Mirror’s Edge was that uncommon thing in first-person gaming: original.
While some games manage to bring new elements to the FPS genre, more often than not this is achieved through slight innovations in weaponry or environments. The Call of Duty series reinvents itself by changing the setting and customisation options, whereas Halo adds tweaks here and there.
Mirror’s Edge, however, was vastly different to the other first-person games released in 2008. The key difference was in the lack of shooting itself, a bold move on EA and DICE’s part: rather than equipping players with an inventory of high-tech, head-popping firearms, combat relied more on hand-to-hand tactics. In fact, any player able to make their way through the game without shooting a single enemy unlocked a special achievement.
The other main innovation was in the free-running gameplay itself. Heroine Faith is a courier in a dystopian futuristic city, required to navigate the city on foot by her impressive parkour skills. Players can jump from one rooftop to another, run across walls, and enter buildings through shafts – this was a fairly unprecedented level of freedom for a first-person game, and a bold change from war-torn landscapes and ravaged urban locations.
So, while Mirror’s Edge didn’t exactly set the world on fire, it did build a following of fans eager for another instalment. Finally, after more than six years, the long-awaited follow-up is due to arrive in May, for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One – what do we have to be excited for?
No More Shooting
Fans of the first game are unlikely to be too concerned about Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst’s lack of shooting. For some players, the opportunity to grab a gun and use it against enemies was far less exciting in the original than the martial arts and parkour aspects.
DICE are aware that the limited shooting action in 2008 game was one its weaker aspects, and have jettisoned it from Catalyst altogether. This means hand-to-hand combat is sure to be even better, with a tighter focus.
Faith’s Character Will Be Explored In Greater Depth
Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst has been referred to as a prequel to the original and a reboot. The first gave fans little to go on in terms of who Faith was and where she came from, but Catalyst will explore this in depth.
There’s not much to go on regarding the plot so far, but we do know that it takes place in the city of Glass once again, and is likely to explore Faith’s origins. We should also see Faith as a girl, and what made her the heroine she becomes. Characterisation is more important to video games than ever today, as it makes for a more deeply engaging experience, so it’s nice to see DICE embracing that here.
A Less Linear Experience
While DICE has been careful to not call this an ‘open world’ game, Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst is set to be more of a free-roaming experience than the original. Levels and linear gameplay have been replaced by more of a continuous flow, with no loading screens breaking up player’s movement between areas – vital to maintain that smooth feeling of openness.
Multiple paths to different objectives can be chosen too, with interactive structures (ledges, for example) still highlighted in red but in a more reactive way. This should help players to feel as if they can explore Glass more at their own convenience and will than in a pre-defined way.
Improved Visuals Mean A More Immersive World
Mirror’s Edge had beautiful graphics, and the city of Glass was incredibly well-realised. In Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, DICE has taken the visuals to another level, adding more detail and texture to the world for a more immersive experience.
For example, while the sleek towers of Glass are pristine structures you would expect of a futuristic metropolis, the graphics now reveal more gritty undertones. DICE has employed new techniques made possible by the latest graphics processors, building a more realistic environment with a more organic feel.
Innovative Asynchronous Multiplayer
Multiplayer modes are a standard feature in the majority of games today, but Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst will incorporate an innovative asynchronous connection. How does this work?
Basically, as they play, gamers will affect the world of fellow players with their individual actions. For example, billboards can be hacked into by one player, and these will show up on friends’ screens too. As well as this subtle cross-over, more familiar qualities are present in the leaderboard that records results of the game’s ‘Dash’ races, nurturing a competitive spirit.
There’s certainly plenty to be excited for with Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, and fans will be chomping at the bit when it finally arrives on May 24th.
Why are you excited for Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst? Let us know!