After reading through comments from reviewers, it’s obvious that mainstream media has collectively shitted all over The Order: 1886. Previously, those same news outlets posted article after article and trailer after trailer hyping this game up. The question must be asked: Is The Order: 1886 worthy of praise or ridicule? My answer is both. There are some elements where The Order: 1886 excels and moments where I regret my purchase.
Let’s start off with some of the game’s positives. The graphics are amazing. Those black bars on the top and bottom limit the screen and made it feel more like a movie (more on that later), but what was on screen was superb. I often found myself stopping and marveling at this alternate history London, where countless Zeppelins roam the sky and force you to gawk at them. London’s atmosphere is wonderfully pulled off — the city is dreary and depressing and I love the historical setting (I’m a sucker for them in games). The buildings are well detailed and I never experienced any sort of texture problems. The character models are very detailed and the facial animations are impressive. I know there was a lot of talk about the game’s framerate, but whatever framerate it was running at made the game look astounding. Also, I never encountered any sort of framerate dips or screen tearing.
The music is phenomenal. It too adds to the atmosphere and is absolutely wonderful. I don’t always pay attention to music in video games but The Order’s soundtrack is worth listening to. I immediately started writing this after finishing the game and have left the credits roll and kept the main menu up just so I can listen to the game’s music.
Because this is 2015 and gamers recently had to suffer through a slew of broken releases, I want to especially point out that I never encountered any sort of bug or glitch while playing, not even a small one that wouldn’t affect the gameplay. The Order: 1886 is technologically sound.
The gameplay of The Order: 1886 has been unfairly criticized, in my eyes, and has been branded “paint-by-numbers gunplay” by IGN’s Brandin Tyrrel. I’m sorry, but what? The game is a third-person shooter — what do you expect? I knew that The Order: 1886 was going to have basic third-person shooter gameplay when I picked it up. It’s simple: You hop behind cover, jump out to shoot, take cover to reload, shoot some more until all the guys shooting at you are dead. This has been employed by billions of games (possibly an exaggeration). All third-person shooters, at a basic level, feel the same. Sometimes you’ll have a game like The Last of Us add in awesome real-time crafting or a game like Mass Effect with brilliant powers. I don’t read many reviews, but I doubt an IGN reviewer has said a game like Call of Duty or Battlefield has had “paint-by-numbers gunplay”, no? What the game does have is a “blacksight” system. I didn’t utilize it much because I preferred just to play the game normally, but the “blacksight” does seem like it can appeal to others. By pressing R1, the player slows time and uses the right stick to aim at a target and R2 to shoot them. It quickly runs out, so use it wisely.
The cover system works rather well. Use the circle button to get behind cover and the X button to move over cover and around the environment. There would be sometimes when I’d press circle and Galahad would get to the side of cover as opposed to behind it, leaving himself exposed, but other than that it’s pretty sound.
Some reviewers have criticized the weapon selection as being too small and too boring. I disagree. You have your standard automatic rifle, shotgun, and revolvers, but there is a weapon in the game that everyone will enjoy. Personally, I loved the shotgun that would shoot three slugs every time I pulled the trigger. I loved walking into a room and blasting off rebels’ arms, legs, and heads. Study a dead body and you’ll see how destructive you can be.
The futuristic weapons are hit or miss. I loathed the electric-powered weapon that required charging up but the thermite gun (it’s called something like that) made me feel indestructible. Blasting some kind of dust on my enemies and then blowing it up, setting the rebels aflame, was awesome and once again showed off the beauty of The Order: 1886. These weapons may have been the preorder bonuses, but I don’t know — I preordered the game because I knew I would get it day one and figured why not get some free goodies?
Sometimes, though, I felt the game’s AI could be a bit too easy. I played the game on medium difficulty and only had trouble when an armored shotgunner would rush me or when I thought a teammate had my back but instead let an enemy kill me from behind. Other than that, the game’s AI was not challenging. You just had to know when to pop up and shoot. When you did die, you got one “revive”, so to speak. You could crawl for a bit to get behind cover and then press triangle to drink blackwater. This heals your character and let’s you keep fighting. The blackwater is vaguely mentioned as something that King Arthur discovered and helped the Knights fight the lycans.
The gunplay is fun and I often found myself amazed by the damage I was causing to the poor rebels. I definitely had I good time with the third-person shooter. However, the gameplay can sometimes be too few and far in-between. I have no problem with long cutscenes, I just hate how, after a cutscene would play, I’d walk forward a bit just for another cutscene to play. Or how after I’d finish a firefight a cutscene would play, then you walk forward, and another cutscene would play. Sometimes the simple walking between cutscenes should have been eliminated so the game could have had better pacing.
The biggest flaw of the gameplay is the overreliance on quick time events (QTEs). I would really be into a cutscene, relax, put my controller down, and then be like “Oh shit!” and watch Galahad die because I didn’t realize a QTE would happen. QTEs are just so stupid and pointless. It’s as if the game wants to have longer cutscenes but instead let’s the player press a button every now and again to let the player feel as if they are actually playing. I can’t tell you how many times I would get pissed when I died because I screwed up a QTE and had to restart the encounter. The game wants to be like an interactive movie, but what movie stops and rewinds itself because the main character didn’t do something perfectly? The QTEs never go away and really drag down some great moments — I had to replay one part of the final boss fight several times over because I have a fear that if I button mash the X (or A, on Xbox) button too much/hard/fast it’ll break. JUST GRAB THE KNIFE, GALAHAD! Don’t make me break my controller! Speaking of the final boss fight, it is copied and pasted from the boss fight in Chapter IV (I believe it was Chapter IV). I do and don’t mind this. I wish they did something bigger and amazing with the final boss fight but I also really enjoyed the fight against the Lycan in Chapter IV, so I didn’t mind.
