System Rift is the first story driven piece of DLC to come out for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. It features the “lovable” Pritchard from Human Revolution, who needs Adam Jensen’s presence in Prague to conduct a break-in. The premise is simple: Pritchard has been hired by a client to gather information on The Santeau Group (the company that built the Utulek Complex), by breaking into the most secure digital vault in the world; The Palisade Blade. When Pritchard runs out of options, he enlists Jensen’s help, with a bit of persuasion from another hacker: ShadowChild. While initially hesitant, Jensen is eventually coaxed into the job on the promise that he’ll uncover more intelligence on international boogeymen, The Illuminati.
System Rift starts off strong. Pritchard is as arrogant as ever, and still manages to antagonize the usually level-headed Jensen. The banter between the two throughout the mission is certainly one of the highlights. An anti-aug mindset is still a prevalent issue, with one of the first NPCs you interact with talking to you with obvious disdain. Though not the main focus of the story in this mission, it allows System Rift to fit into the same universe as the main campaign.
At 4 hours long, it feels more like an extra-long side quest rather than a full blown piece of DLC. That included hacking nearly everything between the opening scenes and System Rift’s conclusion. And there is a lot to hack. If you’re like me, and can’t leave a personal computer unmolested, you’ll be spending a lot of time reading emails. Without all the hacking, System Rift’s length could probably be reduced to 3 hours, maybe less, and this isn’t long enough.
The content feels very sparse. There are no new augmentations, no new weapons and no new enemies. In fact, you start the mission with less than what you’d expect. System Rift is a standalone mission, which means you’ll be diving in without the masses of weaponry, augmentations and hypostims you have horded from the main game. You’re stripped of everything, which means that if you’re like me, you’ll be plummeting to your death more times than you can count because, once again, you forgot you don’t have Icarus Landing System anymore.
Going back to basics has an upside; you’re no longer bombarded by every citizen of Prague to do their errands for them. You can concentrate on the story, and everything System Rift has to offer. As well as this, because you’re no longer a godlike ubermencsh, you won’t be able to just breeze through the mission. You’ll have to spend your Praxis kits wisely to ensure your upgrades bolster your chosen play style. The levels and environments go to ensure you can’t simply rush through either. The Palisade Blade lives up to its reputation; it’s the most heavily fortified level Mankind Divided has to offer. There are legions of security guards, robots and something that is actually new; heat-seeking cameras, which make for a satisfyingly challenging experience in one section of System Rift.
Even with the increased difficulty, you never feel truly stuck. This is something Mankind Divided did exceptionally well; allowing you to traverse a set environment in a number of different ways. System Rift does this in a greatly expanded way, making The Palisade Blade a veritable playground. You can distract guards from the posts in front of stair cases and slip by unnoticed. You can avoid the security altogether and stealth your way through vents and maintenance hallways. You can hack your way through most panels and make alternate routes for yourself. When System Rift gets going, it’s as much a joy to play as the main campaign.
Unfortunately, it then stops without any real sense of satisfaction from the story line. At the outset, you’re promised to gain access to sensitive information regarding the Illuminati, and The Santeau Group, but come away without really learning anything. There’s one reference to a character from the very first Deus Ex game to suggest Illuminati involvement, but that’s about it. Without giving too much away, you end up back in Jensen’s apartment with ShadowChild and a digital Pritchard. Both hint at the wealth of information that they’ve uncovered, but not much is actually revealed relating to the grander plot. We resolve some story-arcs within System Rift itself, but if you’re expecting any grand revelations about The Illuminati, you’ll be left wanting.
For the full review of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, refer to our comprehensive article.