Mirror’s Edge was equal parts fascinating and frustrating. Sprinting across stark white rooftops, chasing splashes of crimson, all with the propulsive score by Solar Fields feeding the adrenaline — when it worked, Mirror’s Edge made for a gaming experience unlike anything else. Unfortunately, it also set players up for controller-throwing rage spirals spent trying and failing to make the same jump over and over and over again. The good elements turned Mirror’s Edge into a cult classic, but the broken parts unquestionably drove many away. With Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, developer DICE has the chance many original IPs never get: to evolve and improve.
While there had been rumors of a sequel for years, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst was finally confirmed and given a February 2016 release date. Rather than a sequel, however, the game will actually be a prequel, exploring the earlier years of the rebellious, free-running Faith in the stunning but stifling city of Glass. Already the new installment is making the right moves — adios to the shoehorned, ineffective gun combat — many fans wondered whether the new Mirror’s Edge would incorporate multiplayer, something that is more and more retrofitted onto traditionally singleplayer titles. The answer, as it turns out, is yes…and no.
Speaking to IGN, DICE’s Patrick Bach revealed that, while Mirror’s Edge Catalyst will not incorporate standard competetive or cooperative multiplayer modes, it will include “an asynchronous connection where your actions will affect my world.” What does that mean, exactly? IGN cites the example of Faith being able to hack billboards throughout the city. One player’s hacked billboards can then appear within the game worlds of that player’s friends. So, while the players can’t actually cross over and play alongside each other, they can see traces of each other’s presence and contributions within Catalyst.
There are also more traditional multiplayer elements within Catalyst. When gamers decide to participate in the Dash races, they’ll be able to see their friends’ leaderboard scores for that race as well. Bach says that the Catalyst team did mull over the idea of “synchronous multiplayer,” but ultimately decided it wasn’t right for the game. Bach told IGN:
“We talked about what would happen what would happen if we put other players in your world. Well, you’ll probably get a lot of a**holes. Trolling is a big part of the gaming community. Some find it very funny, others not so funny. We tried to separate it so it’s people you want in your world, but they will not be able to mess with you. They’ll be able to affect it.”
All in all, if DICE didn’t have a brilliant concept for how to give Mirror’s Edge a multiplayer mode, it’s probably best that they’re not expending a ton of time and effort on it. What would full-fledged Mirror’s Edge multiplayer even look like? The game is about running and platforming for the most part, with combat usually something to be avoided. That template doesn’t obviously lend itself to most of the standard multiplayer modes, so DICE would definitely have to have gone outside the box if they were going to make Mirror’s Edge multiplayer work.
Of course, there have been singleplayer games that adopted multiplayer surprisingly well, such as the Assassin’s Creed games or Mass Effect 3, but there are just as many where shifting focus would have been a very bad idea. But, as it is, these small touches should connect Mirror’s Edge players with the game’s community but still maintain the integrity of the core singleplayer experience.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst will sprint onto PC, PS4, and Xbox One on February 26, 2015.