How deep was Deus Ex’s simulation? A literal piece of paper could set off a laser trap

I love the whole immersive sim genre, but there’s still only one #1 baby.

JC Denton is surprised

Deus Ex, there’s a reason we all still bang on about it after all these years. I love you Adam Jensen, and I’m sorry your girlfriend did human experiments on you and gave you robot arms, but you just can’t compare to my man JC. Case and point: an absolutely ludicrous bit of simulationist detail shared on Twitter (opens in new tab) by streamer StickmanSham (opens in new tab).

im playing Deus Ex for the first time and i got owned by the most insane physics interaction ive ever seen 18, 2023

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As we are all wont, Stickman was dicking around with some metal boxes to get over the security laser tripwires outside Smuggler’s lair. The squirrely arms dealer’s home security activates an autoturret to make Swiss cheese out of 21st century supercop JC Denton if he isn’t too careful.

While mucking around with physics objects to make a path, Stickman tosses a full garbage bag out of the way and next to a nearby oil drum fire (only in New York baby!). The garbage catches on fire from touching the drum, itself a fun bit of systemic interaction, but the next bit is the really crazy part.

After a couple of seconds on fire, the garbage disintegrates into random detritus, including some scraps of paper that waft away. You’d think these are just some sprites or models with no collision, but no, the paper is actually an object in the world that can trip the security beam Stickman was taking such pains to get around. The machine gun pops online, and JCD (password: bionicman) leaves the world of the living.

It’s always a treat to be reminded of Deus Ex’s legendary attention to detail, but I’m just blown away that I’m still getting surprised by this game. I played it for the first time well over ten years ago, and never even noticed or saw mention of tiny detritus like this setting off tripwires! For further reading on Deus Ex, we published a feature on its iconic opening level (opens in new tab) back in 2020, and we’ve also got a start up guide for mods and such (opens in new tab) if you’ve got the itch for a replay.

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