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The Order: 1886 – the new PS4 exclusive with a lot to prove

Tuesday, 18th February 2014 13:00 GMT By John Robertson

With interactive cut scenes, quick-time events and cover shooting, Ready At Dawn’s PS4 exclusive needs to offer a lot more than just a pretty face.

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Designing, building and launching a major new IP isn’t easy. Being a PlayStation 4 exclusive, the task facing The Order: 1886 is perhaps even more difficult – it’s not enough to be merely good, it has to be a system seller. If it doesn’t achieve its job of convincing people to purchase Sony’s console over and ahead of the competition then it will, at least in its publisher’s eyes, have failed.

“Much of the story and world is told and viewed through what Ready At Dawn is calling ‘interactive cut-scenes’. Over half of the 20 minute long demo we were privy to consisted of these sorts of moments.”

Developer Ready At Dawn has made that task slightly easier by taking The Order down the third-person shooter path… it’s easier to convince people to buy something within a genre they understand and have had a positive experience with in the past. The challenge, then, becomes one of convincing the potential audience that The Order is better and/or different enough from the competition to warrant investment.

Set in a heavily stylised variation of 19th-century, industrial-era London, The Order sets about trying to stand out from the over-populated shooter crowd through tone, place and presentation. Steampunk-inspired airships fill the skies, retro-futuristic guns fill the hands and the secret service-esque ‘The Order’ themselves are decked out in costumes lavish enough to make enough even Elton John turn his nose up.

Layered on top and throughout this undeniably eye-catching aesthetic is a story that melds politics, science and power. Over a millennium before the events told here humanity began to split into two; one side remaining fully human, the other experiencing mutations that gave them physical superiority. A war has been raging between the two sides and only now, with the onset of the industrial age, have humans the weapons capable of confronting the mutants head on.

The ancient and mysterious ‘The Order’ group is at the forefront of this war, having fought the mutants for hundreds of years already in a bid to protect mankind. However, to make matters even more complex, the subjugated poor of London have formed an organised rebellion and are not happy with The Order’s seemingly biased stance of protecting only the wealthy and influential. The human versus mutant war effort is being undermined by the human civil war.
Within in this you play as Galahad, a member of The Order and part of an elite four-man squad.

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“The game is certainly Galahad’s story,” explains game director Ru Weerasurya. “It’s viewed from his point of view. There are lots of things happening around him, and one of his roles for us is as a vessel for the player to really understand the story and the world. But you do see the evolution of his character throughout the game and throughout the plot.”

Much of this story and world is told and viewed through what Ready At Dawn is calling ‘interactive cut-scenes’. Over half of the 20-ish minute long demo we were privy to consisted of these sorts of moments, the longest showing Galahad and friend surveying the derelict district of Whitechapel from a rooftop – an area that they believe harbours high-ranking members of the rebellion.

Each time Galahad puts a pair of eccentric binoculars up to his face the player is given control of the camera and allowed to point them anywhere across the city. Focus on certain areas of interest and Galahad will comment on what you’re looking at in a bid to provide extra background on the narrative. However, this a linear rather than an ‘open’ game. No matter where you point you will always follow the same path and must eventually trigger Galahad to utter the correct words in order to progress.

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“We really want people to understand that what we’re trying to build are cinematics that are interactive,” Weerasurya tells us when asked about this design approach. “[We want] seamless movement between cinematics and combat, and between combat to movement and melee and back into cinematics.

“It’s that mix, and our pacing of it, that really is the game. That’s what we’re trying to do differently from what you’d expect from third-person shooter mechanics.”

Following the binoculars-on-a-roof scene, Galahad moves down through a few buildings to street level and, in the process, cuts through some of the most impressive beams of light ever seen in a video game as they pour in through small windows. It’s this visual quality that is The Order’s standout achievement upon seeing it in full action for the first time and it’s not misleading to describe it as the best looking game yet revealed for PS4.

Lighting, textures, along with more subtle elements such as facial expressions and fabric creasing through movement, are all of superb and distracting quality and demonstrate what the PS4 is capable of when a studio is given the time to create. Ready At Dawn, by way of reference, first began building The Order in 2010.

