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The Order: 1886 Preview (PS4)

February 18, 2014 Written by Anthony Severino

The Order 1886-binoculars

At E3, Ready at Dawn’s Neo-Victorian PS4 exclusive made its debut during the Sony Press Conference, but aside from an impressive introduction, setting, and look, it didn’t do much to explain why The Order: 1886 was special. After spending some time with The Order: 1886 at a recent PlayStation Media Showcase, Ready at Dawn clearly defined why it is not only a worthy addition to the PlayStation 4 line-up, but also that it has potential to be one of the best new games and IP of the entire year.

The Order: 1886 takes place in an alternate history London where humans began devolving into “half-breed” beasts that threaten peace and the civilized world. War has raged on for centuries, as an elite order of old world Knights attempted to keep the increasing threat at bay, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious to both the Knights of the Round that support the upper-class and the lower-class civilians that live in fear that it’s a losing battle. The result is a massive rebellion and civil war that the Knights must deal with in addition to the persistence of the half-breeds.

The Order 1886-squad

War, and with it the need of victory, has spawned an industrial revolution that has led to advanced inventions far ahead of their time. This is why you see Zeppelins lining the sky, or mechanical weaponry capable of producing electrical shockwaves or clouds of molten metal. None of it fits into an accurate depiction of history around 1886, but the alternate history lets Ready at Dawn craft weaponry, vehicles, and situations that aren’t reality, but that theoretically could have been created given what was historically available for technology and industry at the time. This leads to a more authentic setting, despite so many improbable scenarios.

It’s up to a team of four main protagonist Knights from the same squad—Grayson, who appears to be the story lead, Sebastian, his mentor, Lafayette, and Isabeau—to bring order to the streets of London.

The Order 1886-stabbin

The Order: 1886 is a third-person, cover-based shooter at its core, but features much variation to its gameplay. In the short demonstration, some light platforming and up-close quick time events are thrown into the mix. The variety lends well to The Order’s biggest selling point: the seamless transition from cinematics to gameplay. Because gameplay and cinematics are interwoven this way, the ability to have at least some control during cinematic moments is paramount to selling The Order: 1886 as a fully interactive cinematic experience. One such example we were shown was a QTE fist-fight that led to a power struggle on the ground, reaching for a knife to deal the final melee blow. With more than one outcome available, even if a QTE command is missed, there is much potential for different experiences across multiple playthroughs.

Beyond the gameplay, The Order: 1886 is absolutely stunning. Characters move fluidly, despite a subtle stiffness characteristic of a Knight with a certain level of prestige. The war-tattered London provides a grand backdrop to the events that take place. Billowing smoke fills the air, obscuring the Zeppelins floating ominously in the horizon. Brick and cobblestone make up much of the construction, with textures and lighting that brings the foggy London streets to life. In one particular shot, two of the Knights are perched atop a building with the wall blown out, ready to make a leap of faith across the alley to another battered structure. But before they jump, a wide-open shot of London displays a breathtaking draw distance full of action and movement.

The Order 1886-jump

While we only had a short, eyes-only demonstration of The Order: 1886 presented to us, we were able to take away the fact that The Order: 1886 is incredibly ambitious in both its concept and its execution. We’ve heard talk of blending cinematics and gameplay before, but none have come so close to making that a reality, removing that abrupt jolt that pulls a player out of an experience, rather than deeper into it. Even being a new IP, Ready at Dawn clearly knows what it means to make a great PlayStation game, borrowing aspects of the Uncharted series and blending them with weaponry similar to that of the Resistance franchise, over an epic score akin to that of God of War. However, there is no doubt in my mind that The Order: 1886 will carve out its own place among these greats, and has potential to be the first Game of the Year worthy title on the PS4.