Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst and open world level design

Opinion, Video Games

By William Chandler


Initially, I was pretty okay with Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst. I’d played the little beta they put out a month or so back and enjoyed myself somewhat, especially since the game does FEEL like Mirror’s Edge. The free running aspect of Catalyst is still, for the most part, just as satisfying as the original game ever was. Running, jumping, climbing and the sense of speed are all intact in a way that bamboozles you into believing you’re about to have a good time with the Mirror’s Edge sequel / reboot / whatever that you always wanted. But then the open world aspect slowly rears its ugly head in a way that even I didn’t expect.

You start off in a small piece of the full city and more finger quotes districts open up over time as you complete story and side missions. The map does pack itself to the brim with hideous little icons to check off of a list like the worst Ubisoft open world offenders but I didn’t take much issue with it in Catalyst because I figured since it was fun traversing the city, that just happening across these activities naturally would be better than specifically beelining my way to them from the other end of the map. Sadly, the world is only deceptively open. The rooftops may as well be really giant hallways for how many options you have to get from one place to the next and, because of this, you’ll find yourself running back and forth across the same rooftops utilizing the same moves over and over again. For instance, there’s this rooftop near the runners’ hideout that has two horizontal vents several yards apart which you will traverse repeatedly. One is relatively high so you’ll slide under it and the other is lower to the ground so you’ll likely mantle over it on your way to pick up another uninteresting story mission. By my count, I completed these exact motions in this exact spot roughly 15 times in the first 3 or 4 hours of play because you have to return to the hideout so frequently and you don’t unlock fast traveling until several main story missions in.