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The Order: 1886 Hands-On Preview | Outdated, Outmoded, and Stuck in the Past

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Games previews, PS4 games, Ready at Dawn, The Order: 1886

The Order: 1886  Hands-On Preview | Outdated, Outmoded, and Stuck in the Past

You're going to absolutely love The Order: 1886, PS4 fans.

Well, if you adore quick-time events, that is. And games rigidly holding your hand. And not being able to deviate from mission parameters at all. Oh, and if the mere thought of instafail stealth gets you all tingly. Basically, if you're a fan of outdated, outmoded, excruciatingly linear game design, you're going to love The Order: 1886.

Probably.

The Order: 1886  Hands-On Preview | Outdated, Outmoded, and Stuck in the Past

I find it quite interesting that in a period where more and more games are seeking to give more power to the players, just how stupid The Order: 1886 deems those holding the gamepad. This slice of cinematic (yep, there's that word) steampunk Victoriana shares the Puritanical tendencies one might have found in that time period, only it rigidly applies it to your enjoyment and engagement. I was recently privy to a brief hands-on demo of the game, and it succeeded in convincing me that everything I feared about The Order: 1886 was true.

It's a gorgeous game that absolutely hates being a game.

Let's acknowledge that first point, because graphics are important when it comes to interactive action-adventure rollercoasters like this one. The Order: 1886 has the very best visuals to be experienced on the PS4. It's been masterfully rendered, and the level of detail in the world, every follicle of the pristine moustaches of the protagonists, is perfectly presented. It's a beautiful sight to behold, but like many beautiful sights, The Order: 1886 might as well have a sign about it saying "look but don't touch".

The Order: 1886  Hands-On Preview | Outdated, Outmoded, and Stuck in the Past

The first part of the demo saw me sneaking aboard an airship and skulking around a bunch of corridors, avoiding the sightlines of incredibly beady-eyed guards, and dispatching them with wearying QTEs. Unlike the stealth games we've been playing for years, The Order: 1886 isn't concerned with you thinking on your feet and dealing with a situation if you're spotted. No, it's a murder cutscene for you, and back to the last checkpoint. Remember, if your run isn't perfectly matching the intentions of The Order's strict gameplay restrictions, you're doing it wrong.

It's inconsistent in its mechanics, too. Some guards can spot you a mile away, others seemingly not. Your enemies often come toting lanterns in brightly-lit areas on a ship filled with combustible gas. It doesn't make much sense. Neither does the fact that the sequence directly after your instafail slog sees you pull out a silenced sniper rifle. Quite why you couldn't use this before is a mystery to all concerned.  This next bit has you taking out targets from a balcony with said sniper rifle, but you have to identify your targets first, and the game helpfully holds your hand through all of this, painting targets with bright blue marks and not really letting you do anything.

Then the third-person shooting starts. For more on this see any Gears of War game ever.

The Order: 1886  Hands-On Preview | Outdated, Outmoded, and Stuck in the Past

The weapons are at least interesting, and there's some nice aural feedback. Once I'd gotten Galahad down into the combat crucible, things began to heat up a little bit, I actually felt a modicum of tension. I plucked an incendiary shotgun off of the corpse of some goon I'd taken down with a thunderous barrage from my rifle, and began to have a fair amount of explosive fun. It should be noted that the AI in the demo was pretty idiotic, and considering how little this game has to do, I was hoping that limb targeting might prove a legitimate tactic, but for all of its whiskered pomp, The Order: 1886 disappoints on that front too. This is a hyper-linear shooter outdone by sodding Soldier of Fortune.

There's a bit towards the end of the demo that had me fighting my way through a kitchen area, and enemies actually started moving around and trying to flank me, and all of a sudden I felt exposed and vulnerable and the game felt dangerous and exciting and ohIdon'tknow how shooters are supposed to feel rather than being insipid, uninspired, arms-length, wannabe movies.

The Order: 1886  Hands-On Preview | Outdated, Outmoded, and Stuck in the Past

It all depends on what you're looking for, I suppose. I'm loathe to write off The Order: 1886 on the basis of a half-hour demo, but it hasn't exactly done an awful lot to inspire much excitement either. If you're looking for an aesthetic marvel, something that looks amazing and will justify those hundreds of pounds you spent on a PS4 by making your retinas weep with joy, then this might be the game for you. If you're happy to wind the clock back to the days of the original Gears of War (a game that seems awfully dated in 2014) then this might be the game to relive the heyday of the lumbering, QTE-stuffed shooters of 2006.

