The Order: 1886
The Order: 1886 is a third-person action-adventure video game developed by Ready at Dawn and SCE Santa Monica Studio and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was released for the PlayStation 4 on February 20, 2015. Set in an 1886 alternate history steampunk London, the game follows the legendary Knights of the Round Table as they battle to keep the world safe from half-breeds, such as werewolves and vampires, as well as fringe organizations rebelling against the government.
|The Order: 1886|
|Developer(s)||Ready at Dawn|
SCE Santa Monica Studio
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Release||February 20, 2015|
The gameplay revolves around cover-based shooting mechanics and features a variety of weapons. The player progresses through the story by journeying through linear paths, defeating enemies and traversing obstacles. Quick time events and melee takedowns are also implemented and several collectibles are scattered around the environment.
The Order: 1886 received mixed reviews from critics. Praise was particularly directed at the game's production value, graphics, and technical achievements, while most criticisms were concerning the length, story, gameplay, replay value, and the overall amount of involvement the player is given.
The Order: 1886 is a story-focused action-adventure game played in a third-person perspective. The player takes control of Sir Galahad of the Round Table, an order serving as protectors of an alternate history London. The gameplay mostly revolves around cover-based shooting. The game is structured in a linear manner; the player guides Galahad through the environments, following the story. Galahad and his fellow Knights battle against multiple different foes, including humans, and half-breeds, werewolf-like creatures. Galahad is equipped with several tools and weapons for use in combat, such as variations of rifles, grenades, crossbows, and pistols.
Aside from combat with firearms, Galahad also utilizes melee attacks and silent kills to defeat enemies. Another major aspect of the gameplay is use of quick time events. The player is often required to complete button prompts in order to progress. Several types of collectibles providing lore are scattered throughout the world for the player to collect.
The Order: 1886 is set in an alternate history 1886 London, where an old Order of Knights keep the world safe from half breed monsters, which are a combination of animal and human. In the game's history, around the seventh or eighth century, a small number of humans took on bestial traits. The majority of humans feared these half-breeds and war broke out. Despite the humans outnumbering the half-breeds, their animal strength gave them the upper hand in centuries of conflict.
Humanity finds new hope in King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. King Arthur and his like-minded knights take the fight to the half breeds, but Arthur soon realizes it is a losing battle. Through a mysterious turn of fate, the Knights discover Blackwater, a mystical liquid that significantly extends their lifetimes and gives them remarkable healing abilities. Despite this new advantage, the half-breeds continue to win battle after battle, until the Industrial Revolution turns the tide. Engineers are far ahead of their time, inventing technologies such as thermal imaging, railguns, zeppelins, and wireless communications. New weapons belch electricity, ignite clouds of thermite on top of enemies, and fulfill dual functions as fragmentation grenades and proximity mines. Additionally, the events involving Jack the Ripper have taken place two years earlier.
During the autumn of 1886 London is plagued by both attacks by half-breeds and an anti-government insurgency. After fighting off rebels in Mayfair, Sir Galahad pursues the survivors into the Underground where he encounters a number of werewolf-like half-breeds known as Lycans. Galahad's mentor, Sir Percival, one of the Order's most veteran knights, suspects that there is a correlation between the two and requests permission to investigate the rebel stronghold of Whitechapel. His concerns are dismissed by the Lord Chancellor, who believes that the Order should remain dedicated to fighting half-breeds.
With tacit approval from Sir Lucan, the Order's Knight Commander and adopted son of the Lord Chancellor, Percival and Galahad undertake a mission into Whitechapel accompanied by the other two members of their team, Lady Igraine and the Marquis de Lafayette. After encountering fierce resistance they reach the rebel headquarters in the abandoned Royal London Hospital, to find it occupied by Lycans. Galahad and Igraine discover evidence of a rebel plot to infiltrate the Agamemnon, flagship of the United India Company's airship fleet, and assassinate the company chairman Lord Hastings, a frequent guest to the Round Table. The team boards the airship and foils the assassination attempt before a bomb detonates on board. Hastings and most of the passengers are evacuated, but Galahad and Percival remain on board to search for the rebel leader. A second explosion sends the Agamemnon crashing into Hyde Park, destroying the Crystal Palace in the process. Galahad survives but discovers that Percival has been killed.
In council at the Palace of Westminster, Lafayette is knighted and assumes Percival's seat at the Round Table. The Lord Chancellor is highly critical of the mission, asserting that Percival's death and the extensive collateral damage were in vain. The council is interrupted when rebels stage a major attack on Westminster Bridge aimed at killing Hastings, who is saved by the knights.