Unfortunately, the combat seems less inspired. Watching Galahad throw himself into cover behind a low wall, pop up for a few seconds to shoot and then move to further low walls invokes more than a few memories of Marcus Fenix and Gears of War. There’s a healthy and enticing chug to the industrial-looking weapons, with chunks of the environment being ripped off by stray bullets and enemies darting for safety when you get the upper hand, but it’s not dissimilar from what we’ve seen before.

This combat sequence comes to an end with a single enemy remaining, a cut-scene being triggered that sees Galahad dive into the ditch his enemy is hiding in. Hand-to-hand combat ensues.

Melee combat, in this instance, takes the form of another ‘interactive cut-scene’. Quick-time events pop up at certain key moments (land punch, avoid punch, grab nearby weapon etc) and provide you the chance to alter how the scene unfolds. Miss an input, for example, and the fight will play out differently than if you had achieved perfect timing. Ready At Dawn is calling this a ‘branching QTE’, with a single moment of failure not forcing you to restart and try again.

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However, Weerasurya is keen for such moments not to feel diluted or tacked on for the sake of adhering to universally accepted approaches to game design.

“QTEs for us are a way of delivering a different type of emotional experience to the player,” says Weerasurya. “They give us the freedom to get much closer to the character and to see things you wouldn’t otherwise see through an in-game camera.

“Our QTEs are different because they have branches to them. That means one player could see a moment occur one way, while a second player sees it a different way. Sometimes the result of the QTE itself is also different, but the storyline continues through that.”

“The driving force of this game specifically was to put the IP first. That, and the single-player story has to trump everything else and we didn’t want the team to be split between two things.”

Galahad being part of a four-man squad, it might seem from the outside looking in that multiplayer would be a perfect and comfortable fit for The Order – but Weerasurya sees it differently, although tellingly stopped short of ruling it out entirely.

“We discussed [multiplayer] very early on when we first started working on it. The reality of it, though, is that to achieve what we want and deliver the message we aim to deliver, especially with this being a new IP, we always felt like it would be great in multiplayer but that we weren’t sure it was the right way to introduce an IP.

“The driving force of this game specifically was to put the IP first. That, and the single-player story has to trump everything else and we didn’t want the team to be split between two things, because it really does take a whole team to do a great single player game and another to do multiplayer.”

Whatever the case, Ready At Dawn refused to properly discuss multiplayer. Whether that’s because they do want to make sure we understand this ‘new IP’ before talking about it, or because they’re not sure if they’re going to have time to implement it, remains to be seen.

As the only brand new and exclusive PS4 shooter with a triple-A budget behind it, there’s enormous pressure on The Order to deliver. What we’ve seen so far is packed full of potential, but we’re not yet convinced enough to let excitement get the better of us. We’ll have to go hands-on before that might happen.

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25 Comments

  1. zsolt100

    gameplay: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_iLSGngxo8&feature=youtu.be

    #1 10 months ago
  2. Obernox

    QTEs seems to be a pretty big focus in the game and that’s very disappointing.

    #2 10 months ago
  3. Dog4life

    Looks impressive.

    Hope its not a RYSE with guns.

    Looks more like cinematics >gameplay (watching vid posted by zsolt100)

    #3 10 months ago
  4. mistermogul

    I like the way the gameplay merges with the CGI seamlessly but not keen on QTE’s so hopefully they are at a minimum like in Uncharted rather than in every fight…

    #4 10 months ago
  5. Ghostly

    My god, this is fucking disgusting shit right here. More and more developers seem to want to give us cinematic bullshit, to tell a story, to give you emotion. How about a game to play assholes, instead of laying back watching cutscenes. Do they think i pick up a shooter to experience emotions and drama? God, it’s only a few years since Doom 3, Far Cry 1, Fear 1, Quake 4. Those guys marketed their game by the stuff you cand do in the game, by the strenghts of the gameplay, by the action, the weapons, the enemies, the AI. These days, the start talking about story this and story that, and look at these awesome cutscenes. They make the game so cinematic. No gameplay or difficulty, or anything like that, but lots and lots of cutscenes and emotion

    #5 10 months ago
  6. Dragon

    I just want a good story. Weird how combat inspired by Gears of War is now something a bad thing. It was one of the best TPS last gen.