But if you're one of those gamers who prizes freedom and choice in terms of gameplay on a moment-to-moment basis, if you'd rather not play a game that seems to be mechanically and creatively stuck in the past (a bit ironic considering the period nature of The Order's setting), I fear there'll be nothing for you here.

Add a comment21 comments
JasonVS  Dec. 12, 2014 at 18:03

Sony = lies and overhype that underdelivers. This game is going to be the cinematic failure of 2015.

jwillj2k4  Dec. 12, 2014 at 19:39

There's nothing wrong with a game that follows a story on a linear path as long as the story/acting/plot is engaging. Telltale games is becoming a master at this. Every game shouldn't have a sandbox to just run around in with a whole bunch of 'side missions'. It's called variety, and hopefully we'll see more of it.

DipDopDoopidy  Dec. 12, 2014 at 20:30

Mr. Gardner, I have been a PS fan since the height of the PS2 days, so I might be a little bias here but this article seems to not have much credibility.
By looking through your many articles, it seems that most of them are how to get a good deal, and even though I like that, I have not seen many with any type of experience in journalism.
It seems that you hate the linearity of the level design and the QTE that, in your opinion, plaque the game. I do not understand this logic because there has been many great games that have this type of level design like the original Halo trilogy, Gears, Uncharted, and even Batman Arkham Asylum in some instances based on the footage of the demo I have seen. On the other hand, I understand the complaint about the QTEs. I think this and the cinematics is an acquired taste and something to know before going in to the game, but is not necessarily a flaw.
Quantico Dream's games have the cinematics but I feel like it is something that makes the game unique and not a crutch if, used in the right ways.
To be quite frank here, you sound like an Xbox fan boy when you say the cover system is like Gears. Is that a bad thing? Think of the nuance. Just because a game has similarities, that does not mean everything in that game is the same. AKA similar but not congruent.
You seem very honest and to the point, which I can respect, but think of the nuance in this game and be more open-minded.

Last edited by DipDopDoopidy, Dec. 12, 2014 at 21:01
Late  Dec. 12, 2014 at 20:36

But it looked so beautiful and exciting when it was first announced at e3 2013 :'(

Anarchist  Dec. 12, 2014 at 22:01

Mr. Gardner, I have been a PS fan since the height of the PS2 days, so I might be a little bias here but this article seems to not have much credibility.
By looking through your many articles, it seems that most of them are how to get a good deal, and even though I like that, I have not seen many with any type of experience in journalism.
It seems that you hate the linearity of the level design and the QTE that, in your opinion, plaque the game. I do not understand this logic because there has been many great games that have this type of level design like the original Halo trilogy, Gears, Uncharted, and even Batman Arkham Asylum in some instances based on the footage of the demo I have seen. On the other hand, I understand the complaint about the QTEs. I think this and the cinematics is an acquired taste and something to know before going in to the game, but is not necessarily a flaw.
Quantico Dream's games have the cinematics but I feel like it is something that makes the game unique and not a crutch if, used in the right ways.
To be quite frank here, you sound like an Xbox fan boy when you say the cover system is like Gears. Is that a bad thing? Think of the nuance. Just because a game has similarities, that does not mean everything in that game is the same. AKA similar but not congruent.
You seem very honest and to the point, which I can respect, but think of the nuance in this game and be more open-minded.


Not sure if serious.

MattGardner  Dec. 12, 2014 at 22:39

Quantico Dream: the lucid waking nightmare where you spend eternity wandering around the FBI Academy during an emergency and nobody will tell you anything unless you emote.

Linearity isn't a problem in and of itself, but in a game like The Order, it makes flaws seem even bigger because there's no escaping them. It's impossible to judge the story in a 30-minute demo, so you have to go on what's there. Awful instafail stealth is never a good start.

@jwill: I agree that variety is good, and there's absolutely scope for linear games. But as a player I want to feel involved and engaged. Telltale did that by making everything about the story. I could forgive the rubbish QTEs because the real "gameplay" in something like The Walking Dead or TWAU comes from making tough choices and seeing where they'll take you -- making us players directly responsible (or selling us that illusion) for how the story plays out.

