Back in 2008, EA DICE released a first-person game that made you feel like you were more than a one-eyed action figure with a gun attached. You had a body that you could see, hands that would brush up against walls, and legs that would visibly kick the gun out of an enemy's hands. Mirror's Edge took advantage of what the first-person perspective had to offer and gave us something unique and memorable in the process.
With the new game in the series recently announced, here are five ideas we'd love to see added and expanded upon in the next Mirror's Edge.
Limitations are key.
Other than a distinct art-style and refreshing concept, the original game possessed a great sense of pace. You were a bullet when playing as Faith, ripping through your enemies down a clearly defined chamber. Extending this idea to an open-world with a plethora of abilities sounds like the perfect playground, but the quality and joy of a slide is overshadowed when you have an army of other amusements to deal with.
The greatest strength of Mirror's Edge was in its simplicity. You could run, jump, swing, slide and wall-run, and it would be a good idea to maintain this clarity for the next iteration. By limiting the player's options to a select few tools, DICE will allow themselves an opportunity to focus all their efforts on solid level design. Dishonored has proven that you can expand an experience using multiple routes and interesting stages without compromising the rush, and Mirror's Edge should take note.
The end result will play out like a compelling fast-paced puzzler, and this was always where the game shined the most.
Martial arts and platforming to complement each other.
DICE offered an original idea when creating a first-person freerunner, but their innovation took a backseat when dealing with the hand-to-hand combat. Clumsy punches and awkward kicks weren't too dissimilar from the experience found in Dragon Ball Z for Kinect, and it certainly contradicted the vision that the game perfectly represented everywhere else.
If we are to get into Faith's world, we need to be able to use everything around us as a means for traversal. Guards shouldn't be seen as a new combat encounter, they should be additive to the freerunning experience that Mirror's Edge does so well.
Kick an enemy in the gut and use his bent back as a springboard for the ledge above, or take a gunman hostage at the press of a button before pushing him into a pile of boxes to create yet another route, whatever the mechanic, it must be done in service of the pace.
As much as I'd love to see Faith smash a guard to death using an iPhone, "mobile executions" refers to the shooting. The original game treated a gun the same way my dad treats a DualShock 3, but the inclusion of some firepower is nothing to be confused about or afraid of with the next Mirror's Edge.
Forget what it means to have a floating gun on screen and use it as another component to distill the combat into what makes the game so much fun: the pace. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist's "killing in motion" may not seem like a good fit for Sam Fisher, but a similar mechanic could pay dividends in the hands of Faith.
Knock an enemy out, take their gun, and use the last bullet on their partner's leg to keep your enemies at a distance, all at the push of a button or two. The challenge should never be in the stopping and the aiming, but in the quick-thinking that comes with a freerunner desperately trying to escape unscathed.
Expand the online play.
Given all the previous points brought up in this article, an online race needn't be cold, hollow and uncreative.
The singleplayer of the original Mirror's Edge is enough on its own to warrant another game in the franchise, but if there's going to be some aspect of multiplayer (which we can assume with some level of confidence that there is) then let's take advantage of the talent at DICE.
Rather than racing against other peoples' clocks, give us the chance to go at it and interact with other players in real-time. Team-based modes such as capture the flag and relay races could all be a part of a more developed online offering. Throw in hand-to-hand combat and interactive environments, and there's potential to instil depth and strategy into relatively simple objectives.
Focus on the strengths of Mirror's Edge across all modes, and this will clearly define the game as something separate from everything else on the market.
Get rid of those cutscenes.
While there are particular artistic issues with the cutscenes of the original game, the series could do without cinematics altogether. They may play a role in giving the player some downtime amidst all the high-octane adrenaline rushes, but elevator trips and quiet exploration produced similar results without them.
The theme of Mirror's Edge was one of simplicity and hidden depth, and this should extend to the narrative as well. Keep it clear, memorable and easy, but include layers that give us an opportunity to delve deeper into the characters and their motivations.
Take a page out of Shadow of the Colossus' book. Keep the sheer thrill of the gameplay at the forefront, and let the player infer and discover aspects of the story for themselves.