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The Order 1886

By on August 6, 2015

In the year or so before The Order 1886 was released, the hype train was at full speed, Sony fan-boys had brought their tickets early, and many proclaimed it to be better than Gears of War before it was even playable.

Now, far be it for me to highlight a monumentally stupid trend in the gaming industry (regardless of platform), but dear reader, here it be. The public got so excited abroad this hype train that when the game eventually came out to middling reviews, the outrage enveloped games sites and social media and the reaction wasn’t pretty.

The surprising realisation when I eventually got around to playing The Order 1886 was that I really enjoyed it. Reaction to even slight issues on the back of hype usually leads to over criticism, and I’d suggest that’s what’s happened with The Order 1886.

The Order 1886 follows the Knights of the Round Table in Victorian London, protecting the Empire from werewolves, vampires and rebels as historical events play out around them. The story is easy to follow yet well written, with decent characters throughout, including several historical figures.

The game prioritises a cinematic delivery of story over all else, and this is without doubt the biggest bone of contention people will experience. A structure is eventually settled upon, but the opening few acts are more than enough to give gamers the wrong impression and put them off for good.

These early acts struggle to relinquish control of the game to the player, instead establishing the story through elongated semi-playable sections requiring the player to simply push in a single direction while stuck walking at a snail’s pace, as well as constant long cut-scenes.

Once this is out of the way though, the game settles into a highly linear structure, and continues to deliver a steady stream of long cut-scenes throughout.

As president of the Anti-QTE club, I was dreading playing through what I’d heard was a game riddled with it. On the whole the QTEs aren’t that bad, and certainly allowed Ready at Dawn to deliver the story in a certain way. The QTEs do sometimes cause instant fail states, or frustration when they suddenly appear in the middle of what you thought was a cinematic cut-scene. Also worthy of special mention are the QTEs requiring aiming that would sometimes appear. No matter what I did in the options menu, I couldn’t invert the aim for these sections, meaning that I would regularly take to long to work out which way was up, miss, and fail.

The Order 1886 relies too much on QTEs to keep the player engaged during lengthy cut scenes, but I would happily have had fewer QTEs in the game and still enjoyed the story.

There are moments where your cover shooting view is seriously impacted by the decision to deliver the game through film style black bars at the top & bottom of the screen. This should be a simple fix, either change the angle or point of vie behind the character, or remove the bars. How this feature got past QA is a mystery.

The cover based shooting mechanics work well on the whole, finding cover with the press of a button in most situations. The weapons are well thought out and distinct, with some offering a sci-fi angle of Victorian technology, such as the thermite gun which shoots out a cloud of thermite explosive that fills the air until you fire the spark that detonates it from distance. Some of these weapons force interesting play styles as a result and are pretty enjoyable.

The enemies you encounter generally don’t offer much in the way of intelligence, those with guns will generally attack from head on, guards during stealth sections don’t deviate from set paths and werewolves charging from distance.

The Order 1886 is a gritty cover based shooter, so comparisons with Gears of War are inevitable. In terms of pure shooting mechanics, The Order 1886 doesn’t touch Gears, but direct comparisons may be missing the point. In it’s linear style and focus on a cinematic story it reminded me of the Uncharted series, although The Order 1886 is definitely a less jovial experience than either Gears or Uncharted.

The Order 1886 is a visually gorgeous game, and watching footage I captured back again it’s almost surprising how nice the game looks. The visuals are probably more important in a game like The Order 1886 where you’ll be watching huge amounts of cut scenes or playing semi-interactive QTE games for so long.

Anybody criticising the length of the game is literally mental. The Order 1886 is pretty much devoid of filler content, which other ‘longer’ games force you through almost without exception. I appreciate a developer not wasting my time. As long as the story is well told and the game fun, I don’t care how long it is; and if anything would prefer a shorter game. My playthrough of The Order 1886 came in at around 8 hours, including a few repeat QTE based deaths here and there. What’s short about 8 hours? Either way, I’d much rather have a tight, memorable story driven game than the alternatives – drawn out Call of Duty plots where I have no idea what’s going on or endless Destiny missions where not even the developer knows. The absence of a by-the-numbers multiplayer mode is also a pleasant sight that many other IPs should learn from – imagine if Assassin’s Creed developers Ubisoft concentrated on the quality of the core game instead of multiplayer bullshit.

Overall then, The Order 1886 has some issues. The opening chapters are patience testing hard-work, but once you’re underway, I genuinely didn’t have a problem with the balance or length of gameplay and story. It’s a good looking game, with a solid shooting mechanics, entertaining story, believable characters and an interesting world that crucially doesn’t waste your time. While I’m still confused about why werewolves and vampires are working together, I’m sure it will be explained in the inevitable sequel, The Order 1887.

Go play it, it’s kinda fun.

About Mr Vandelay

Editor at large

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