E3 2017: Impressions – Detroit: Become Human

E3 2017: Impressions - Detroit: Become Human

For the second year in a row, I was able to sit with Quantic Dream’s Guillaume de Fondaumière, Executive Producer for Detroit: Become Human. We went through an extended demo of the scene from the PlayStation Media Briefing running on a PS4 Pro and a 4K HDR television.

That original video introduced us to our third and final playable character, Markus. Over the past two years we were introduced to Connor, the android attached to the Detroit police force as a deviant hunter, and Kara, who we still know very little about.

Markus is the rebel. He has turned deviant, escaped from his master, and has now joined a group of androids trying to spread the message that they’re not objects, they’re alive and expect to be treated as such.

This is Detroit roughly thirty years in the future. It has become the android manufacturing capital of the world and androids are present everywhere in both the public and private sphere.

They must wear distinctive branding at all times, they don’t show any emotion, and they’re fully controlled as a de facto slave class. But now something is happening as a number of them are going deviant and beginning to question their place in society.

Playing through the story and jumping between each of the three characters, you must make critical decisions that will alter your path as you go, just like real life. If your choices lead to the death of one of the main characters, the story will continue with the others but you never be able to kill all three and effectively end the game before the overarching story is complete.

For our session, Markus came out of the sewer with a girl, North, and headed into the square to start his mission. Markus and North need to find a way into the Cyber Life store to free the androids.

A police drone spotted us and we were given a number of choices. We were supposed to see a fail state and then a success. Instead, M. de Fondaumière had something else in mind. For the first time during the demos he made the choice to hide.

North took out the drone while it was focused on finding Markus and then the police rolled up, and this is where things got interesting. While in cover, Markus was able to gather all the information necessary by scanning the police officers and their car. This allowed him to hijack their communications and fool them into thinking Dispatch was calling them to another location across the city.

With the police out of the way, Markus and North were able to move around freely and secure the area using their information gathering and hacking techniques. They eventually broke into the store and Markus converted all the androids into deviants.

The next part of the mission was a major turning point in the game. You have to deliver a message to the humans which can be one of peace and equality or violence. The consequences of your choice will have a tremendous impact on the story of Markus and his fate but also of the overarching story as well. Journalists and politicians will take on the message and it will change the landscape of the game.

You’ll take on a symbol for the revolution from around four or five choices which will be kept for the rest of the game. There’s a slider on screen at this point showing the consequences of your actions as it moves between peace and violence.

For the demo, our path was a violent revolution and, led by Markus, we witnessed the androids taking down a statue of their inventor. They flipped and burned cars, broke windows, lit a dumpster and pushed it into a building, caused a blackout, and took over all the screens in the area to broadcast their message.

It was fascinating to watch as the androids took all their cues from Markus here in the infancy of their awakening much like children emulating their parents. Your behavior will have a big impact on the tone and the outcome of the story.

At this point it seems like every other game they’ve made up to this point has just been a warm up for Detroit. This is by far the most ambitious and biggest branching story they’ve ever attempted.

Interestingly, when the androids were liberated I noticed that one of them was the same model as the guy on the roof that was holding the little girl hostage in last year’s demo. I asked about it and was told that it’s the same model, but not the same android.

Essentially there are an unspecified number of individual android models and then tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of copies of each model roaming around. They all have different personalities and motivations as well which should keep players on their toes. The one exception is Connor who was engineered specifically to work for the police in hunting down deviants.

As for the city, the developers met with city planners and the people of Detroit in an attempt to recreate the city as best they can. Since the game takes place thirty years from now they had some leeway. They did a lot of research with what’s happening currently in the city to base everything on how it currently looks with a layer of thirty years of advances laid on top of it.

Detroit was chosen because it was once the automobile manufacturing capital of the world. The city has since gone bankrupt but it’s just beginning an upswing. So what if the advances in artificial intelligence are brought together with the manufacturing know-how of the city? What might happen?

The idea is that the largest android manufacturing industry in the world develops there so what impact does that have on the city and the society as a whole? Androids have taken over all the repetitive and boring jobs which seems great, but now 40% of the population doesn’t have a job anymore. Maybe they’re taken care of by the state but they’re no longer working.

So now this becomes a look at the social and economic impact of the artificial intelligence revolution that’s on the horizon. The impact on humanity as a whole will be bigger than anyone currently understands. It’s a big concept to take on.

As part of that, the motion capture sessions for all of the 250 actors involved took about a year and a half in total. Within that, they had seventy-five days in full performance capture with up to eight actors on stage at once and from everything I’ve seen so far, all that hard work will pay off.

The sheer volume of choices you can make as each character and the impact these choice will have on the rest of the story is staggering. Obviously there will be multiple endings and people will probably focus on a specific number there to judge the game but it looks like everyone’s individual journey could be unique as well. Everything points to this game being a big step forward for the medium and I can’t wait for the full release in 2018.

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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