Mirror’s Edge Catalyst’s City Looks Terribl-y Good

If there is one complaint I have about the original Mirror’s Edge, aside from the “combat is terrible” refrain, is that I’d have liked to see the city explored more, almost as a character of its own. The story is set in an authoritarian dystopia, but we don’t actually get to see much of it outside of the first cutscene of the game. There is a lot of promising worldbuilding hinted at throughout the levels, but it’s not nearly as developed as it could have been.

So this new page that just appeared on Mirror’s Edge Catalyst‘s website, detailing the city’s districts and factions, with wonderful pictures, is getting my hopes up. I know I shouldn’t, I know it’s against my better judgement and I’ll be sorely disappointed, so help me out here. Let’s keep the hype to a minimum and let’s all look at the negatives. Here’s a great start: the city is called “Glass.”

And the nation is called Cascadia. Thanks, you’re really helping out here. You can click on each image to see an high-res version and pick on all the little details.

Look at that. That district is called Ocean Glass View, or simply The View. Look at all that immature use of colour. Disgusting.

The View is the residential district, where people have their boring picnics on the beach, and it’s where those in power go before “getting invited to Sky City”, which apparently isn’t a euphemism.

The Anchor is the posh place in an already posh town. It’s where the Corporations have their HQs, and where everything is too expensive for you, so don’t go there ok?

And Downtown is where you’ll find the bourgeois, the people who want to be posh but can’t afford it. It looks terrible and it’s busy, so you can’t really run freely. I don’t know why you’d want to visit. At all.

As for the three factions, the Runners are those like Faith who have chosen to live on the margins of the city, acting as couriers for whoever needs to operate off-the-grid. The Conglomerate is the oligarchy of Corporations running the country, and apparently they rely on the Runners at times, to scheme against one other. The Black November is a new organization lead by activist-turned-terrorist Rebecca Thane. Fed up with the oppression they were living under, and recognizing the ineffectiveness of their protests, they started using violent methods both against the oppressors and the silent majority who tacitly consents to perpetuate the system.

It looks good, doesn’t it? It looks good. I failed. Help me out. Make it sound as terrible as possible. Tear it all apart in the comments. Of course, you can help yourself with the latest combat and story trailers.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst should be released on May 24th, and you can still sign up for the closed beta.


  1. DanMan says:

    Dat boodee tho.

    • Monggerel says:

      I was supposed to be the one to make that un-joke.
      It’s only made funny by the wheezing laughter of those who know better
      Nice pic now where’s Sex Ryu from SF V pretending to be Laura

      • DanMan says:

        I’m sorry. I saw the opportunity and couldn’t let it pass. Next time, m’kay? There’s always a next time.

        • fabronaut says:

          it really does seem like they kitted her out in the most salacious of pants, doesn’t it?

          I imagine being a character designer / artist in the industry must be a painful affair at times. damned if you do, damned if you don’t?

  2. The First Door says:

    I am still suspicious of the move to open world and what it’ll do to the game, but those areas do look really rather lovely, don’t they? I’m starting to be won round. Wait, that’s not helping, is it?

    Er… er… why in the movement and combat trailers do they keep switching to 3rd person? That’s a right rubbish way of showing off a game which is all about 1st person movement! That any better?

    • Arkayjiya says:

      “I am still suspicious of the move to open world ”

      I’m not. Everyone I was discussing the sequel with before we even knew if there was going to be one, thought that the open world angle was perfect both for the game and from a marketing standpoint, it was the perfect solution to make it mainstream (since the game itself didn’t sell well) without compromising on what made it Mirror’s Edge. I still think that’s true even if I’m a tad disappointed that there is such an emphasis on combat.

      • The First Door says:

        And that’s fine, you’re welcome to think that an open world will be better, many people do, but I don’t. I’ve always found that linear designs, especially for shooters, or race games (which this basically is when you get down to it) are more fun, because both the individual levels and the overall difficulty curve can be designed better.

        Far Cry 3, for example, is pretty fun, but the ‘open world’ isn’t what makes it fun for me, in fact the linear levels in it were much more fun that just attacking the 65th encampment. Indeed this obsession that most AAA games have to be open world just frustrates me.

        Anyway, I genuinely hope I’m wrong because I’d love for this to be brilliant!

