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E3 2015 Wishlist: What We Want From Mirror’s Edge Catalyst

by Jeff Cork on Jun 09, 2015 at 12:30 PM

Mirror’s Edge made a lasting impression on fans in 2008, with its innovative blend of exhilarating first-person parkour and guns-optional gameplay. At E3 2013, DICE announced that it was developing a sequel to the game. Since then, we haven’t heard much more. That changed recently, with the official announcement of the reboot’s name, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. EA announced that the game would be shown at its E3 press conference on June 15 at 1 p.m. Pacific. Here’s what we’re hoping to see from the game, including new additions and features that we hope make a return.

Take Advantage of Prequel/Reboot Status
As with most games, Mirror’s Edge began with a tutorial mission, and for good reason – Faith’s moveset of running, sliding, and wall-jumping from the first-person perspective takes time to get acclimated to. Faith isn’t learning the ropes, however. In the context of the game, she’s returning to the job after taking some time off. The setup is clever, because it explains why this character is able to perform these kind of superhuman acts. The new game is a great opportunity to experience Faith’s training first-hand. That’s fairly obvious; we’d really like to learn specifically what happened in the eight years between her running away from home at 16 and the start of Mirror’s Edge.

An Open World… to a Point
EA has said that the Mirror’s Edge sequel would take place in an open world. Mirror’s Edge often provided the illusion of freedom, but Faith’s journey set her on a fairly linear path. Players could certainly choose what air vents to leap over on the way to the next red railing, but they were going to have to hit that red railing eventually. More flexibility would be great, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the elegant presentation. The advantage of keeping paths limited is that DICE could nudge players where they were supposed to go. There wasn’t an on-screen UI, aside from a discreet icon that would pop up when hidden items were near. How would waypoints be handled if the entire city was at Faith’s disposal? She could rely on something similar to a GPS, but having to constantly check it would take away from the game’s flow – and a minimap seems like a clunky solution. We hope that DICE breaks up the comparatively formless open-world sections with something like Assassin’s Creed’s challenge rooms or some of Mirror’s Edge’s own interior spaces. As much as we enjoy charting our own course, there’s also something rewarding about nailing a particularly complicated navigational challenge.

Keep Pace With The Times
Make no mistake, Mirror’s Edge was a groundbreaking game in 2008. Assassin’s Creed had been released, but parkour was still relatively untapped in games. Seeing the action unfold from Faith’s perspective was breathtaking, effectively translating the sensation of leaping across a rooftop gap or hurtling down a zipline. Since then, other studios have refined the first-person parkour experience – most notably, Dying Light. That game puts players in an open world and gives them the tools to navigate as they see fit. While we aren’t expecting to see zombies in Mirror’s Edge Catalyst (oh please, no), we do hope that the open world is as intuitive to explore as it is in Techland’s game. If Faith never walks across a pipe-turned-balance-beam again, that would be great, too. 

Take it to the Street
There’s an in-universe explanation for why Faith and the runners try to stick to the rooftops as they shuttle their precious cargo around: They’re trying to avoid detection. In the world’s surveillance-heavy setting, staying at the street level is too risky. Since we’re exploring Faith’s origin in Catalyst, perhaps we’ll be able to experience the tail end of when runners could still put their shoes on the pavement. Moving the action down a few stories would give DICE another way of telling its story, too. The animated cutscenes were a stylish way to provide info between chapters, but too much of the original’s narrative was provided through in-ear communication. It would be far more interesting to see civil unrest unfold around Faith via gameplay. She shouldn’t be forced to adhere to the sidewalk – this is Mirror’s Edge, after all – but a change in venue every once in a while would be welcome and interesting.

Keep Weapons Optional
Not only was Faith vastly outnumbered in Mirror’s Edge, she was outgunned, too. That’s not too shocking, since she didn’t carry a sidearm or any other weapon. While players could disarm enemies and use their guns against them, it was only a temporary solution; she couldn’t reload, and she discarded them once they were out of ammo. Worse yet, they slowed her down. As a runner, that’s a big negative. Not only was it possible to complete the game without firing a gun, the game encouraged it via an achievement. We hope players are given that freedom in Catalyst, too. Players who want to let off some steam after disarming the bad guys should be able to, but Faith shouldn’t fundamentally change into a gun-toting Terminator.

Don’t Go Easy on Us
The original game wasn’t a cake walk – even less so if you decided to go the nonlethal route. Fortunately, failures weren’t accompanied by ridiculously long load times. More importantly, the game was fair, and when Faith plummeted to her (temporary) doom or was sniped by an enemy, it was almost certainly your fault. Faith’s vulnerability was an integral part of the game; she couldn’t shrug off multiple headshots, and if she took a fall from an ankle-cracking height without rolling, she’d take the damage. Here’s hoping that DICE doesn’t try to gain a larger audience by coddling new players. There’s something to be said for difficult games, and tuning the difficulty too far to be friendlier would be a bad call. As long as Faith isn’t getting a raw deal, we don’t mind not succeeding every moment.

Break it Up
DICE has said that Mirror’s Edge Catalyst would be running on the studio’s Frostbite 3 engine. One of that engine’s hallmarks is how effectively it handles destructible environments. Faith got to experience close calls such as bullets plunking through ventilation shafts and shattering nearby glass, but Mirror’s Edge’s cleanup crew didn’t have a whole lot to do. With Catalyst, we’re hoping to see enemies targeting Faith through walls – punching holes through them in startling ways – or toppling navigable structures around her before she can take advantage of them. Make the world more dynamic, and players will have to adjust their movement and routes on the fly. That’s something that would make a great game even better.

 

What do you think? Is there anything you’d like to see from Mirror’s Edge Catalyst? Let us know in the comments!