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GameStart 2014 – The Order: 1886 Hands-On Preview – Beauty Under Siege

October 30, 2014Written by Gerard Cueto

Order 1886

I’ve been wanting to play The Order: 1886 ever since it was announced at E3 2013; and at GameStart 2014, I finally got my chance. Ready at Dawn’s alternate history/science-fiction third-person shooter has always piqued my interest, especially when the studio mentioned Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, one of my favorite games of all time, as one of the influences for the game.

The roughly 10-minute demo I played has already been showcased at other trade shows like this year’s Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) Prime and Tokyo Game Show (TGS). The demo takes place in the game’s third chapter titled “Inequalities,” and immediately throws the player into a London alley shoot-out.

I was able to test several of the game’s mechanics, from the cover system, the shooting, and the blacklight ability. 

The Order: 1886′s cover system is reminiscent of the Uncharted games and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. One button enables cover mode and pressing it again removes game protagonist Galahad from cover.

Shoot ‘Em Up

The shooting aspect, for the most part, is competent. The pistol is effective at picking off enemies (who were all human in the demo) one by one. Though usage of the termite rifle can be confusing at first, understanding how it works (fire termite bullets first then launch the flare that will be ignited to burn enemies) will also make it useful in taking down a cluster of enemies. One part of the demo sees the player carrying  off another character to safety while shooting enemies (a segment that also reminded me of Uncharted 2).

I was also able to try Galahad’s “blacklight” ability, a skill that slows down time (and turns the screen to black and white) and allows you to carefully aim at enemies. It reminded me of Max Payne’s bullet time and dead eye targeting in Red Dead Redemption. I’m sure it would be useful in the final game, but the demo was too short for me to fully try out the mechanic in one playthrough.

Graphically, the title is outstanding. Character models are incredibly detailed (next-gen mustaches!) and the facial animations do a good job of conveying emotion out of the characters. The Victorian-era environment  is brimming with character and atmosphere.

Rough Around the Edges

However, while there are several things to like in the demo, there were also some things that could be cause for concern. The area featured in the demo was quite linear and devoid of larger areas to explore. Granted, Ready at Dawn will probably reveal larger or more open areas of the game as it nears release. I hope they showcase this with a new gameplay demo in December’s PlayStation experience event in Las Vegas.

Additionally, the enemy AI was not as smart as I would’ve hoped. Unlike in the Uncharted games wherein enemies have multiple attack/defend patterns, The Order‘s foes seem to have very limited attack/defend actions (shoot, hide).

Crunch Time

Everything that’s been revealed about The Order: 1886 has been very interesting. With a little less than four months from release however, the game needs to show more. More environments, more weapons, and more gameplay mechanics. Doing so will alleviate any fears that the game isn’t on track for a February 20, 2015 release; or any worries that Ready at Dawn is having difficulties attaining the level of quality they are aiming for.