      • Arkayjiya says:

        I don’t think you can make any fair comparison with other open world games, or at least not with any non 3D platformer open world because the benefit it brings to ME are very different from what it would bring to a game like Far Cry 3.

        Mirror’s edge is a game about fluid movement, it’s about finding creative ways to keep that fluidity, and then executing that movement well, that’s especially shown in the races that are won by circumventing the linearity of the level. It would undoubtedly benefit both from the emergent gameplay and the increased use of the three dimension brought by an open world environment.

        Now of course it is harder to achieve, more ambitious (which kind of is what I ask of it anyway, but some people just want more of the same, which I don’t blame them for), and therefore riskier. But still, I can’t see how a good linear ME could be in any way superior to a good open ME. Might be my limited imagination though, but I really can’t see it.

    • DanMan says:

      It should be 3rd person, if you ask me. They talk about “fluid animation”. How’s that a selling point, if you see it in 1st person anyway? If you move the screen too much involuntarily in 1st person, you only get sea-sick anyway. So what’s the point?

      Also, when you’re running around, you only really look forward anyway, so the feeling of height doesn’t really translate either IMO. Ah well…

      Erm, put the torches away. Please?

      • Arkayjiya says:

        It shouldn’t. Who cares about seeing the entire animation when you can feel it, the speed, and the movement ten time better by it being first person. But I promise I won’t burn you because you don’t agree xD I would offer you an internet cookie but I don’t have those!

  3. Pich says:

    so far the only thing that i dislike is Faith’s redesign, which isn’t that important since it’s a FPS. let’s hope that the game delivers.

  4. X_kot says:

    I always thought Mirror’s Edge would benefit from a touch of Shadowrun-style factional politics.

  5. Muzman says:

    It all sounds a bit naff to me. I thought the original city had a certain realist potential to it and, well, all this stuff doesn’t seem like what that was.

    But that might have been inevitable when doing a full reboot like this (which it clearly is. There’s seemingly nothing left from the original besides the character and the gameplay. Which is probably all a lot of people care about) and then going fully sci-fi/glossy cyberpunk as well.
    Oh well

    • Rizlar says:

      The first thing you said. This looks very much computer games! factions! areas!, while the first game was more like: here is a city. Design in the first game felt extremely confident, this looks like the same overdesigned maximal fluff you see everywhere in vidyergames.

      • Geebs says:

        You know, the biggest screw-up they’ve made in the hype campaign for this game was releasing a “combat trailer”. As in, it shouldn’t have been possible to make one, because there shouldn’t have been any combat.

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        alison says:

        Fuckin a. I loved the fluidity of the parkour in the first one. The only game that’s gotten remotely close in my books is Lemma, and that had many flaws of its own. But the other thing i loved was the very abstract manga-styled world that left so much to the imagination. The hype for this game is really stripping away the enigma of the first and making it sound like Fallout – now with parkour! or Mass Effect – now with parkour! I hope some of the spirit of the original remains. These city shots give me hope. The combat video does not. I just want to run.

        • Rizlar says:

          Actually I was exclusively talking about the visual design. But I’m sure you’re right! :P

        • Morgan Joylighter says:

          I find Dying Light’s first-person parkour to be pretty fantastic, not to mention the rich and believable sense of place created by the city’s art. It makes me sad that I cant enjoy running around it without being subjected to gore flying all over my monitor every ten seconds.

    • kwyjibo says:

      I agree. The story and storytelling in the first game was fucking awful, a sentiment even more widely shared than the thoughts on combat.

      The maximal fluff “Black November” bullshit sounds even worse.

  6. Taerdin says:

    I would love to add this to my Steam collection alongside Mirror’s Edge.

    • GenialityOfEvil says:

      Pahahah. Yeah, right. It’s Origin or die for EA.

    • KenTWOu says:

      Apparently, inability to add Mirror’s Edge time trials map pack to you Steam collection didn’t teach you anything.

    • slerbal says:

      Yeah, me too. I still have no interest in buying any games from Origin. I still have a whole bunch of keys for Origin games I got in some Humble Bundle a while back that I’ve never bothered to claim.

