DICE developers claim that the controls were rebuilt to allow for accessible gameplay, with a broad spectrum of rewards for achievements in high levels of skill. During our hands-on, accessibility shone through. Traversing the world with ease was as simple as picking up the controller. After an initial misstep or two, I was off.
We were given 15 minutes hands-on to see how Mirror's Edge Catalyst makes the open-world format work. In free-roaming sections of the city, points of interests scattered throughout the map mark the location of side-quests and mission objectives. Marking any of these as your active pursuit, the game dynamically generates a runner's vision for you to that location. For those unfamiliar with the original, runner's vision is the bright-red highlighting of objects you can interact with and parkour across. If you miss one, there is no need to worry. More will be generated for you from your new position, ensuring that there are no dead ends or lost time.
I tried out three mission types that players will encounter during their open-world exploration: Dash, Billboard Hacking, and Deliveries. Dashes are timed races through the environment. Instead of separating these out into its own game mode, DICE has now incorporated them into the main game experience. Billboard Hacks are environmental puzzle challenges, testing your ability to get to hard-to-reach areas of the city. The last of the modes I tried was Delivery, which showcased the new combat system, as government law keepers attempt to stop and capture you and the data you are transporting as you make an all-out run to the drop location.
While my time with it was admittedly too short, combat was fast-paced and fun. You're out-manned and outgunned, but don't even think about gearing up. Mirror's Edge Catalyst removed firearms from your equation. The game won't even let you pick one up.
Instead you must rely on your momentum and fast-moving parkour skills. As long as you're in flow, keeping high-speeds and chaining your movements together, the bad guys won't be able to hit you. You're just too damn fast. And before they can even react to your wall-running aerial acrobatics, you're on top of them, knocking them off roofs and bashing them into slumber-inducing objects. At least, I assumed I knocked them out. I'm not entirely sure. Before I could breathe, I was off of them and running again, as fast and far as I could, to make my drop.
Overall, I left the hands-on feeling excited. The entire playthrough had my adrenaline pumping and more importantly, I had fun. No, I had a blast. The easy to pick-up mechanics were a breath of fresh air, allowing the game's world to take center stage, right where it belongs. With gameplay designed to be less complicated, I walked away feeling less clumsy and more thrilled by the experience than I ever felt with the original. All I want to do is play it again, and how much more can we really ask for? Mirror's Edge was the game we needed, but the new Mirror's Edge Catalyst is now the game I want.