I loved Mirror’s Edge when it first launched back in 2008. It was one of a handful of games EA started making in an effort to broaden its horizons. Dead Space came out around the same time.
One of those series got sequels, the other faded into cult favorite glory without much from EA or DICE. I’ve missed Mirror’s Edge for seven years, friends. It’s finally back, and based on what I played here at E3, it might be better than ever.
Things have changed, though. Instead of the mission-to-mission structure of the original without any exploration whatsoever and a strictly linear design, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is going entirely open world. This is Faith’s origin story, and it all goes down in a city you can fully traverse, given the free running and climbing routes are there.
What I played for exactly 13 minutes (seriously, there was a clock) was three side quest style objectives in a chunk of the open world. That came after a quick intro sequence. That segment had me, Faith, breaking free from the government’s clutches and having the obnoxious oppression system removed from my vision. It was like a three minute chunk of the demo, and that left the last 10 minutes for open world play.
The demo did that whole “in the interest of time” thing, and I was dropped into a small district of rooftops in the city. It was there that I could open my map and choose from one of three waypoints.
I managed to crank out all three activities in 10 minutes. There was a Billboard Hack mission that asked me to solve a climbing puzzle and hack a billboard to remove the advertisement and leave my tag. Then there was a time trial style mission that gave me a runner’s vision path and a counter to jet from the starting point to the finish. This one was a lot like the time trial mode in the original Mirror’s Edge, though it took place entirely in the open world.
Finally, and this one was my favorite, was a courier mission. Here, I grabbed something from a box and was given an objective off in the distance. Getting there meant fighting my way through bad guys. This Mirror’s Edge seems to have placed a whole lot more emphasis on mobility and momentum. Once you get moving (and if you stay moving), you’re a force to be reckoned with. Every baddie in the demo dropped quickly as I fought my way to the courier drop point.
What’s really interesting here is that runner’s vision isn’t a constant thing. This is the element that paints objects in the world red in order to signify that they can and should be used to parkour down specific travel lines. They aren’t present unless you have an objective or waypoint set in the game. The open world is made of bright whites and yellows (at least in this area) without a waypoint. When you pick one, it’s like Faith “sees” a path. No dotted lines, no floating arrows, no mini-map directions, just the red highlights in the environment that suggest “this would be a good route.”
I loved that.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst will launch for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on February 23, 2016. We’ll have more on the game as it comes.