This was a game everyone loved to hate, even when they never once touched the controller. You were, however, wrong about The Order 1886. Here’s why.
It’s been about two and a half years since The Order 1886 pushed the boundaries of what graphics were capable of on consoles. The game was a 3rd person cover shooter that was set in alternate history. Specifically, Steampunk era Victorian England, circa 1886, obviously. The game received very little praise, being called an interactive movie, a tired concept, a walking simulator, and too short. Well, now that the PS4 has a litany of games and exclusives under its belt. Let’s look back on the Order 1886 and see if this dredged up carcass deserves its pair of concrete boots.
Let’s start with the complaints the game suffered from. The major complaint was the 3rd person cover shooters had long since been tired out in last Gen. While this is a valid point, we still see 3rd person cover shooters emerging with success. Gears 4, Gears anniversary, Uncharted, The Last of Us, and The Division all had these mechanics to no great detriment. So personally I feel it’s just an unfair point. The game was in development since before the PS4 was even known about to the public, so one could expect some carry over of refined ideas from the previous generation.
The next complaint is that the game was more like a short interactive movie. While yes, the game does do a lot of hand holding and seeks style over substance. We see lots of games that use this strategy to tell an engaging story, and thus feel like “interactive movies”. Until Dawn is one great example of a game that was a classic horror movie plot set up with interactive bits. So the Order may have lots of cutscenes, but the complaints it’s a 5 hour game with 4 hours of cutscenes was massively blown out of proportion. More accurately, it’s about an 8 hour game with perhaps 1.5 hours of cutscenes. A giant reversal of what you likely heard over and over while surfing the web about this game.
The next point was that in a game about hunting werewolves and vampires, you do neither. There are 10 werewolves in-game, and any other time you’re fighting Humans. This was a key let down. I signed up for a Steampunk game about killing werewolves in London Town and got: Victorian Steampunk bourgeois hit squad. Fortunately, Bloodborne came out shortly after and sated those needs.
So the Order 1886 was lacking in its promise and pushed the story element a bit far over gameplay. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t note its high points. Gamers have been far more lenient towards games who had far more and did much less… I’m looking at you Halo, Destiny, and Mass Effect!
First, I’m going to break tradition and principle and say. The graphics of this game did matter. The game looks phenomenal, even still today it’s one of the best looking games you can play. The way the fabrics move, the way the color palettes are clearly defined. The architecture from the insides of the palace, to the Whitechapel slums, looks authentic beyond compare. The facial movements and expressions are so exquisite it’s sometimes hard to tell they’re animated. The developers clearly spent a lot of time building the world, and it shows. This was where a lot of the effort went, and you can’t really say it was wasted effort. To remove certain excess rooms and hallways is to say you are okay with running down a linear hallway.
The weapons, while sparse, are incredibly inventive and fun, and set up into your standard classes. Auto pistol, revolver, hand cannon, base pistol. Things like that. You do get a few Steampunk “inspired weapons” such as an Arc lance that shoots bolts of lightning at enemies with some random hits. If you’re shooting at 3 enemies you don’t get to pick which one gets hit. Mostly, however, you’re going to be using traditional weapons. Although, when you do get the fun toys you get to use them plenty.
There are some gimmicky mechanics, but they’re easily dismissable. The game’s job was to show off all the neat stuff the PS4 can do. From using your PS4 pad to send Morse code, to the bullet-time inspired “Black sight”. Or as I like to call it, “John Wick vision”.
The best part about this game though is its atmosphere and universe. This is a game I could see a sequel come out of: Say The Order 1870, or something like that. I would hope the devs, or whoever got a chance to work on it would upscale and refine the concept into something even more refined and special. Rather than being a tad milquetoast showcase of a game. I don’t shun the game though for being short. To be honest, I enjoyed playing it more than most games as of late, and the Order is a testament to what happens when games explore untapped areas. Steampunk has been one of those off-and-away locations in Gamer-land that has a lot of potential. I also have a vacation home in Steampunk land, call me bias. Its schools are nice and the real estate value is solid.
The game also has a superb story voiced by some of the best voice actors in the industry. A story of intrigue, loss, and betrayal that won’t leave you unimpressed. Getting to meet real world people like Nikola Tesla and being able to see some of his creations come to life in the game were excellent additions. The only thing the game will leave you wanting for is a proper sequel that fleshes out the story of England and lets us explore to our heart’s content.
The game was, and still is, often misunderstood. Just because the game didn’t try anything new, or innovate people instantly shot it down. But that’s just the thing, Ready At Dawn weren’t trying to do new, they were trying to perfect what had been done and abandoned. Great story telling, gorgeous graphics, unique guns, engaging world and phenomenal execution. Just because something isn’t new, doesn’t mean it’s bad. They did everything they set out to do and did it with pinpoint accuracy.
The Order 1886 was a showcase game for the PS4, and had a ton of potential for greatness. Sure, it wasn’t perfect and had some areas for improvement. But the gamers put unrealistic, and unfair expectations on a game and brutally shot down its chances at life. Yet underneath all that, it was a game deserving of your attention. It was clear much of its hate came from people who never played it too. Seeing all the echoed “complaints” that were outright false.
It’s sad really, the game deserved more than it got. It was used more as a showcase than a respected game, and that’s likely why it never got a real foothold. But it’s far from a bad game, it’s a great twist on a generic concept. It’s a title we hope Sony is willing to look at again down the line and give it one more chance at greatness, because this beaten down game was already great, it was just never given a chance.
This opinion piece is written by Park Robinson and doesn’t necessarily represent those at Coin-Drop.com