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Digital Foundry: Hands-on with Mirror's Edge Catalyst

Serving as both a prequel and a reboot of sorts, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst swaps out the last-gen title’s Unreal Engine 3 for DICE’s proprietary Frostbite 3, with the developer targeting 60fps for this latest outing – a sizeable jump from the 30fps original. The recent beta gave us our first in-depth look at the game and the changes brought by the switch to a newer engine, which delivers a very different visual experience on screen from the original game. It’s an ambitious effort, but even with a final round of optimisation to go, the question is – can the current-gen consoles deliver DICE’s vision?

The city of glass is a perfect fit for the physically-based rendering model in Frostbite 3, with elements such as glass, steel, and marble appearing natural, while the use of Geometrics’ Enlighten global illumination solution allows for reflected light across virtually every surface, infusing the game with a high contrast look that stands out from the crowd. Frostbite 3 is a known quantity at this point, and DICE has taken to focusing on increasing effects work and general graphical quality instead of pushing for a resolution boost. As such, bearing in mind the 60fps target, it’s no surprise to discover that the PS4 version renders at 900p while the Xbox One framebuffer is knocked down to 720p. It’s a familiar set up to Star Wars Battlefront, with all the same pros and cons.

On the plus side, sub-native rendering allows the developer to target 60fps more easily, but as a result image quality takes a hit – particularly on Xbox One where upscaling artefacts are easy to spot across geometry edges. The PS4 version holds up more favourably to the PC game: the presentation is noticeably softer, but fine details and edges aren’t unduly compromised to the same degree as Xbox One. That said, it’s the PC release that offers up the most refinement here, with resolutions at 1080p and beyond delivering better clarity and sharpness across the scene, backed up by additional visual features.