    This game ticks all the boxes for me.

    @5,
    Salty?
    Newsflash for you, people like cinematic experiences, and are willing to pay for that. So you opinion and rage absolutely doesn’t matter to anyone.

    #6 10 months ago
  7. Bomba Luigi

    QTE really has become a Word where my first reaction is… not good. I mean they can be alright if done good and not too much, but thats a rare thing these Days.

    I’m really, really not sure what I should think of this Game. When it comes to Gameplay it sound like someone had a Checkbook with what good selling Games have and then just worked by the numbers.
    But its to soon to judge, they havend showed much. But I will not Pre-order that.

    #7 10 months ago
  8. mistermogul

    @Ghostly – mate I’m sure there’s plenty of gameplay in this but people like to know the story in advance.

    Also this game looks to be excelling in merging the gameplay and cut scenes which is surely a good thing right? You did see that a lot of the footage is actually gameplay?

    #8 10 months ago
  9. Erthazus

    Gears Of War game on the sony platform is a great decision but the execution so far is just … not really that good.

    The Order looks… Ok. Nothing next gen about it either even from a visual standpoint. It looks nice though but they are going to hide graphical issues through a fog which is a cheap tactic.

    #9 10 months ago
  10. polygem

    all the animations and poses and gestures looked like assassins creed X your typical shooter but in a different setting.
    someone posted yesterday that he would expect people to say that…
    well, here you have it then :)
    i am sceptical about this one but i am sceptical with a lot of new games recently because in the last few years i have played very few games that have felt fresh to me. i cannot wait for the final build of dayz and i am more than ready for another dark souls but these new nextgen console games this far just do not impress me much (add shania twain joke here).

    #10 10 months ago
  11. polygem

    regarding storytelling in videogames: they should not look at the movie industry. it often makes games dull, easy to consume and forget experiences.
    i really don´t like how sony goes that route more and more with many of their new ip´s (and for you kids, that´s not because i want to hate on sony per se).
    in a game you should be able to play your own story. less cutscenes, more things to read between the lines, leaving room for interpretation. that´s so much more immersive. showing a cutscene, then gameplay section, then cutscene is of course easier to swallow, easier to consume, probably easier to sell too but i believe that it does not embrace the medium videogame and therefore – imho – it´s just a wrong path, a design flaw.
    i absolutely believe that this trend will hold on for a good while but it will end in a blind alley one day. games are not movies and that´s a good thing. it might be sexy for gamedevs to approach the movie scene a little more and for gamers this can look appealing too for a while but i strongly believe it wont last for long. it just doesn´t have enough substance and staying power. people will get bored to play story driven videogames that play themselves most of the time. they will crave real experiences, real adventures, own accomplishments.

    #11 10 months ago
  12. super3001

    Sony dont need gameplay in there game. Playstation owner only wants to watch or QTE at most.

    Nice black bars. I hear they are 280p. True next gen.

    #12 10 months ago
  13. Doppleganger

    Go PS4 the Cinematic video game kings with fake trailers.

    #13 10 months ago
  14. MFBB

    The majority of people prefers cinematic/story telling as sales clearly show us.

    I also really enjoy the cinematic games, they entertain me very well.

    On the other side I love pure gameplay games like the Souls titles aswell.

    Not every game has to be perfect for everyone, we get many pure shooters and we get some cinematic ones, play what you like-ignore the others.

    Ready at Dawn is a smaller studio and the game already looks great, only a few month after the PS4 release.

    It makes me wonder what the big guys like Santa Monica/Naugthy Dog etc are delivering as first PS4 games in 2015.

