Mirror's Edge Catalyst Beta Impressions

By Donyea Cooley-White, 1 year ago
Mirror's Edge was a cult hit when it released in 2008. With simplistic visuals, a strong female protagonist, great music, and parkour mechanics that have been copied by various others, Mirror's Edge will always stand out as a personal favorite of many, including myself.

Fast forward eight years later and DICE is now preparing to release Mirror's Edge Catalyst, the next entry to the series which, after some confusion regarding the story's direction, is being dubbed a reboot. With all of its glory, Mirror's Edge was not the perfect game. The combat was lackluster and the story was very minimal. With Catalyst, DICE has clearly taken those two issues head-on along with a slew of other new improvements.

Catalyst is the first Mirror's Edge game on Xbox OneCatalyst is the first Mirror's Edge game on Xbox One

In the original, I saw combat as an optional tool at my disposal. Unlike series such as Call of Duty or Assassin's Creed where action was a key element, Mirror's Edge allowed you to avoid firefights if you chose to do so. But the fact remained that those who didn't avoid gunfights were left with a stale combat system. In Catalyst the combat system has not only been improved upon but it has also been integrated into the parkour system.

The number of different attacks at your disposal make every fight a unique one. Both light and heavy attacks are in Faith's repertoire. Three quick punches can be used as a combo to dispatch certain foes while a heavy attack may knock them over a ledge. At the same time, you can always mix and match these with various parkour moves. A heavy attack after sliding will kick an enemy in their legs, a quick attack after wall running will punch an enemy while allowing you to maintain momentum, a directional attack can knock enemies into each other. You can swerve behind an enemy to kick them in the back, too, among other variations at your disposal. Not to mention the still present option of fleeing, which is often on the table.

Gamescom Wall Run Combat

Another major change to Catalyst is the open world structure. With Mirror's Edge, the game featured self-contained missions with simple objectives. In Catalyst, the entire city of Glass is your playground. The usual cast of collectibles, side missions, and XP upgrades are all present. But Catalyst avoids the trap into which most other open world games fall. The one where players end up doing side activities that are completely obscure and have no relation to the core gameplay. Examples include tailing in Assassin's Creed, the drinking game in Watch_Dogs, races in Arkham Knight, the list goes on. Catalyst is a parkour game and all main or side activities involve running from one place to another. You're always running to an activity, during an activity, and away from an activity. With parkour being the core gameplay mechanic, it makes even the most mundane activities enjoyable.

The open world features Dashes (what used to be called Time Trials), Fragile Package Deliveries, side missions, and collectibles. All of these activities earn you XP which will unlock upgrade points. For example, after you reach 3,000 XP you'll receive one upgrade point. These upgrade points are then spent on upgrading your Combat, Movement, and Gear. Combat upgrades provide you with increased damage, increased protection, and other upgrades that focus on surviving enemy encounters. Gear upgrades provide enhancements to your equipment such as the new Mag Rope which allows you to swing from certain objects. The final and most curious option is Movement.

Gamescom Construction

The upgrade system is a first for the series. Things such as increased damage resistance and equipment upgrades aren't a big deal. What came to me as a surprise was how many essential parkour moves were locked behind the Movement tree. Moves such as the 180 degree turn, tucking your legs, and rolling after big jumps are all locked behind upgrades. Some of these upgrades aren't even available until you complete certain missions. While this isn't a deal breaker for myself personally, I don't agree with the change either.

The last big addition to Catalyst is the Social Play feature. Supposedly the reason for the two week delay, Social Play is an online feature that connects your world with other gamers. This is not to be confused with traditional multiplayer. From what I can gleam from this beta, there will not be any traditional style multiplayer mode to the game. Instead it features things such as allowing players to "hack" billboards with their customized logo so all of their friends can see it. Another feature is the Time Trials. While the Dashes are the traditional style created by the developers, Time Trials are user created. These user created races can start and end anywhere and show up on your map once you've been introduced to them. They also allow for Echoes, which are ghosts from another player who ran that trial, which allow you to see their route and tactics. Interestingly enough these are not featured in the Dashes.

10/06/13 - Screen 4

The other two features of Social Play involve placing beacons called "Beat L.E." for your friends to try and find. Along with the Time Trials, the Beat L.E. managed to annoyingly clutter my world. Meant as a social feature for you and your friends, I rarely found a Time Trial or Beat L.E. created by a friend, instead I found dozens created by random gamers on Xbox LIVE. They served only to litter the rooftops of Glass city with red markers begging to be played. Worse even, there wasn't a setting in the option to turn them off or hide them. I really hope this is changed in the full release as it became a major annoyance in the beta.

Mirror's Edge Catalyst is shaping up to be an improvement on nearly every aspect of its predecessor. With a deeper story, improved combat system, and fun open world gameplay, DICE has put a lot of effort into the sequel to break out of the cult success of the first. With multiple delays and plenty of new changes, will Mirror's Edge Catalyst be a success? We'll all find out together when it releases on June 7th.

Unless it gets delayed again.
Donyea Cooley-White
An outspoken gamer with a lot to say! I love shooters, stealth, and any other games that pique my interest. If you want to talk hit me up on Twitter or send me a friend request right here on TA.