Victorian era London.  Knights of the Round Table.  Seemingly impossible weaponry used to keep human/werewolf half-breeds at bay.  Sounds fun, right?  The Order: 1886 has a cool premise and, if the trailers are anything to go by, some absolutely stunning visuals.  But, it was attacked before it was even release for things like 30 FPS, black bars on the top and bottom of the screen, and a short campaign.

So, is Ready at Dawn’s PS4 debut worth playing right now?  I’m torn.  While I enjoyed The Order: 1886, it’s tough to say yes.

Undeniably beautiful but not quite deep enough.
Undeniably beautiful but not quite deep enough.

  • TL;DR: The single prettiest game I’ve ever played with a decent story and boring action
  • Platform: PS4
  • Hours Played: 7.5
  • What I Played: Main campaign
  • Recommended?: Right now it’s an apprehensive yes, in a few months it’ll probably be a definite.

The Order: 1886 takes place in Victorian London where an ancient order of knights, the Knights of the Round Table, are tasked with keeping the world safe from half-breed monsters.  Sir Galahad and company discover some odd goings on in Whitechapel and decide to investigate, uncovering secrets they weren’t prepared for.

I’ve already mentioned the graphics of The Order twice and with good reason.  This is, undoubtedly, the best looking game I’ve ever played.  My roommate said it looked like a movie and I have to agree with him.  The Order is highly cinematic, even down to the black bars on the top and bottom of the screen.  Every single detail is stunning: the intricate detail of clothing and buildings, how perfectly light reflects and makes shadows, the reality of smoke and fire.  Even things you don’t normally think of, like how characters slow down and change their pace while walking up and down stairs, have been thought of.  Make no mistake about it — The Order: 1886 is truly beautiful.

Sure is purty.
Sure is purty, ma.

You’ll be taking in all of the breathtaking scenery with a mixture of action, which is bland at best, and a hell of a lot of quick time events.  The actual shooting and action sequences in The Order are severely boring.  Cover-based shooting can be a hell of a lot of fun (hello, Gears of War), but when each of the three or so types of enemies seem to pop up like whack-a-mole and stare at you for a few seconds before retreating and repeating the cycle, it’s not a good time.  Enemies are pretty stupid in The Order and make for some boring encounters.  They don’t try to flank or group up or anything.  If you’re not shooting, you’ll be exploring some decidedly linear levels with no collectibles to speak of.  Linear design isn’t the worst thing on it’s own, but if it means I’m just trudging through to my next whack-a-mole session then I’m not excited.

“But, what about the half-breeds?”, you may be saying.  One of the more interesting plot points in The Order is hardly even touched upon.  Sure, you’ll see a few half-breeds around London and have incredibly frustrating fights with them, but to have them as the reason the knights exist and barely showcase them?  What gives?

Even the advanced-for-it’s-time weaponry can’t make the action of The Order fun.  Nikola Tesla is a young man in The Order and an engineer for the knights.  While he does make a few cool weapons, like a lightning-powered arc rifle and a thermite spray-and-detonate gun, those weapons are both few and far between as well as crazily overpowered.  Most of the time, you’ll be rolling with a pistol and one of a few generic machine guns.

QTEs are always in the crosshairs (see what I did there?)
QTEs are always in the crosshairs (see what I did there?)

Then, there are the quick time events.  People normally scoff at them and with good reason.  They take control away from the player and can absolutely destroy any sense of rhythm and immersion you had going if you fail and have to replay one.  Well, get ready for a ton of that in The Order.  Whether it’s an environmental hazard, a melee encounter, or even a boss fight, QTEs litter The Order.  Honestly, it feels a little old fashioned.

As far as the story of The Order: 1886 goes, it’s a pretty good one.  Not only is it pretty interesting, even though you can see the twist coming pretty early, it has a lot going for it — good versus evil, murder, deception.  All the good stuff.  The voice acting is very well done and the characters alongside Galahad are pretty cool, too, whether it be Sir Percival the mentor or Lafeyette the Frenchman (shocker).  I won’t give anything away, but you do side with and feel for Galahad and, regardless of the bland action I mentioned earlier, I am looking forward to the sequel that is very obviously set up.

I’ve always said that throwing multiplayer into a game just for the sake of it is a waste.  But, I think The Order could have done well with a horde mode against the half-breeds.  After finishing the roughly seven hour campaign, there is absolutely nothing to do.  No new game plus, no multiplayer, no nothing.  I do fully believe that game length isn’t a function of quality.  Hell, just look at a few of the games I’ve reviewed recently.  While you can go back and replay chapters, there’s no reason to with the linear setup of each chapter and lack of collectibles to even look for.  I can see why many people are staying away from The Order, especially at $60.  I can see this being a game a lot of people try out in six months when it drops in price.

All that glitters is not gold.
All that glitters is not gold.

I was so excited for The Order: 1886.  A shooter in a cool setting with an interesting plot point and visuals for days?  Sounds like it would be right up my alley.  While I did enjoy it and I’m not mad that I spent the money and took the time to play it, I can definitely understand why people are staying away.  It’s short and linear with no post-campaign play to speak of.  There is no denying how good it is to look at and the story is both interesting and leaves big questions unanswered.  I’ll most likely play the sequel that the story sets up for.  But, as far as bang for your buck is concerned, there are better options out there right now than The Order: 1886.

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