    #14 10 months ago
  15. PS-FART

    The Order: 1886 – the new PS4 exclusive with a lot of Black ribbons :)

    #15 10 months ago
  16. Kreion

    @MFBB

    The games with the highest sales are nearly always gameplay focused actually…even those with an amazing story also have good gameplay to back it up, like Last of Us does. The more cinematic games generally fall into a love/hate category for a lot of people, but I certainly wouldn’t say they are the majority.

    Maybe you should a sales chart before making bold claims.

    Still, the game could be good if it strikes a nice balance of cinematic action and player involvement…but people generally don’t like QTE games.

    #16 10 months ago
  17. MFBB

    @Kreion Uncharted games, Call of Duty, Battlefield, The Last of Us, Tomb Raider, Red Dead Redemption..even GTA 5 etc all focus heavy on cinematic style…that is what I mean.

    The camera style, cutscenes, dialoges…all changed in the recent years to a more movie like presentation and all those games are successfull.

    People really love this style as the sales show us.

    The Order is even using the cinematic screen format instead of the normal ones so we get black bars which makes it more movie like.

    #17 10 months ago
  18. fearmonkey

    Looks amazing to me, you haters complain about everything. The last thief gameplay video looked amazing, yet all i have read for the last 6 months is how awful the game is going to be.
    I cant wait to play this, i love that cinematic style.

    #18 10 months ago
  19. Dragon

    @fearmonkey,
    Welcome to internet bro :D

    #19 10 months ago
  20. polygem

    @fearmonkey
    hehe i hear you…
    …but well, there´s a mix of guys in this thread who seem to like what they see and then there´s the meh faction obviously. both is fine. i am personally not complaining about everything. i recently shared my very positive thoughts about dayz. zombiu blew me away as well a few weeks ago after i gave the game a second chance. freaking loved that game. shame it didn´t sell so good. shame really. true system seller….in theory :)
    there are many games i like and if that happens i can sound like a drunken lover. if i do not like a game i can become a pesky internet diva.
    i personally like what i like and dislike what i dislike. this game i must play to judge but what i just saw didn´t do the trick to actually make me want to play it, that´s all.

    #20 10 months ago
  21. Legendaryboss

    Huh? Interesting the reactions are just as KAP predicted. Anyway the gameplay did little to elevate hype, so i’m still somewhat still interested.

    #21 10 months ago
  22. Djoenz

    -Was gears the first to have an emphasis on cover based shooting? Was gears the first third person shooter ever? Which came first btw gears or army of two? (I genuinely dont know)
    -Does the order have the same plot as in alien invasion as gears?
    -This game was confirmed to have 1080p and not 800p or whatever. Xbots suddenly use this excuse though to bash it in any way while on the other hand for other titles on the XboxOne its a non issue. -> http://tay.kotaku.com/why-the-order-1886-is-1080p-and-not-800p-1518902908
    -Oversaturation of QTE’s are always bad.
    -Character design etc. are top notch imo.
    -Cliché story but it works. I have played Metro Last Light recently. One epic game. Post apocalyptic with mutants etc. over done but personally I dont mind if its done right.
    -Cinematic suits me personally. Im fed up with typical games that only focus on gameplay and not on story. I might as well just play tetris then.

    #22 10 months ago
  23. polygem

    “As for the rest you say, you are a hardcore nintendo fan. Everyone knows that.”

    would you please stop this agressive bullshit. call people idiots if you feel like that, that´s much more tolerable than spreading the same stupid lie every fucking day. be straight forward you little coward. stop this sneaky bullshit finally. one day you´ll get banned for that kid. my prediciton.

    #23 10 months ago
  24. polygem

    sorry ladies and gentleman, wrong thread
    -
    http://www.vg247.com/2014/02/18/more-developers-working-on-ps4-product-than-any-other-console/comment-page-1/#comment-586659
    -
    these fancy new intel processors man. i´m telling you. it runs more applications than i can handle :)

    #24 10 months ago
  25. jomac3db

    @Ghostly Let me see u make a game. Stop complaining. If u don’t like it don’t play it. U can play collar doody for the rest of ur life

    #25 10 months ago

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