First off The Order: 1886 doesn’t deserve the vitriol it has seen before it released. There is so much hate and scorn for games and between gamers lately and it saddens me. Not every game is going to be a perfect ten or five or whatever fucking rating system is used. If a game scores close to ten like a six or seven it’s still good but not great. I’m not a fan of this trend of shitting on a game if it doesn’t do something innovative or have a twenty plus hour campaign, but that’s for another post I suppose.
So what is The Order: 1886? Well in my opinion it’s a good game overall that has some issues holding it back from being better. The atmosphere the talented folks at Ready at Dawn have created is breathtaking. Visually this is hands down the most impressive game I’ve see on a console to date. The entire package feels authentic from the voice acting to the attire. Even the slick sci-fi weapons feel like they belong in the alternate history that has been created. Without giving too much away you play as a knight named Sir Galahad who is a part of The Order, a group sworn to protect the world from what are referred to as half-breeds also known as Lycans or werewolves. These beasts and man fought for centuries and although the half-breeds were outnumbered, their strength led them to victory. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table continued to lose miserably but then discovered a mystical liquid called Blackwater that has immense healing powers and can significantly extend life. Yet even with this newfound advantage humanity continues to succumb to the half-breeds. It’s not until the Industrial Revolution with the help of Nikolai Tesla that the Knights are able to turn the tides of war in their favor with advanced weaponry. That’s as much as I’m going to give away but it was fun playing along side historic figures such as Nikola. I enjoyed the story and characters overall but honestly didn’t find myself attached to any of them. To be fair not many games have gotten me attached to a character the way The Last of Us did with Ellie. Throughout the campaign you’ll come across some scientific weapons that are varied and make you feel like a badass which was another strength the game has.
So what is holding it back? Is it the campaign length? Nope, not for me. I clocked in about seven or so hours from start to finish with moderate exploration and I didn’t manage to find all the collectables or read every newspaper and I don’t think I will go back to try to any time soon. I know everyone hated the QTE’s (quick time events) but they didn’t bother me until they found their way into boss battles. Talk about being ripped from any sense of desperation. There is no tension and the battles don’t feel like life or death situations because you don’t feel the struggle. You merely dodge and either counter with a quick or strong attack.—that’s it. The enemies you encounter throughout The Order consist of humans known as The Rebels, guards, and sadly only a handful of half-breeds. Enemy AI feels like it could have been ripped from GoldenEye back in the Nintendo 64 era. They rarely present any challenge as they simply pop in and out of cover occasionally tossing a grenade and rarely flanking. The basic formula is walk through a hallway or alley to a room and clear out a few waves of enemies and proceed with the story. There is a single stealth mission that offered a nice change of pace and I appreciated it’s slight spike in difficulty. Another disappointment is that you’ll obtain fun sci-fi weapons but won’t have them for very long and have to resort to the generic shotguns or pistols that we’ve seen in every other shooter.
Even with my criticisms aside I had an enjoyable time with The Order but wouldn’t pay full price. If I platinum the game I’m probably going to trade it in because I see no reason to revisit the story. The groundwork has been laid for Ready at Dawn to take this IP from a mediocre game to a great franchise. I look forward to a sequel with more weapon and enemy variety, more action, and boss battles that make my heart race. I want to feel fear when I run across a half-breed and don’t want this to be my last trip to London.