Mirror’s Edge Catalyst Is Free Roaming With No Levels

Well then! That’s certainly a pleasant surprise. Electronic Arts had said they’d show off a little Mirror’s Edge Catalyst gameplay during their E3 show, but I’d mostly expected better combat, a faster pace, and a cleaner flow to everything. The revelation that the game’s set in an open world with no levels or loading was something else is… well, that’s just blimming splendid, isn’t it? EA also announced the release date: February 23rd, 2016. Here’s the E3 trailer:

They’ve also boshed stuff up on the website to explain more about the game. Here, this post has some stuff about it being Faith’s origin story, which is a bit of a boring tack but hey ho. More interesting is talk of movement and combat and Faith’s growing skill and new gadgets letting her reach more of the city as the game progresses. Wait, is it a Metroidvania? Faith doesn’t use guns either, which is a welcome change. Lastly, look, this here says that the open world is filled with things like races and environmental puzzles.

I’m burned out on Ubisoft’s style of sandbox world (Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed and Watch_Dogs and), but sure, I’ll let EA get my hopes up for first-person parkour. Please don’t flipkick my heart, DICE.

61 Comments

  1. Psyker says:

    The two round thingies where you put your hands on = The Fifth Element reference !
    The best sort of references. I approve.

  2. Cockie says:

    I want it.

  3. Xocrates says:

    Also, they said Faith doesn’t use guns.

    My interest was certainly piked. Let’s hope they don’t fuck this up.

    • Premium User Badge

      Don Reba says:

      But I couldn’t help but groan at the explanation: “Faith has no use for guns, having vowed long ago never to use them again.”

    • derbefrier says:

      Just saw this posted on PC gamer. thought some of you might be pleased to read this.

      “In Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, you won’t be using any guns at all,” Senior Producer Sara Jannson

      link to pcgamer.com

  4. Doc Revelator says:

    This looks fantastic. And Not Morgan Freeman crops up in the video at 1.36. Thank you for listening.

  5. Josh W says:

    It seems like the level design has more of the feel of the abstract time trial levels in it, more disconnected deconstructivist blocks, but also with more connectivity between buildings than the old city.

    It’s interesting how the old architecture felt unsuited to the premise, lots of big isolated blocks etc. which would generally demand that you run through buildings in order to make progress, rather than on or around them, you had to rely strongly on that runner vision red path thing because of the way that levels were full of those kinds of apparent blocks. Superficially at least, this looks closer to something like infamous, where that game’s city was obviously compatible with the kinds of motion that the main character could perform, which is probably necessary if the player is going to be actually navigating the spaces for themselves.

    I’m particularly thinking of bits from 1:20 on in the video.

  6. Scrofa says:

    Another openworld? Why?.. Is leveldesign dead?

    • Xocrates says:

      I would expect it to be VASTLY harder to do the level design for an open world parkour game, than a linear one. So your comment seems bizarre to me.

      And honestly, this is the one game series I would like to see go open world. It’s a concept and gameplay centered around exploring a space and finding alternate routes, something the original severely lacked outside of the time trials.

      • tnzk says:

        Assassin’s Creed and Dying Light are open world parkour games. That’s what you can expect from an open world Mirror’s Edge.

        Making a game open world simply changes the dynamic, period.

        • Xocrates says:

          I did not play Dying Light, but Assassin’s Creed was a “parkour” game without a jump button, which meant that as far as I’m concerned they could have made the world entirely flat and achieve the same result. Either way, in both of those examples parkour is merely a part of the game, not the focal point.

          And yes, open world changes the dynamic, that’s the point (though I disagree with the “merely”). In a game about physically exploring an environment open world creates a lot of interesting possibilities that the previous game did not have.

          This is not to say that the game is going to do it well, but it’s certainly an interesting development.

        • Muzman says:

          Which is no help because one of them is pushbutton console awfulness and the other is leaning towards pretty good.
          Which is it!? The Suspense is killing me!

        • Deadly Sinner says:

          I would like to see evidence of your claim that the game will do all the work for you as long as you hold A+forward.

      • Yglorba says:

        I think it’s a tricky thing for them to attempt (open-world parkour is certainly going to be harder to do than the mostly linear levels of before), but it’d definitely produce a better game if they can pull it off. This actually has me a bit excited, whereas I was mostly ignoring it before.

