Game Overdose 06: Cut Cocktail – How I’d set up the sequel…
This week is spoiler-tastic. Try to stay away from this article unless you’ve played Infamous, Deus Ex: Human Revolution (and most of the deus ex series) to conclusion, or if you don’t care about having their plots spoiled! I’m just going to put across how I’d continue their plots if it was up to me, and some of the explanation as to how.
I think one of the most impressive things about the Infamous world is that in 2 short games it’s managed to have a canon as convoluted as 50 year long rebooted, retconned and then redacted established comic book series. This is spoiler heavy, so look away if you do not want.
So the basic story (chronologically speaking) goes like this.
Van De GraffCole McGrath is a Xmen Conduit that has electrical powers that evolve in him slowly over time, but he’s not the only one. “The Beast” comes along and starts f-ing shit up, and while Cole clashes with him numerous times and could have potentially beaten him he’s not happy with the idea of putting his family at risk and so flees instead. Eventually the beast is stupidly powerful, destroying the world and Cole knows he can’t beat him, so he deus ex machina’s a useful ability out of thin air and time travels into the past, specifically his past.
Here he takes on the moniker of Nicolai Tessler Kessler and begins an ingenious plan to ruin the younger Cole’s life, to prep him into becoming a better hero. He develops a device known as a Ray Sphere which activates Cole#2’s powers earlier than in the original time-line, and sets up numerous challenges to make him stronger emotionally than he ever was, murdering his girlfriend among them (and so freeing him of his family obligations) and eventually facing off against Cole. This pretty much summarises Infamous 1, where you play as Cole-the-younger through his trials and eventual successes.
In Infamous 2 The Beast is revealed to be John White, an allie of Cole’s, killed in a second Ray Sphere explosion triggered by (whether on purpose or accidentally) Cole in the first game and given similar magical powers. The more important reveal however is that The Beast isn’t really the world-destroying problem you’d be lead to believe, non-conduits are poisoned by Ray Field energy, the very thing that activated Cole and John’s (and Nix’s, Quo’s etc.) powers, with Ray Sphere’s being the main (or only?) source. The Beast’s rampage is actually him using his abilities to activate other Conduits and thus saving them from the Radiation poisoning, it’s just that it tends to result in big explosions and a lot of deaths for those unlucky enough to be caught in the blast.
The end of the game sees Cole either wiping out humanity to allow conduits to become the dominant “species” or activating a device that purges Ray Field energy from the world, curing everyone of their radiation poisoning but also killing all the conduits.
See the plot holes yet?
The biggest one to me is Ray Field Energy. As Ray Sphere’s didn’t exist in the original time-line (the one Kessler’s from) but conduits have been stated to gain their powers from it, it’s only logical that Ray Field energy would exist in the world naturally.
This brings into question the nature of The Beast aka John White. In the second timeline and during the events of the first game he’s given his abilities by a Ray Sphere blast, but Ray Sphere Tech wouldn’t have existed without Kessler’s tampering with the time-line. By the second game it’s revealed that the Beasts rampage wasn’t just genocide, but him saving conduits. So was his rampage in the Kessler timeline the same? Was he saving people from Ray Field Poisoning as well? Did his powers emerge natural like Kessler’s did? Either way it happened much earlier than previous.
This all weighs heavily on the final decision of the second game, conduits or humans. You can probably tell that I’ve pretty much decided that Ray Field Energy exists in the world naturally anyway, so what does your decision really affect? Do you purge the world of Ray Field energy permanently, or will it come back? Will humanity really be able to survive? Surely then it makes sense to cut your losses and try to bring about a conduit utopia, rather than wiping out the only ones that have been lucky enough to mutate to deal with this otherwise deadly radiation, survival of the fittest and all that.
And what about the original time-line? Do Ray Sphere’s just increase the amount of radiation in the world, bringing about the radiation poisoning and the Beast’s “rampage” (saving of conduits) sooner, or was the original John White Kessler knew just a blood-thirsty killer? Or maybe even someone else entirely!
Just figured it deserved a mention. Personally the whole “Ray Field Energy is part of the world” thing is what I’d bet on, as it opens the series to another sequel, where there’s a new generation of people gaining powers, or possibly even bring the old cast back to life as the radiation returns? Who knows.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
As I’ve already said, I’m a little bit upset that Jensen’s story came to such an abrupt end. The emotional baggage of his past got jettisoned immediately after being revealed, so many questions were left unanswered about the characters, and worst of all, you never get to see the impact of the ending!
Well, that’s not strictly true. Human Revolution acts as a prequel to the original Deus Ex, and we can surmise what occurred in the immediate aftermath.
Personally I think they’ll pull the same trick they did in the original Deus Ex. You could side with the templars, and get rid of technology; merge with the Helios AI and become a sort of demi-god bent on world peace; or you could throw your lot in with the illuminati and their secretive controlling. By Deus Ex: Invisible war, it’s revealed all 3 happened. Merging with Helios caused global communications to fail, and so the illuminati stepped in to take control.
In DX:HR there were 4 options.
Side with Sarif: Give corporations the control to experiment with human augmentation technology with little or no interference.
Side with Taggart: Have standards set in place to mean that augmentation was controlled, mostly only military control.
Side with Darrow: Reveal the truths about augmentation, illuminati control blah blah blah, and basically cause humanity to revolt against technology.