Wondering what a Lycan is? Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter if you end up getting this game. What drew me to the game was the centuries-old Lycans vs Knights fight. The game isn’t about that. It’s more about repressing a rebellion and uncovering a conspiracy, which I liked and disliked all the same (more on that later, no spoilers). There’s a trophy in the game that you earn by killing ten Lycans and it makes me laugh because I think you barley fight more than ten Lycans throughout the game. The vast majority of your kills will be spilling rebel blood and when you do face a Lycan, the fight is a major letdown. You basically stay in a corner, spot a Lycan, shoot it until you have to tap X to dodge its attack, and repeat until the Lycan is dead and you have to press triangle to finish it off. What I expected to be one of highlights of the gameplay turned into a boring, uninspired, and repetitive process. The Lycans are fairly predictable and stupid. If they can attack Galahad (if he doesn’t dodge), why run away after? They literally bite Galahad and run away. He could easily be killed but instead it takes a few hits to kill him. However, when Galahad does die, it is spectacular. The gruesomeness of the kills are punctuated by the game’s wonderful visuals. The same can be said when you are tasked with doing a stealth takedown of a rebel — the level of gore is reminiscent of Shadow of Mordor.
A major criticism of the game is that it is too linear and this is true, although I don’t want to really label this as a criticism. Not every game needs massive amounts of exploration or a choose-your-own-adventure story. I’m fine with The Order: 1886 telling me a linear story — it is the story of Sir Galahad. However, the story is lacking. As I mentioned above, it does include a conspiracy and plot twist, but the opening prologue makes the conspiracy easy to guess. I expected one part of the twist to happen but didn’t see another part coming, so there were a few surprises left. If the game instead decided to ditch the opening and start with Chapter I, the twist would have been more surprising and I would have enjoyed it more.
The game certainly needed some kind of appendix-codex type of thing to give players some background information to the story. I wish I could have read up about the The Order, the war between Lycans and the Knights, the blackwater, the Indian company, the characters’ backgrounds, and Galahad himself. All you have to inspect are newspapers, photographs, and audio tapes. Nothing really gives you any kind of background information to the conflict that is present.
The story itself, the main reason I bought The Order: 1886, was purely okay. I was disappointed by the focus on the rebellion instead of the Lycans but around Chapter VIII/IX I became more invested in it. It’s nothing amazing, but it’s worth playing through. I won’t give too much away; just know that the second half really picks up, although the conclusion leaves some questions unanswered.
I haven’t yet mentioned the big issue that has been surrounding The Order: 1886 for the past week or so — the game’s length. I beat it in roughly seven hours on the medium difficulty setting. I didn’t die too much in combat but found myself screwing up QTEs a lot and the stealth mission in Chapter XI really screwed with me. I also spent time exploring what I could, looking for newspapers, photos, and audio tapes. I would sometimes stop and admire the beautiful graphics and also observe NPCs. The game is divided into a prologue and 16 chapters, but that’s very misleading — a few chapters are just cutscenes with no gameplay. I’ll let you decide if seven hours is too little for you, but I will say that the game has at least two hours of cutscenes/cutscenes infused with QTEs. If you can get past that, then you’ll enjoy the hours of gameplay.
Upon completing The Order: 1886, I found myself wondering what to do next. I really have no reason to play it again — the third-person shooter gameplay can be found elsewhere and the story isn’t great enough to revisit again down the road. I really thought the game was made to have local or online coop. I don’t want a horde mode or team deathmatch multiplayer mode added but rather a multiplayer campaign included with the game. Almost the entire game is spent with team members so why not replace that AI teammate with you friend next to you or a buddy online? The game has almost zero replay value and I’ll probably sell it on eBay. I’ll end up recouping a lot of my money and might end up paying only $10-$15 for this game.
To wrap this 2300 word review up, I want to say that I think anyone with a PS4 should play this game. It’s the first big PS4 exclusive and worth checking out. The gameplay is fun and the story is good, just not as well written as Ready At Dawn thinks it is. The presentation is beautiful and the atmosphere is haunting. However, there are several flaws that prevent this game from being worth sixty dollars. The linearity of the game and the lack of a mulitplayer component leaves me thinking that once you finish The Order: 1886 it will just be sitting on your shelf collecting dust. This game is worth playing, but you should probably wait until the price reduces. I think this game, with all of its beauty and blemishes, is worth something more like $30, or just the cost to rent it for a weekend. I hope a sequel is made in a few years so I can revisit this world and Ready At Dawn can take all of this feedback and use it to make a wonderful sequel. Until then, enjoy The Order: 1886 by looking past its faults and enjoying it for what it is.
If you’re wondering, I don’t do scores because they are completely useless, arbitrary, and don’t tell you anything. Scores for this game have been all over the place, so does it really matter if Website A gave the game a 4/10 and Website B gave the game an 8/10? Does that help you make a decision on if you should buy this game or not? I hope this review does and totally didn’t mean to rant here at the end, sorry!