E3 2015: Mirror’s Edge Catalyst Hands-On Preview
Among the many new titles EA has shown off at this year’s E3, Mirror’s Edge is by far one of my most anticipated. The original came out back in 2008 and was instantly a favorite of mine. I loved the focus on first-person platforming and the overall visual style which, in my own opinion, still holds up well to this day. So in 2013, EA announced a follow up title to Mirror’s Edge which was still in early development at the time of the game’s announcement. But EA recently showed off Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, an official introduction to franchise protagonist, Faith. I was able to get a little hands on with the game, and overall I left with a very positive impression of the game
The demo I played was running on PC hardware, but utilized an Xbox One controller. There were two portions of the demo, one to introduce the characters of Faith and Noah and one section that allowed access to a portion of Glass city. The introduction was fairly straightforward as Faith is released from a juvenile rehabilitation facility and is set to rendezvous with Noah on a dark, wet evening. The world of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is a dark one, figuratively. The game while bright and “clean,” is one of no personal freedoms. The world is run by corporations and not governments. It is a ugly future hidden behind a veneer of cleanliness.
The second portion of the demo is a lot more indicative of what the game is actually going to be. There is a full city to explore with no load screens or sections, as confirmed to me by DICE. But an open world is only as good as it’s traversal method, and Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is king of getting around. The two major buttons for traversal are the left bumper and the left trigger. The bumper is used for motions where Faith needs to go up. So you would press it as you near an edge, or hold it to go up a pipe. The trigger is used for motions going down, like sliding. DICE promised a simplified traversal system to make it easier for people to get into, and as a series veteran I found no issues with it at all. As long as I had built up enough speed and momentum, I was able to do everything I set out to do. That’s assuming I pressed the right button at the right time. Everything felt nice and smooth, jumping from a ledge to a wall and then rolling to avoid the break in momentum was extremely fluid. Combat has been slightly revamped. Gone is the gunplay from the previous game. This time, the combat is more focused on physical attacks while attempting to keep up your momentum. It doesn’t break the flow of the game, and the shooting doesn’t feel as tacked on as before.
Of course the game was not in a state that was close to a final build, but I was overall impressed with the way the game looked. The minimal, yet bright aesthetic of the game’s predecessor was present here and looked amazing on the PC hardware that was supplied. One of the best things was how portions of the levels actually changed to red to indicate a route to take when a waypoint is created. It worked well within the world and was completely un-intrusive. One of the best touches that I loved about the game was the animations. During one portion I jumped off a ledge and instinctively rolled when landing, but I didn’t take in account that there was a staircase close-by and Faith hit it, but was stuck upside down. It’s as if someone is doing a somersault and hits the wall. It was a nice touch that I absolutely loved.
Overall, the game was a joy. The fast movements and the gameplay worked well. And even in an early state, the game looked very good. Both from a gameplay as well as a visual standpoint. I am looking forward to the game’s final release and what else the game has to offer. The wait till Feburary 23, 2016 will be a long one.