KILL EVERYONE. That way no-one truth comes out and humanity makes its own choice, rather than being maniplulated by the other 3.
No matter what choice, we know a few facts.
1) The Panchea facility did collapse, whether this was the 4th option or a result of the damage it had taken isn’t clear.
2) LIMB clinics are extinct by the time Deus Ex rolls around.
3) Most augmentation tech seems to have been kept with the military, though you do still see some civilians that are mechanically augmented
My guess as to what’s canon? The 4th does lead into Deus ex the most smoothly, with aspects of the other 3 having come about.
Augmentation is privatised, people do become more distrusting or technology (hence all the terrorist groups in Deus Ex) but private corporations do do a lot of experimenting still. However, I don’t think it really matters.
Each choice could cause an immediate back-lash that eventually gives way to a middle ground, and with the illuminati manipulating everything it wouldn’t matter. But that’s not really what I’m here to talk about.
This is how I would continue the story with Jensen, after the events of DX:HR.
He survives… barely, and awakens in his apartment a few weeks later being looked after by Dr. Marcovic.
Prichard (who is also there) explains the situation. Once the signal started from Panchea and all those with the new chip went insane, a large number of vehicles rushed there to try and stop it, including one of Prichard’s contacts. However, by the time anyone got there the facility was starting to collapse, meaning a rescue mission was launched by the new arrivals.
Jensen had been shoved out of the facility deep under-water, crushed by the sea’s pressure and chilled by the arctic cold. His augments kept him alive but they’re severely damaged, and he was only found by Frank’s contact by tracking his GPL.
His augments are shot, failing, and if he can’t get them repaired or replaced he’ll eventually die, but this isn’t as easy as first thought.
Jensen’s been declared legally dead, Prichard keeping his survival secret to try and avoid the long reach of the Illuminati. Worse still, in the confusion of multiple rescuers from multiple nations picking at Panchea, Sarif, Taggart and Darrow have all gone missing, with Zhao having been killed in the fight with Jensen (though that’s not public knowledge).
Marcovic does have augments for Jensen, specially tailored ones that Sarif had commissioned around the time of Jensen’s injury, that make his current ones look like “bits and pieces he just happened to find around the office”; far in advance of anything anyone’s seen, a multi-million dollar investment. No doubt wanting to present Jensen to his military contractors as a high-spec super-soldier, and to the world as “the next step of human evolution”. But of course there’s a catch…
LIMB clinics have started closing, having lost favour with the public (Blamed for everyone with augments going crazy, no matter which message Jensen shares) and this is compounded by Taggart’s disappearance, martyring him for the Humanity Front cause. LIMB internation has also lost their largest supplier, TYM, their main benefactor, Darrow, and their greatest innovator, Sarif industries. More perculiar is that all of these industries appear to be getting bought out by various military and pseudo-political groups. This means that Jensen has no insurance, no money and no-where to get fixed up.
Pritchard, having read Jensen’s logs (or even been told by Malik if she’s still alive) suggest Tong and his harvesters. Jensen, while reluctant, knows his life’s in the balance and so agrees.
If Malik’s still alive she can wave Jensen off, but has the excuse that her VTOL technically still belong to Sarif Industries, or by proxy their new owners. Pritchard however has been fired by the new adopters, as they’d rather have their own security rather than adopt the existing, though not before Pritchard has riddled the system with various access points he can exploit. This is part of the reason why he want’s to stick with Jensen, as it’ll help him uncover what exactly has happened to allow some of the worlds leading experts in augmentation tech to be so easily bought out by shadow corporations.
They use an alternate pilot to get to Heng Sha, (perhaps a young Jock) where the deal is struck with Tong. Jensen gets fixed up, and works for Tong for a while to pay off the debt. Realising that Jensen is worth more to him augmented than simply stealing the parts, he accepts the bargain, with one main factor. He implants a modified version of the chip into Jensen that will give him partial control. And from about here the story takes off for the player.
Why do I suggest this? It explains a lot of the gap between DX:HR and Deus Ex, it also allows Jensen’s story to continue, and also for there to be new augmentations. His own life can become more central, as he goes back to old Sarif in order to uncover exactly what’s occurred. Characters in the original can show up, say Haas is working as a security guard in the Sarif building.
You could also have the choice Jensen make come to light slowly throughout. Maybe some quests that change focus depending on whether the public is mostly for or against augmentation tech. As for them turning against LIMB. In all 3 options, with Sarif the people believe it’s a virus that affects the Augmented, with Taggart people are made to believe it’s a dodgey batch of Neuropozyne, and with Darrow they’re told the truth concerning the chip. So with Taggart and Darrow people either know or can easily assume it’s the fault of the Limb clinic, either not sourcing their supplies properly or directly messing with people. With the Sarif option, people could jump to the conclusion that the disease was spread when the new chip was implanted, or just be pissed off that they didn’t do a decent enough job of checking their customers for an illness.
More importantly, Tong is a violent man, he would likely put Jensen to work as a hitman. Given his pseudo-control over Jensen through the chip, it would make the whole lethal non-lethal debate more serious, especially if choosing not to kill someone will leave Jensen severly crippled when Tong activates the chip. It’s something I felt was lacking in the original, where you’d almost always choose non-lethal takedowns as they got you more XP. Make it a more difficult choice and moral ambiguity starts to play out a little better!
Sorry for the text dump all, I really am very desperately trying to find some form of income and between that and prepping for uni this is nearly all I have time for!