    • Timbrelaine says:

      Yeah, and I’m glad to see it. Open world may not suit every game, but I think it’s a better default than corridors, to my mind.

    • green frog says:

      Remember when everyone was bemoaning how linear and scripted all the modern games were and practically begging for more open worlds? Now they announce another open world game and people groan.

      I guess people learned that too much of one thing can get tiresome whichever it is and that one way is not inherently superior to the other.

      • wu wei says:

        I think the only “superiority” some people care about is demonstrating their own.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Phasma Felis says:

    This’ll make some people happy: “Faith has no use for guns, having vowed long ago never to use them again.” We’d noted from the previous trailer that a lot of the cops seem to be unarmed or toting only billyclubs. Looks like they’re serious about making the combat flow better.

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      Phasma Felis says:

      On the other hand, the voiceover there is more over-the-top sinister evil than I’m fond of. I liked how the first game tried to be subtle about the state of the City and its government: things generally appears to be clean and affluent, and the majority of citizens have no first-hand experience of oppression. You have to really look, or be the Wrong Sort of People, to see what goes on in dark corners.

      • Nouser says:

        I also noticed the lack of subtlety in the world building. The original made a better work at presenting a credible dystopia.

    • Urthman says:

      I’m just glad DICE recognizes that everyone clamoring for another Mirror’s Edge game was mostly interested in finally learning more about Faith’s backstory. FINALLY.

      I suppose some parkour and some more of that gorgeous art design would be okay too.

  8. SanguineAngel says:

    This is weird. Open world is not inherently good, so I find blind praise for that decision odd, whilst I am disappointed personally as I greatly enjoyed mirrors edge the first for its campaign; the story was cheesy, the writing the epitome of a 90’s action flick and the pacing from start to finish was spot on which is a real accomplishment in computer games and something that is particularly difficult for open world games. Still interested but possibly less than before.

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      Phasma Felis says:

      I felt like the original interrupted my flow with what you might call jumping puzzles too often. I’d find myself in a room or on a rooftop with no immediately obvious way forward, and have to walk up and down for a while peering at the scenery and trying to figure out what I was supposed to be mounting/swinging on/leaping from and in what order. It broke the sensation of smooth, flowing movement, killed the immersion by reminding me how linear the path actually was, and broke the tension of the cops supposedly being just two steps behind you.

      The open-world setting implies that, if you can’t see a way forward, you can zigzag off in a different direction without breaking stride. I really like that idea.

    • Timbrelaine says:

      Sure. But open world seems like a good fit for a game whose main mechanic is parkour, and the fantasy broke often and hard in the original, when you got trapped because you missed the signals that you were supposed to go another way. Here’s hoping this game makes me feel a bit less like a rat in a maze.

      • The First Door says:

        To be honest, I really don’t think open world design IS good for for a parkour game. The nice thing about Mirror’s Edge 1 is that they could slowly ramp up the difficulty and the types of moves you had to pull. Also, they could design specific sequences and environments which felt dramatic and interesting. In an open world game, that is much, much harder to do right. Why on earth, if I had a variety of options, would I jump out a window and slide down a sloped building? Yes, it’s awesome, but in an open world game, I’d have no guarantee that it wouldn’t just kill me. In a linear game I know that is designed to work.

        My biggest fear, however, is that like most open world games everywhere will have to be roughly the same difficulty and so it’ll become massively dull. See Prince of Persia (2008) vs. the Sands of Time Trilogy. Stupid grunginess of the Warrior Within aside, the level design was really nice!

  9. Wulfram says:

    I don’t see why this is a good thing. If they put in a lot of work, it might not be a terrible thing.

  10. EhexT says:

    Haha, I called it in the previous article. They’re Ubisofting it up, because open world collecathons with meaningless contextless “content” sells.

  11. kwyjibo says:

    Mirror’s Edge is one of the most beautiful games ever made, a bold modernist paradise.

    It also had some of the worst writing, storytelling and plot in any work of fiction ever. This trailer does nothing to suggest Catalyst will be any different, beginning with the stupid title. “STOP. HER.” overacted the angry man. Cut to Morgan “We don’t actually have the budget to hire Morgan Freeman” Freeman delivering his Morgan Freeman impression.

