Much ado about something has been made in regards to numerous gameplay elements of The Order:1886. Gamer commentary has centered around the use of QTE’s, the game’s length, lackluster 3rd person shooting, and an overall boring story. Some have suggested the game (which is undoubtedly going to see a sequel) only serves as a promising start, leaving a lot to be desired. I’ve found a marked difference in comments based on the expectations of the game.
Taking place in an alternate version of 1886, The Order is a “King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table”-esque storyline starring a knight named Sir Galahad. This version of the tale takes place in London and deals with lycans and a government conspiracy. Most of the story is told during in-game engine powered cutscenes, and it’s here where The Order shines the brightest. The game is absolutely gorgeous. You can barely tell when the cutscene ends.
Ready at Dawn did a tremendous job in creating a moody, brooding atmosphere that happens to be one of the prettiest games on current gen. They know it too, as there are a number of sequences which force the player to walk slowly as Sir Galahad talks to a number of his teammates throughout the game. I’ve no clue if the team over at Ready at Dawn needed to push the PS4 to its limits for it to look this good. If they didn’t, I can’t wait to see what else might be in store for future games in this series. Video games are more than graphics though. They’re also about gameplay. And it’s here where The Order received the most scrutiny.
As a 3rd person shooter, The Order is competent. Moving from cover to cover works for the most part, though occasionally Sir Galahad will refuse to stick to surfaces he should be able to stick to. What’s here isn’t anything new or different from what’s been seen in other games, which may be cause for disappointment. There are a few shooting sequences regarding the lycans that can be tense, but don’t really play out any differently than shooting humans. Each one played out exactly the same, and this really stuck out as a missed opportunity. The QTE’s involving some of the stronger lycans however, were tension filled and a blast to play through.
The game also features a number of stealth sequences, providing a nice break from the shooting galleries. The stealth melee death animations are as gruesome as they as are pretty to look at. All in all, The Order fits in with a number of other 3rd person shooters as the gameplay doesn’t go outside of the already painted lines of the genre. On the flip side, some of the issues other reviewers brought up regarding the game cannot be ignored.
For starters, The Order is a short affair. I’m talking 7-8 hours, tops. This normally wouldn’t be problematic if not for the fact there are quite a few cutscenes and walking sections (where you simply move the character forward but no action is involved) factored into those 8 hours. Also, there are WAY too many hints on-screen for the simplest activities. It’s as if Ready at Dawn weren’t sure people would get the full experience of the game unless they had their hand held the entire time. A straightforward game like The Order hardly needs this much hand holding. The sheer number of hints offered is intrusive, annoying, and breaks the immersion factor of the game.
As a result, while I do recommend everybody play the game (because despite the last paragraph I greatly enjoyed my experience), I don’t know if I could recommend playing it at the full asking price. In an era full of open world “go everywhere and see everything” games, The Order brings a fully focused single-player story based experience that feels fresh. That’s something I can appreciate. But, I only paid half price for the game. With no expectations and a lower asking price, I’m sure that’s affected my judgement on the overall product. If you can Gamefly a copy, borrow it from a friend, or catch it on sale, I’d fully recommend it.
Jerz here. I just wanted to add a few thoughts.
After finishing The Order, and watching my lady finish it in front of people who don’t play video games, I can’t help but feel that less hardcore gamers will love this title way more than us lifers. Our company absolutely loved this game, and really enjoyed watching her play. Robyn also loved this game, although I think she would agree it’s not worth 60 bucks.
With that said, I agree with a lot of the criticisms levied at this game. What I don’t agree with is how critics have tried to make The Order their case against “AA titles never review poorly.” I feel like that’s exactly what is happening here, simply because EVERY review is damn near a clone yet the scores vary so wildly. A 9 here, a 4 there, exact same strengths and flaws. How Sway?
Anyway, I agree with Robyn and G. If you can play this without buying it, do so. If you can get it for bargain price, do that too. Don’t pay 60 for it unless you REALLY want to play it now and have no other way. I think the sequel will be what we would have liked this game to be.