Impressions of ‘The Order: 1886′ (w/gameplay video)

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Sure, I was excited for inFAMOUS Second Son, MLB 14 The Show, and a number of the Vita and Indie titles they had for us at the media event last Monday, but on top of my list was The Order: 1886. For the first time, we’d be able to get a glimpse at how the game actually looked when played, and also I hoped that we’d get more information on what type of game it would actually be. Even though it’s still months out (and they warned us that it was unoptimized code), it was still pretty awesome to see the game in action.

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We started with a short presentation by Ready at Dawn’s Founder and CEO Ru Weerasuriya (who is also Writer and Creative Director on the project), who explained to us the overall ideas that they were bringing to the game and some of the decisions that they’d made for the alternate universe that they’re creating. Most of what you see and play is actually based in reality, but things like the more advanced weapons obviously couldn’t have existed in that time. The weapons and items themselves are built from parts that existed in the Victorian period. The team even took a trip to London to get a ton of reference material, and most of the locations in the game actually exist. The concept for The Order: 1886 has actually been in the works since 2006, and the engine has also been in the works for a long time.

One of the goals is to portray London the way it actually was, a dirty and sometimes nasty environment depending on the area you were in. Ru also made it a clear and concise point that Dirigibles did not exist in that time period, but they were just too cool to not include (I think they took some heat after the initial trailer was unveiled.)

My favorite moment of the presentation was when Ru revealed that they were also pulling from Arthurian Legend, which is a favorite of mine. Even the four main characters bear the names of Knights of the Round Table: LaFayette (not from Arthurian legend), Galahad, Igraine, and Percival (yup, Game of the Year!) By the way, one thing that I was very conscious of was that after the E3 trailer hit, a lot of people assumed that there was a Steampunk element in the game, but that seems to not be the case. Ru even pointed out that they avoid the use of “Sci-Fi” when talking about it, since the approach is more geared toward alternate science and technology for the time period.

The gameplay seen above takes place pretty early in the game. Your squad is not only known for protecting humanity, but also for protecting the “well-off”. People that are feeling slighted and repressed are rising up, and a rebellion is starting to emerge, which actually was happening to a certain extent at this time in London (just not an all-out war.) The squad infiltrates Whitechapel, which is a pretty rundown section of the city. The video we were shown (parts of which are available above this paragraph) focus on Galahad and LaFayette, as they infiltrate Whitechapel in search of clues in their pursuit of the rebellion. The two show a distinct contrast as Galahad is the seasoned veteran, a Knight who has fought many battles over the years, and Lafayette who’s relatively new to the squad. LaFayette, being the rookie of sorts, still has that passion that’s absent with the others, so we can probably expect him to run into a situation without thinking about it first. This has the potential already of being a pretty sweet 80′s buddy cop movie… but I digress.

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If you did or didn’t watch the video, one thing that was not only the biggest thing that I noticed, but something that Ru made sure to mention a few times, is the seamless transition from gameplay to cutscene. Even at this early stage, you simply can’t tell. The demo starts with LaFayette and Galahad on a roof overlooking the Whitechapel area, and this is where we get to see our first gadget. The monocular sounds like something that will be used frequently for spotting etc., but since this is a game, it has to open up in a cool way (like a small transformer.) Again, the notion of this kind-of alternate timeline and technology come into play, as even in 1886, the squad has radios to communicate to each other (which also lends to the Arc Gun that we saw in the E3 trailer as well.) One thing that I didn’t expect, and that isn’t shown in the video above, is the ability to send Morse Code signals using the Dualshock 4′s touchpad. What a neat idea!

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It’s striking to see the game in action. The attention to detail, and that everything is on screen whether it’s “cutscene” or actual gameplay, is what I talked about the most after we’d seen it. The lighting too, just grabbed me immediately. I’m not sure if it’s in the video I’ve included, but there’s a spot where Galahad comes to a flight of stairs going down, and above them is a window with sunlight soaking through, but in front of the window hang clotheslines with sheets slung across. The way the light diffuses through the different elements, but also how the light still fills the area, and illuminates the particles floating in the air, well, it was something to behold. This is what these “next-gen” systems are supposed to bring to us, at least that’s what I thought. Throughout the demo, you can see the deliberate effort to never pull the player out of the experience, with a minimal HUD that isn’t even on the screen all of the time. Ru also talked about these efforts, but obviously regarding what is and isn’t on the screen can definitely change by the time the game comes out.