    I have a feeling that the story will involve weighty themes of civil liberties and the surveillance state, but with sub-Russell Brand levels of awareness.

    • newc0253 says:

      I agree. That game was a thing of beauty. It was also filled with the kind of writing that seems profound if you’re 15.

      What I found interesting is how Deus Ex: Human Revolution-ey this trailer looked, which for a moment made me think that they were going in a completely different direction in terms of game play. You could, in fact, make a really fascinating game mixing the lead character, setting and parkour of Mirror’s Edge with the stealthy/fighty/cyberpunk stylings of Deus Ex. Offer Faith the chance to fight really well or not at all.

      But somehow I doubt the game will be that clever. Instead, it will the same running as before with the useless, irritating fights.

      Also the city at night looks interesting but nowhere near as stunning as the city in the daytime.

    • Muzman says:

      “It also had some of the worst writing, storytelling and plot in any work of fiction ever.”

      That is a leeeettle hyperbolic. You haven’t seen enough SyFy original series if you really mean that. Which is actually what the original felt like at times.
      Also, the game’s slick stylings evoked memories of Ultraviolet for a lot of people, and…well…the game makes more sense than that ever did. Which isn’t saying much.

      • Dawngreeter says:

        I think that literally anything makes more sense than Ultraviolet. Like, if you cough on a piece of paper and then put it in boiling water – that makes more sense than Ultraviolet.

        Ultraviolet played backwards makes more sense than Ultraviolet.

  12. gwathdring says:

    I’m going to join the chorus suggesting that the move to an open world is not necessarily a good thing–the original was very well paced and while the writing wasn’t anything terribly interesting, it wasn’t quite so aggressively awkward and stilted as what’s in this video …

    Hopefully editing and post-production goes well, I guess …

  13. gwathdring says:

    Still excited, though. Loved the first game enough to give this a try unless reviews are absolutely awful.

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    Don Reba says:

    It still very much feels like it could go either way. An open world could be a conduit to creativity or break focus and waste the player’s time running around between quest points. The horribly cheesy plot scenes seem even worse than the first game’s, but then the story was never the point.

    Also, this is EA tying the game to Origin and talking about privacy and corporations.

  15. McPartyson says:

    This looks great, if only they had the option to switch to a male protagonist I would definitely buy it.

    • ButteringSundays says:

      It’s a game about a character, she’s not an avatar. Thanks for playing though!

  16. Premium User Badge

    Don Reba says:

    For example “Dash”, is a type of race where you need to get from point A to B as quickly as possible.

    Actually, that’s called a “time trial.”

  17. Muzman says:

    Hm, it’s ..different. Open world sounds interesting. Hopefully it’s like what many wanted from the first game once in a while: you get a task/destination and have to figure a way there. A ‘puzzle’ that’s also more like the rest of the game than being stuck in a basement trying to pull off some stunt to get out.

    The world is more “future dystopia authoritarian villainy 101” than the last one, which for all its sloppy handling and story lumps I’ve come to rather enjoy for its “could be a couple of years from now” vibe.
    I guess we’ll see how that goes.

  18. Wertymk says:

    I’m not opposed to open world as long as it’s not done as lazily as most games do it. I don’t want to see a map filled with markers for “this random thing without any depth or context you can do if you want to”. I’m looking at you Dragon Age Inquisition, Assassin’s Creeds and Far Cries. I just want to see a story that organically takes you around the map doing things that matter without any random bullshit whose only purpose is to make the game longer.

  19. headless97 says:

    I don’t like the idea of an open world for Mirror’s Edge. In almost every game I’ve played that has an open world, it ends up being glorified level selector and a dull collect-a-thon. Devs make a huge space to play in but then have to fill it with inane dribble just to justify it. Quantity doesn’t mean quality. Having a large environment doesn’t make a good game. Especially in a game like Mirror’s Edge, which has more in common with a racing game than you might give it credit for, having great level design is essential and open worlds don’t make good level design.

