The Order: 1886 Might Not Be As Mundane As We Thought
The Order: 1886 has come under a lot of scrutiny as of late for being a rather dull-looking shooter, based on footage we’ve been shown over previous months. However the latest trailer went some way into reigniting excitement for the game, showing a few things we’d have loved to see those months ago when we had our magnifying glasses out. Although it should be noted that it’s quite interesting how the game hasn’t been marketed excessively and there hasn’t actually been a ton of information as we expect from triple A games who like to blow their load long before release. This may actually bode well for the game and give it a chance to surprise us, or if you’re highly cynical be a sign of there not being much to show. You be the judge of that as we give you everything we know about The Order: 1886.
Name: The Order: 1886
Developers: Ready at Dawn, SCE Santa Monica Studio
Publishers: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: 20 February 2015
We actually don’t want to understate how curious and refreshing it is to see a triple A game so close to release yet without an ocean of information, hundreds of screenshots and hours of footage to obsess over. Whether that spells bad news or the potential to surprise is entirely up to you, but at the very least it’s uncommon. Speaking of uncommon, The Order: 1886 has a rather unconventional yet incredible setting, taking place in an alternate history London where a bunch of old people who call themselves knights band together in an Order in order to keep the world safe from half breed monsters. Those would be half man, half animal things, like the Lycans. The game’s premise states that a small number of humans took on bestial traits in the seventh and eight centuries, and war broke out as humans feared them. Despite humans outnumbering the half breeds, the animal strength possessed by their opponents put them at a disadvantage over centuries of conflict.
It was only a couple of hundred years later that the humans found hope with King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Despite King Arthur’s and his group of nerds’ best attempts at taking the fight to the half breeds, the order realises there’s a losing battle up ahead. However in what can be described as a mysterious twist of fate The Knights discover a peculiar liquid called Black Water, which significantly lengthens their lifespans and gives them enhanced healing capabilities. Sadly, despite the advantage the half breeds continue to win, until the Industrial Revolution turns the tide with inventors far ahead of the era. Suddenly thermal imaging, Zeppelins and powerful new weapons are available for The Knights, and give them a new edge against the half breeds. Fast forward to the present day, 1886, the war is still on, but the humans almost have control. But they get screwed over again as a new threat rises with the lower class citizens rebelling against the rich and the social order, with the Knights supporting the upper classes and nobles. Them damn rich kids!
That’s where you as the player come in, stepping into the shoes of Grayson, also known by his title Sir Galahad. Teaming up with Sebastian Malory (Sir Percival), knight-in-training Marquis de Lafayette and Isabeau D’Argyll, also known as Lady Igraine, Galahad has been at war against the order’s enemies for centuries. The whole premise is pretty much what we know for certain about the story at this point. Obviously you will carry out the order’s wishes and take the fight to the rebels, because shooters must have human opponents to kill in humane ways, and the half breeds, although the lid has been left pretty tight on how those battles will be. We did get a glimpse of a Lycan encounter though back at E3 last year, which showed an interesting fight that blended gameplay and scripted cinematics in quick succession. That’s something that could turn out to be quite exhilarating in action or frustrating, and we’ll let you see what you make of it in the footage below, from last year.
The game has often been spoken of as the PS4’s Uncharted due to the famous series’ influence on it. That was before, you know, the actual Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was announced. With regards to the gameplay we’ve mostly seen cover shooting and close quarters melee combat reminiscent of The Last Of Us in some ways, but the latest trailer for the game has teased some more of it. We glimpsed a little bit of platforming, some kind of airstrike device and of course a few examples of the advanced weaponry, which could really spice up the ordinary. There was the electrical gun which straight up blew someone’s head clean off, and there was some kind of high powered shotgun that obliterated another poor sod’s legs. The focus on visceral action was always clear from the immense sound of gunfire and the destructible environments. We’re still in the dark about the rest of the weapons, but it appears that if you’re a fan of Uncharted and The Last Of Us, and fancied some kind of supernatural twist on those kinds of games, The Order: 1886 may be where to start looking.
Going back to that point about blending cinematics and gameplay, I’ve read that it’s a core part of the game that works really well and seamlessly for the most part with minimal distractions in the transitions, but there can be one or two non-action instances where you momentarily may not be sure if control was handed back to you. It’s mostly communicated to you through tooltips, designed to be subtle to not disturb the moment. It definitely has the potential to make for a highly cinematic and visceral game packed with immersion if done correctly, which could be a win. The game’s extreme attempts at immersion however could potentially give rise to gameplay obstacles, such as with the very zoomed-in camera during stealth sections. Speaking of it was nice to hear that the The Order: 1886 is opting to make things slightly more challenging, with a small example being that stealth kills need to be timed correctly otherwise they could lead to instant death or alerts for you. That could also be irritating if the game decides to be unfair in certain segments. When taking gameplay risks like these, it’s make-or-break with the execution of it all, so we’ll only really know when we play the final product.
Some may understandably groan at all the talk of the game being ‘cinematic’, but from what we’ve seen we’d say that The Order: 1886 is offering a bit of freshness in that regard. As mentioned, it’s the kind of gameplay approach that can often be make-or-break material. Based on our readings and own gameplay experience at last year’s rAge, the game aims to pose a challenge, so if pulled off perhaps that could open the door to some replayability on higher difficulty levels. Of course we’re also speaking to the non-trophy whores here. While we don’t have a firm figure in mind, insiders have claimed that the game will be about 8-10 hours in length, which fits the standard more or less. Whether there’ll be reason (or necessity) to stay after that remains to be seen.
The Order: 1886 has been in the works since 2010 according to the Ready at Dawn CEO and creative director Ru Weerasuriya, so it has an ambitious four-year development cycle behind it. We think it’s fair to say that gamers should expect it to be technically impeccable because of that. Based on all the footage we’ve seen we’re in no conflict about the fact that the game is looking mind-blowing, and coupled together with the awesome setting it’s clear that visually we may be getting a true next-gen experience. It was confirmed earlier this month that the game will run at 30 FPS, so I guess it’s impossible for it to be any good according to the freaks you’ll find in the dark corners of the internet. Pleasingly though the game has been shown to run exceptionally smoothly, so ideally we’ve got an experience that is locked at 30 FPS like a stubborn crow.
The game is purely single player, opting out of an obligatory multiplayer offering of any kind, which tells us Ready at Dawn has its priorities in check at least.
Suspected Selling Points
- The incredible setting in particular has great potential for the game, as does the graphical power.
- Using electrical guns to decapitate people. Visceral violence, yo.
- The half breed foes may enable the game to deviate greatly from being a standard shooter.
- Our fears could be proven true with it just being a boring shooter.
- Ready at Dawn has only really worked on the PSP, and while their track record there with God of War and Daxter is great, it’s their first attempt on the big stage.
- There’s some added pressure on the game due to a few PS4 exclusives falling short of the hype.
The Order: 1886 has had more than its fair share of critics and doubters along the way, and that has probably led to many not expecting a whole lot out of it. Given that, the game is either going to surprise us or it’s going to prove the doubters correct, so there’s not much room for big disappointment here. Nevertheless despite the absence of detail-overload, which is refreshing, The Order: 1886 is looking a whole lot more promising than it did months ago. And in the end it’s extreme focus on immersion and seamless blending of cinematics and gameplay could separate it from the competition, in addition to its fantastic setting and awesome graphics. The Order: 1886 is Ready at Dawn’s chance to make a name of themselves and become a new big player for Sony’s first party team, so fingers crossed that they pull it off, with the help of SCE Sony Santa Monica of course. Mark February 20 on your calender!