The Missing Link, the first full-fat add-on content for Eidos Montreal’s largely spectacular Deus Ex reboot, escapes some of DLC’s worst sins while committing others. It is not throwaway, miserly and superficial: it’s a reasonably lengthy bonus adventure. However, it’s ultimately completely inconsequential to the game as a whole, to the point that it almost might as well have been a meatheaded deathmatch mode or a new haircut for lead character Adam Jensen.
The Missing Link, trying hard to avoid spoilers, nominally fits into the parent game at the point near the end where Adam hitches a ride to a mysterious location. Turns out his journey was not without consequence, despite the cutscenes suggesting otherwise. In fact, he was discovered, tortured, had his cyborg power-activating Augmentations all messed up, before breaking free and going in search of answers/vengeance/his stolen gadgets/escape.
What this means in pratice is a standalone bonus level, primarily set on board a large container ship, and wrapping up neatly at the end, as if nothing had ever happened. It’s immediately hurt by a most curious if admittedly useful decision - rather than being flowed into the original game, it’s its own menu option that you can play whenever. So pacing is lost, the importance of any decisions you made when picking upgrades is lost, and inevitably it just doesn’t seem to have any consequence for an adventure that, if you’ve finished the main game already, very much reached a conclusion. It mildly explores and fleshes out an extra layer of conspiracy - forever Deus Ex’s bread and butter - but it’s such a minor conspiracy compared to the ones you’ve already unravelled.
It’s hardly without worth or excitement, however: this is a good chance to practice stealth or slaughter on a slightly larger scale of level than the parent game tends to offer, with Jensen able to explore a huge swathe of the sizeable ship at will. There aren’t any new abilities, however, so you’ll be using familiar techniques of either straight-up combat or hacking, hiding and stealing.
The narrative justification of Jensen having his augs removed does afford an opportunity to essentially respecialise your character, so it makes a good opportunity to try out the toys you didn’t bother with first time around without having to replay the entire game. It's a solid enough mini-adventure, but it lacks the gravitas, mystery and surprise of its parent: all it can do is retread old ground. That ground is, of course, some of the most enjoyable ground of the year, but it's hard not to hope for new territory.
More promisingly, it wraps up in a boss fight that, unlike those in the main game, does allow you to take the big bad down in a manner that befits the kind of character you’ve built. So, if you are a stealthy type you won’t find yourself suddenly required to be a machinegun master. Still, there’s the sense that the fight’s only in there to provide a climactic encounter, rather than because it adds to or explores the game’s capabilities. Much like the Missing Link as a whole, as has some awareness of how to make DLC feel meaningful, but maybe it’s picked the wrong game to experiment with.