    • Xzi says:

      Really, though, it’s about designing the player character and her abilities first, then you design the world around that. I’m EA’s biggest critic, but they might just get that right if they expand on what was in the first Mirror’s Edge game, as well as learn the lessons from games like Dying Light and expand on those as well. I can’t deny how awesome some of the uses of space in the trailer were. We’ll just have to wait and see. After all, design ideas aren’t inherently good or bad, it all comes down to the execution of those ideas.

    • The First Door says:

      Huh, so I was trying to make this argument up there, but you’ve made it much better than I did! I utterly agree though. Mirror’s Edge 1 was so good because the levels were designed like race tracks, with shortcuts to discover and tricks to learn. Heck, the DLC really understood that and just got rid of the concept of having a city at all!

    • Enkinan says:

      I feel like they could still have some very tight “courses” designed within the overall open world and keep the best parts of the original while expanding it’s scope.

      Guess we will see…

  20. Xzi says:

    Well hey, a game that might be worth having an Origin account for. Finally.

  21. edwardh says:

    I have to say… After this trailer, I lost all excitement.
    It just feels so… meh.
    Like any other blockbuster setting.
    Way too little of the old familiar white cityscape and way too much emphasis on dumb dialogue.

    The original Mirror’s Edge may not have had great cut scenes but I loved the basic concept of the story and i found a bit of charme in its flawed execution. Here? Bland, big budget crap.
    I just hope the stuff in between will be alright…
    It’s such a shame because they would have had a chance to improve on the storytelling…

  22. edwardh says:

    Oh… I also want to take this opportunity to point out how damn dumb it was/is of people to ask for the OPTION of using guns to be removed.

    I played through the original on the hardest difficulty without ever using a gun. So what’s the damn point of removing the ability to use them?!
    It’s like people demanding games have no quick save option, only check points. Ask for freedom to be taken away just because you are too weak-minded to restrict yourself.

    • Xocrates says:

      While you had the option to not use guns, the game very clearly expected you to use them. There were plenty of areas that you either had memorized and could run past without fighting, or would likely just grab a gun, kill everyone, and then figure out where you had to go.

      The call to remove guns is little more than a call to make a no-gun run more viable, particularly on a first run, before you know the levels layout.

      It’s simply not fair to call people weak-minded when they are playing the game the way it’s clearly designed to be played, as opposed to what’s an “advanced” method that requires a good knowledge of the game.

      • edwardh says:

        I would agree with you if I felt that that was how Mirror’s Edge was designed. But as a matter of fact, on my two play throughs, I only once used guns to see what the controls feel like. Then I restarted from the last check point and never used them again.

        If you get to an area that seems very tough – guess what? You keep trying. I obviously can’t recall a single one where I was like “This is bullshit” and so resorted to using guns.
        And believe me, there have been many games where I did get frustrated like that.

        • Xocrates says:

          Just for clarification, when I say no-guns I’m generally speaking of trying to avoid combat altogether. I can see a no-guns, but melee focused run working fine.

          Largely, the guns complaints were due to the flow breaking combat. If they just replace the guns with a larger focus on melee combat, this will not be an actual improvement unless the combat does not break the flow.

          However, if what you’re saying is that you did the entire game with a combat avoidance mindset and have it work, then you are a much more patient person than I am, because I gave up on that half-way through because the game clearly wasn’t designed for that, with many combat areas (particularly on the second half of the game) deliberately obfuscating the exit route, and often requiring you to go through a lot of armed men.

        • fish99 says:

          I both agree and disagree with you. I think the game was designed for you to use guns, and most of the people I’ve seen playing the game used them (as did I), but at the same time they may as well have left them in for the people like me who enjoyed using them.

          I thought it was cool to disarm a guy and shotgun him in the face, Matrix-style. Did it interrupt the flow? Sure but so did the level design every 2 minutes, unless you already knew where you were going.

      • Juke says:

        Just adding a counterpoint to the “game expected you to use guns” refrain. I started out my first (and only complete) run of the game intending to never use lethal force, since that’s what I always do in games that give you the option. I think there were 2-3 times where I had to try an area a few times to get through, where clear sight lines gave enemies a lot of chance to shoot while Faith sprinted around. For example, I distinctly remember one rooftop where I had to scamper up a drainpipe that was tough, but eventually a combination of distracting guards and disarming the one closest to the pipe worked fine. And the server room area was tough only b/c there’s only one route I the whole room that lets you disarm a minigunner before he tears you apart. That was a little cheap. But once I saw the route, it worked fine.

