Detroit: Become Human is an upcoming sci-fi game created by Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls developer Quantic Dream, led by the acclaimed auteur David Cage, and it's long been one of our most anticipated games.
The game was first revealed at Sony's Paris Games Week in 2015, while the gameplay was shown off for the first time at the PlayStation E3 conference in 2016. E3 2017 brought with it yet another trailer, so here's everything we know about the game so far.
When is the release date?
Right now, there's no official release date for Detroit: Become Human, but following E3 2017 its director David Cage has revealed that it will arrive in 2018. It's a bit longer to wait than we had hoped, but we are very much looking forward to getting our hands on this one.
The game is being published by Sony, so it's a PS4 exclusive.
What is Detroit: Become Human about?
Detroit: Become Human is a sci-fi game that centres around seven different playable characters in the near future. As with previous Quantic Dream games, Detroit will feature an interactive narrative that apparently took Cage more than two years to write, and includes extensive motion-captured performances.
Gameplay consists of exploring environments to find clues, using quicktime events to navigate encounters, and choosing from expansive dialogue options to decide how conversations progress, which will in turn have a significant impact on the branching narrative.
The first playable character is an android with artificial consciousness and human emotions named Kara, who escapes from the factory she was made in. She finds herself in Detroit, USA, where androids are not uncommon but have been made without consciousness, so are simply used as tools to improve the lives of humans.
Originally showcased in the Kara PS3 tech demo (which was never intended to become a game), she was also the focus of Detroit's original announcement trailer:
After Kara, Connor is the second playable character that has been introduced. Connor is "an advanced prototype assigned to police forces to help them investigate cases involving deviants. He is cold and analytical; he thinks fast and benefits from some surprising advanced features. He is very determined and nothing matters more to him than accomplishing the mission he was programmed for."
You can watch Connor in action in the gameplay trailer at the top of the page, which is taken from a gameplay demo we had the chance to try at Gamescom 2017 - more on what we thought below. In this section, Connor has to deal with a hostage situation, trying to rescue a young girl from a rogue android holding her at gunpoint.
The third character we've seen so far is Marcus, the focus of the E3 2017 trailer for the game. He's seen leading a raid on an android shop, and the trailer's focus is on the choices that players will have to make as they play the game.
Will they hide from the police or fight them? Rescue the androids or abandon them? Start a violent riot or demonstrate peacefully? Each of these, along with countless smaller decisions along the way, will affect not only the gameplay but also the way the story plays out.
We had the chance to try a brief section of Detroit: Become Human at Gamescom 2017, playing through the Connor hostage negotiation shown in the trailer at the top of the page.
In this section we had the chance to explore an apartment to piece together information on the situation, like the android's name and what had driven him to violence. This is done using an investigation mechanic that will feel familiar to anyone who played Batman: Arkham City, as you identify key points in a given area, scan them, and then play a reproduction of the events, forwarding and rewinding to spot crucial points and piece together clues.
Visually, this is compelling enough, but as a gameplay mechanic it's just as underwhelming here as it was in Batman. There's not really any challenge or way to fail, so it's mostly just a question of moving the cursor over specific points, pressing a button, and being told what you've 'discovered'. It doesn't feel much like detective work yet - though in Detroit's defence, few games have really cracked that sort of investigative mechanic yet.
That information then unlocked new conversation options when we went to talk to him, improving our chances of success - though even then we still had to make difficult choices along the way, and it's clear that it won't always be as simple as winning or losing.
At any given time we had two to four dialogue options to choose from, each impacting how the rest of the scene played out, so there'll be loads of different ways to play the game. Most interestingly, the consequences of each choice weren't always immediately obvious, so players will still be surprised, and will likely be rewarded for paying close attention to other characters' behaviour.
If we had one criticism of the dialogue, it's that it isn't always subtle, especially the sections dealing with anti-android sentiment from human characters. These tended to be a bit blunt and obvious - we hope the final game has more interesting things to say about the conflict between humans and artificial intelligences.
Thankfully, the shaky dialogue is helped along by stunning graphics and facial animation - powered by real actors using motion capture - which make these some of the most realistic characters we've ever seen in games before and help deliver the emotional impact that will be absolutely essential to Detroit's success.