virus known as the Gray Death that will kill millions of people. And which VersaLife will introduce on purpose.
This now defunct organization provided a one-stop shop for anything an augmented person needed, from installation to maintenance to Neuroprozyne.
In Greek mythology Icarus was a man who used a set of wax wings crafted by his father to fly -- but he ventured too close to the sun and fell into the ocean and died. The "Deus Ex" series is totally covered in really overt Icarus metaphors, and the whole mechanical augmentation thing happens to be one of them. I'm just reiterating this myth to contextualize all that.