        So keep in mind this was my first time playing the game, on a console, no less, doing just fine playing nonlethally. Now, anyone who can do it on the HARDEST difficulty is a talented human, because Faith is so much more fragile, but it’s certainly not fair to say the game expected you not to use guns, and that a no-gun run was almost a happy accident. There’s an achievement for a no-gun playthrough… it’s clear they thought about how to empower the player to make their own choice.

        If there’s one complaint I have about this new installment, it’s that I think giving the player no choice about using guns or not runs contrary to the freedom of the gameplay. I’m sure they felt it allowed them to balance the rest of the game’s combat better, so the trade-off is likely worth it. Just unffortunate. Choosing the high road in a world where people are shooting to kill can by satisfying when you make the choice for yourself.

  23. zarniwoop says:

    I loved Mirror’s Edge. Yes the combat was awful and completely ruined the bits that had it, and the plot was worse, but the levels were tight for the most part and they nailed the movement.

    I have a really bad feeling about this one. They’ve gone even schlockier on plot, and the open world plan suggests that they’ve completely missed what made the original game great, which was the extent to which it was about nailing a route through a level.

    Mirror’s Edge should be a time trial game or an early Tony Hawk style game. That’s what the movement engine they’ve built is crying out for.

    • Juke says:

      Agreed, though I don’t see why everyone is so down on the original’s plot. Some of the story beats were a little dense, but having to risk your neck to save your sister is a more human story than most games. But we agree that liberating a city from an ubiquitous ruling party as a freerunner is even more absurd.

      I do think Tony Hawk games are a good model for the level styling, though, and I hope they learn the same kind of lessons. I don’t know if parkour enthusiasts would consider it blasphemy to compae ME and THPS, but I think they had similar gameplay, in the sense of “I have certain tools at my disposal, now through a combination of lateral thinking, and flawless execution, can I make it from here to there in the coolest way possible?” Maybe substitute “fastest” for “coolest” for the Mirror’s Edge purists, but I think there’s some inspiration to be taken from what Tony Hawk did well.

  24. racccoon says:

    hmmm dunno last one wasn’t that great this one seems the same

  25. amblingalong says:

    CONTROVERSIAL OPINION TIME:

    I *loved* Mirror’s Edge combat. In fact, I think it had the best combat of any game I’ve ever played. The caveat here is that it took a long, long time to get good at, but if you did, SO rewarding; there are a ton of tricks you can do the game never informs you about, like jumping off a ledge, pressing Q in midair to turn 180 degrees, and shooting a pursuing enemy with a pistol as you fell backwards.

    I still boot it up again occasionally to play one level where you’re running down a circular set of stairs set in a huge atrium, where you can be incredibly creative taking down guards: jump over the first railing to land on one with a pistol, steal his weapon, wallrun down the staircase as the second guard comes for you, flip in midair and shoot him, land on a glass panel, shoot it out from under yourself to drop down another level, throw away the gun as you fall, slide into the next guard and knock him out…

    I mean, again, the caveat is that it took me replaying the level 30 times to be able to pull stuff like that off. But I mean, how many games let you do stuff like that? It’s as close to being in the Matrix as any game has ever made me feel.

    • amblingalong says:

      I think the main thing people didn’t realize is that if you stole a pistol, you could hang onto it and still do all the same maneuvers. Combined with the ability to go into slo-mo whenever you wanted, this meant you could do some awesome stuff, like disarm one enemy, use a springpad do vault yourself up to a flagpole, swing to the next flagpole and then slow down time and shoot another enemy in midair between them.

      If you actually bother to get good at the combat it’s unbelievably rewarding.

      • amblingalong says:

        This is the scene I’m talking about:

        link to youtube.com

        The person playing misses a lot of chances to do fun stuff because she keeps switching to heavier weapons that slow you down, doesn’t use the interior section to get between levels, doesn’t showcase the more fun ways to disarm someone (like jumping on them from high enough, or wallrun kicking them to spin them around and then taking them down from behind) but the idea is there.

        • zarniwoop says:

          I’m doing a replay now. I’ll try some of this stuff out.