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When the squad members encounter a few rebels in an alleyway, the firefight begins. Your perspective is 3rd-person, and as you can see, the mechanics lend to hiding in cover and firing from there. What’s different now though is the cinematic look to everything on-screen. There’s more depth-of-field, and even the smoke billowing out of the guns looks incredibly authentic. Textures are so detailed too, and when they talked about how “dirty” Whitechapel was back then, it definitely reflects that in the game. Where The Order: 1886 differs though, is in the melee and close-quarters combat systems. He talked a lot about “moment-to-moment” gameplay, and that they were making sure that even in a spot where a player normally wouldn’t expect to be involved (cutscenes especially), they’re putting events into those situations to keep the player invested.

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The melee combat we saw was a perfect example of that. Ru told us that if you miss the initial dodge that needs to be made, that’s still not an instant fail, it just starts a new choice tree. Also, when you’re wrestling with the rebel, you’re able to look around to find something to hit him with, but it’s completely contextual. So if you miss the first dodge, you may wrestle with your attacker and knock something off of a desk, but the scene we saw had some objects knocked-off of something else, so that’s what was seen on the floor instead. It’s likened a bit to the evolution of the QTE’s that we’ve seen in previous generations.

So, yes, I am extremely hyped for this one. I love what they’re doing with the visuals, the alternate universe, the tech, the story elements, well okay, everything that I know so far. I feel the need to say this again since I actually heard a couple of people mention this at the end of the day. This video and the gameplay we saw are not representative of the final product. The code wasn’t optimized, and it wasn’t even playable. If anyone out there reports that the demo looked “rough” or other crap like that, well, they obviously don’t know how to pay attention.

The Order: 1886 is planned for a late 2014 release, so let’s all hope that it doesn’t get delayed. I’m not sure how I’m going to wait for this one.

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Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Podcast Co-Host, Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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  • unclegh

    looks really good, but it did have me a little concerned when we still hadn’t seen probably one of the biggest exclusives for this year

    • http://psnation.org Glenn Percival

      It seems as if the game is in that “flux” that happens to most games of this size, where they’re piecing everything together and it’s not ready for prime time. It’s a common thing, and I was happy that we got a good deal of information.

  • jayhest

    Great writeup Glenn! I can’t wait for this one either. I’m glad to see that Ready at Dawn got a shot at doing their own IP.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/stoffinator2010/videos Stoffinator

    Can’t wait for this game to come out. Looks really unique.

  • Joseph Lan

    “The code wasn’t optimized, and it wasn’t even playable. If anyone out
    there reports that the demo looked “rough” or other crap like that,
    well, they obviously don’t know how to pay attention.”

    Clearly, IGN has a case of dyslexia, because they obviously weren’t paying attention to the “early, unoptimized build” part. Just read their impressions article.

    • Keith Dunn

      That’s hardly surprising. *sigh*

    • PhantomVash808

      Yeah IGN was even comparing it to the fact that Last of Us looked ready a full year before launch. How can you compare a studios 1st true console game(non port) to last years game of the year made by Naughty Dog one of the best and highly established studio in the industry. I see The Order 1886 as being similar to UC1. UC1 was purely a single player game because Naughty Dog spent so much time creating a terrific engine and establishing the characters and world on what would make the IP so great. Sounds very similar to what Ready at Dawn is trying to do. I won’t be surprised if RAD’s next game has some sort of co-op/MP just like UC2. This game looks and sounds amazing and I can’t wait to play it.

      • Huseyin Unsal

        Vash you post everywhere man how do you do it .

        • himdeel

          He has dabbled in cloning…

    • http://psnation.org Glenn Percival

      Yeah, I laugh especially with that since I had that conversation with the guys from IGN after the demo….

  • ChazzH69

    This game just jumped to the top three in my must buy list!

  • Eric Henderson

    looks dope! great job glenn!!!!

  • Huseyin Unsal

    It’s a must buy game for me now

  • himdeel

    Fantastic preview! This is another PS4 game I was very excited to learn more about. Hoping it does keep it’s 2014 release date.

  • Comadrejaweasel

    Thanks for the preview. Seems like the visuals really are upto the standard shown in the original trailer. Pity the showing was so anaemic though. Have you got any high bit rate footage you can upload to Mega or some such? All the footage so far has been rather mediocre in quality….

  • Natalie Thake

    “The weapons and items themselves are built from parts that existed in the Victorian period. ”

    “a lot of people assumed that there was a Steampunk element in the game, but that seems to not be the case.”

    But having anachronistic weapons built with existing Victorian technology IS Steampunk!

    Anyway, great write-up – this is probably going to be the game that prompts me to buy a PS4.

  • Pingback: The Order 1886 Delayed till 2015 | PlayStation Nation