Hopes and reservations: The Order 1886.
To say I’m hopeful for the release of the PS4 exclusive game The Order 1886 would be a gross act of abuse on the word hope. Since it’s announcement trailer way back at E3 in 2013 i’ve followed the game with mild disinterest and with only a few days to go till it’s release, let me go over a few of my thoughts on what we’ve seen from this game so far.
The Order 1886 is at it’s heart a third person shooter with a heavy emphasis on quick time events and interactive cut scenes. As a genre I quite like third person shooters, games like Tomb Raider and Vanquish are jolly good fun . But it’s also a genre that’s very easy to make dull, with players constantly crouching behind cover, taking pot shots at other people behind cover. So what does the Order do differently? Nothing, it’s gun-play and combat looks to be the most dull and lifeless I’ve seen in some time. The weapons are meant to be designed by Nikola Tesla (Because if you need awesome science in a realistic setting you call Tesla) so they’ve got this alt-history steam punk vibe, where automatic weaponry is used side by side to guns that shoot out arcs of lighting. All this sounds rather cool on paper, but all the footage I’ve seen (There is a full play-through on youtube already) just makes the fighting pretty meh looking, and in a third person shooter that is unforgivable.
With the lackluster shooting comes with it game-play that’s heavily reliant on quick time events (QTEs). QTEs are no bad thing in themselves, used sparingly but effectively they can be a nice way of pulling off a maneuver that isn’t possible with the skills given to the play. Unfortunately for the Order, the game seems to be built around them, with instances of melee combat given over to button prompts and scripted take-downs, instead of allowing for a fight to conclude organically everything has to play out in the way the developers intended. It makes the game akin to watching a movie and given the developers comments about want it to be more cinematic that’s hardly surprising. Now i’m not one to bang on about a game’s performance, frame rate, resolution etc, but to me this implies that Ready at Dawn (The developers) just wanted to make a movie and that game-play was of secondary concern.
From a graphical stand point the game does look gorgeous, there really is no doubt about it and it’s perhaps the best looking game on the PS4 right now (Although the devs insistence on having filmic black bars that take up 30% of the screen may have something to do with that) But looks alone aren’t enough, you’ve got to have fun game-play or at least a compelling story of some description to get my interest and from my end it doesn’t look like they have either. The story from what I can glean is of a secret war between The Order and ‘Half-breeds’ that has been going for centuries that’s reaching it’s climax in the technological setting of a alt-history Victorian London where Steampunk technology has finally given the Order the advantage. To me this sounds like a pretty cool basis for a story, and it’s one of the parts of the game i’m actually interested to see.
Now we can’t go any further in to speculating about this game unless we address the rumors about the games length. With the whole play-though on Youtube only taking about 5 hours to complete it’s fair to say the game is on the shorter side of things. There is of course nothing wrong with a game being short, Gone Home or Journey only clocked in about an hour or so and both were incredibly satisfying, 100 hour RPGS on the other hand have bored me and become a slog to complete. So length is never the issue (Wink, Wink, Ladies) instead it’s how you use the time. If those 5 hours are some of the best ever made for a game then I don’t think anyone would mind too much, but from the impression I’ve had from the footage I’ve seen, even one hour in that game would be tedious to sit through. This also introduces the dichotomy between game length and price. The Order 1886 will be a full priced game, costing around £40 pounds to $60 Dollars in America. If like me your not willing to throw down such a chunk of change on a gamble, I advise you to stay away from the Order 1886 until reviewers you trust have said it’s the best thing since a oral sex and melted cheese (Not together…. Or maybe) or wait until it goes down in price after a few months.
So I’ve been pretty negative about a game I haven’t even played yet haven’t I? *Looks over the last 800 words* Yep I have.