It might be that The Order's story proves to be incredibly engrossing, but no-one's ever going to get that from a truncated demo.

DipDopDoopidy  Dec. 12, 2014 at 23:27

@anarchist I am being serious

@MattGardner The critique of having an automatic fail system for some stealth sections is actually a strength to some gamers. People argue that having it enhances gameplay by having the player making careful decisions in game and that there are consequences to the gamer's actions. You may disagree but all I'm saying is that almost all of the critiques you have mentioned can be considered just as a matter of preference in a game.

Anarchist  Dec. 12, 2014 at 23:33

but all I'm saying is that almost all of the critiques you have mentioned can be considered just as a matter of preference in a game.


Yes indeed - some people just prefer to play **** games.

DipDopDoopidy  Dec. 13, 2014 at 00:00

@anarchists experiences come in all different shapes and sizes. Some gamers prefer the cinema feel if the story and music is fantastic. The order hopefully will deliver on those criteria.

Anarchist  Dec. 13, 2014 at 00:18

@anarchists experiences come in all different shapes and sizes. Some gamers prefer the cinema feel if the story and music is fantastic. The order hopefully will deliver on those criteria.


Some gamers prefer the cinema?

Go to the cinema then. They aren't gamers. The acting on Lord of the Rings will be far better than The Order.

Gaming is about getting involved, about making decisions, experiencing the outcomes of those decisions, achieving things. Not sitting back and pressing X when the big button appears every so often in the middle of the screen, for whatever reason nobody anywhere actually knows.

Calling Matt a Microsoft fanboy just because he doesn't like the way a Playstation exclusive game plays is plainly idiotic. Claiming his article and his opinion have no credibility just because you're a self proclaimed Sony fanboy is utterly moronic.

I'll try and make this as simple as possible for you to understand. I (and others here) like reading Matts reviews, because they are valid. His opinions capture public expectations and requirements in a verbose but concise way. I trust Matts opinion, because he doesn't suffer bullsh*t in games.

Your review of this game (having never played it, but that's an entirely different matter) is basically 'BUT YOU MUST LOVE THIS GAME BECAUSE IT'S SONY AND HAS THE NUANCE'.

No thanks.

DipDopDoopidy  Dec. 13, 2014 at 00:40

@anarchist You are misunderstanding what I'm saying. I never said this is a great because, like you said, I've never played it. I just said he can't assume it is a bad game because it has a lot of cutscenes and QTEs. It is also perfectly OK to share opinion of the game. I'm not saying that's bad either.
But what I disagree with is Matt telling the reader not to get a game based on his own personal preferences and not realize that not all gamers are like him, you, or even myself.
In my opinion, he should have showcased specific parts of the game that pertain to several specific audiences to see if the game is right for a variety of people and leave the readers with different possible views.
Athiest, I'm not going to argue on what makes a good game because that's our opinion and I'll respect that, but what I don't respect on what Matt is doing is pointing to one viewpoint and bias instead of attracting different views such as the significance of the music, story, or voice acting from what he saw. This gives the reader a bigger idea if the game is right for him or her.

teddy1590  Dec. 13, 2014 at 00:51

I'm reading all the previews of this game, and all are fairly negative... yet I'm probably still going to get it. I'm not blindly ignoring the previews, I think all the one's I've read have some very valid points regarding the game's design, but I love alternative history and steam punk settings, so even if the gameplay plays like a poor man's Quantic Dream game, I'll put up with it to enjoy the setting. The linearity of the game isn't too much of a hassle for me, I've been getting stuck in to Dragon Age Inqusition, Far Cry 4 and enjoyed a romp through Assassin's Creed Unity's Paris, so being able to play a game that won't take me about 2 weeks to finish will be a welcome change.

Have to agree that the insta-fail stealth sections do sound annoying as hell. I do try to be as stealthy as possible in games where stealth is an option though, so hopefully I won't experience it and rage at it too often.

Besides, I read all the previews and watched some gameplay for Ryse before release, still bought it and absolutely loved it. I enjoy reading previews for a game, and they can and do effect my decisions on which games to purchase, but in the case of a game I'm fairly certain I'll like, I use them to adjust my expectations, rather than abandon all hope for the game.

MattGardner  Dec. 13, 2014 at 02:00

Exactly, I certainly wouldn't abandon all hope for this at all. I certainly haven't.

