It doesn't take long to get taken in by the beautiful architecture and the stunning vistas of Mirror's Edge Catalyst. So it almost pains us to write this guide, since after you read it, you'll be zooming across the rooftops so fast that everything around you will be a blur.
The open world of Mirror's Edge Catalyst has many side missions and diversions, but for fans of the original game, speedrunners, thrill-seekers, completionists, and, well, runners in general, one mission type stands out. The Dash.
The Dash is a kind of time trial, where you must get from point A to point B without splatting yourself all over pavement C. It's timed, and there are leaderboards so you can compare your speed to that of your friends for ultimate bragging rights. That said, it's sometimes hard to post those three-star times. We're here to help you with that.
The first thing you should do when starting a Dash for the first time is to forget about the timer, and forget about your runner vision for the most part. Posting a fast Dash time is primarily about finding the best route to the goal, and half the fun is finding it yourself. On your first run, simply make your way to the finish line, not worrying about time.
Don't cross the finish line though, we're not done yet. Once you're there, look around for alternate paths. The standard runner vision path to the goal is almost always very slow, and will not be enough to net you a three-star time. Look for direct paths, ones that minimize right angle turns.
Then, restart and attempt to run that path. If you're getting to the goal within about 3 or so seconds of the 3-star time, you'll most likely be ready to move to step 2.
Now that you have a general idea of the path you're going to take to the goal, it's time to refine the path into a specific line. Now is the time to plan out each obstacle and move, augmenting your line to shave more and more seconds off of your time.
On any Dash path, there are multiple things to watch out for, because they will slow you down immensely. Pipes and ladders in particular add many precious seconds to your time, even with the quick-climb upgrade, so try to springboard over them or find another way up. In most dashes, pipes and ladders can be bypassed, so it's a general rule of thumb that if a pipe or ladder is the only way to proceed to the goal (and there's no way to wallrun or springboard to the top of it and save time), you'll want to find another path.
Speaking of springboarding, large drops also slow you down a lot, regardless of whether or not you're making a soft landing or quick-rolling out of the drop. It is always faster to simply run off a ledge without jumping, if possible, and continue running at speed when you land. On any Dash, you'll need to find out via trial and error where rolls are necessary, and if they are avoidable by breaking one long drop into two short drops.
A critical moment in the High Roller dash is an example of this. Near the end of the run, before you pass the skybridge, there is a large drop to the door you must pass through. That said, there's a nearby ledge Faith can drop to instead, and dropping to that ledge does not necessitate a roll. Drop to that ledge, then to ground level, then proceed on your way.
Okay. By now you should have a specific line for Faith to run, knowing exactly where to perform each and every action. Once you've done that, try running it. At this point, this line should get you to the end of the course at around the 3-star time, if not a little bit faster.
But that doesn't mean we're done. There's still room for improvement here. Run the route a few times to get comfortable with it, and you'll see your times improving little by little. Once you know it like the back of your hand, it's time to put everything together.
Now is when you'll start shaving off those tenths-of-seconds that will be the difference between a top 35% time and a top 5% time.
The first step is something that racing game aficionados know a lot about, and that's clipping each corner. Whenever you need to turn, try to clip the corner as much as you can. Usually, this will mean jumping from a roof to a bridge instead of running around the corner. In addition, try to minimize turning and micro-corrections. The more you can stay on one unbroken path to the goal, the faster you'll be. Each tiny change of course adds to your time, and it adds up quickly.
Another easy thing to do to save time is simply coil over low obstacles and railings. Yes, you can use the coil for more than just jumping over pipes. When jumping across buildings, coiling over railings successfully means you keep all of your momentum, since the animation of Faith climbing over the railing or obstacle won't play.
The last thing to remember is that whenever you lose speed, mash the shift button. Whenever you roll, whenever you climb up on top of a surface, whenever you crash through a door, shift. Even if you think you're at top speed, you don't lose anything for shifting, so it's usually better to be safe than sorry.
Here's the bad news, though.
If by this point, you're still not smashing that three-star time, you've picked the wrong line and will need to go back to step 1 (or step 2, depending on the situation).
But the silver lining here is the fact that one of Mirror's Edge Catalyst's best qualities is that its open world is a playground. Finding these new paths and lines to run on Dash missions is truly exhilarating and fun-- especially if you have friends around to point out other possible paths to take. In fact, we'll say that's an optional Step 5: Invite over another Mirror's Edge fan to critique your line and see if they can improve on it a little bit. It's really satisfying to solve some of these environmental puzzles with friends, so don't hold back from turning this single-player game into a couch co-op experience!
Now, on the other hand, if you don't need to go back to square one and remap your route, it's because you've smashed records and probably sit at the top 5 or 10% of the leaderboard. Cherish it now, because as soon as more people start reading this guide, beating those high scores will become a lot more difficult.
Have you been playing Mirror's Edge: Catalyst? Are you having trouble with a specific Dash, or do you have other tips for runners looking to improve their times? Let us know in the comments! And in the meantime, while you wait for our review of the game, get up to speed on the controversy surrounding the game's surprisingly low user scores on Metacritic and other review outlets.