E3 2016: Detroit: Become Human Impressions

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I was able to sit down for an extended look at Detroit: Become Human with Director David Cage and Executive Producer Guillaume de Fondaumière from Quantic Dream. The game grew out of the 2012 tech demo that introduced Kara, an android built in a factory who becomes self aware and begins to question her purpose as a commodity. People kept asking what happened to her at the end of the demo and eventually Cage became more and more interested in the idea as well.

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The game is a neo-noir thriller set in our world twenty years from now. As such it was important that it would feel grounded in reality. Save for the androids themselves, there’s no crazy futuristic sci-fi technology, no flying cars, no laser guns. The main edict is that all the tech in the game needed to be stuff that’s currently in labs somewhere in the world today. Essentially things that could actually exist within twenty years.

Millions of androids have taken over a number of jobs from humanity like wait staff, babysitting, gardening, and more. Over the past few years however, a few have started to show odd behavior. Some have just disappeared, others have killed themselves, and some have become aggressive towards humans as if they were overwhelmed by emotions, even though they don’t have any. Because these “deviants” are so few in number compared to the overall android population, they’ve gone relatively unnoticed up until now.

The game is being used as a way to look at us and our society and what it means to become human. As such, it’s meant to be an emotional story. What if they are the good guys and we are the bad guys? What if they, the new and pure, are the future?

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This is the first time Quantic Dream brought a playable scene to E3 but it’s necessary to show the wide range of choices and how they can impact the story. You’re not meant to be an observer this time around, the developers want you to be a co-writer. You get to tell the story through your own actions and choices.

You’ll be playing as more than one character. We’ve already seen Kara, now we’ve been introduced to Connor, and there will be others. Connor is an advanced prototype sent to help human investigators looking into deviant androids. It has a very Blade Runner vibe. Connor is cold, smart, and just wants to accomplish his mission, at any cost.

For the purposes of the demo we were run through the same scene twice. It’s running on a brand new engine that was specifically designed for this game, and it’s already beautiful.

Connor has access to a huge database of information which allows you to pull together key information from things found around the environment. For example, picking up a photograph, Connor can scan the faces and know who’s in it and almost everything about them.

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During a mission you’ll see the probability of success displayed on screen near Connor’s head. This will fluctuate as you gather new evidence or even take too much time. Our mission obviously had a time imperative as an unstable android was threatening to drop a child off a balcony.

Holding down R2 allowed a look into the “mind palace” of Connor where the probability of success, key information about the mission, and more is displayed in real time. The scene is overlaid in thin blue lines that crisscross to form cubes within the space. Points of interest appear as small blue spots shimmering to get your attention.

As you walk around you can switch cameras since so many are present in and around the world. This can help you see the scene from different viewpoints as you search. Connor’s head will also turn towards anything interactive as you pass it.

When you start to look closer at clues you’ll be able to combine them to a point where you can reconstruct the scene as it happened. You’ll use the touch pad to move back and forth in time with a wire frame view of what happened overlaid on the scene.

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You can use this to see, for example, where a victim was standing when they were shot, if they had anything in their hands, and where that may have fallen. Doing this alerts Connor to other potential clues and finding these can help increase your chances for success in a given mission.

Finding additional clues will unlock more dialogue choices which can have a huge impact on how things play out. Your decisions all make a difference and all characters can die. You’ll live by your decisions and face the consequences throughout all of the moral dilemmas in the game.

I was thoroughly impressed with the wide range of choices even in the small slice we were shown. The game already looks amazing and the performances are movie-level good.

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As an unexpected bonus, the actor who plays Connor, Bryan Dechart, was introduced at the end of our presentation. Technically he wasn’t there for questions but I was able to talk to him briefly about his experiences.

The scene we saw was actually captured on his birthday. They did over 170 days of shooting for the game and since there are so many choices, scenes had to be shot dozens of times to cover everything. It was, as expected, a pretty grueling experience, but according to Dechart, an amazing one.

 

No release date for Detroit: Become Human has been announced.

Check out the latest from E3 2016

Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 25 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation – minus the Switch.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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