Mirror's Edge Catalyst is a first-person action-adventure game in which the player takes control of Faith Connors as she progresses through a futuristic city named Glass. Similar to the original Mirror's Edge, players traverse the city using aspects of urban exploration and parkour movements to complete missions and evade or fight enemies. Players can also make use of environmental objects such as zip-lines and ledges, and equipment including mag rope and disruptor to travel across buildings. When players mark an objective on their map, Faith's "runner vision" is activated and some scenery items automatically highlight in red. These act as guides to lead players towards their objective. The use of levels and linear gameplay found in the first Mirror's Edge has been replaced with an open world, free-roaming environment. This gives players more freedom in traversal, allowing for the use of multiple paths to reach one's objective. In addition to the campaign's mission, side activities such as time trials, races and environmental puzzles are featured. Additionally, items called GridLeaks can be found across the world that can be collected by players.
Combat mechanics of the game received an overhaul and a new combat system was developed as traversal is greatly emphasized in the game. Also, though only used sparingly in the previous game, Mirror's Edge Catalyst has removed the use of guns by the player altogether, focusing on Faith's running and parkour movements and quick melee-style attacks to take down or evade her enemies. Faith enters focus mode while she is running. With sufficient focus Faith can evade bullets from enemies. According to Sara Jansson, the senior producer of the game, the combat and fighting featured is an extension to the game's movement instead of a separated set. When Faith is performing a finishing move, the game switches to a third-person perspective.
Mirror's Edge Catalyst contains several multiplayer features, which DICE calls Social Play. While there are no live co-operative multiplayer or side-by-side competitive modes, the game features asynchronous multiplayer in which a player's actions in the game can affect the world for other players' games. Among these are Time Trials which, unlike in the 2008 game, are not pre-defined by DICE. Instead, these checkpoint-to-checkpoint paths are set by any player whereby others can race against them at their leisure for faster times. Players are also able to place Beat Location Emitters for other players to track down, an exploration activity similar to geocaching.
The game takes place in the dystopian city of Glass, the showcase city of the nation of Cascadia. After a bitter secession from the authoritarian nation of OmniStat and years of conflict and violence Cascadia falls under the rule of the Conglomerate, an oligarchy comprising 13 large corporations. The most powerful corporation is Kruger Holding, whose patriarch Gabriel Kruger has monopolized the city's law enforcement under his Kruger Security (K-Sec) division.
Cascadian society is highly stratified and the majority of citizens - called Employs - work for the corporations and are connected to the Grid, a massive social monitoring network digitally connecting everything and everyone in cities like Glass. So-called Runners skilled at free running refuse to be connected to the Grid and live on rooftops, making their living from covert delivery jobs while evading K-Sec personnel.
Years before the events of Catalyst, Faith Connors' family was killed during the November riots against the ruling corporations, with her parents, scientists Martin and Erika shot dead and her sister Cat apparently suffocating from a gas grenade tossed into a vent, through which the girls were trying to escape. In the prologue to the game, as told by the tie-in comics Mirror's Edge: Exordium, Faith, now a Runner, began to work on the side for black market boss Dogen, after he promised her a drawing by her late mother. She was to retrieve a vaccine prototype for Dogen by stealing it from fellow Runner Celeste (who stole it herself). After finding that Celeste intended to use the vaccine to cure her sister, Faith surrendered to K-Sec personnel in remorse. Dogen uses his influence within the city to reduce her sentence to one year in juvie.
In the present day, Faith is released from prison and meets up with fellow runner Icarus, as well as Runner cabal leader Noah, who raised Faith after the death of her parents. Dogen reminds Faith that she owes him "scrip" for the botched vaccine job and the money he had to spend to help commute her sentence. During a data grab inside the headquarters of Elysium, Faith diverges from her orders and also retrieves a valuable hard drive, but is seen by Gabriel Kruger, CEO of Kruger Security. She manages to escape, intending to use the drive's contents to pay off her debt to Dogen. Noah is angry at Faith for involving herself with Kruger, but tells her that she needs to know what is inside the drive in order to bargain with it. Faith takes the drive to Plastic, a talented hacker, who tells her the drive contains blueprints for a top-secret project known as "Reflection".
Meanwhile, K-Sec cracks down hard on the Runners because of Faith's actions at Elysium headquarters. While Icarus and Faith are away, they lead a raid on the Runners' lair and capture or kill everyone present. Faith and Icarus, believing Noah to be dead upon returning and having nowhere to go, turn to Rebecca Thane, leader of Black November, a militant resistance movement bent on destroying the Conglomerate by force. Thane explains that Faith's parents, herself and Noah once belonged to the same group, but broke apart because Thane believed there was no peaceful way to overthrow the corporations. Black November rebels, assisted by the Runner duo, sets up an ambush to capture a high-ranking K-Sec commander, whom they intend to trade for their own captured soldiers. The mission is a success and it turns out that the captured officer is Isabel Kruger, daughter and also personal bodyguard of Gabriel Kruger.
