Hands-on: Mirror’s Edge Catalyst – Closed Beta (Xbox One)
I was very fortunate to get my hands on Mirror’s Edge Catalyst at E3 last year and I walked away from the short hands-on time with it being my personal best game of the show. Over the weekend some people were lucky enough to play the closed beta and I was one of those lucky sods. Let’s just say that I’m on the edge of losing my mind having to wait for the full retail game now.
* PLEASE NOTE – THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS NEXT PARAGRAPH*
The last time you were in charge of Faith’s destiny was a long time ago. Since then Faith has been captured and sent to jail. The closed beta kicks off where we expect the main story in the game will begin – her release from jail. She’s told that she’ll be monitored, via a bracelet on her arm – beatLink, and that she must go look for a job. As soon as she walks out the gates everything turns on its head and Faith gets sucked right back into her old parkour habits as she makes her way back to Noah.
*END OF SPOILER*
The first thing that’ll grab your attention is that the city of Glass is absolutely beautiful. It’s nearly too perfect. Everything is clean, bright and has a modern appeal to it. What you should know is that Glass is your playground. Gone are the linear corridors and restrictions of the first game and in its place is an open-world waiting to be explored. The original Mirror’s Edge came with a button configuration that required some ‘getting used to’, but once you’ve grasped it it was hard to think of any other method to play the game. That exact button configuration has returned.
Mirror’s Egde Catalyst, if you’re new to the series, is viewed from a first-person point of view. I often call it a first-person platformer as it’s got that feel to it. Most of your parkour abilities has been mapped to your shoulder buttons. LB lets you vault, wall-run and climb over obstacles, LT allows you to slide underneath anything in your way and RT kicks doors open. Understand these mechanics and you’ll be free-running all over the rooftops in Glass. There is however a major improvement when it comes to combat.
The original Mirror’s Edge allowed you to disarm guards and shoot them, or disarm and put a non-fatal end to them. In Catalyst you’ll be able to attack guards,whereof there are various classes, by pressing the X button, but there’s now something called Echo mode whereby you press the Y button, in combination with the a direction, to knock a guard out in one shot. Is the guard standing near a railing? Kick him over the railings as you jump off your wall-run. Two guards next to each other? Get two birds with one stone by smacking their heads together. There’s more planning involved now. Get the timing wrong and you could be battling several guards at one time. The most I faced was five guards. Two with guns, and the other three with batons. By pressing RT and a direction you can avoid incoming attacks and either continue your light attacks (X button) or use Echo mode by using your surroundings to dispose of them. In the time I played you never disarmed any guards, so I’m not sure if this has been removed altogether or…
Everything you do adds to your XP. Yes, there’s now XP. Do you recall the ‘roll move’ you do when you hit the ground from unbelievable heights to break your fall? That’s not available to you at first. You can however unlock it. Collect enough XP and you’ll be rewarded with an Unlock Point whereby you can spend it in three distinct categories – Movement, Combat and Gear. Some other moves in the first game, like jumping from wall to wall, can be found in here, but there are many more upgrades. Unfortunately it was grayed out in the beta, and I’m not quite sure what exactly it all entails. But, it looks interesting.
The few missions I played involved some fetch quests, delivery missions and some dash events. Once these were done the Beta game to an end, but you were free to create new Dash events of your own whereby you could compare your time to those of others around the world. Expect there to be MANY Dash events when this game officially launches. I was completely dumbstruck at some of the times people reached around the world. It’s going to be a big thing in 2016. I also often found myself running back to a safe house as I was being chased by a helicopter. The faster you are, or better you are at using the parkour controls, the more enjoyment you’ll get out of this game.
Throughout Glass you’ll also find Gridleak data pieces, notes, secret bags and more that’ll add to your XP and, I suspect, will unlock some extra goodies for those who plan to 100% the game. It’s also great to see Runner’s Vision highlighting everything of importance in red again. It’s a return to a world you loved and it has just got better.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is looking very good if this Beta is anything to go by. I did not experience and bugs and never crashed on me once. That two-week delay to June feels like an eternity now, but I think the extra time spent will be the catalyst in making this one of the best games in 2016.