Enraged by Percival's death, Galahad returns to Whitechapel seeking a confrontation with the rebel leader, who is revealed to be an Indian woman named Lakshmi who is later revealed to be the hitherto presumed dead Queen Lakshmibai of Jhansi of the princely state of Jhansi in the Indian subcontinent. Pleading with Galahad that the United India Company is the true enemy, she leads him to the company's warehouses in Blackwall where they discover a large number of hibernating vampires packed in crates bound for the Northeastern United States. According to Lakshmi, Lord Hastings is a vampire (known to the general public as "Jack the Ripper") and is acting in response to the Order's recent success.
At Westminster, Galahad's concerns fall on deaf ears. Lucan sympathizes with him however, and joins Galahad and Lakshmi in infiltrating the United India Company headquarters in Mayfair. They find evidence of a conspiracy to traffic half-breeds overseas and encounter Hastings in his vampire form. Before Galahad can act against Hastings, Lucan reveals himself to be a Lycan and attacks Galahad. The two fight, but Lucan flees as the authorities arrive. Galahad is taken into custody by Lafayette and Igraine, charged with treason, and sentenced to death.
After several weeks, Galahad escapes captivity in the Westminster Catacombs and attempts to flee only to be cornered. Facing re-imprisonment, Galahad throws himself off a ledge into the River Thames and is recovered by Nikola Tesla , the Order's armourer with the help from an old man. Tesla seeks help from Lakshmi to help take care of him. Lakshmi reveals to Galahad, upon being questioned about her having blackwater, that she was bestowed a knighthood by Sir Bors de Ganis. Fearing that Tesla has come under suspicion, Galahad returns to Westminster in an attempt to extract him. He finds Tesla alive but also encounters Lucan in the laboratory. The two fight a second time with Galahad emerging the victor. The mortally wounded Lucan expresses regret for having betrayed the Order, claiming that he did so in order to save his race from extinction. The two are discovered by the Lord Chancellor, who confesses his knowledge of Lucan's true nature. He reveals to Galahad that centuries before he had fought and destroyed an entire tribe of Lycans, but could not bring himself to kill the infant Lucan, who he adopted as a son instead. The Lord Chancellor orders that evidence of Lucan's betrayal may not be used to exonerate Galahad and must be kept a secret for the sake of the Order. Unwilling to kill his son, he leaves Galahad to administer the coup de grace. The two former comrades reconcile, and a remorseful Galahad raises his weapon and fires, killing Lucan, as the screen cuts to black.
In a post-credits scene, Galahad is seen on the roof of a building overlooking London, which has been put under martial law. He is warned by Tesla over the radio that the police could strike anytime and that they should leave the city immediately. Galahad reminds Tesla that he is "Galahad no more".
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Ru Weerasuriya, founder of Ready at Dawn
In a post on the PlayStation Blog, Ready at Dawn CEO and creative director Ru Weerasuriya revealed that The Order: 1886 has been in the works since 2010. The game was announced at the Sony E3 2013 Conference as a new intellectual property for the PlayStation 4. The studio's internal proprietary RAD Engine 4.0 was used for the game's development. On August 29, 2013, Weerasuriya revealed that the decision to go ahead with The Order: 1886 was influenced by Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. On February 6, 2014, it was announced that the game would be single-player only and that the game will run at 30 FPS.
A video of the game's full-length playthrough, with a duration of about 5 hours, was leaked online before the game's official release. As a single-player only and full-priced game at launch, concern was raised about the value of the game. Weerasuriya defended the game, saying that "it's a matter of quality, not quantity." Technical officer Andrea Pessino also responded to the actual length of the game, saying that the game will take eight to ten hours to finish if the player plays it at normal pace and difficulty level.
The Order: 1886 received mixed reviews from critics, with some praise particularly directed to the game's production value, graphics and technical achievements, while receiving criticism regarding the game's length, story, gameplay, replay value and the player's involvement in the game. It received an aggregated score of 62.61% on GameRankings based on 66 reviews and 63/100 on Metacritic based on 94 reviews.
Daniel Bloodworth from GameTrailers praised its graphics, textures, lighting and facial animation, as he stated that "the look and feel of The Order is powerful enough to be worth a playthrough on its own." He also praised the detailed design of characters, environments and locations.
Play gave the game an 8.1/10, praising its satisfying action, high production value, voice acting and dialogue, recreation of 19th Century London and cover-based gunplay. Also praised was the overall amount of gameplay, such as cover-based shooting, stealth and puzzle-solving. However, the weapons were criticized, stating "ranging from the borderline useless to the ludicrously overpowered". The review was summarized by saying that "while a brief yet explosive cinematic adventure might not be what some modern gamers want, it's quite clearly the best way to showcase the true power of a new console just after its first birthday."