Faith asks Plastic to infiltrate K-Sec servers and gather information about Isabel, who turns out to be Caitlyn "Cat" Connors, Faith's own sister, who was assumed dead during the November riots. Gabriel Kruger took her in as his adoptive daughter, telling her that Faith, along with the rest of her family, was killed. Armed with this realization, Faith races back to the subterranean Black November HQ, where Thane is preparing to execute Isabel/Cat in order to send Kruger a message. Faith defends Isabel, who does not seem to remember who Faith is, and begs Thane to take Isabel above ground because the air underground has been suffocating her. Thane agrees after Faith promises her the hard drive that she stole from Kruger.
Isabel lets on to Faith that Noah might still be alive, held in a compound called Kingdom. Icarus asks to come along to save Noah, but Faith insists that he stays to look after Isabel for her because she does not trust Thane. Upon reaching Kingdom, Faith rescues a group of Reflection scientists who were detained by K-Sec for "asking too many questions." The lead scientist, Aline Maera, explains that Reflection involves injecting the population with nanites that can be remote-controlled through a broadcast signal as a way to regulate thoughts and emotions, thereby making people "become the Grid" and allowing corporations absolute control over citizens. Aline also mentions that Faith's own mother Erika invented an algorithm that would later allow Reflection to be realized. Through cutscenes interspersed between the campaign missions, it is revealed that Gabriel Kruger led a K-Sec task force sent to neutralize the Connors after they realized the grave implications of Reflection and wanted out. Faith finds Noah, who is being experimented on with prototype Reflection nanites, but is too late to prevent his death. Meanwhile, back at Black November HQ, the rebels are ambushed by K-Sec while bringing Isabel up. Icarus and the rebels are injected with Reflection nanites.
The Runners and their allies regroup at Plastic's hideout, which is shielded from Reflection broadcast signals. Plastic and Aline work together to engineer a virus to disable Reflection once and for all. In order to do this, Faith needs to secure Gabriel Kruger's own gridPrint, which she successfully does by breaking into his private apartment. From there she witnesses a massive explosion at The Shard, the tallest building in all of Glass (presumably courtesy of Black November). Faith still needs to go on top of The Shard, which contains the broadcast antenna and is now unstable, to activate the virus. She is confronted by Kruger at the top of the building, who attempts to stop her and accuses her of bringing death and destruction to all of the people around her. He defends his decision to launch Reflection by saying the nanites are a cure designed to keep Isabel's chronic lung condition at bay, and that the project is about survival rather than control.
Faith subdues Kruger and his bodyguards, just as she sees Isabel at the door, who attempts to stop the virus but is too late; it finishes wiping Reflection out, thus making Isabel's lung condition return. She then runs away to the helipad, with Faith giving chase. They fight, as Isabel accuses Faith of abandoning her behind to die in the vent after not being able to wake her up (which probably contributed to Isabel's lung condition), while Faith attempts to remind Isabel of who she really is. Gabriel Kruger appears on a helicopter and begs Isabel to come with him, but she hesitates after Faith tells her that she saw Kruger kill their biological parents. Running out of patience, he orders his guards to shoot Faith, but Isabel protects her. The Shard starts to crumble, sending Kruger's helicopter tumbling away; Kruger falls out and Faith slides towards the edge of the helipad.
Barely hanging on, Faith almost falls to her death until Isabel catches her at the last moment. Kruger is heard calling out for his "daughter" to save him. Faith pleads with Isabel not to do so, to no avail, as Isabel explains that she "has to" and runs off in Kruger's direction. However, as the helicopter rises again and flies away, only Isabel is standing in it, with Kruger nowhere to be seen. It is heavily implied that Isabel let Kruger die.
In the aftermath of the story, it is reported on the news that Isabel will now supersede her "missing" father as Kruger Security CEO. While there was no uprising in the population, Faith has successfully disabled the Reflection launch, thus keeping people safe from Conglomerate control. She retrieves her mother's drawing from Dogen and has it tattooed on her right arm (this is the same tattoo she has in the original Mirror's Edge). Icarus asks Faith what she will do next. She answers, "I'm gonna run."
The new Mirror's Edge game was officially revealed in June 2013 at the Electronic Arts press event at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2013. It was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in North America on June 7, 2016, and in Europe on June 9. The game was announced soon after as a prequel to Mirror's Edge showcasing the origins of Faith, and uses the Frostbite engine, instead of the Unreal Engine used in the first game. However, more recently Sara Jansson stated that the game is not being seen as either a reboot or a prequel. Electronic Arts also confirmed in 2013 that the game would be an "open-world action adventure". According to DICE's general manager Karl Magnus Troedsson, the game focuses on the first-person combat mechanics building upon the first-person movement mechanics that were present in the first game. As the game features a free-roaming environment, the runner vision from the first game had been completely redesigned to adapt this structure. The runner vision in Catalyst can recalculate the path for players towards their objectives or waypoints.
