PAX 2014: The Order: 1886 is an Excercise in Style Over Substance

By: on August 31, 2014

When The Order: 1886 was announced, it immediately turned heads and shot to the top of the list of reasons to own a PS4. Then a few individuals in the games media got their hands on a demo – and a few more at E3 – and it turned out that perhaps this generation’s next must-have title wasn’t really all that must-have.

Finally, PAX has rolled around and a lot of the general public has now had an opportunity to try things out for themselves, including yours truly. There is certainly much to praise about the demo Sony has shown off, but it also showed the game’s true colors, and it’s not exactly a game that pushes the boundaries of the third-person shooter.

The guns' special abilities aren't very well described.

The guns’ special abilities aren’t very well described.

On the positive side, The Order: 1886 is the first game that I’ve experienced that perfectly blends gameplay and cinematics. The demo starts with a short cut-scene that sort of sets up the scenario, but to be perfectly honest, it was difficult to fully follow what exactly was happening. Perhaps in the full context of the game, it would’ve made more sense, but what is clear is that your character, the mustachioed hero Sir Galahad, is joined by several NPC’s that will rely upon him heavily. The moment the game is handed over to the player is seamless and actually took me an embarrassing amount of time to realize I was in control. Once I did take control, it was clear the gameplay needed a lot of work.

To call this Sony’s attempt to ape Microsoft’s now-stale Gears of War series is fair. It’s a story-focused, third-person, cover-based shooter, but the largest problem is that Gears does all of that so much better (well, except maybe the whole story part). The shooting in The Order: 1886 is downright sloppy, with a primary gun whose main feature is so poorly explained, many people who played the demo all the way through still didn’t understand exactly how it worked. As a result, the shooting mechanics feel needlessly loose and completely unfocused (Is it an arcadey shooter? Is it realistic?).

It's difficult to argue that The Order: 1886 isn't the best looking console game on the horizon.

It’s difficult to argue that The Order: 1886 isn’t the best looking console game on the horizon.

 

The cover-mechanics are even worse. Pressing the circle button is supposed to snap you to the nearest cover, while the X-button is supposed to pull you out of it. It just barely works most of the time, and it appears that only certain objects are available as cover.

Few things felt great about The Order: 1886, and it’ll be interesting to see how things pan out ahead of the game’s release. While so many things about the demo were great, the most important aspects were pretty poor. The graphics were stunning; the voice acting and motion capture is next-level; the idea is grande. Perhaps the general lack of context in the demo shown at PAX played a major role in the general disappointment I felt. Regardless of the bad taste the demo left in my mouth, I’m still extremely interested in the final product.

The Order: 1886 is set to be released in February 2015, exclusively for the PlayStation 4.

About Tyler Mitchell

Tyler lives in the Portland, OR area with his wife and cat. He loves pizza, comic books, and video games.