@Dip: I'd argue that the final couple of paragraphs outline The Order's strengths relatively well and specifically outline why I didn't enjoy the demo particularly, but also why others might.

Previews and reviews are subjective by nature, and I really didn't get on with the demo. Maybe it's because so many of the games I've been playing lately have been choice-laden, open-ended affairs that empower the player. Maybe it's because the demo was bound to suck without more context. I'm not the biggest fan of previews on principle, because playing a random bit of a game without its designed context is often just the worst. It's a faulty system, especially for linear games, because there's no reason to care about anything that's going on... we're just sort of plonked down into a game already in progress.

Dealspwn's long been a site all about choice, whether that's in terms of gameplay or emergent features or consumer options or whatever. But nothing that we write is gospel and it's good to have conflicting opinions. To be fair to The Order, and to take Teddy's point about Ryse, I was deeply unimpressed by Ryse initially, and I still can't really say it's a good game particularly. But I did have quite a bit of fun with the silly, blood-soaked, OTT swords-and-sandals Spartacus simulator, as dumb as it was. It was pleasantly cathartic :) I'm hoping that the story and the framing of The Order is enough to carry me along with and immerse me in what is a promising setting indeed... but I can't say I was impressed by what I've seen thus far.

Last edited by MattGardner, Dec. 13, 2014 at 02:02
Anarchist  Dec. 13, 2014 at 02:03

It is also perfectly OK to share opinion of the game.

Ok, so opinions are fine. Got you.

But what I disagree with is Matt telling the reader not to get a game based on his own personal preferences and not realize that not all gamers are like him, you, or even myself.

Oh, wait, so opinions ARENT fine?

In my opinion, he should have

Well, tough, opinions aren't allowed, so I'll just cut that sentence out there.

Athiest,

Uh, what's (lack of) religion got to do with this?
I'm not going to argue on what makes a good game

But you are. You're arguing that basing a game solely around QTEs, excessive pointless cinematics and insta fail stealth sections CAN make a good game, whereas the point of this preview is matt saying they can't. So arguing over what makes a good game is exactly what you're doing.

but what I don't respect on what Matt is doing is pointing to one viewpoint and bias instead of attracting different views such as the significance of the music, story, or voice acting from what he saw. This gives the reader a bigger idea if the game is right for him or her.

So opinions aren't allowed again? He did mention it looks very pretty. And if that's your thing and you're as shallow as you are contradictory, then I'm sure that's fine.

What you're saying, is that opinions aren't allowed. Reviews aren't allowed. Great, you can go make your decisions on whether to buy a game or not by watching somebody play through the whole thing on twitch.

Alternatively, I'll be reading the OPINIONS of people who's views I'm bought into, people who I know won't let any old **** past them, people I can trust to point out any glaring failures or shining successes within the games I'm interested in - and then building my own opinions and decisions around them.

Last edited by Anarchist, Dec. 13, 2014 at 02:06
WTR44  Dec. 13, 2014 at 02:16

Halo has little to no QTEs, if you want to count the mashing of a bottom to hijack and destroy a tank a QTE. Also, your opinion is incredibly bias even if your delivery was quite moderate. Being a PS fan for many years, you support the company, much like how I've been with the Xbox for most of my life and support them (although I can tell when they are in the wrong). The Order 1886 has been described by most people who have witnessed it's gameplay (play or watch) as incredibly linear and full of QTEs. You state that Telltale gets away with it and they do, but under different circumstances. No one is for certain of the story of the Order will be any good, but it doesn't seem like the type (although I am completely open to the idea). Why does Telltale get away with it? The gameplay is split up into three categories for their games: speech, exploration, and QTEs. Speech is the main part of the game, allowing for player input and story changes. This chunk takes up most of the time of the games. Exploration is a much smaller chunk that allows players to move around an environment in search of items and people to progress the story. But the QTEs are rare, and used to show struggle in the games. I doubt the Order will let players change the story up at all and the QTEs are used to do anything that isn't walking around on flat ground with the guns out. They aren't used for any reason other than cinematics, but it's not meant to be a movie. It's a game with movie qualities and it should build atmosphere like a movie, but allow player action like a game. That's where the Order fails, in the action. People want games to give them loads of freedom and no, not every game has to be open world, but games like this need varied combat styles and strategies to succeed, including going stealth anytime to complete parts like Dishonored had. But why can't it just be shooting with preprogrammed stealth like the new Wolfenstein games? Because the shooting and movement aren't arcady enough.
Face it, this have is the PS4 equivalent oOne.yse on the Xbox One

And when you question someone's journalistic abilities, if the present facts with commentary stated like fact (as if they know the truth) to reason and support their actual facts, that's a college essay right there. And journalism is essentially that in a but shell.

