Fans had been pleading with DICE and Electronic Arts to revisit the stories of Faith and Mirror’s Edge for years leading up to the 2013 reveal at E3. Two years more of waiting and we’ve finally gotten a chance to see the game in action and play it with our own hands, and it’s showing more promise than what we initially thought. In theory, more Mirror’s Edge is a great idea. The first game introduced a first-person parkour system the likes of which we’d never seen before. Faith made death-defying leaps, performed acrobatic feats at high speeds, and was a capable combatant — the game was a lot of fun to play. While the original was short on story and quite linear, there was a challenge system that gave the game an immense amount of replayability. After playing Mirror’s Edge Catalyst at E3 2015, I’m convinced these old features of the original game isn’t more of what I want. DICE’s new vision for Mirror’s Edge could potentially be much, much better.
After a DICE-led demo and thirteen minutes of hands-on time with the game, I walked away more enthusiastic about the future of my beloved series, a future I didn’t even think of … at least DICE did. Having played a lot of the original Mirror’s Edge the decision to make this game open world makes a lot of sense. Why is that exactly? Because most open worlds are a chore to travel around, and the free-running parkour, the original game’s best feature, is the solution to this problem. It’s still way too early to tell if this will be fully realized. DICE very well could drop the ball in some aspect or another, but the hands-on time made it surprisingly clear that DICE knows what the strong points of the original were, and they’re staying true to them.
Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst E3 Trailer
Offering up three trials in our demo, we got a taste of what’s to come, most of it I was very familiar with due to it feeling much like its predecessor. There was a combat mission that had you moving from point A to point B while guards stood in your way. Using the easy learn hard to master movement system to navigate both the environment and those looking to impede your progress, Faith’s runner skills were put to the test in all facets. While all the missions felt similar to the original in one way or another, this one felt most fluid. Chaining parkour moves and combat takedowns while steadily moving forward made me want to see more. There was a more standard checkpoint running segment, as well as a mission that required Faith to reach a billboard. Little context was given to the objectives-based missions, but they were laid out in open world format. Set a checkpoint, run there, start the mission.
The gameplay in Mirror’s Edge Catalyst appears to not have been changed all that much from the original. Players dash around the world using basically two buttons, one for up movements and one for down. Sure, like the original Mirror’s Edge, things can get more complicated as you try to perform advanced manuevuers like wall-running and turning mid-air, but the core Mirror’s Edge feel has been retained. You’re constantly looking for the next red object to interact with, whether that’s a door to smash through, a box to vault off of, a pipe to shimmy, or the many other things in the world that Faith can interact with.
Retaining the core feeling of movement and momentum from the previous game is important. It was the draw for many, and what made Mirror’s Edge so fun to play. Though Mirror’s Edge Catalyst appears to allow players to breathe a little more, not confined to the linear levels of the first game. Our demo was somewhat constrained, but you could easily see there being a lot of potential in letting the player loose into an open world full of different side missions, collectibles, and story elements. There were glimpses of this in our demo. Finishing early gave time to explore, and even this small area had collectibles strewn throughout it that seemed smartly tucked away in spots that required some planning to reach.
I didn’t see much of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst at our E3 demo, but what I did see was really promising. It’s going to be up to DICE to fill that world with interesting and varied activities, but the open world setting seems like the best possible scenario for the return of Faith and Mirror’s Edge early next year.