The Order: 1886
Ready at Dawn’s The Order: 1886 is only a few months away from release, hitting on February 20. The game captures Ready at Dawn’s vision of Victorian Era London where man uses advanced technology to battle evil. A new trailer recently debuted at the Game Awards and we got to play an extended version here at The PlayStation Experience in Las Vegas. From kitchen wars to rappelling down the side of an airship, The Order: 1886 is a hard game to pin down, but it’s intriguing for that reason. Andrew Reiner and I share our thoughts on our hands-on demo.
Kim: We haven’t seen much of The Order: 1886 yet, which is surprising since it’s coming out in February. I’m always wondering what the game is actually going to entail. Do you feel like the demo gave you a better idea of what’s in store?
Reiner: I do. I played 45 minutes of it, and walked away both surprised and pleased by it. You are right, they haven’t shown much up until this point. I feared they were hiding something, but I now think this may be a case of Ready at Dawn being overly protective of it, and not wanting to give out story spoilers.
Kim: I’ll admit I was pleasantly surprised. The gunplay felt tight and I enjoyed getting around the chaos, finding cover, and stealing guns from enemies. I also didn’t mind the QTEs, as they didn’t feel overdone or out of place. I know people have been concerned that this will be too QTE-driven, but it seemed pretty balanced. Also, the demo we played had two different areas of the airship. One felt like a very standard battle venue, but as you go into the airship, you really get a different feel the game. One part lets you see the London vista, which looks fantastic. In another, I was fumbling around a kitchen blasting down rebels. I’m really excited to see what else the world offers. What’d you think of the gunplay and locales?
Reiner: I don’t think Anglophiles are going to get much of a historical takeaway from this experience; it looks more steampunk and fantasy than a historic piece. That said, the inner workings of the airship were impressively detailed, giving off a nice sense of scale, and of the unique technologies people use in this version of London. I especially liked the lockpick, a vibrating device that shakes the lock bolts free. The airship’s escape pods (which are just mini-hot air balloons) are also quite clever.
The gunplay felt good, and the demo gave us a nice look at both cover-based shooting and sniping. I do have to question the A.I. at this point. Many of the enemies I dropped didn’t seem to fear for their lives, and stood in the same locations as their fallen comrades. The sniping reminded me a little bit of the Hitman series. In one sequence, Galahad is on the second story, overlooking a lobby filled with passengers and military figures. He’s in hushed communication with his fellow Knights, trying to figure out of if there are any rebel threats in the crowd. The player is tasked in this moment to locate soldiers without patches on their right arms. You have to wait for them to turn around, and if their sleeves are barren of the military insignia, press a button to identify them. Once the targets are confirmed, Galahad is asked to drop them. This silenced sniping moment doesn’t exactly go as planned, and gives way to an exciting assault sequence.
Kim: Yeah, I enjoyed the frantic pacing of it all. It kept the intensity up well and areas didn’t feel like “dead weight.” Even in times when the pace dropped a bit, it was to stock on up on weapons or to engage in a QTE minigame, where you had to push both R3 and L3 at the right time to hold in the lock. I’m most curious about the advanced technology in the game and how that may relate to weapons. Right now, my guns seemed pretty basic with sniper and assault rifles. Also, this is probably a long shot, but I hope this game lets me control an airship. I think the hardest thing for me is how you define The Order: 1886. It seems all over the place. We’ve seen creepy werewolves as enemies; this demo was more grounded in real life with rebels out to assassinate a government leader. How the heck does all this merge together? As you said previously, I definitely get a steampunk vibe from the game more than anything else. I just can’t define the game yet and I’m not sure that’s entirely a good thing.
Reiner: I like the tone they are going for. It’s not as ridiculous as something like Van Helsing, but still provides plenty of intrigue and possibilities that are out of the ordinary. The tension always seems to be ratcheted up, even when the Knights are just standing around and talking.
Kim: I also should mention that the game still looks stunning, even when you’re not in a cutscene. The best part is my curiosity about this world and how I can’t entirely pin it down. The attention to detail is noticeable, especially on the enemies and their attire, specifically with hats and scarves. It feels out of the Victorian Era, but also has its own flavor. How do you feel about the graphics and overall look?
Reiner: I was impressed by the level of detail in it, not just for the character models and world, but the little touches, such as the animations that accompany small actions like door opening, and Galahad taking cover. It reminds me of Naughty Dog’s Uncharted games. Yes, I know this is a hell of a comparison to make, but I think it works here. The demo we played was cinematic and linear, often breaking away from the action to deliver story content. I still have no idea what this story is, but the I rather much enjoyed the dialogue shared between the Knights, and the urgency behind their actions.
Kim: Exactly. We still know very little about the story and how other sequences will play out. I came away from the demo feeling more positive than I was expecting. I’m just hoping it all comes together nicely.