The game was featured at E3 for a second time in June 2014, and prototype gameplay was briefly shown. Mirror's Edge Catalyst has more varied gameplay for Faith and Runners, where they serve a greater purpose than in the first game. In January 2014, writer Rhianna Pratchett announced on Twitter that she would not be involved with the new game and neither would most of the original team. Mirror's Edge was confirmed to have a planned release date of February 23, 2016 before it was delayed.
The title Mirror's Edge Catalyst was formally announced in June 2015 prior to E3 2015; DICE product manager Sara Jansson affirmed that the game is not a sequel but would delve into more of Faith's past while expanding on the original game's first-person perspective experience. On June 15, at E3, and later on the Mirror's Edge YouTube channel, DICE released a new trailer for Mirror's Edge Catalyst, revealing elements of the game's storyline and environment. It was confirmed that the game would feature an open-world design and Faith would no longer be able to use guns.
On September 30, 2015, it was announced that the soundtrack composer for the original Mirror's Edge, Solar Fields would again compose for Catalyst. He collaborated with Scottish synthpop band Chvrches to create an original song for the game's soundtrack entitled "Warning Call".
On October 29, 2015, it was announced that the game had been delayed until May 24, 2016 to allow additional development time and for DICE to refine the traversal gameplay. On April 21, 2016, it was announced that the game had been delayed until June 7, 2016 to allow optimization and perfection of Social Play. The game's Collector Edition was released alongside the main game. It included a figurine of Faith, a steel book, a lithograph, temporary tattoos, and a storage box.
DICE announced Mirror's Edge: Exordium as a prequel comic book leading towards the storyline of Mirror's Edge Catalyst. It was released on September 9, 2015 and was published by Dark Horse Comics.
According to review aggregation website Metacritic, Mirror's Edge Catalyst received "mixed or average" reviews from critics. Chris Carter from Destructoid gave the game a positive review, commending the focus on open world gameplay, saying that the game "nails" exploration and parkour movement. He felt that because the gameplay was fun overall, players could spend an endless amount of time roaming the game world. Carter also called the overall visuals "beautiful" and felt that the design of the environments help create a world that is full of life. Carter disliked the story, however, for being predictable and featuring unlikeable supporting characters but said it was forgivable because players are able to ignore it and focus on the gameplay aspects.
While citing the movement system as a positive and the combat mechanics as a negative, Spencer Campbell concluded his review for Electronic Gaming Monthly with: "Mirror's Edge Catalyst has a strong core built by its movement system, but when it comes time to do anything else than run from point A to point B, you'll probably be more inclined to run away."
Game Informer's Ben Reeves summarized his review with: "The original Mirror's Edge is an overlooked gem from last generation, but even diehard fans will have trouble finding the diamonds in this rough." Reeves disliked the design of the game's environments, calling them "barren" and "lifeless", criticized the melee combat for feeling like a chore, stated that the soundtrack lacked defining characteristics, called the main story "rushed", and felt that the side-content was "boring".
Game Revolution's Peter Paras called the game's environments "gorgeous" and "unique", commended the large amount of content, and praised the visuals of the cutscenes. Paras thought that the gameplay was "unintuitive" and "clunky", however, and hated the story and characters. Paras also experienced some technical issues, thought that character animations were "poor", and said that the design of the menus was "strange".
Scott Butterworth of GameSpot gave particular praise to the movement mechanics, saying that they consistently wowed him throughout the entire game and made up for the various shortcomings he experienced. Butterworth also liked the varied mix of side-content and called the open world exploration "rewarding". Butterworth's main criticisms were concerning the "mediocre" story and the "clunky" combat.
GamesRadar's Leon Hurley stated: "Mirror's Edge Catalyst is an interesting game with some strong ideas but not enough variety." Hurley praised the visuals but called the combat "terrible". Ryan McCaffrey for IGN summarized his review with: "Mirror's Edge's return shines in some regards, but is ultimately a disappointment." McCaffrey complimented the user-generated content and parkour gameplay but criticized the story and characters, as well as the "uneven" combat and inconsistent visuals.
Arthur Gies of Polygon wrote: "I imagine most players will happily bounce from side mission to delivery to grid node and back again, content to do what Mirror's Edge has always been best at: constantly moving forward and up. And once you can focus on that, Mirror's Edge Catalyst is a flawed, but often great breath of something different and exciting in an open-world landscape full of the same old thing."
The game was the second best-selling retail game in the UK in its first week of release, only behind Overwatch. In its second week of release, the game became the sixth best-selling retail game of the week.