Ps- sorry for the mass of words, I'm typing on my phone.

Yukes  Dec. 13, 2014 at 08:19

Hehe enjoy a good argument. DipDop, I think I understand what you're saying, but I'd point out the following in Matt's preview as best representing his stance:

I'm loathe to write off The Order: 1886 on the basis of a half-hour demo, but it hasn't exactly done an awful lot to inspire much excitement either.


What he's saying is that in his opinion, expectation levels should be kept in check because of what he perceives as the game's flaws. He's explained them, so if you don't necessarily agree with them being flaws, then that's cool for you. If you look there are a lot of 'might's and 'maybe's in the article, further emphasising that this is just a preview. A preview is just initial thoughts from someone who's played a small section of a game that may or not be finished and probably isn't in context.

All previews should be taken as, really, are either articles to build a bit of hype for a game, or conversely warn you against pre-ordering before actual reviews emerge. I'd argue that the latter is nearly always a good approach, given the broken nature of so many of the games that have been released this year.

TheChappy  Dec. 13, 2014 at 08:38

Whoa. Everyone needs to chill out. Im a chill out fanboy.

i normally restart sections of stealth if i i fail the stealth. So the insta fail might not be so bad, but it depends on how good the stealth gameplay is. Im a insta fail fanboy.

i like shiny graphics. Im a shiny graphics fanboy.

I'll keep my eyes on the order, not sure on it yet. And can we please stop using the term fanboy, its sounds quite stupid.

Late  Dec. 13, 2014 at 11:53

I like fanboys. I'm a fanboy fanboy.

DipDopDoopidy  Dec. 13, 2014 at 12:57

@thechappy Fine I'll stop using the term, but like you said, it is nice to discuss:) Thanks for your ZpOV @athiest.
Now I'm curious what Quanico Dream is making after the similar core gameplay but in different ways they did it with Heavy Rain and Two Souls. I feel like you must what you're getting in to with these games in these and TheOrder
I guess it's a question of Would you rather have a 9/10 story with 7/10 gameplay or 7/10 story with 9/10 gameplay? I hope this is a good comparison but like Infamous Second Son and The Wolf Among Us.

snotters  Dec. 13, 2014 at 19:02

@anarchists experiences come in all different shapes and sizes. Some gamers prefer the cinema feel if the story and music is fantastic. The order hopefully will deliver on those criteria.


Some gamers prefer the cinema?

Go to the cinema then. They aren't gamers. The acting on Lord of the Rings will be far better than The Order.

Gaming is about getting involved, about making decisions, experiencing the outcomes of those decisions, achieving things. Not sitting back and pressing X when the big button appears every so often in the middle of the screen, for whatever reason nobody anywhere actually knows.

Calling Matt a Microsoft fanboy just because he doesn't like the way a Playstation exclusive game plays is plainly idiotic. Claiming his article and his opinion have no credibility just because you're a self proclaimed Sony fanboy is utterly moronic.

I'll try and make this as simple as possible for you to understand. I (and others here) like reading Matts reviews, because they are valid. His opinions capture public expectations and requirements in a verbose but concise way. I trust Matts opinion, because he doesn't suffer bullsh*t in games.

Your review of this game (having never played it, but that's an entirely different matter) is basically 'BUT YOU MUST LOVE THIS GAME BECAUSE IT'S SONY AND HAS THE NUANCE'.

No thanks.


Jesus, what an opinionated dullard you are, so-called anarchist. You come across like some 12 year old Disney Channel-watching Mean Girl wannabe, trash talking to anyone who you happen across who has a slightly different opinion than you. What a plank. No, what a dick.

Jerec  Dec. 15, 2014 at 14:35

Thing is, liner and QTE's can be good, if the story and interaction is compelling and done correctly.

I'm holding judgement, like all you people that haven't played the game, until I have done so.

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