Matt Miller from Game Informer praised its filmic presentation, orchestral music, "rewarding" scripted action scenes, variety of weapons, controls, gunplay, characters, environments and memorable location. However, he criticized the low replay value, the story for leaving too many unresolved conflicts and questions, as well as the combat and gameplay which he stated "feels like playing through a long- established template for third-person shooting mechanics." He summarized the review by writing that "1886 goes against the current tide of open-world wandering and emergent sequences, and banks on the idea that players can enjoy a straightforward and relatively brief cinematic adventure."
Brandin Tyrrel from IGN gave the game a 6.5/10, while praising its "engaging universe" and "fantastic atmosphere" and weaponry "packing a creative punch", he criticized the game pacing and gameplay stating that "rarely a moment of interactivity that isn’t expressed with a quick-time event", "disappointingly generic cover-based shooting," and "non-tactical gameplay". Also criticized were the aspect ratio, "shallow, slow, and generic quick-time [events]", and linear missions, which he stated "has stripped players away from freedom." He also criticized the totality of content, stating that "there is no reason to revisit the short and stunted single-player campaign once it’s been completed, there just isn’t a lot to it."
Chris Carter from Destructoid criticized its gunplay, calling it "well-built but standard", lack of gameplay, which he stating: "Where The Order ceases to be great is the self-indulgent camera angles and need to focus so much on turning the game into a walking simulator." He also criticized the linear gameplay, predictable narrative, forgettable characters, disappointing boss fight, short length, as well as the lack of replay value and any types of multiplayer. He summarized the review by saying that "I sincerely hope this isn't the last we've seen of this universe, but for now, it's only worth visiting once, briefly."
David Houghton from GamesRadar criticized the limited variety of enemy types, the narrow view of environmental design, restrictive world, basic combat, needless cinematic sequences, unremarkable story and characters, and the excessive use of quick time events, which he described as "the maddening, illogical, pathological need to turn everything into a QTE killing any excitement or sense of control." He also criticized the game for lacking player involvement and constantly taking control away from the players. He also stated that "It [The Order] seemingly gross lack of insight into either the state of gaming in 2015." He summarized the game by saying that "The Order’s archaic, player-detached approaches to interaction and narrative nonetheless make it a dated and instantly forgettable experience."
Kevin VanOrd from GameSpot criticized the story telling, gameplay and lack of missions with guns and werewolves which had been replaced with long periods of inactivity of observing objects and slowly walking. VanOrd did however praise the stylish visuals, fun weapons when given the opportunity to be used and the excellent voice acting that was "far better than the material deserved."
Peter Paras from Game Revolution was critical of the game, citing its poor AI, uncompelling story, lack of character development, unenjoyable gameplay, and the length of the game, which he states "overstays its welcome even at less than 7 hours." He compared the game to Ryse: Son of Rome and Heavenly Sword, calling it "a ho-hum action-adventure game that accompanies a console’s first-year launch."
David Jenkins from Metro gave the game a 4/10, calling it a Gears of War clone, claiming it had uninspired gameplay, boring storytelling, lifeless and repetitive action and bland characters. He stated that "perhaps their programmers should have taken their obvious talents to some visual effects company, because they clearly have no appetite for interactive entertainment."
Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw of Zero Punctuation was highly critical of the game, panning its story and overly linear gameplay and saying "while The Order: 1886 has very pretty graphics, it plays like a laundry list of the blandest game mechanics yet devised by man" and "[The Order: 1886] feels like a launch title; something utterly dull, carefully assembled from only the smoothest, inoffensive pieces with no ambition beyond showing off the graphics tech." At the end of 2015, he chose The Order: 1886 as his worst game of the year.
The retail version of The Order: 1886 was the best selling game in its week of release in the UK and Ireland, debuting at No. 1 in the UK retail software sales chart. This made it the first game developed by Sony's in-house team to take the first spot in the chart since August 2014.
Despite the game's mixed reviews, during an interview with Gamesindustry.biz in 2015, Ready at Dawn chief executive Paul Sams and studio founder Ru Weerasuriya have expressed interest in producing more entries for the game in the future. "The first game was more than anything a launch platform to build upon". Weerasuriya said, "The Order was never written as a one-off story". Sams said that although developers wanted to retain ownership to its intellectual property, it needed the approval of Sony to bring the game to market. "It was absolutely the company's desire to own it," said Sams. "We love that game and we are proud of it. Unfortunately, we were at a point in the company's evolution where owning that IP was not possible. We hope to not find ourselves in that position again."
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