  7. blur says:

    A nation called Cascadia isn’t really all that outlandish though. The region of the world I live in, running from Vancouver, Canada down to Portland, US, is quite commonly called Cascadia. This just means that the city of “Glass” is a future Seattle.

  8. Doganpc says:

    Too much thigh gap.
    And do we really need to have female protagonist strut around everywhere? It’s like female characters have two animations, running and catwalk. Yes, this is a generalization. I just see stuff like the first image and think, nobody does that.

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      alison says:

      I didn’t notice it until you mentioned it. That is bizarre. It looks like someone has superimposed a light saber on her behind. What the fuck. Now i can’t un-see it. At least the city is beautiful.

    • Nova says:

      I think the asymmetric shirt is playing tricks on you.

      • Doganpc says:

        I considered that shirt line for quite a while actually. So I took the image into paint, masked the character silhouette, and made it black on white. After doing that I noticed the crotch angle, which led me to the spine orientation.

        So follow the neck, it’s straight through to the buttocks. Her weight is over the leg that is coming off the ground. Then, I went and looked at videos of gymnasts on the balance beam. They don’t do that, they keep their center of gravity… center. Anyhow, it’s probably too much detail to ask from a video game and really I find it interesting how subtlety ingrained the sexualization is.

        Which frankly was my original point of using overly dramatic phrasing to point out the silliness of constantly depicting female characters like this.

        • Deadly Sinner says:

          Except it’s not a balance beam, and she’s clearly casually strolling to the edge, not balancing.

        • April March says:

          I want to give you a hug, Dogan. I don’t know if it’s because I admire the extent to which you’ll go or because anyone who spends that many time examing a videogame promotional pic without being paid to do so needs a hug, but whichever it is, c’mere.

    • Don Reba says:

      Too much thigh gap.

      Looks ok to me.

      • Jackablade says:

        I’d imagine someone who does all that jumping about would have some beefier thighs.

        Makes rigging easier, I suppose.

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      particlese says:

      They’re actually just teasing the new Invisible Unicycle game mode.

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      Ninja Dodo says:

      You know, while I entirely agree the exaggerated sashaying of many female characters in games can be a bit much at times, you don’t have to be on a catwalk to drop your hips when you walk. As an animator who spends a fair amount of time observing how people move, I think it’s safe to say that (on average!!) women have more pronounced hip movement than men, specifically dropping their hips over one leg as they put their weight on the other. Individual variations notwithstanding (some women move in a more ‘masculine’ and some men in a more ‘feminine’ way) this is an actual real pattern that is neither inaccurate nor unreasonable to represent in animation in games or anywhere else, and pretending otherwise is frankly a bit silly.

      • DelrueOfDetroit says:

        What Ninja is saying comes straight out of Richard William’s Animator Survival Kit, which is basically the Holy Bible for animation. Women generally have lots of up and down movement when they walk while men tend to stay flat.

        In the book he tells a story about seeing a man walking down the street with his entire body covered by a brick fence except for the top of his head. Richard instatantly thinks ‘That man is gay.’ and then immediately questions why he thought that with so little information. He runs around the block to get a better look of the man and notices that he is walking with a lot of up and down motion, much like women do (or at least much like he had learned to animate women.)

        Walk cycles are one of the most important aspects of animation. You can tell a lot about a character/person just by the way they walk. Bugs and Daffy walk differently because Chuck and Bob and Friz knew what they were doing. Peter Griffin and Meg do not because that show is shit.

        • Doganpc says:

          I’m not going to say you guys are wrong. I’m just expressing how my ability to accept the reality being put before me is impacted by this exaggerated model strut walk. I understand that female bodies are rigged differently, with the hip sockets being pushed wider and turned inward (IIRC) to compensate for child birthing. I also know full well that in the working world, even artists have to capitulate to their bosses. I just don’t think it’s right.

          • Premium User Badge

            Ninja Dodo says:

            There’s a balance a to be found there. It’s possible to make your animation specific to a character without veering off into over-the-top pantomime. If you’re doing your job as an animator you’re finding those little things in how a character walks, stands, sits, gestures and talks that makes them *them*… and yes, that sometimes includes things that are noticeably gendered.

            Even a female character that is not the “girly” type at all may occasionally need a gender-specific animation, like that time Mass Effect 2 Shepard sat down in her casual no-nonsense way while wearing the cocktail dress from the Kasumi mission…

            It’s worth noting also that exaggeration is one of the core principles of animation(link to en.wikipedia.org) and animation is by definition a kind of heightened caricature of real life, to a greater or lesser extent depending on what style you’re going for. In a more realistic style like Mirror’s Edge you’re going to have less of that and they will tend to use motion capture for all the movement, which is generally only edited somewhat to be more dramatic, but is mostly left as is.

            Where this gets complicated and very much debatable is in how evenly exaggeration is applied. When all your male characters have super understated realistic motion but your female characters look like they’re doing a fashion show at all times I think it’s fair to criticize that.

            I doubt this is ever a case of capitulating to bosses though. Certainly as an animator you go with what your director or supervisor asks for, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone animate a realistic female character and then be told to make it more like a bouncy fashion model. I mean, if you’re working on Dead or Alive or Lollipop Chainsaw or whatever you’re probably on board with that whole thing, just saying.

    • fabronaut says:

      huh. I knew something was off about the picture, but at first I thought it was along the lines of “why does the butt seem so prominent, and is it just my jaded pervy loneliness?”

      I suppose it can be two things. :/

  9. teije says:

    Apparently trees and all foliage have gone extinct in the future. Not enough sharp edges I guess.

  10. JimThePea says:

    This is disappointing, I wanted to see another Mirror’s Edge as much as any other franchise you could name. I loved the art style in the original, it wasn’t really set in the future, just a stylised version of the current surveillance state.

    This looks closer to Crackdown than the original, like someone scooped out anything resembling taste or subtlety and replaced it with futuristic nonsense.

    I know it’s a lot to harp on about the art direction when there’s gameplay underneath all that but when it was such a big part of what I enjoyed about the original, it doesn’t bode well.

  11. haldolium says:

    Looks rather boring.

    Ubisoft is setting the defaults in tech in a much faster pace these days and just content wise or from “gameplay” it really doesnt matter what you play.

    ME3 lacks a lot more direction and distinction towards other, technical similar games.

    • Marclev says:

      What does Mass Effect 3 have to do with Mirrors Edge 2 though?

      But seriously, Ubisoft? They largely produce the same game over and over, with different skins. I don’t see how they’re doing any “setting of tone”, they play it as safe as it gets by not really doing anything innovative or original with their AAA games (yes, they publish less mainstream stuff as well, but the Far Cry’s and Assassin’s Creed of this world follow quite a predictable formula now).

      • April March says:

        That’s kind of the point. The Assassins’ Creeds and Far Cr…ies? are nowadays very similar except for atmosphere and feel, so they have to really slather them on.

  12. Don Reba says:

    I must admit, sometimes I catch myself trying to rationalize installing Origin. I’m sure it’s just idle speculation.

  13. LennyLeonardo says:

    This is very disappointing. There’s simply not enough information here to support my pre-formed irrational disapproval of this game. Perhaps I should make a perfunctory comment on the appearance of the female protagonist, just to keep the grimy little ball rolling. Laugh out loud.

  14. Grizzly says:

    I am amazed that y’all managed to overlook that the TREES ARE WHITE. With white leaves!

  15. Marclev says:

    “There is a lot of promising worldbuilding hinted at throughout the levels, but it’s not nearly as developed as it could have been.”

    Oh hell no, why does every game these days have to have a huge map with “places to explore” and “collectibles”, in the name of being set in a “world”, seemingly as an excuse for the developer not too spend too much time on the actual story missions (every game now wanting to be an RPG with largely forgettable “side quests”). It’s not a movie or a novel, it’s a game!

    Mirrors Edge was primarily about the gameplay, not the world. Yes there was a distopia bla bla, but the running and jumping was really great!

    There’s nothing wrong with the old school linear levels where you’re guided through the experience, if this becomes a Ubisoft-Open-World-Game clone in the name of world building, as that seems to be a check box that AAA games now need to tick, I fear it will be a largely forgettable experience, irrespective of how well built that world is.

  16. Phasma Felis says:

    What’s wrong with “Cascadia”? If you can’t use the name of an actual, existing country, a seriously proposed new country named after a real geographic region seems like the next best thing, realism-wise.